WHAT BOOK would singer Tracey Thorn take to a desert island?

WHAT BOOK would singer-songwriter Tracey Thorn take to a desert island?

  • Singer-songwriter Tracey Thorn is currently reading Luster by Raven Leilani
  • She would have taken War And Peace to a desert island before Covid lockdown
  • After only reading 10% of it in lockdown, she would take Elizabeth Taylor’s works 
  • And C S Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe gave her the reading bug

… are you reading now?

Luster by Raven Leilani — a novel about a young black woman trying to navigate the worlds of work and love and relationships. 

It manages to capture a modern landscape of sexual and racial politics, while also being very funny.

I love reading books with a vivid heroine at the centre — and by that I don’t mean she has to be perfect, or some stereotype of a ‘strong woman’, but just a woman who is unique, complicated and dealing with the business of being alive.

Tracey Thorn (pictured with Max Porter) said she would take the complete works of Elizabeth Taylor or Anthony Powell’s A Dance To The Music Of Time to a desert island with her

… would you take to a desert island?

My answer to this used to be War And Peace, which I’ve always meant to read, but then when Covid struck and we went into lockdown I decided now – with no distractions, and with some of the isolating experience of being on a desert island – was the perfect time to read it.

My Kindle tells me that I managed 10 per cent, so I now think perhaps it is not my perfect desert island book after all. 

Maybe instead I should take something I know I love, like the complete works of Elizabeth Taylor or Anthony Powell’s A Dance To The Music Of Time, which I could read endlessly.

The singer-songwriter revealed C S Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe first gave her the reading bug

… first gave you the reading bug?

The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe by C S Lewis. I read it when I was still young enough that the boundaries between fact and fiction were somewhat blurred in my mind, so the magical world of Narnia, accessed through the back of a wardrobe, seemed entirely real to me.

It was so vivid and alive, I could see Narnia clearly inside my mind, I could feel the cold of the snow.

Later, at university, a lecturer casually mentioned the idea that Aslan the lion, who dies to save the children and is then resurrected, is a clear Christian allegory, Aslan being Jesus Christ.

I was astonished. It had never occurred to me.

… left you cold?

I hate slagging off other people’s books, so I will confine my answer to the safely dead and just recall briefly the utter dread with which I approached one of my A-level set texts, The Poems Of Robert Browning. 

Although it makes me laugh that I can still actually quote lines from some of his poems. 

Maybe no reading experience is ever completely wasted, even if you don’t get anything out of it at the time.

My Rock ‘n’ Roll Friend, by Tracey Thorn, is out now (Canongate, £16.99).

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