The Curated Shelf: Katharine D’Souza


What was the framework behind why you chose the books you did?
I chose books I’d read, enjoyed, and wanted other people to discover. They’re not necessarily ones which influenced my writing, but they’re ones that stood out from many years of being an avid reader – just a few of the gems discovered along the way. There’s no theme and they’re a varied selection, but each meant something to me when I discovered it.

Being a curator is a bit different than writing, or is it?
Curating a shelf was a lovely opportunity to share the love of reading. It’s not something which has to be solitary experience, after all. Discovering that someone else has read the same book as you is a great point of connection. The Oxfam shop has a wonderful stock of quality books, which made it hard to select just a few. I hope the ones I chose will become someone else’s gem and raise a little money for a great charity.

What do you like about The Curated Shelf idea?
Reading has always been as important to me as writing, and a word of mouth recommendation is a great way to stumble on your next favourite book. The Curated Shelf gave me the opportunity to showcase some books I hope others will love as much as I did. It’s always fun to snoop at someone’s book collection when you visit their house because the books we enjoy reflect facets of their owner’s personalities. This was a chance to share something of my taste – I read widely and hope there’d be a few surprises in the set for anyone who knows my work and expected me to select similar titles.

About Katharine D’Souza
Katharine D’Souza has written two novels, Deeds Not Words and Park Life, both set in Birmingham. In Deeds Not Words a museum curator uncovers secrets from her family’s history and isinspired by a suffragette ancestor to do the right thing in her own life.In Park Life very different neighbours become friends as they help each other solve what turn out to be very similar problems. Katharine writes novels and short stories and is a member of the Pow-Wow writers’ group in Moseley @KatharineDS

Katharine’s Picks

1984 by George Orwell

I can still recall the impact reading this had on my entire English class at school. Often listed for having brilliant opening and final sentences — the story in between is rightly a classic.

A Passage to India by E.M. Forster

I overlooked Forster as a teenager. It doesn’t seem to have done lasting harm.

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

One of my much loved childhood favorites. Read and re-read…

Bleeding Heart Square by Andrew Taylor

Serendipity brought me to this book. While working in London, I passed Bleeding Heart Square on a daily basis. I knew it featured in Dickens, but a name that like continues to inspire. Then I met the author Andrew Taylor at a crime readers’ event and found he’d written this. I recommend it.

Diary of an Ordinary Wonder by Margaret Forster

Don’t be fooled – ‘ordinary’ does not mean ‘boring’. This is an epic tale of twentieth-century woman, packed with experience and wisdom.

Going the Distance edited by Alan Bond

As a writer, I find the short story a difficult form. To succinctly convey a hard-hitting point and leave the reader thinking is a big ask. Try this collection from former local publisher Tindal Street.

Jane Austen, A Life by Claire Tomlinson

I continue to aspire to Jane Austen’s wit, observation and story — telling powers. Her life story contains insights into what inspired her. I should study and learn.

Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson

I love travelogues, random facts and nerdish attention to detail. Throw in a few jokes and you’ve got the perfect book to dip into while holidaying at home.

One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson

I enjoy Kate Atkinson’s more literary novels, but her detective Jackson Brodie is a marvelous creation. Case Studies is the first in the series but do dive in here for what one describes as, ‘a jolly murder mystery’!

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday

As a former public sector worker, I found the bureacracy and office politics in this story hilarious. The understated hero is everything any office worker wished to be. Funny, charming and unbelievably real.

Spies by Michael Frayn

All children like to play games, but in war time games can be dangerous. This story evokes all the fear of a game which becomes serious. Intriguing and moving.

Under the Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas

Of course the audio version of this read by Richard Burton is well worth seeking out but the characters and humour are all here on the page. Read it and recognise your neighbors.