Reading Confessions: Catherine Rayner

Catherine Rayner is an award-winning Scottish author/illustrator. As she launches her latest book Abigail we tracked her down to get her Reading Confessions.

Abigail Print Competition

This competition is now closed. We asked people to tell us their favourite animal characters from literature - their answers are below.



Do you judge books by their covers? 

I think I do. I can’t help it. I’m a visual person. However, if somebody has personally recommended a book I wouldn’t give the cover a second glance. I’m very into book design – there are some magnificent covers out there and I frequently buy books because I think that they are stunning objects in themselves. I will read them at some point, but I like stroking them, sniffing at them and looking at them too.

Have you ever cried in public because of a book?

Has anybody not? I recently read A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. I thought it was an amazing book but I read it on a busy London train and was literally sobbing. The pages are now very wrinkly.

What’s your opinion on reading in the bath?

Heaven! One of my very favourite things, a nice cup of tea, or a glass of wine with a book in a hot bath – pure luxury!

How do you react to bad reviews?

Bad reviews for my books? Gulp and move on. I’ve had some before where reviewers clearly hadn’t read the book. This is frustrating. If I read a bad review of a book I’m planning to read – I’ll read it anyway. It’s very interesting to hear others' opinions of books, but, it is just one person's opinion.

Where do you stand on spinebreaking?

I love a tatty well-handled book. It shows it’s been loved and gives it character. If breaking the spine makes it easier to read, then go for it.

What’s the worst/trashiest book you secretly love?

I love trashy novels. Pants on Fire by Maggie Alderson springs to mind. Just great fun, light-hearted, tear-jerking and humorous reading. The perfect beach read!

Have you ever pretended to have read a book to impress someone?

Yes – Harry Potter because my (now) husband loved it!

We had just started dating and he was obsessed with the books. I really couldn’t face picking the first one up but he was so absorbed I joined in so that we could talk about them, and I’d have something to do whilst he was reading. I’d always be one or two books behind as I’m a slow reader. Later, we would wait together for the next in the series to go out and buy it. We have two copies for the last two books. I don’t think he realised that’s why I initially read them. I then became a massive fan! I probably wouldn’t have read them all if it wasn’t for him as previous to that I hadn’t been remotely tempted (which I probably shouldn’t admit as a children’s author!). I think I was trying to avoid the hype, I’m now SO pleased I didn’t!

How do you arrange your bookshelf?

Hmm, I’m afraid to say I don’t. It’s all a bit higgledy piggledy, although my husband frequently threatens to arrange them all alphabetically. I’ve always rather liked the idea of grouping them in colours…

Do you ever turn to the back of a book and read the end first?

If not, what would you say to such people? I’ve done it a couple of times when I literally couldn’t bear the suspense and needed to know that a character survived or something. I’m sorry, I know it’s not the ‘done thing’ but I’m soft and like to know if everything’s going to be ok sometimes! It doesn’t ruin the story for me. It just meant that I could fall asleep after reading, as I know it’ll all work out in the end (or not...).

Abigail by Catherine Rayner

Have you ever surreptitiously rearranged discount stickers in a book shop?

Now that’s a good idea…

Is there a book you have never been able to finish?

I’ve got a couple beside my bed just now. This is mainly because our toddler is a bad sleeper so I’m exhausted and currently fall asleep with a book in hand – inevitably lose the page and have to go back a bit. One of the books, though, is Fifty Shades of Grey. It was just getting a bit ridiculous… those who have read it will know exactly what I mean. I’ll be interested to see how they make the film!


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