Books

BIBLIOPHILES

Her favorites make her laugh or cry

Stine Heilmann

It took British author Jojo Moyes eight novels to crack the best-seller list, but she’s become something of a regular since publishing “Me Before You’’about a young working-class woman hired to take care of a wealthy young man who’s become paralyzed. Moyes picked up Louisa Clark’s story in“After You’’and again in her newest” “Still Me,’’out Jan. 30. The author reads from her book at 7pm, Wednesday, Jan. 31 at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. Tickets are $13.75, but require purchase of her book for $27.

BOOKS: What are you reading currently?

MOYES: I’ve just started Mary Beard’s “Women & Power” after my father — who is in his 70s and far from “woke’’ — called me to say he had read it. “Gosh, aren’t men awful,” he said, and the unlikeliness of this made me laugh so much that I decided to read it myself.

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BOOKS: Has the current moment for women or recent politics inspired any other reading?

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MOYES: If politics has inspired anything it’s an even more relentless trawl of the newspapers and news magazines. I feel as if I need all the help I can get to make sense of it. Of course the next book on my nightstand is Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury.”

BOOKS: What was your last great read?

MOYES:Standard Deviation” by Katherine Heiny. I started it on a flight to Lisbon and was soon laughing so hard I think my husband slightly wanted to trade seats. I felt as if Heiny had peered inside my brain when she created Audra — I have never seen myself in a character before.

BOOKS: Is comedy something you look for in your reading?

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MOYES: I don’t necessarily seek out humor, but if a writer can make me laugh or cry they have my loyalty. The last book that made me laugh until I cried was “Mennonite In A Little Black Dress” by Rhoda Janzen. The last book that made me really sob was Siri Hustvedt’s “What I Loved.” I was in a hotel when I read the devastating happenings within the book, and I cried so hard they sent a concierge to check that I was OK.

BOOKS: Who is the writer you’ve read the most?

MOYES: Kate Atkinson. She never takes the easy route, and every book is different.

BOOKS: Do you read romance novels?

MOYES: Not as a rule, although I read across all sorts of genres. That’s not to say I don’t love a book with a love story, but I’m not keen on romance when it’s formulaic. I am a huge admirer of Liane Moriarty, Lisa Jewell, and Marian Keyes — all of whom write fiction that is intelligent, beautifully plotted, and contain strikingly original characters. They also cover some really tough subjects. My greatest joy as a reader is to be taken somewhere that surprises me — and won’t make me want to hurl the book across the room at the end.

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BOOKS: What’s most likely to make you hurl a book across the room?

‘I cried so hard they sent a concierge to check that I was OK.’

MOYES: Lazy plotting. I went through a stage when I read “literary masterpiece’’ after “literary masterpiece’’ where plot was secondary and everything just sort of petered away, as if the writer had been so focused on linguistic fireworks that they couldn’t be bothered to make a story out of it.

BOOKS: What would people be surprised to find on your bookshelf?

MOYES: The poems of George Herbert, a 16th-century priest. I was taught him at school and find myself returning to his poems in later life. Something about the honesty and simplicity within them that speaks to me.

BOOKS: Do you own any books with special meaning for you?

MOYES: I have a huge collection of comic books by the English newspaper cartoonist Carl Giles. They tell the story of British postwar history through pictorial jokes. I learned most of my history from them. My grandfather loved them, and I inherited them and built on his collection. They feel like family.

BOOKS: How would you change yourself as a reader?

MOYES: I would wear mittens so that I couldn’t pick up my phone.

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