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What's on your bookshelf?: author and games writer-abouter Alice Bell


A lady reads a book in Eugène Grasset's Poster for the Librairie Romantique
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Hello reader who is also a reader, and welcome back to Booked For The Week - our regular Sunday chat with a selection of cool industry folks about books! You likely already know that books are made from trees, but did you know that Kindles are made from discarded tree asset packs? My uncle, who is a tree, told me that. This week, it's the one and only author and games-worder-abouter, Alice Bell! Cheers Alice! Mind if we have a nose at you bookshelf?

What are you currently reading?

Butter, by Asako Yuzuki. It's a dense Japanese psychological thriller (ish? Kind of?) about a journalist bonding with a woman convicted of murdering multiple men, via sharing recipes. Graham said he saw loads of people reading it on the Tube when he was in London recently, so that makes me a basic bitch reader, I guess? It's a slow read. I'm only on page 34. It's very methodical. I think I'm enjoying it. I really like the paper stock on the copy I have, actually. Reading a book is a sensory experience too!

What did you last read?

I Want To Die But I Want To Eat Tteokbokki, by Baek Sehee. It's a short and brutally honest non-fiction account going to therapy with persistent, low grade depression. I liked it! Before that it was The Tattoo Murder by Akimitsu Takagi (also good), so I guess I've been on a translated works kick lately. And before that, The Illustrated Man, a collection of short sci fi (mostly) horror stories by Ray Bradbury. It was the first time I've read Bradbury, don't @ me.

What are you eyeing up next?

I got a great copy of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings from a book swap with my local book club recently and that is looking at me right now. My brother recommended The Chain via a friend of his, but I don't actually own that yet. I'm also half way through The Body Keeps The Score, but I'm taking a little break from it.

What book do you quote from the most?

I don't think I quote from books very often. I remember a lot of I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith, which is one of my two favourite books. At the end (not really a spoiler) the main character, whose diary the book is, is running out of space in her notebook and writes, "I love you, I love you, I love you" in the margin. Earlier in the book she's looking back at poetry she wrote when she was younger, where she describes a "frank-eyed floweret, kitten-whiskered", and says this as a bad line because it "sticks in your throat like fish bones". I've used the fish bone descriptor with freelancers when editing work. Writing is a sensory experience, too. Sometimes sentences just taste wrong.

What book do you find yourself bothering friends to read?

Recently it's Our Wives Under The Sea by Julia Armfield. Deep-sea transhumanist lesbian love story. It's incredible.

What book would you like to see someone adapt to a game?

Silly question, it's already happening.

Of all the people who would understand that the real point of the column is to name every book in existence, I would have thought Alice was a shoe in. Alas, it was not to be, so pop back next week for another cool industry person telling us about their favourites. No more journos, though. Alice only got in because she writes novels, which are a form of book. I'm not too familiar with her work otherwise, but I get the sense she'd make a damn fine editor. I imagine she'd make every writer she worked with feel great about their work, even while nudging it into decisively better shape. I imagine, should the perfidious, benighted winds of fate ever carry her away, you'd have to salute her legacy so hard you dented your own skull.

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