Saturday, May 3, 2008

Sarah Anderson

Sarah Anderson lectures and writes on travel; her articles have been published in all major British newspapers. She has been a judge for the Whitbread Biography prize, the Shiva Naipaul essay prize and the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award.

Her latest books include the second edition of Inside Notting Hill, co-authored with Miranda Davies, and Halfway to Venus: A One-Armed Journey, her memoir and story of living with one arm.

I recently asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
I always try to have at least two books on the go – one fiction and one non-fiction. I have just finished the biography of John Clare by Jonathan Bate. I knew little about this peasant-poet, who having for a time been the toast of literary London, returned to his roots and eventually incarceration in a mental asylum. The book is gripping and I am now longing to read his poetry – some of which wasn’t published until well into the 20th century. I’d also had no idea how important and, on the whole, how loyal patrons were. A quibble about the edition I read (Picador) – the print was so small I had to strain to read it – bad for middle-aged eyes.

The novel I finished most recently is Alan Paton’s Cry the Beloved Country, a book I had been meaning to read for years. I found it intensely moving and couldn’t believe that it had first been published in 1948. I found myself sobbing on buses (where I do a lot of my reading) – a very powerful book. In the non-fiction department I have just started Colour by Victoria Finlay. It is the story of her search for the colours used in paints – each chapter is devoted to one colour – at the moment I am on ‘Ochre’ and in Australia. The book is full of facts, anecdotes and gives you new ways to look at paintings - I know I am going to love it. I haven’t settled on a new novel yet.
In addition to her travel, lecturing, and writing, Anderson also founded the Travel Bookshop, which formed the setting for the movie Notting Hill.

Check out Anderson's top ten books about wilderness.

Read more about Halfway to Venus.

--Marshal Zeringue