We were joined in the Library by Jamie Catto, for an intimate and in-depth talk through five books that explore worlds and relationships on another level.

On the evening of the 21st November, we were generously joined by the inimitable Jamie Catto for a tour of five books he always returns to, or is currently enjoying. All now available in our library for our community to borrow, and taking in ideas on everything from complex sci-fi to untapped potential.

A founding member of the band Faithless and multi-award winning film company 1 Giant Leap, Jamie is an established collaborator, working with the likes of Michael Stipe, Brian Eno and Kurt Vonnegut. This timely talk coincided with the recent publication of Jamie's book Insanely Gifted, which convinces readers that it is "time to unleash your genius" and "dare to be our real selves".

Dotted throughout readings from the chosen books was some sage advice on living unhindered in the modern age. Jamie randomises his newsfeeds on Sundays to burst his political bubble and reads for four hours a day as frequently as possible. For Jamie, reading: "takes me places that I have never been in an original way" and has led him to keep first editions of his favourite novels in a bookshelf that's within arms reach of his bed. 

His book recommendations can be found below, and in reach on our shelves.

Winters Tale by Mark Helprin
Set in New York City, Jamie described this as his favourite novel of all time, in part because of the exceptional dialogue surrounding the characters falling in love. A strong warning to anyone not to watch the movie before reading.

Pastoralia by George Saunders
The first collection of short stories in this list, Jamie read one short story that jumbled language in a fast-paced telling of a childlike character with a drowned self-esteem figuring out his demons, with an ending that never fails to make Jamie tear up. 

Letters from my Windmill by Alphonse Daudet
Daudet left his life and friends in the city, and bought a windmill in Provence to live a quieter, easier lifestyle without the distractions of women, drinking and a busied mind. The result in this collection of short stories is a comforting narrating presence that Jamie praised as "like an Uncle".

The Player of Games - Iain M Banks
For Jamie, Banks is the "mozart of science-fiction". Creating a amalgamation of multi-dimensional worlds with ethical dilemmas and shape-shifting characters, The Player of Games is a whirlwind, engrossing read.

Perdido St Station by China Miéville
Another lengthy science-fiction novel, Perdido St Station combines industrial era technology with fantastical magic, colliding opposing forces in a thriller format. Reading the first chapter, Jamie talked about the illustrative prose style and its effect on your imagination.

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Following in the footsteps of Jamie, and other contributors including Penny Martin, Cath Kidston and Quentin Blake — we'll be sharing our coming reading lists for 2020 shortly.

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