Jenny Colgan.
Jenny Colgan.

The Good Books, Jenny Colgan: ‘When I was six my parents found me reading a Dr Spock baby book’

The best selling rom-com author on reading parenting books as a child, why she recommends people read Middlemarch and her favourite books of the year.


The first book I remember reading:

Topsy and Tim. I wasn’t reading them, but apparently I’d learned them off by heart. My mum used to show off and pretend I was reading, even though I was only two. I certainly remember loving Richard Scarry; my parents told me later they were the big new thing back then and a rich friend from Canada had sent them for me. I still love him. If you don’t do a job an animal does in Richard Scarry, I’m not sure it’s a real job. There weren’t a lot of books in the house and I remember being about six and my parents finding me reading Dr Spock’s Book of Baby and Child Care and thinking this was hilarious and I didn’t understand why they thought it was so funny. My friend Sophie Kinsella’s parents found her aged five reading Teach Your Child to Read.

A book I recommend to everyone:

Oh everyone is different, but I think people get put off Middlemarch because it’s long and about a village and they’re wrong; it is utterly engrossing and contains everything it is to be human. I absolutely love Dickens, but Eliot is less baroque if he’s not your cup of tea.

The best three books I have read in the last year:

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey because so many writers said it was the best crime book every written and I think they may have a point, I loved it.

Breaking Twitter by Ben Mezrich- I think he’s a sensational writer and this was a much more nuanced and sympathetic insight as to why the Musk takeover went so horribly wrong so fast than many others.

Caledonian Road by Andrew O’Hagan. It’s a proper Bonfire of the Vanities for our times; I absolutely adore its ambition and chutzpah.

A book I didn’t finish:

Nuclear War by Annie Jacobsen. It’s not the book’s fault, she’s a wonderful writer, and I obviously knew what the subject matter would be when I bought it- it’s a  non-fiction state of play book about how we got here and where we are with nuclear warfare- but it was too depressing, even for me and I’m an optimistic person. By the time I got to the ruptured lung zone I was done.

An author who has inspired me:

Helen Fielding, writing funny and true; Judy Blume because she wrote about normal lives and her ability to access teenage emotions was uncanny; Maeve Binchey and James Herriot, because they are so kind to all of their characters, even the difficult ones, and Jilly Cooper just for being hilarious and not giving a toss.

My favourite place to read:

My absolute favourite is in the bath with an infinite amount of hot water- I read on a kindle, so I turn the pages with my nose. Of course in bed at night is good, but like a lot of people I fall asleep on it very quickly. I have lost so many kindles amongst the covers of the Caledonian Sleeper it’s an embarrassment.

The Summer Skies by Jenny Colgan has just been published in paperback by Little, Brown. Her new hardback, Close Knit, will be published by Hodder & Stoughton in August.

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