MY READING CORNER

Emma Louise Boynton

Reading is an essential practice in the days of presenter & writer Emma Louise Boynton. Reading has allowed Emma to relish solitude; books are companions on her travels and days spent alone. Read Emma’s ode to reading and find out why she thinks the right book always finds you when you need it most. 

Where is your favourite spot to read at home? What makes it such a good reading corner? 

My favourite place to read at home is on my bed, propped up against a ginormous pile of big, squishy velvet cushions. I have the comfiest bed in the world so there really is no better place to luxuriate with a new novel, or whatever book I am reading in preparation for my next interview. However, this cosy reading corner may soon be usurped by a mustard velvet reading chair I’m buying for my new house. It’ll be tucked away in my walk-in wardrobe upstairs, where no one can find me and I can read alone, undisturbed, for hours (most likely buried under an avalanche of clothes, so jam packed is said dressing room at present).

What time of day is sacred reading time for you? 

I wish I was one of those people who had a dedicated hour before bed to read, but unfortunately, my forever-moving schedule does not currently permit this. Instead, I carry a book, sometimes two, wherever I go and try and read whenever, however I can. It means I’m never annoyed when someone is late for a date because I take that time as delicious bonus-time in which I can cram in a bit of extra reading. I always love reading on long train journeys too.

"Because reading allows me to live all the lives I fear I might not have time to live in my one lifetime; it allows me to travel whenever and wherever I want to go; it allows me to relish solitude rather than fear loneliness; and gives me a portal into every and any world or mind I feel curious about."

How do you display books at home? Do things have an order or process to them?  

Yes they do! My pride and joy is the colour-coordinated bookshelf that is now, and always will be, the centre-piece to my bedroom…. even if it’s beginning to go a little lop-sided under the weight of all the new books I keep adding to its semi-buckling shelves. It was the first piece of furniture I put up and organised when I recently moved house, as it immediately gave me a sense of anchoring in my new home and was a little (I mean large), brightly-coloured oasis amongst the chaos of all the boxes.

The elusive question - how do you decide what book to read next? 

I always have a few interviews on the horizon that I need to read a book or two in preparation for, so that will provide my ‘obligatory’ reading list as it were. Then I have an ongoing list of books I need to read on my phone, which comprises recommendations from friends and family, books I’ve recently seen reviewed, books on whatever new topic(s) I have decided I must learn more about. I also take great joy in walking around bookshops and, despite my best efforts, can never resist buying a book or two I find on display. I always take pictures of the display tables in book shops when I like their curation of what to read. I would buy the contents of the entire display table if I could, but spare a thought for my buckling bookshelf (soon to have a sister bookshelf next to it to share the load). I am also someone who always has several books on the go, chiefly because I need some variation in the different worlds I am presently dipping into. Somedays I may be in the mood for a deeply emotive book that prompts me to ponder all the big existential questions (I am currently reading screenwriter, Abi Morgan’s, new book ‘This is not a Pity Memoir which is definitely having that effect) and on others I may feel in desperate need of some romantic escapism, or I may want to travel back to a different era to feel the beat of the swinging sixties according to Joan Didion (I am also reading Slouching Towards Bethlehem at the moment).

What is the reason for putting reading at the centre of your life? 

Because reading allows me to live all the lives I fear I might not have time to live in my one lifetime; it allows me to travel whenever and wherever I want to go; it allows me to relish solitude rather than fear loneliness; and gives me a portal into every and any world or mind I feel curious about. When I’m in a creative slump, feeling unsure about what I want to do with my life, or who I want to be, I read. The right book always finds you when you need it most.

 

QUICK FIRE 

The book you’d most like to pass on to everyone you know: Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow, A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, Just Kids by Patti Smith (good things always come in threes…).

The book you're most excited to tuck into this winter: Rosewater by my brilliant friend Liv Little, which was described by Bernadine Evaristo as ‘zesty and sassy’. Sold.

A poem that has made you feel less alone: Life by Abdellatif Laâbi

Dog ear pages or bookmarks: 

Definitely dog-eared, every page scribbled over, words and sentences underlined. While reading, I see myself as being in an ongoing dialogue with the author, so I never sit down to read without a pen in hand. 

The most hopeful book you’ve read: 

The Source by Dr Tara Swart. The book I didn’t know I needed until it was in my hands, lent to me by my friend Amy Thompson while I was staying with her in Lisbon in a state of burnt-out despair. It’s the book that gives me hope in my ability to design and pursue the life I want, whenever I’m in doubt. I’ve gone back to The Source, and to Lisbon, many times since.

The book you feel most understood by:

Deborah Levy’s memoir trilogy.

What is currently on your nightstand? 

This is not a pity memoir by Abi Morgan, All About Love by bel hooks, The Candy House by Jennifer Egan, Mating in Captivity by Esther Perell (it has permanent residence there).

Favourite bookshop in the world

Daunts bookshop in Marylebone. I bumped into my ex-boyfriend there last Christmas and we stood upstairs reading poetry to one another from whatever we found on the shelves. Such is the romance of a bookshop.

A scent that makes you think of home

My Jo Malone Candle in dark amber and ginger lily, which my sister bought me for my birthday.

If you could spend a day reading in any house in the world, where would you go?

The Bloomsbury House in Charleston, providing they’d let me get cosy on a sofa in front of a fire.