5-4-3-2-1: Lisa Williamson

By Jim Dean, January 4, 2016

To celebrate the release this week of The Art Of Being Normal – one of our favourite books of 2015 – in paperback, we got amazing author Lisa Williamson to take part in our 5-4-3-2-1 feature!

Five books you’d save from a burning bookcase

1. One Day by David Nicholls. People seem to either love this book or hate it. I bloody love it. I was already a fan of David Nicholls so I read it the week it came out and like to think I’m a tiny little bit responsible for its word-of-mouth success because the second I’d finished it I banged on about how much I loved it to anyone who would listen. Nicholls’s knack for social observation and nailing a character with just a couple of well-chosen details is spot-on.

2. The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe. Set in 1950s New York, it centres on four women working in a Manhattan publishing house and is gorgeous from start to finish as well as a really unique take on the era (it caused a bit of a scandal when it was released apparently).

3. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. Rebecca Stead is such a good writer it makes me want to cry a bit. This book is so sweet and perfect and downright clever, I read it twice in a row. It’s part mystery, part time travel and part school story, and is a masterclass in plotting.

4. Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld. This is one of those deceptive books where it feels like not a lot of stuff happens but by the time you get to the end you figure about pretty much everything has. It’s about Lee and her time as a scholarship student at an exclusive boarding school. I love detail and Prep is packed with it – everything feels utterly real.

5. The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend. I love the entire series but if I was going to pick just the one to save, it’d have to be the original and best. It takes a lot to make me laugh out loud (or cry) but Adrian never fails to make me giggle. I also always loved the fact Adrian’s from the East Midlands, like me.

Four pieces of advice you’d give yourself if you could travel back in time to before you became a published author

1. Your life will not magically become perfect just because you’ve achieved one of your dreams.

2. Your second book will take you waaaaaaaay longer than you think it will.

3. Keep aside at least two first editions for yourself (I only held on to one and it’s all tatty!).

4. Enjoy it! Oh, and NEVER google yourself.

Three TV shows you can watch all day long (when not busy writing)

1. RuPaul’s Drag Race. So addictive.

2. The Great British Bake Off. Just hearing the theme tune makes my body go all floppy and relaxed. I love any telly about food. The food network is my go-to channel when there’s nothing else decent on. I can lose hours to the Barefoot Contessa.

3. 30 Rock. I love how daft it is and the obvious chemistry between all the cast members.

Two classics you wish more people were reading today

1. Stoner by John Williams. It’s about the rather ordinary life of an academic called William Stoner and is probably the saddest book I’ve ever read.

2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. Another quiet heartbreaker. I have a thing for sad books.

One place you love to read

It’s an obvious answer but in bed on a Sunday morning. Bonus points if it’s raining out.

What do you think?