This is a photograph of me reading the last volume in Edward St Aubyn’s series of novels about the Melrose family, which is called At Last. I chose it because I heard the author discussing the novels at the Adelaide Writers Week in March and was fascinated. I bought all five books – despite having already read the fourth, Mother’s Milk, when it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize – and literally consumed them all in the couple of weeks I was in Australia, says Ms Ursula Mackenzie, President of the UK Publishers Association.
It brought back to me the extraordinary power novels can have to take over your conscious life, as you desperately try to find opportunities to escape from what you really ought to be doing and return to your book. This is what reading has meant to me since early childhood and I have been lucky to be able to spend my entire career working with books. I also thought it neatly demonstrated the power and effectiveness of literary festivals to reach new readers, added Ms Mackenzie.