Biblio-buzz 2021: Books that made me…Pickled Pepper Books

Biblio-buzz 2021, the Alexandra Palace Children’s Book Award, is now underway! Young people across Haringey and beyond are taking on our reading challenge, immersing themselves in six selected texts, before our finale week – packed full of fun, including meeting the books’ authors –  in June.

Biblio-buzz is supported by local writers, schools, libraries and book shops in order to introduce the world of literature to young people. As we count down to our finale, we’re asking our friends and partners to celebrate the books that have shaped their love of reading. Starting us of is Steven Pryse from Pickled Pepper Books in Crouch End, which is one of the official suppliers of the Biblio-buzz 2021 books.

The book I am currently reading: Monolithic Undertow: In Search of Sonic Oblivion by Harry Sword. If there’s one thing I like more than listening to music it’s reading about music. This book covers the history of drone from neolithic times to Indian ragas through to contemporary bands like Earth and Sunn O))) still exploring the meditative, mystical qualities inherent in drone. It’s heavy stuff!

The book that changed my life: Asterix! My mum used to take me to the local library every week and being able to borrow as many of his adventures as I could carry, free from any adult interference showed me the joy of reading and the amazing feeling that came from being able to choose your own books rather than just being given the set school books. Without Asterix and the library I’m not sure Pickled Pepper Books would exist…

The last book that made me cry: Ducks, NewburyPort by Lucy Elllmann. Surely to be seen as a classic of early 21st century literature. As a whole it’s an often terrifying picture of contemporary society but on every page there are heartbreaking and heart warming moments that give rise to hope too.

The book that I wish I’d written: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak is just wonderful. It’s such a simple story but there’s so much to think about on every page and literally a riot for the imagination!

The book that has got me through lockdown/the pandemic: I’ve turned to short stories as a way of carving out some time within a busy household juggling work and home schooling over the last year.  Collections from George Saunders, Ottessa Moshfegh and Truman Capote have all helped me snatch brief moments to escape to other worlds.

The book that makes me happy: I love ghost and supernatural stories, anything that sends a frisson of fear up my spine and am constantly on the look out for more. Affinity by Sarah Waters and Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel are next on my list. 

The book that I always recommend: London Belongs to Me by Norman Collins. As good as any soap or netflix drama this wonderfully evokes London on the eve of the Second World War and has a Dickensian cast of characters that I still find myself wondering what they might be doing. There’s a very funny reference to Crouch End too!

My earliest reading memory: The Eggbox Brontosaurus by Michael Denton. Along with my Secret Seven collection this had pride of place on my bedroom bookshelf and library records suggest it was my most loaned item to myself 🙂 

The book that is my guilty pleasure: Anything by Stephen King who along with James Herbert was my gateway to ‘adult’ books as a teenager but which I later found myself renouncing, but Pet Sematary is always calling me back…