The Bookish Life of Loukas Christodoulou

Who are you, how do you know Claire and why does she think you’re cool?


Just like Claire my life has two parts, one in the UK and one in Sweden. Maybe I should just compromise between them and live on a rock in the North Sea, make friends with seals and make seaweed jam. I’ve worked for about 20 years as a journalist, mostly at the public radio here, but soon I’ll be leaving to focus on writing, editing and translating after I get my history/sociology teaching certification. Being a radio reporter here has allowed me to interview lots of weird and interesting people, at least one plant and a goat. I also make bad puns and good historical references on twitter, @loukas_doula and blog about storytelling at truestories.substack.com


What was the first book you remember? (Either reading or being read to you)


I can remember reading better than I can remember speaking as a child and I remember characters from books better than my friends’ names. A pop-up book I had about a child’s dream made a huge impression on tiny Loukas. One of the pages was a huge angry orange lion’s head that would pop into you, the reader’s, face. Such a scary book! Reading can be a full-body experience.


What are you reading right now?


Right now I’m reading The Lord of the Rings; yes I’m one of those people. I’ve been reading it since I was 8 and keep finding new things in it. Currently I’m experimenting with starting it towards the end and looping to the start from that, to subvert the usual rhythm of reading it, where after 1,000 pages you can want to rush to the end. I wanted to start at the ending and see it with fresh eyes. Interestingly enough it also made the beginning different as well!


Plan a dinner party with six fictional guests


Now maybe you’d think I would pick Gandlaf, Elrond and Galadriel but NO as any real fan knows they like to communicate by telepathy and so I’d just sit there like a plum, asking them if they want more potato salad while they shimmer their eyebrows at each other in silence. But Bilbo throws good parties and I’d like to have a beer with Sam. I’d also like them to meet Ged and Tehanu from Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea books and see what they have to talk about. Then I’d add Granny Weatherwax for some good advice about what we should all do with ourselves, and round it off with King Arthur. Presumably he’ll be awake, given the current state of England.


If you had to live in the world of one book (or series), which would it be?


Most books that are fun to read aren’t actually that fun to live in. You don’t really want to have to get your water from a well and die of tooth-ache in your fantasy middle ages. The world that is both enjoyable and exciting would be the Culture books by Iain M Banks. It’s an attempt to imagine what problems a society could have if they had solved the energy shortage and basically no one had to work unless they wanted to.


You can read/reread three books for the rest of your life. What’s going on the list?


Some books are like libraries, and arguably Lord of the Rings is one of those. If i was only left with three books then that would be a very comforting one to have. If we were in a crisis and all the books had been destroyed maybe I’d want to keep a book I have with me now, by James Dartnell, which is called How to Rebuild Civilization in the event of a Catastrophe. Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is also a book as big as a library, and was also an inspiration for Lord of the Rings so that might be good to have, if we weren’t in a crisis. Also I really love just reading about language and facts so a really big encyclopaedic and etymological dictionary would be amazing to have. Also you can use them to tell the future by opening them at random; or at least that’s what I do with my Oxford English Reference Dictionary from 1996!



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