Bookshelfie: Mary Anne Hobb’s Late Night Escapes Perfect For Slow Readers

In our new feature in partnership with the Women's Prize for Fiction, BBC Radio 6 DJ and music journalist, Mary Anne-Hobbs shares her five 'hot-pile' reads for when she wants to escape...

Mary Anne Hobbs

by Georgia Aspinall |

One of my guilty pleasures is reading from strangers’ books on crowded trains, buses and trams… just a few sentences from a book that the person next to you is reading, with no other context, is always fascinating.

While I am quite dyslexic -so a very slow reader - I have books all over the house in defiance of it. My ‘hot-pile’ includes these five books, which I will dip into randomly late at night when I’m in my pyjamas and dying to escape...


Mary Anne-Hobbs Bookshelfie - Grazia (stacked)

Mary Anne-Hobbs Bookshelfie - Grazia (stacked)
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CREDIT: Waterstones

My most recent read. The occasional black pages, and hand drawn illustrations are beautiful. I love Rupi's story: She published this book herself, because she'd been told there was 'no market for her poetry', and now it's a New York Times Best Seller, published in 30 languages. Her ability to share such intimate expression, and challenge the narrative of oppression and sexual violence experienced by South Asian girls, is so deeply inspirational.

Mary Anne-Hobbs Bookshelfie - Grazia (stacked)
2 of 5
CREDIT: Penguin

I love the sense space in his writing. Raymond Carver seemed to be able to paint such vivid scenes with so few words. I've always found that his ability to distil what he wishes to express, incredibly powerful. As a broadcaster I am trying to achieve the same, searching for ways to deliver more meaning, and to illuminate, with fewer words. Raymond Carver also wrote my favourite poem 'Late Fragment'.

Mary Anne-Hobbs Bookshelfie - Grazia (stacked)
3 of 5
CREDIT: Penguin

Great books, like great music, often come by way of recommendation. It was Nick Cave who told me I should read this little book, when I interviewed him for my BBC6Music show in 2013. Muriel Spark creates the story of a young woman – lost – with the strangest and most visceral pattern of words. I didn't want to leave home until I'd finished it.

Mary Anne-Hobbs Bookshelfie - Grazia (stacked)
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CREDIT: Thames And Hudson

When David Bowie passed away, a list of 200 of his favourite books was published. This book was at Number 1, so essential reading for a Bowie fan like me. It's a straight, dry Q&A format, but David Sylvester draws something magical from Bacon, about the mercurial nature of the creative process, that I've never heard grounded in words.

Mary Anne-Hobbs Bookshelfie - Grazia (stacked)
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CREDIT: Bloomsbury

I often wish I'd been born early enough to have seen John Coltrane play, and that I could have lived the kind of life Patti Smith describes in her beautiful book 'Just Kids'. I ran away to London and lived on a bus when I was 18, so I really identify with her story of sleeping in parks when she arrived in New York. This book is so evocative of her time as an emerging artist living with Robert Mapplethorpe, you feel you could be walking right beside her.

Mary Anne Hobb's hosts BBC Radio 6 mid-morning show between 10.30am-1pm every weekday and '6 Music Reccommends' from 12am-1am on Wednesday's.

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