The Tiny Ruins singer and self-confessed bookworm recently released a dreamy new record, Olympic Girls. She shares the novels that have shaped her.
The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman
I was 12 when my class at school went nuts reading this series. As Pullman wrote and released each book, my friends and I would receive them in a fever; it felt like our Harry Potter, which we were slightly too old for. At that age, Pullman’s whole concept of multiple worlds was mind-blowing for me. The Subtle Knife was my favourite in the series – I just loved the characters of Will and Lyra, and the daemons, of course.
Nine Stories: For Esme – with Love & Squalor by JD Salinger
As a teenager, I was that annoyingly ardent JD Salinger fan; I’d take the bus into the city and try to find everything he’d written. My first boyfriend bought me this – a collection of short stories that sort of interrelate. I was obsessed with piecing together the history and characters of the Glass family across all Salinger’s works, but I’m no longer embarrassed by my devotion. Salinger rules!
Just Kids by Patti Smith
This is an incredible story about yearning to be an artist, then becoming and owning being one. Everyone – but teenagers especially – should read it. Patti has a wisdom and strength that make it hard not to be enamoured with her. I loved the swings between heady indulgence and practical down-to-earth-ness that I think characterises the reality of many creative souls.
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
It might be incredibly disturbing, but when I read this I had a profound sense of wonder for the storytelling. Nabokov took the unreliable narrator to new heights –heights of the most heinous manipulation. He really walked a tightrope with this book, morally, and I feel like it ultimately gives Lolita a hell of a lot more power, agency and victory than the film did. It still feels radical and unbelievable.
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
I got completely lost in this series. This, the first book, perfectly described the intensity of childhood friendships, growing up, and the inner worlds of women and the people they hold closest. Ferrante’s writing is acutely psychological, and minutely focused, driven by a narrator whom you love and admonish in equal measure.
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
This one took me a little while to get into, but once I was there, I felt it was one of those books I’d always carry with me. The characters are bizarre and the whole concept is mad, so it’s not for everyone. But I love how all the cumulated aspects of it that could have been kind of nightmarish result in a work of art that’s original, strange and moving.