What I read: Author Lauren Keenan

Author Lauren Keenan: Sometimes I want to be intellectually stimulated, other times I'm looking for something light.

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Author Lauren Keenan: Sometimes I want to be intellectually stimulated, other times I’m looking for something light.

I am a very eclectic reader. I read at least two books a week, with a 50/50 split between fiction and non-fiction. I also tend to go through phases of reading different genres depending on my mental abilities.

Sometimes I want to be intellectually stimulated and challenged with new ideas or a complex narrative structure. But other times, I want something lighthearted – a predictable happy-ever-after, or a story where the goodies defeat the infamous two-dimensional villains in a totally unrealistic set of circumstances.

That’s the beauty of reading, isn’t it? It can be both of these things, and so much in between.

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The book I currently have in mind is Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. It’s the kind of book that makes you want to turn to the person next to you and say “did you know..” before sharing some kind of interesting factoid (whether they actually care or not ).

Before that, there was Kurangaituku by Whiti Hereaka (amazing); The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family and Defiance during the Blitz by Erik Larson (fascinating); a compilation of the best Harvard Business Review articles of 2021 (a collection I drew heavily from); and the new Marian Keyes, Again, Rachel (like catching up with an old friend).

I have a record of every book I’ve read since 2003 – 19 years worth of books, each with a short note on what I thought of it. It’s fascinating to look back, because the books that left a lasting impression aren’t always the ones I rated well at the time. Very often their value to you as a reader relates to your position in your life rather than the book itself.

This is why I like to receive recommendations from my relatives, because I can always see the person who recommended the book in what I read. And it’s a real gift from them to me.

Laureen Keenan is a finalist for the 2022 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. Amorangi and Millie’s Trip Through Time (Huia Publishers) is nominated for the Wright Family Foundation’s Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction.

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