Tanya Byrne’s Bookshelf

Where’s your bookcase located and what does it look like?

I have a few, but the main one is in my office. I had it made and it fills one wall from the floor to the ceiling. I’ve only been in my flat a year and it’s already full. I’m going to have start keeping them in the kitchen cupboards now.

What kind of books will definitely not be found in your bookcase?

I read everything so I’d never say, ‘I won’t read that’, but looking at my bookcase now, I don’t own many fantasy books. If you’ve ever read a Sophie Hannah book then you’ll know that real life is fantastic enough!

What author have you discovered and loved recently?

Last summer I took Dark Places by Gillian Flynn away with me on holiday and I was smitten. I got home, bought Sharp Objects and Gone Girl and devoured them. I can’t remember the last time I was that excited about an author.

Where is your favourite place to read?

In bed. There’s nothing like that feeling of your eyelids getting heavier while your brain is begging, just one more chapter.

Can books change lives? If so, which one changed yours?

Absolutely. Stories can affect you in so many ways, whether it’s in a huge Okay-I think-I-can-get-through-this-too way or in quieter ways. Like, for me, To Kill a Mockingbird is my comfort blanket. Whenever I’m feeling uneasy about something, I read it. My mother was in a coma a few years ago; I read it three times and every time I got to the bit with Atticus and the dog, I knew that everything was going to be okay, and it was.

What’s the book you’d choose as your Desert Island read?

*points to answer above* To Kill a Mockingbird.

What book did you give last as a present and to whom?

I’m always giving books to my nephew, who’s one and think they taste great, but I recently gave my friend Amy a copy of The Perks of Being a Wallflower because I knew she’d love it. I checked and she’s yet to eat it.

What are you reading now?

The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson

What are your top ten books?

In no particular order:

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The End of the Affair by Graham Greene

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

What’s your most treasured book on your bookcase?

A copy of The Hobbit that I’ve had since I was a child.


Tanya Byrne was born in London and studied in Surrey, where she still lives with her cat who goes by several names, none of which he actually answers to. After eight years working for BBC Radio, she left to write her debut novel, Heart-Shaped Bruise. She has a weakness for boys with guitars, drinks far too much tea and even though her mother tells her not to, she always talks to strangers. Her second book, Follow me Down, will be out in May.