I was lucky enough to meet Clay in February. I had spent my birthday in Broughton Vale at the beautiful Milkwood Barn and on the way back to Sydney we stopped at the Bouquiniste Book Cafe to meet Clay and his wife Hannah. Clay, owner of bouquiniste and writer on the south coast of New South Wales, has held many different roles, including a lawyer, optical dispenser, club DJ, creative writing tutor, and saxophonist in a Chinese restaurant. He received his MA from Sydney University before studying in the UK and graduating from Oxford University with Honors for his Masters in Creative Writing. In 2017 he opened the Bouquiniste Bookstore Cafe Wine Bar, where he is a licensee, book curator, occasional DJ and head dishwasher. His YA book 100 Remarkable Feats of Xander Maze will be out in June.
Read on for the eight books Clay would take to the sandy beach of a desert island – from his favorite classic to a Gothic melodrama in Barcelona.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
My favorite book since I first read it in high school. With Nick Carraway, Fitzgerald Gatsby always keeps Gatsby at a distance, so that we have the feeling that we know everything and nothing about him at the same time. But I know one thing for sure: I want to celebrate at Gatsby’s, an old sport.
Buy The Great Gatsby at Bookshop.org, Book Depository, Waterstones, Amazon, or Amazon AU.
In Search of Alaska by John Green
Miles Halter, obsessed with famous last words, goes to boarding school to “look for a big maybe”, the last words of the poet Francois Rabelais. Miles finds this and more than he expected in Alaska Young – enigmatic, beautiful, broken. A hurricane.
Buy Looking for Alaska at Bookshop.org, Book Depository, Waterstones, Amazon or Amazon AU.
The book thief by Markus Zusak
A book that tells of death and is full of hearts. This is a little story of humanity in a great tragedy.
Buy The Book Thief at Bookshop.org, Book Depository, Waterstones, Amazon or Amazon AU.
The Secret Story of Donna Tartt
Everything that makes a Greek tragedy. The book begins with Richard Papen’s story of a murder by his group of elite college friends, and then tells us how much he misses his friends. After reading this book, I made myself president of the official unofficial Donna Tartt Fan Club. Memberships are open, with the introduction of ringing random numbers in the hope of speaking to Donna Tartt at some point.
B.uy The secret story of Bookshop.org, Book Depository, Waterstones, Amazon or Amazon AU.
The remains of the day of Kazuo Ishiguro
Ishiguro takes us on an incredible road trip with Mr. Stephens, revealing many secrets to the reader that Mr. Stephens himself does not want to grapple with, including the story of his previous employer, his relationship with this father, and his feelings for the woman he is driving to visit . A wonderful portrait of self-denial.
Buy the RemaIns of the day from Bookshop.org, Book Depository, Waterstones, Amazon or Amazon AU.
I am a pilgrim from Terry Hayes
A body in a bathtub full of acid, a narrator from his previous life and an eyeball scene you will never forget. Pilgrim is one of those rare stories that both protagonists and antagonists follow until you wait with anticipation for the moment they meet, which is very expectant in a 900-page book.
Buy I Am Pilgrim at Bookshop.org, Book Depository, Waterstones, Amazon or Amazon AU.
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruis Zafon
A Gothic melodrama set in Barcelona in the 1940s, based on a cemetery of forgotten books. This book takes the reader to another time and world, with wonderfully blended characters and elements that pay an ode to the classics. There is nothing like it.
Buy the Shadow of the Wind at Bookshop.org, Book Depository, Waterstones, Amazon or Amazon AU.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
Captain Nemo. Otherwise nothing needs to be said.
Buy 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea from Bookshop.org, Book Depository, Waterstones, Amazon, or Amazon AU.
The outsiders of SE Hinton
The old classic from The Greasers vs The Socs and the struggles that force people to realize they are more alike than they want to admit. Also, my favorite opening line: “When I stepped out of the darkness of the film house into the bright sunlight, I only had two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a trip home.
Buy The Outsiders at Bookshop.org, Book Depository, Waterstones, Amazon or Amazon AU.
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