Oliver Jeffers: ‘Catch-22 was the first time I had a physical reaction to a book’ – The Guardian

December 17, 2021 by No Comments

My earliest reading memory
I was being read a picture book of Waltzing Matilda by my dad, when my nose started bleeding again; I’d been hit with a ball in the face earlier in the day. A big drop splatted right in the middle of the book and I remember thinking: “Uh oh – I’ve ruined a book!” I still have that book and I still see the dried-out splotch.

My favourite book growing up
The BFG by Roald Dahl. It was the first book that didn’t feel like homework. There was a darkness to it that felt forbidden, but still on the right side of scary. I felt very proud when I’d finished it, but also sad as I didn’t want it to be over. A feeling I’ve grown used to over the years.

The book that changed me as a teenager
I was not a big reader as a teenager. I had too much else going on, like being a failed delinquent, football, and helping look after my mother. But I read The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger, a nonfiction book about a convergence of weather patterns in a north Atlantic storm that made waves so big they broke the equipment used to measure them, and a human story that weaves through the scientific data. It hooked me on a life of reading nonfiction, and the true seismic shift of reading that book was the realisation that storytelling wasn’t just about fiction.

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The writer who changed my mind
Richard Dawkins, in my very early 20s, about the difference between agnosticism and atheism. I read some of his work at a turbulent time in my life. I had just lost my mother, having been raised Catholic, and feeling the church was wildly hypocritical, I became, as I used to say, “devoutly” atheist. But I came to understand that this too was a story, and one that was as potentially closed-minded as any of the major religions. Agnosticism, on the other hand, left open the possibility that we humans couldn’t possibly know everything. I have given up on trying to be sure of anything and it is liberating. Ironically, Dawkins himself is a famous atheist, but there is a relief in being absent from the arrogance of both atheism and religion. The only main …….

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/dec/17/oliver-jeffers-catch-22-was-the-first-time-i-had-a-physical-reaction-to-a-book


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