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20ish Questions with Courtney Dyer

What’s your name, what do you do and where do you come from?

Courtney Dyer. I am from Western Sydney in NSW. I work in a bookshop and I’m the Australian/Oceanic Editor for The Book Slut

1. What have been your favourite books of the year so far?

Not including re-read and it no particular order:

The Secret History by Donna Tartt - Literary fiction with a murder mystery? Yes please. It was so beautifully written, I was drawn in instantly.

Everything Under by Daisy Johnson - I had no fucking clue what was going on but I loved it. I didn’t know it was a retelling or even what the actual retelling was. When I found that out it made a lot of sense. It was just so uniquely written and fascinating. It wasn’t hugely complicated but I love when books are live puzzles.

Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller - It made my heart hurt a lot. That doesn’t happen often. 

The Warming by Craig Ensor - A beautiful love story set in a terrifying time. Ensor provides a dystopian utopia in Australia while addressing the terrifying prospects of climate change. 

2. And your favourite books of all time?

Harry Potter by J.K Rowling. I was super late to this party but I was working the most soul sucking job and was reading them on my insane commute. They were the best part of my day, the reason I wanted to get out of bed. It sounds cheesy but as Dumbledore says, “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light. The Harry Potter books were the light for me.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Any book that highlights the misfits and the odd ones out and makes them the hero (or anti-hero in this case) is a winner in my book. I have always felt like the odd one out, as I get older I value this, but it’s always nice when conventional standards are broken. Plus, it’s bloody action packed and who doesn’t love a heist? 

3. Ok I was going to ask your favourite series of all time after favourite books, but you beat me to it! Do you have a favourite stand alone book? 

This question always always plagues me. Picking a favourite book is hard, especially when you are self confused book slut. When I was 16 my favourite book was Purity by Jonathan Franzen, I don’t really know why. Maybe because Pip was at a crossroads and was discovering a lot about herself. Plus it was quite action packed. How dramatic and deep of me being fresh out of high school. But I have recently declared Six of Crows as my favourite book. Other “favourites” that come to mind are A Little Life, IT, oh the list could go on for days. 

4. What are the books that you always recommend?

Usually, just my favourites on a cycle. Working at a bookshop is Western Sydney can be hard not many people come in wanting to be enlightened by my literary expertise. I once had a man come in who bought all of the books I recommended. They included Markus Zusak’s The Bridge of Clay, Hanya Yanaghira’s A Little Life, and John Purcell’s Girl on the Page

5. Favourite physical books?

As I mentioned before, Harry Potter. For some fucked up reason, Flowers in the Attic books are super special to me. The editions I own and read were given to me by my Granny and I read them, the summer after I graduated high school. The smell of coconut tanning oil ALWAYS makes me think of them. It’s quite weird. 

6. Best bookish present you’ve ever been given?

I think the best present I was given was when my parents redid my entire room and built a floor to ceiling bookshelf. I will never not be obsessed with it. But one year for Christmas someone got me a Pennywise pop vinyl, I got way more excited than I should have. 

7. Books that are in ‘your basket’ or wishlist books?

The Little Friend by Donna Tartt - I need to complete her trifecta.

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll - Don’t kill me but I’ve never read it.

Little Women by Louis May Alcott - New movie coming out, and again haven’t read it. 

8. And where do you buy the majority of your books? Do you have any favourite places in Sydney?

Other than the bookshop I work in, my favourite shopping spots are Kinokunya in the Galleries, Syd, and Better Read Than Dead in Newtown.

9. Books on your TBR?

My TBR is never ending as I’m sure it is the same for most of us. My immediate TBR is just a loose plan of what I plan to read in December.

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman - I read Scythe earlier in the year thinking I wouldn’t like it but it was AWESOME. I often struggle with books that star 16-year-olds because I can never really sympathize but if the storyline is sick and they don’t whinge and whine, then I just get super drawn in.

The Hearts Invisible Furies by John Boyne - My optional book club pick for December.

In the Clearing by JP Pomare - I really enjoyed his book Call me Evie from earlier this year so I’m super keen to read another.

Then if time permits, or I might try and read The Toll by Neal Shusterman because after the SOC duology I’m really feeling series'. 

10. Books on your bedside table?

My bedside table stack includes my monthly TBR. Funnily I don’t actually keep books on my bedside table. It isn’t even a table it’s this weird shelf situation. Since I got my new bookshelves I keep all my books there. But my monthly TBR does get put in a specific section. 

11. Your most representative book: where did you see yourself reflected in your reading? A character? A place? A feeling?

