Read All Over – Lyndl Hall


Read All Over celebrates the bookworm in all of us, showcasing readers in Vancouver and the books they love most.

Lyndl Hall is an artist living and working in Vancouver. One winter afternoon we sat around in her warm, cozy apartment and talked books and literature and theory until our cheeks flushed deep with that joy you share when you meet a true book lover. Her library is, like Lyndl herself, small, and eclectically perfect.

On my nightstand:

Home is the Sailor by Jorge Amado
Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm
Dreams by Olive Schreiner

What’s next on your list?

The Fish Can Sing by Halldór Laxness. I also have a collection of short stories by Katherine Mansfield that I want to try. But if I can’t get into either, I usually go to a used bookstore and scan for Penguin paperbacks from the early 1950s to about 1970-ish. Or there is a series of South American literature translations that Avon Bard started publishing in the 1970s – they have white spines and really distinctive covers. I’ve never been disappointed with either. I’m always finding new authors that have been forgotten by the more mainstream consciousness.

What is the most cherished item in your library?

The most cherished item in my library is hard to pin down to one book… I have a series of books that mean a lot to me more in their collection than anything else. A lot of my books remind me of periods of time: where I bought them, who gave them to me, where I read them and who I was with is all kind of mixed up with them: The title of the book is irrelevant in itself. I have art monographs that I value and use quite a lot and some individual editions I care about: a really beautiful copy of The First Temptation of Saint Anthony by Flaubert, my mom’s copy of Alan Paton’s Cry The Beloved Country, a combined edition of Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet, an old copy of The Story of an African Farm, a book of Andrew Wyeth drawings.

What books have changed your life?

There are certain authors that have changed me.  And books that haunt me – ones that have kind of stuck in my mind, affecting everything that comes after reading them. The following are a few in no order:

Things: A Story of the Sixties by Georges Perec
The Story of an African Farm by Olive Schreiner
Run With the Hunted by Charles Bukowski
Queer Phenomenology by Sara Ahmed
Germinal by Emile Zola
The Rosy Crucifixion by Henry Miller
Moscow to the End of the Line by Venedikt Erofeev
Country of My Skull by Antjie Krog
Victoria by Knut Hamsun
The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge by Rainer Maria Rilke
The Sea of Fertility by Yukio Mishima

The one book you always recommend is…

Apart from any of the above, I always recommend without fail, to anyone:

The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien
If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler
by Italio Calvino
The Dwarf
by Pär Lagervist
The Kraken Wakes
by John Wyndham
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
by Carson McCullers.

Are you a hoarder or a give-away-er with books?

I hoard books that are lent to me (I do eventually give them back)… and I lend my own books. I like giving away books, but usually I won’t give away my own collection unless I end up with multiples of a title.

What book or story impressed you as a child?  Were you obsessed with any particular ones?

I read obsessively as a child. My favourite books were by Roald Dahl, specifically Matilda, and The Twits (one of my earliest memories is getting my sister to read this to me). I was terrified by The Witches. But they had to be illustrated by Quentin Blake. A Roald Dahl book without Quentin Blake’s illustrations just isn’t the same. Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories was also a favourite (an oh so colonial favourite). I still love the tone to the book. That refrain of “O my best beloved” – which in hindsight is really quite sad – I think he wrote them all for his daughter, and published them after she had died quite young.

What’s the last book you purchased?

The last book I purchased was a nautical almanac from 1924 that I’m using for an art project.

Lyndl’s website: