The Voice of an Extraordinary Booklover

What title does a member of The League of Extraordinary Booklovers treasure most? What does she snack on while reading? League member Miriam Johnson answers these questions and more below.

You lead an action-packed double life, spreading the power of books, tell us about that.

My life revolves around literature AND IT’S AMAZING! When I’m not working on The Istanbul Review or selling books at Edinburgh Books or teaching English Lit tutorials at the uni, I am helping out with the West Port Book Festival, writing restaurant reviews for and looking forward to Book Week Scotland and being a League Member.


What are your most treasured books?

As treasured objects, I have a few books that someone would have to pry from my cold, dead hands, and they range from Dr. Seuss’ One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, which was the first book I learned to read; to Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse where, in reading, it was the first time I realised that an author can suspend time and make moments hover in the air. There’s also Pessoa’s Book of Disquiet, which is an interesting insight into Portugal’s best least-known author, and my signed copy of John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil that I bought with my first pay check from a part-time job selling horse feed and boots.


What is your favourite snack to eat while you are reading?

Peanuts or popcorn. I don’t really have the patience to sit in a movie theatre or even stay put in my own house long enough to watch a whole movie and eat popcorn like a normal person, so I’ll happily eat my body weight in it while reading — and if someone keeps bringing it to me, I will just keep eating.


If you could bring back any author from the dead as a dinner guest, who would it be and why?

To bring them back to life only to kill them again isn’t a valid answer, is it?

In that case, I would bring back Woolf, Wilde, Joyce and Eliot. I would bake them pecan pie and spike their drinks with anti-depressants and then sit back and watch them interact. I expect there would be giggling and pandemonium; just imagine all those egos and intellects going full-tilt! (I suspect that Woolf would have a wicked sense of humour)


What festive reads would you recommend?

That’s a tough one. I don’t really break my year up into seasonally ordered reads, and my own ‘light’ reading tends to be a bit on the ridiculous side, so it’s hard to say. Though, I always try to read ‘A Visit from St. Nicholas’ and I thought Grisham’s book Skipping Christmas was grand, since I had been trying to convince my family to skip Christmas and we all go on a holiday for years before the book came out.

Miriam Johnson

Miriam Johnson is a co-founder of The Istanbul Review, works at Edinburgh Books, and is a general manager for the West Port Book Festival as well as being a member of The League of Extraordinary Booklovers. She has a background in publishing, has too many degrees, and has an affinity for poetry, spoken word and bad music.