Their Library: The Joy Formidable

Favourite books, authors and reading habits

As their new single 'Cholla' is released, Clash chats to The Joy Formidable's Ritzy Bryan about her favourite books, authors, reading habits and more in the latest edition of Their Library.

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What is your favourite book and why?

Tess of the D'urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. I love it's breadth and it's characters. It's an epic tale, beautifully written , it's very descriptive and atmospheric. It brings to life Victorian rural England and all it's moral complexities; the social divide, the inequality of women, religion. In the centre of it all, tugging at out heartstrings is Tess, the ultimate tragic heroine.

What other authors do you like?

Jonathan Franzen, John Niven, George Pelecanos, The Brontes, Steinbeck, Tolkien, Charles Dickens, Bukowski, Samuel Johnson, so many…..

What draws you to certain books?

I'm drawn to language, it has to be well written, whatever that means. It can be any style, elaborate, flowery, direct, colloquial, let intuition pick out a book that speaks to you.

Have you ever discovered a real lost classic? What is it and why?

I think the poetry of Tom McGrath should be better known, he's brilliant, uncompromising; probably one of the reasons he's been sorely overlooked.

Do your literary influences have a direct impact on your songwriting?

I've always read, I'm fascinated by language, word play, poetry, and consequently I've always written. I think I was probably writing lyrics before I could play guitar, so I found my own voice pretty early on.

What are you reading at the moment?

Meeting the Medicine Men by Charles Langley. It's the real life story of an English traveller who becomes an assistant to Blue Horse the Medicine Man. It's a very different insight into the Dine (Navajo) culture.

What is the first book you remember reading as a child?

The Hobbit really captured my imagination, I became obsessed with riddles. I loved the Trumpet Swan, Charlotte’s Web, and definitely Roald Dahl.

Did you make good use of your library card as a child / teenager?

Yes and luckily there were a lot of books at home. Shelves of books and shelves of vinyl.

Have you ever found a book that you simply couldn’t finish?

I didn't finish Women in Love by DH Lawrence. No sleepless nights over that one.

Do you read book reviews?

Not really, and that goes for all the arts. Better to be curious, know what you like and make your own choices.

Would you ever re-read the same book?

Absolutely, my copies of Wuthering Heights, Just Kids and Great Expectations look well fingered.

Have you ever identified with a character in a book? Which one and why?

If you're a musician, there's a few recognisable scenes in Kill your Friends by John Niven.

Do you read one book at a time or more than one?

One at a time. Or else my brain hurts.

Is there an author / poet you would like to collaborate with?

I think Samuel Beckett's literature is very evocative, it has a strong visual side that lends itself to having a really interesting musical companion. I think Philip Glass collaborated with Beckett, but it'd be great to do something modern in our style . Maybe a score for Not I, I love that piece, something frenzied and bombastic.

Cholla’, the first single off The Joy Formidable’s new album ‘Wolf’s Law’, is out now, followed by the album in January 2013.

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