Women & Their Books: Daisy Buchanan

Hello, Happy Friday and welcome back to another installment of Women+Their Books. I'm very excited to bring you today's post with Daisy Buchanan, brilliant wordstress, not morally-questionable Gatsby character. She's the writer of the brilliant How To Be A Grown Up, a book I read and promptly persuaded all the twenty-something ladies in my life to head out and buy immediately. Today it is released in paperback with a snazzy new cover so if you haven't grabbed it yet, you must step away from this blog post, come back(!) when you are done and get a copy. I'm a little biased because Daisy is now one of my Internet-pals but her words are such a comfort and she's a very, very awesome lady so go check out her work. Anyway, I have already made this introduction long enough so let's get on with it...

-What are you currently reading?  

I’ve just finished two books I adored – Social Creatures by Tara Isabelle Burton, a compulsive, compelling glamorous gasp of a novel, imagine Patricia Highsmith writing Gossip Girl – and Oh My God, What A Complete Aisling, by Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen – an incredibly funny and tender story with so much heart and honesty. The authors are master satirists but they work with such love and affection, and they’re so good at telling very human stories.

-What is your most-read book?

Probably the Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford, I read it at least once a year, it always comforts me when I need soothing – again, Mitford is another waspish, wicked satirist who believes in love with her whole heart. There is nothing more glamorous than Mitford’s Paris, and nothing more oddly cosy than the Radlett family home, drafty old Alconleigh. I also reread Tender Is The Night by F Scott Fitzgerald every year, and it makes me catch my breath with its elegance spareness and sadness.

// Alexa Chung, photographed x Tom Craig for Porter Magazine.

-What is your favourite book by a British writer & why?

Oooooh, other than PoL – maybe Look At Me by Anita Brookner. It’s my very favourite sort of novel, where not an awful lot happens but there is a very strong but subtle sense of feeling. Brookner is a magnificent observer of humans, and she knows so much about selfishness and sadness. She wrote this about 30 years ago, but she elegantly describes and explains emotional issues that today’s 30 year old women – me included – struggle with. But can I also pick Bridget Jones’ Diary* by Helen Fielding, Man At The Helm by Nina Stibbe and all of the Adrian Mole books by Sue Townsend?!

-How To Be A Grown Up literally felt like a hug in book form and I am so glad I found it when I did, smack-bang in the middle of my twenties. Were there any books you read as a twenty-something that had a similar effect on you?

Thank you so much! This is exactly how I feel about Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes. Unlike Rachel, I’ve never been addicted to drugs or alcohol, but like Rachel, I have used all of the wrong things because I’ve been frightened of feeling my feelings, I’ve sought attention from people who hurt me, I’ve been selfish and I’ve struggled to understand my family. They say all good books are self help books, really, and Rachel’s Holiday is the greatest self help book I ever read.

-Which women's words in Literature have had a lasting impression on you?

Everything Dorothy Parker has ever written – obviously the puns but the short stories are so perfect and so devastating. She makes one feel so seen, in a very uncomfortable way – I’m thinking especially of Big Blonde and The Price Of LivingAlso, Nora Ephron, not just for being a beautiful and brilliant writer, but for her journalism and her way of making women’s stories significant. I constantly think about a brilliant essay she wrote about the Palm Beach Ladies’ Journal, and the way she drew these fabulous, glamorous mature women and made them so vivid. Joan Didion, of course, and On Self Respectand the elegantly wasted Eve Babitz. 

-Finally, when you were writing How To Be A Grown Up, were you reading anything else at the time? Do you have books around you for inspiration when you write?**

I love to have books near me, always! And I try to read things that are very very different from what I’m writing – I am not always successful in this. I do remember having a day of being so blocked and panicked and anxious and thinking I couldn’t do it – then taking to bed and reading Nina Stibbe’s brilliant Paradise Lodge – Stibbe has never written anything I didn’t adore, and I think her books should be prescribed for better mental health. I think I also read an oral history of MTV, and I was probably in the middle of Tender Is The Night too.

Thank you so much to Daisy for answering my questions. How To Be A Grown up is available now in paperback. NZ friends-head to your local independent bookstore and ask them to order it in for you-shop local and all that jazz. 

*Daisy is part of a panel here discussing Bridget Jones on the BBC's Unpopped podcast. 

**This question was inspired because I remember reading an interview with a writer, cannot for the life of remember who and they said they like to have their favourite books around them when they write. 

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