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Interview with Fiona Snyckers

Reading means borrowing. ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Aphorism
This is always in the back of my mind.  They say there is nothing new under the sun and that all ideas are endlessly recycled, but I still cherish the idea of originality.  For this reason, I try to avoid reading books with a strong, individual style while I’m writing because I find that style creeping into my own work and then have to go back and edit it out.

I would never read a book if it were possible for me to talk half an hour with the man who wrote it. ~Woodrow Wilson

Sorry, Woodrow, I completely disagree.  Writers and their books are not synonymous in the least.  Many of the writers I know are shy, awkward, tongue-tied individuals.  Then you read their books and get swept away by their feverish, muscular imaginations.  Thank goodness for the written word as it allows the introverts among us to express themselves.

To read a book for the first time is to make an acquaintance with a new friend; to read it for a second time is to meet an old one. ~Chinese Saying

A lot of people don’t get this.  They believe that there are so many new books to read in the world that you are wasting your time rereading old ones.  But my favourite books are the ones I want to read again and again just for the pleasure of lingering in the worlds they have created.

Having your book turned into a movie is like seeing your oxen turned into bouillon cubes. ~John LeCarre

I don’t know if this is true but I would love the opportunity to find out.

From my point of view, a book is a literary prescription put up for the benefit of someone who needs it. ~S.M. Crothers
I have always used books as medicine to make me feel better.  When things are difficult I have my go-to books that I always turn to when I want to feel soothed or comforted. P.G. Wodehouse is a particular favourite.

He who lends a book is an idiot. He who returns the book is more of an idiot. ~Arabic Proverb

This reminds me of what Thando Mgqolozana has frequently written about the book reading habits of South Africans.  As a writer who wants to make money it might be dispiriting to think of one copy of your book making its way through many different readers, becoming more dog-eared by the day, but it is also hugely encouraging.  I personally love the idea of my book doing the rounds, passing from hand to hand, and being enjoyed by many.

Books - the best antidote against the marsh-gas of boredom and vacuity. ~George Steiner

Yes, indeed. Anyone who has even one unread book in their possession has no excuse for saying, “I’m bored”.

I'm a bookaholic on the road to recovery. Ha, not really. I'm on the road to the bookstore. ~Author unknown

I always feel a tingle of excitement when I see a bookshop in the distance and I can never pass one without going in to have a quick browse.  It is so encouraging to hear that paper books have made a significant recovery against e-books both locally and abroad.

There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book; books are well written or badly written. ~Oscar Wilde, Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

This debate still rages today, especially in the field of books for children and teenagers.  I believe children should be reading widely and voraciously and that it’s not the business of adults to limit or restrict them.  Nothing puts a kid off books faster than the feeling that they are supposed to be “good for you”.  That said, I’m obviously not about to hand my eleven-year-old Fifty Shades of Grey to read.

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. ~Richard Steele, Tatler, 1710

This is true, but it shouldn’t be the reason we read books.  Otherwise our reading habits will go the way of our gym memberships in March.  The only thing that will make people read is if they enjoy it.  The fact that it makes their minds strong and agile is just a side benefit.

[W]omen and books should be looked at daily. ~Dutch Proverb

Okay, Dutch proverb, don’t irritate me with your patriarchal male gaze.  Let’s just agree that books should be looked at daily and leave women out of it.

I'm a bad girl. I read past my bedtime. ~Author unknown

I think all book lovers know that feeling of waking up with a book hangover, having read most of the night.  You wake up exhausted and shaky, with wisps of dreams about the book still drifting around in your brain, and it’s totally worth it.

Americans like fat books and thin women. ~Russell Baker

Dear Russell Baker, please can I recommend several feminist books that will help you get over this unfortunate tendency to objectify women?

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~Francis Bacon
I know a lot of readers who are prepared to “taste” a book and then put it down unfinished, but I find it very difficult. If an author has gone to all the trouble of writing a book, the least I can do is read it. I have wasted many hours of my life in this way.

There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them. ~Joseph Brodsky

The apartheid government discovered this in the 1980s - if you want to hide something from people, write it in a book.  Fortunately that is changing as we develop more of a reading culture in South Africa.  There are fewer and fewer unread books lying around. 

- Fiona Snyckers’ latest book is Now Following You, published by Modjaji Books. She is also the author of the Trinity series of novels, the Sisterz series of mobile novels, and several short stories. 


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