This week’s guest on Books Spark Joy is West Australian author Louise Allan. Louise’s debut novel The Sisters’ Song was released in 2018. Louise grew up in Tasmania where she studied Medicine and went on to become a GP, before moving across the country to Perth. She worked in the field of breast cancer until she ceased practising Medicine in 2010 and took up writing. Louise is married with four children and two dogs. Apart from her family and writing, she enjoys music, photography, walking and nature. You can learn even more about Louise in her first ever blog post.
Where do you keep your books?
Books are everywhere in this house, in every room and on every surface. We have dedicated bookshelves, but they cover my bedside table, as well as coffee tables. My younger son’s bed holds them in the bedhead and in a drawer underneath (as well as on a bookshelf). I also have books in boxes and in storage. Oh, and on my kindle, too.
I keep my writing books and my adult fiction in my attic, but there’s a wall of books in the lounge, where I keep our music books, children’s books and encyclopaedias.
Before a recent verge collection, we visited our storage unit and I found about a dozen boxes of kids’ books that I’d forgotten I’d kept. Going through them brought back so many memories and I just can’t bear to part with them. I hope that one day my kids will want them to read to their kids.
Do you hoard or pass your books along?
I only keep books I love or want to re-read. I wish I had room to keep more, but we just don’t have the physical space. I’m very good at giving books away—I love the thought that someone else is enjoying them.
How do you feel about lending books?
I’ve learnt not to lend books I love because they don’t come back—I’ve had to buy more copies of some of them. To all those ‘friends’ who’ve ‘borrowed’ one of my books and not returned it: I remember each and every one of you. 🙂
How does your bookshelf tell the story of your life?
My bookshelf doesn’t really tell the story of my life because I’ve given away so many books. If I’d kept them all, it would certainly plot the arc of my life: from Anne of Green Gables and the Silver Brumby series of my childhood, to Danielle Steel, Harold Robins and Judith Krantz during my teens. I read Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Thomas Hardy in my twenties, as well as medical texts. A bit later, I moved on to non-fiction, largely self-improvement books, like Stephen Covey and Martin Seligman. Once I had children, I couldn’t read enough parenting and child-rearing books.
I’ve only ever owned a smattering of books on gardening and cooking, enough to get me by, which reflects my interest in these areas. I have a ton of books on music and painting, things I am interested in, not that my skills lie in either of those areas. Most recently, of course, are all my writing books.
Not that long ago, I parted with most of my medical texts. It hurt, but I’d not glanced at most of them since medical school and most were out of date now. I kept a few for posterity, and I figured that unless we’ve evolved since the ‘90s, my anatomy book will still be accurate.
How do you organise your books?
I organise my fiction books alphabetically, and my non-fiction by subject. The books in the kids’ rooms are, quite frankly, not organised!
Are you a print or digital reader?
Both. I love the feel of an actual paperback, but I also read on a kindle because I can enlarge the font.
Do you write surrounded by books?
Yes. They’re everywhere in my attic—next to my computer, along one wall, and on a bookshelf on another.
Do you read while you’re working on a book and if so what do you read?
Yes, I do, but I have to be very careful because it influences my writing. Sometimes, I can’t read the books I love because I try to imitate the author. Plus, they don’t help my confidence—sometimes, when I read something really beautiful, I think I might as well give up now!
Share a book that immediately sparks joy in you when you hold it?
All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr. I love every single word of this book and I’ve read it three times in the last twelve months. It’s so beautiful it could make me feel like giving up, but then I read that it took Doerr ten years to write, which shows that a good book can take a long time.
Connect with Louise: