We’ve had a lovely half term and I must admit I am kind of sad the break is over, but here is something to brighten up a Monday morning… a set of All About Books answers. And this week we have Rachael who blogs over at Book Inter Alia.

All About Books with Odd Socks and Lollipops - colourful books stacked on grey background
And I am going to hand you straight over to Rachael…

I am a Sociology graduate, book enthusiast and Library Assistant with an interest in mental health. Books Inter Alia is my place to talk about books  – and occasionally other things such as life or theatre. I tend not to review books but to talk about them more generally.

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Image courtesy of Rachael.

What was the last book you read? And what did you think of it?
I’ve just finished ‘The Bees’ by Laline Paull. It was recommended to me back in the summer and since then I’d been really excited to read it but, for some reason, it took me ages to actually start. It was good – I started and finished it in one day so there must have been something that kept me reading – but it didn’t blow me away. I’d built it up so much that it was never going to meet my expectations but I also found the writing style a little confusing at times.

What book is next on your “to be read” list?
I don’t really have set lists but, like most people, I have a pile of books I’ve bought but have yet to read. However, I tend to keep these piles short as I can find them a bit pressurising. Before ‘The Bees’ I read ‘My Family and Other Animals’ by Gerald Durrell, it was gorgeous; so warm and comforting. I’m really excited to (buy and) read the second in the series. I also have ‘Sourdough’ by Robin Sloan waiting to be read.

What is your favourite genre to read?
I love contemporary and usually pick this up in YA form. Young Adult is a genre I will defend to the death, it was the topic of my dissertation and I truly believe that it has immense power and importance. I also really love general contemporary fiction.

What genre do you tend to avoid?
This is tricky. I don’t get on well with Classics but will still find myself looking at the titles – I have an endless love-hate relationship with them. High fantasy has never interested me. As soon as a Booktuber mentions a high-fantasy book I immediately switch-off. Equally, if there’s a date in the blurb (or a mention of WW1/2), I’m – as a general rule – not going to pick it up.

I know this one is a tricky one, but what is your favourite book or series of books?
Without a shadow of a doubt it has to be the ‘Harry Potter series’ (possibly in contradiction to my last answer). I read them all at least once a year and they mean so much to me. As for a stand-alone book, there are loads I love but there is one that I cannot stop thinking about: ‘The Book of Strange New Things’ by Michel Faber. I first read it in 2016 and honestly, it’s excellent. There are so many unique, and important, themes which raise some fascinating questions. I highly recommend it.

All About Books Week 18 - Rachael Profile Photo

Photo courtesy of Rachael.

Who is your favourite author? Or authors if you simply can’t choose one (It is a bit of a mean question)
Yeah, that is a mean question but, if I really had to choose, it would have to be Matt Haig. I have read four of his books so far: ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’, ‘The Humans’ ‘The Radley’s’ and ‘How to Stop Time’, and I have loved them all – he’s becoming an automatic buy. I am so excited for his new book coming out in July!  I am going to pre-order it when I get Paid at the end of the month.

What is your favourite book from your childhood?
‘Harry Potter’ again. I remember receiving the first three one Christmas and that was it; I was hooked. I was Hermione three times for world book day, my (at the time) best friend and I spent hours cutting out pictures of Pumpkins we’d drawn. We were determined to bring ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ to the stage and, apparently, the pumpkins were the critical part. It was also something that my Dad and I shared, he used to read to me every-night and, as a result, also got sucked into the world of Hogwarts.

If you have children, which books can’t you wait to read to them?
I often joke that if my future children don’t like ‘Harry Potter’ they’ll be trouble. To be honest though I really would be disappointed if they didn’t. As I mentioned in a previous answer (sorry for the repetitiveness), they meant and still mean so much to me, I want to pass that on. Also, Alice in Wonderland. I’ve had so much fun with that book plus I think its perfect for both adults and children; it’s so whimsical.

If you could visit the world of any book, where would you go? Who would you spend time with? And what would you do?
Questions like this always stump me. Not being a fan of fantasy I always assume that my options are limited. Of course, I would love to be able to go to Hogwarts and be a part of that world. I still – at the age of 23 – get a pang of disappointment when I put the books down and realise that I can’t do magic or meet a Hippogriff. But, I would also really love to visit Broken Wheel the  – I think – fictional town from Katrina Bivald’s debut novel ‘Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend’. I have wanted to visit Scandinavia for the longest time and her characters just filled me with so much joy, I’d love to spend more time with them.

If you could bring any character from any book to life for a day, who would it be? And what would you do?
Does “all of them” count as an answer? I honestly don’t know.

For any Harry Potter Fans, which house do you think you would be sorted in to? (This seems like a kind of random question but I am strangely curious about which house people would be in)
I am a proud Hufflepuff. It’s a source of high contention in my house as the rest of my family are either Slytherin or Ravenclaw, I routinely get described as ‘fluffy’ but I don’t mind. I think loyalty and being kind are fantastic traits I just wish that people would stop describing us as ‘mediocre’ – honestly, it’s happened; it makes me really sad.

You can find Rachael on her blog Books Inter Alia, on Twitter and on Instagram.

Thank you so much Rachael for answering my questions, I know that you mean about Harry Potter – I would be a little sad if my daughter doesn’t like the books when she is a little older. I cannot believe that people have described Hufflepuffs as ‘mediocre’! I am pretty sure that we should all aspire to be like Hufflepuffs!