I was lucky enough to meet Clay back in February. I had spent my birthday in Broughton Vale at the beautiful Milkwood Barn, and en route back to Sydney we popped into Bouquiniste Book Cafe to meet Clay and his wife Hannah. Owner of Bouquiniste, and a writer from the South Coast of NSW, Clay has held many varied 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 distinction for his Master’s in Creative Writing. In 2017, he opened Bouquiniste Bookstore Cafe Wine Bar, where he is the licensee, book curator, occasional DJ and head dishwasher. His YA book, 100 Remarkable Feats of Xander Maze is out in June.
From his favourite classic to a gothic melodrama set in Barcelona, read on for the eight books Clay would take with him to the sandy shores of a desert island…
The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald
My favourite book since I first read it in high school. Through Nick Carraway, Fitzgerald always keeps Gatsby at arm’s length from the reader, making us feel like we know everything and nothing about him at the same time. One thing I know for sure though, I want to party at Gatsby’s, old sport.
Looking for Alaska by John Green
Miles Halter, obsessed with famous last words, sets off to boarding school to ‘seek a great perhaps’, the final words of poet Francois Rabelais. Miles finds this and more than he bargained for in Alaska Young – enigmatic, beautiful, broken. A hurricane.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
A book narrated by Death and full of heart. This is a small story of humanity within a huge tragedy.
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
All the makings of a Greek tragedy. The book opens with Richard Papen’s narration of a murder by his group of elite college friends, and then proceeds to tell us how much he misses his mates. After I read this book, I named myself the President of the official unofficial Donna Tartt Fan Club. Memberships are open, with an initiation of ringing random numbers in the hope of eventually speaking to Donna Tartt.
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
Ishiguro takes us on an incredible road trip with Mr Stephens, letting the reader in on many secrets that Mr Stephens himself refuses to come to terms with, including the history of his former employer, his relationship with this father, and the feelings for the woman he is driving to visit. A wonderful portrait of self-denial.
I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes
A body in a bathtub full of acid, a narrator running from his former life, and an eyeball scene you will never forget. Pilgrim is one of those rare stories that follow both protagonist and antagonist until you’re waiting with anticipation for the moment they meet, which is a lot of anticipating in a 900-page book.
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruis Zafon
A gothic melodrama set in Barcelona in the 1940’s based around a Cemetery of Forgotten Books. This book transports the reader to another time and another world, with wonderfully blended characters and elements that pay ode to the classics. There is nothing like it.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
Captain Nemo. Nothing else needs to be said.
The Outsiders by S.E Hinton
The old classic of the The Greasers vs The Socs, and the battles that force people to realise they are more alike than they’re willing to admit. Also, my favourite opening line, ‘When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.
Love this post? Click here to subscribe.
This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using this link.