As any voracious reader knows, there are so many books out there, it can be hard to choose just what to read next. So what could be better than a hand-picked recommendation from someone in the know? Every Wednesday the XOXOAD team likes to find out what some of its favorite authors are reading; today we’ve asked Wendy Leigh, author of the oh-so-sensuous Unraveled By Him to tell us!
Although I always have at least two non-fiction books and two fiction on the go, as my background is in journalism, I still read 8 newspapers every morning (The London Times, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, Independent, The Sun, The Daily Express, The Guardian, and The New York Post) and on Sunday I read the equivalent, plus Vanity Fair, Time, all the fashion magazines and so on. I was both intrigued and slightly titillated to read an explicit interview with the French dominatrix, Catherine Robbe-Grillet in the London Sunday Times(a reprint of a Vanity Fair feature), and even more so to learn that the journalist who wrote it actually underwent a session with Catherine at her French chateau.
On the non-fiction front, I am currently reading Andrew Robert’s biography of Napoleon, a tyrannical, yet charming man, a conqueror, who was responsible for countless deaths, yet who was responsible for The Code Napoleon, the most humane and evolved laws passed until then. And equally as fascinating, his love letters to his wife, the Empress Josephine, which speak of the passion at the very heart of Napoleon, the Corsican peasant who – for a time – ruled Western Europe.
Reading a non-fiction portrayal of Napoleon prompted me to re-read one of the first adult romances I ever read in my life – when I was 11 years old: ‘Desiree’ by Annemarie Selinko, the story of Napoleon’s first fiancée, who – after he cruelly jilted her in favour of Josephine – married one of his generals and became Queen of Sweden.
I loved the book so much that when I was 12, I wrote a play based on it (fan fiction, I guess) and it was produced in my school. I was thrilled, and imagined that I’d be cast as Desiree, only to discover that, to my horror, I was cast as Napoleon! Nonetheless, I love the book and these days – about the tenth time I’ve read it – remain entranced by the love affair between Desiree and Napoleon.
I’ve also always been entranced by Jack Nicholson, whom I met briefly and who gave me an interview for my first book, “What Makes a Woman G.I.B*” (Good in Bed).” Which was partially why I am so enjoying the second volume Anjelica Houston’s autobiography, “Watch Me,” in which she writes in detail about her abortive relationship with Nicholson. But however much I love the book, as a ghostwriter, I wish that I could interview Anjelica, myself, and learn more.
Still on the non-fiction front, I have just finished “The Dark Net,” by Jamie Bartlett, a chilling expose of the sinister side of the Internet. A nightmarish world, and one which some would seek to destroy, and others to maintain – in the service of free speech.
The concept of dark and darkness brings me to “The Girl on The Train,” by Paula Hawkins, which is holding my attention, but still hasn’t quite managed to eclipsed “Gone Girl” for me.