Oooh, this is a super tough one. I rarely see myself in books. Well maybe just not of late. As I mentioned before, I felt really connected to Purity. I can hardly even remember what happened in the book but I definitely felt attached to that because it seemed her life was in a transition, as was mine, at the time. I’ve always had an affinity to Luna Lovegood, always the odd one out who, regardless of everyone else thinking she is weird, keeps on keeping on. Luna is so unapologetically herself, it inspires me to be the same. Also, Richie Tozier from IT, always trying to crack a joke at the most inappropriate times and never stops talking, THAT sounds familiar.

12. Favorite author(s)?

Leigh Bardugo, Stephen King, Donna Tartt, Sally Rooney, Sarah J Maas. I find it so hard to narrow down these favourites because I feel like sometimes I’m a book communist. But all of these authors (apart from King, I’m trying) I’ve read all of their books, bar one or two. That’s seems pretty worthy of them being a favourite. 

13. Character whose life you wish you led?

For some reason I can only think Marianne from Normal People. That romance was so beautiful but hard and realistic. I mean it doesn’t sound pleasant but at the same time it does? But on the other hand, I’d like to be badass and be as baller as Kaz in SOC, but maybe I’m more of a Nina, just less alluring? Man, I don’t even know. 

14. What literary world did you wish existed/you lived in? (I'm guessing HP)

Harry Potter without a doubt. But I want to be in Cedric’s grade…. So we can be “friends”.

15. Last book that made you cry?

A Little Life, the first book I finished in 2019. That book really just broke me. 

16. Last book that made you laugh out loud (did it happen in public)?

Six of Crows. I was on a train, on a quiet carriage cackling to myself. 

17. Last book that made you squirm or feel extremely uncomfortable?

OH THIS IS AN AWESOME QUESTION. Ok ummmmm so A Very Large Expanse of the Sea because of the YA love story/I love you can’t live without you/you are my world BULLSHIT did my absolute head in. As for subject matter, it would have to be A Little Life. This book was a tough read and at points I had to just stop reading. It was phenomenal but so fucking graphic.

18. Are you a kindle person?

No, I would maybe like to be but I just don’t think it would be the same. Nothing compares to turning the ACTUAL last page on a book. 

19. Are you an audiobook person?

Hell to the no. To me it seems like more effort than actually reading and I’m not even the one doing the READING. I don’t know I’ve just never even been interested. 

20. No to podcasts too?

I love podcasts. I only really listen to two. I like Dax Sheppard’s Armchair Expert, but I only listen selectively. But my FAVE podcast is actually just an Aussie talk radio show, Kate, Tim and Marty. They are just so funny. The podcast cuts out all the news, music, and advertisements and it’s just them being dickheads for an hour. I’m so obsessed.

21. What was the first book that made you fall in love with reading? The one that made you go Fuck me this is what it is all about.

I can’t remember a time where I wasn’t a reader, but a lot of the books from when I was young I can barely remember. I remember borrowing random books from my school library, one that stands out and that had me going insane was Girl Missing by Sophie Mackenzie. The Divergent series by Veronica Roth was also a major obsession for me too. BUT ALSO this series that I found randomly at a book shop in Malaysia called Deception (Haunting Emma) by Lee Nichols. I can’t remember really anything about them but I was just obsessed. But in adulthood, IT was a bit of a game changer.

22. What is/are the book/s that changed your life?

Harry Potter without a doubt, 1984 (my first proper classic), IT. Uhhh FML this question is so hard. I mean it’s clear from my previous answers that I am very indecisive about my faves and such but it’s not because I’m an indecisive person but rather because all books changed my life. They calm me down when I am feeling upset, they provide companionship when I am feeling alone, they serve as the soundtrack (or rather manuscript) to my life. It is so bloody cheesy but I’m sure a lot of us feel the same way when I say, books are a solace, a sanctuary, an imaginary happy place that we all rely on and it’s safe to say our lives would not be the same without them.

23. Ok I am going to go over 20, perhaps I shall name it 20-ish questions... Describe your perfect reading spot(s)?

In winter, I like to sit in this orange armchair I have that faces my bookshelves. With a cozy blanket and cup of tea. PERFECTION. But I also love to read on the train and at the beach, preferably a deserted beach. 

24. If you could have dinner with absolutely anyone (dead or alive) who would be sitting there? And what would you have? And where would it be? (It can be a large dinner party or just a one-to-one).

Sarah J. Maas, Emilia Clarke, The Book Slut, Stephen King, my best friend….. Uh can fictional people come too? It would definitely be a dinner party. Dumplings would be my food of choice, and I think it would be nice to have it is Sydney. But London is a close second as I just fucking love it there. In fairness, I would love a dinner party and a one to one with all of these people.


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