joy of books Richard Owain Roberts

The Joy of Books with Richard Owain Roberts

Richard Owain Roberts debut novel, Hello Friend We Missed You, has recently been nominated for The Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize. This week, we caught up with him to find out about his reading habits.

What books are on your nightstand?

Richard Owain Roberts: Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald, which I last read fifteen years ago and I feel is now of interest to me again, specifically with regards to the novel I am currently writing, and Y Mwnci Doniol, my eldest daughter’s first novel.

What’s the last great book you read?

Richard Owain Roberts: The Sarah Book by Scott McClanahan is a real one.

Describe your ideal reading experience (when, where, what, how). 

Richard Owain Roberts: Start time 22:20, electric blanket on max heat (one-hour timer), CBD paste melting underneath my tongue, no food consumed since 17:30, feeling nourished from a day of hard labour, loud snores from the girls’ bedroom, rain on the window, final thoughts, end time 22:50-23:05.

What’s your favourite book no one else has heard of?

Richard Owain Roberts: The one that came to mind first when I began considering this answer was Give It To The Grand Canyon by Noah Cicero. I think about that novel pretty often.

What book should everybody read before the age of 21? 

Richard Owain Roberts: Two. Independence In Your Pocket, by Yes Cymru and How Not To Die, by Dr. Michael Greger. 

Which writers — novelists, playwrights, critics, journalists, poets — working today do you admire most?

Richard Owain Roberts: Any writer focusing and working on style.

What book would you most like to see turned into a movie or TV show that hasn’t already been adapted?

Richard Owain Roberts: My novel Hello Friend We Missed You. I hope that it can happen soon.

Which subjects do you wish more authors would write about? 

Richard Owain Roberts: We can say I dream of a novel based on or inspired by the Football Manager games. I would hope for a Knausgardian tome that spans the entire managerial career of an idiosyncratic, natural born winner relentlessly fighting for many important titles across Europe.

Which genres do you especially enjoy reading? And which do you avoid?

Richard Owain Roberts: I enjoy reading autofiction.

How have your reading tastes changed over time?

Roberts: Not taste exactly, but a change to my reading habits is that I don’t feel a need to persevere for too long with a book now, which I think in the past I did. It seems insane to me in hindsight how many books I have finished for no other reason than finishing them. 

What do you plan to read next?

Roberts: The Topeka School by Ben Lerner maybe. Also, João sent me The Naked Warrior by Pavel Tsatsouline on Sunday evening, and I look forward to that immensely.


Richard Owain Roberts’ debut novel Hello Friend We Missed You is available to purchase from Parthian.


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