Freelance books journalist & scout, Anna James takes the stage for London Book & Screen Week’s 5-minutes with…

What was the last book you read?
I just finished Shobha Rao’s brutal, beautiful short story collection An Unrestored Woman. It’s a linked collection about women uprooted and displaced by the 1947 partition of India.

What’s next on your reading list?
I’ve got several amazing things staring at me from my reading pile; I’m particularly excited to get to Helen Oyeyemi’s new short story collection and Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent.

What is your favourite book to screen adaptation?
Probably Sofia Coppola’s adaptation of Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides. I felt like she really captured the tone of the book in the visual aesthetic of the film and the casting was amazing. The Air soundtrack is incredible as well. More recently I was impressed by Emma Donoghue’s adaption of her own novel Room.

Which writer would you have loved to have met–and why?
It would have to be Virginia Woolf; I think I would be hugely intimidated by her and slightly terrified, especially after reading Priya Parmar’s wonderful novel about her relationship with her sister but imagine having the chance to speak to someone who could write like that.

What TV series are you obsessing over right now?
The third series of Broad City has just started which I adore; it’s a hilarious, weird, affectionate celebration of friends and being young, I love it. I will always love Pretty Little Liars which I dissect with my friend Holly Smale after every episode; we are convinced we’ve worked it out.

Go on, let us know your musical guilty pleasure…
I don’t believe in guilty pleasures because if you’re enjoying it then go for it. I’ve been listening to the Hamilton soundtrack non-stop at the moment.

You’re stranded on a desert island–what 3 books would you want with you?
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton because there is something new to appreciate every time you read it, Anne of Green Gables by Anne Shirley because it would remind me to have Anne’s outlook on being stranded and a box set of His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman because it’s my all time favourite series and I’m due a reread.

What was your first job?
I did a graduate trainee program at Warwickshire County Council Archives where I worked in the record management office cataloguing and delivering the council’s confidential records. I also did a lot of shredding.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Anne Boleyn, Amy Poehler, Emma Watson and Mary Wollstonecraft.

Who has been your greatest inspiration, and why?
In a real life sense, it’s Jacqueline Hughes-Williams who was my manager and deputy head teacher when I was a school librarian. She’s the most inspiring person I’ve ever worked with, her creativity and dedication to getting students to love reading and learning was awe-inspiring. She was so incredibly supportive of me and did so much facilitating so I could carry out all my plans and schemes in the library to get our students engaged with reading for pleasure. We also had the most amazing chats about books and feminism. She always encouraged me to be ambitious but also to make sure I always tried to be a force for good in the world. She would make the most amazing education secretary.

Follow Anna on Twitter @acaseforbooks 

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