As I was growing up, there was one thing my mother said to me repeatedly: Don’t be a sheep. Don’t be like everyone else. I think this stemmed mostly from her fear of my getting in with the wrong crowd and being scared of a liberal British society where it seemed to her, anything goes.
Lucky for her, that I was a precocious little goody-two-shoes who rarely strayed in to unknown waters. I too feared that liberal world. Observation was more my thing. Reading was too. But I’ve talked about the library and post office previously and their influences on me. The two Tolstoy novels in the house in Serbian and so on.
We live in precarious times during which many things are thrown at us through imagery, film, words – the media in general. Again, my mother would announce: Phantasmagoria! Propaganda! What to believe in all this information available to us. What is kept from us.
As for books. Follow your intuition I say. Just because something is up for a prize, recommended by a national paper, reviewed on a radio programme, doesn’t mean it’s for you. Do your own research. Find what you like. Read what you want. Sometimes you have to go to the ends of the earth for it. I do, especially for international literature – whether it’s in English or its mother tongue. Sift through the rubbish heap of information and source the one thing that speaks to you, that is true to you.