When I first moved here I was living right next door to a branch of Barnes and Noble, with a Borders right up the street. Sheer heaven.
But it was while I was browsing the shelves I realised there were some huge gaps in my knowledge of American literature. Sure, I'd studied Hemingway and Arthur Miller at school, and I'd read To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, and The Great Gatsby. But that was about all I'd read.
So with the help of the very enthusiastic literature graduate who was working at B&N, I set about filling those gaps. He would ask me what I'd already read and enjoyed, and would then suggest something to complement it. He knew I’d loved Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, so In Cold Blood seemed a good companion (I’ll let you know once I’ve read it). For Mockingbird, his suggestion was The Heart is a Lonely Hunter – and that one immediately became a favourite.
It didn’t take him long to twig that my sense of humour is a bit off the wall and I like things that are slightly twisted – “You will love Wise Blood”, and he was right, I did.
“I assume you’ve read Fitzgerald, so why don’t you try John O’Hara? And seeing as you’re now in New England, give The Wapshot Chronicle a whirl. Oh, and if you like short stories, there’s always Raymond Carver and Richard Ford”.
At which point my husband pointed out that we didn’t actually have any bookshelves in our tiny apartment and could I please go to the library instead.