Following the shortlisting of The Dance Cure for the Books are My Bag Readers Award, Peter was interviewed by the Booksellers Association about his first literary love, and his favourite books and bookshops.
What book is currently in your bag (or bedside table)?
I’ve got two books on the go right now: In Between the Sheets by Ian McEwan and Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty. I love Ian McEwan’s storytelling, he cracks open the ordinary and shows the twisted psychology within. Nine Perfect Strangers is in the wings – a recommendation from my wife.
What’s the last great book that you read?
What’s your favourite bookshop and why?
The Book Hive in Norwich. It’s quirky, you never know what you might find, and Henry, the owner, is always enthusiastic to chat about books and make recommendations. It’s not the sort of place where you feel you have to whisper, but rather a place to celebrate the written word.
Do you have any comfort reads?
David Lodge – Changing Places/Small World/Nice Work – I read these at the start of my academic journey and they have formed a lens through which I have giggled at my academic colleagues for the past 30 years. I’ve worked at places like Rummidge and Plotinus (Lodge’s fictitious universities) and alongside many a Swallow and Zapp.
Describe your ideal writing experience
Plugged in to loud music, feeling the groove. I write perched on a piano stool and listen to a lot of music. Sometimes the music is very loud, which I play both through headphones, so it gets right inside my head, and through monitor speakers, so that I feel it in my chest. I guess I’m trying to recreate a nightclub experience, which gives me an urge to move, and this helps me focus and write with a clear head.
Describe your ideal reading experience
Being alone, in silence, with lots of guilt-free time. When I read a book for pleasure, I slip through a wardrobe into the author’s world and don’t want any reminders of my own.
What’s your book of the year so far and why? (i.e. what book would you nominate for the Books Are My Bag Readers’ Choice Award?)
What’s your favourite bookshop memory?
I came late to finding pleasure in reading. As a child, trying to read just reinforced how much of a failure I was. When you struggle to make sense of the written word everything that is associated with it is unpleasant and uncomfortable – like eating pineapple with the skin on. Bookshops were the least appealing places on the planet. When I started to overcome my reading difficulties in my early 20’s, books and bookshops started to look very different. My favourite bookshop memory was walking for the first time into Blackwells in Oxford in 1988 and being completely overwhelmed with a sense of awe. So many books, authors, ideas, thoughts, stories and relationships.
How do you organise your books?
I surround myself with academic and dance books when I write, and shelves of fiction and poetry are scattered around the house. I recently turned an old doorway into bookshelves and there are piles of books on the stairs too.
What are the books that made you? Which books have most affected or influenced you?
The first book I read from cover to cover was The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson. The act of reading a whole book changed my life.
The first time I fell in love with a written character was Kitty in Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. I went through all the major symptoms of first love – excitement and anticipation of meeting her on the next page, breathlessness, jealousy and the tragedy and hopelessness of unrequited love.
The first poem I read and danced to at the same time was Oh Captain, My Captain by Walt Whitman. Discovering rhythm in words adds a whole new dimension to the written word. When you’re struggling with sounding out words and deriving meaning from strings of words it is not always easy to feel their rhythm.
The MOST IMPORTANT book I have ever read, the one that still makes me well up even after hundreds of reads with my two sons is, Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae.
What’s been your favourite book recommended by a bookseller?
My favourite book recommended by a bookseller was Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton. I was in Australia last summer and I wanted to read something that was either set in Australia or written by an Australian author. A local bookseller in Sydney recommended Boy Swallows Universe and it was heartbreakingly beautiful (and funny, tense and shocking). It was my favourite book of 2019.
Dr Peter Lovatt spent over 20 years working as a university academic. He set up the Dance Psychology Lab to understand dance and dancers from a psychological, scientific perspective. His research has been published in peer-reviewed journals and his teaching has been highly commended. Find out more about his academic life here
Peter Lovatt is an author and he has written two books: “The Dance Cure, the surprising secret to being smarter, stronger, happier” was first published by Short Books in the UK in 2020. “Dance Psychology, the science of dance and dancers” was first published in the UK in 2018. Peter has also writes commissioned articles. Find out more about his writing life here
Peter Lovatt is an international keynote speaker who delivers groovy keynotes which inspire, entertain and get minds and pulses racing. Peter has given keynote talks around the world and he has worked with organisations from different sectors, for example, in the banking, tech, creative, education, health and automotive industries. Find out more about his keynotes here
Peter Lovatt is a founding director of the Movement in Practice (MiP) Academy. The MiP Academy is a specialist provider of education in the psychology of movement and dance. MiP Academy is an accredited provider of Continuing Professional Development (CPD), Continuing Education (CE) and Continuing Professional Education (CPE), providing both anytime learning and scheduled face-to-face learning opportunities. Find out more about MiP Academy here
Peter Lovatt became known as Dr Dance through his TV and media work. He first appeared as Dr Dance on the Graham Norton Show (BBC) in 2008 and Dr Dance has since made over 1000 appearances across all major UK TV and radio networks, in magazines and newspapers and on stage. Dr Dance has made several stage shows, including “Dance Dr Dance” (2010), “INSPIRED Psychology Danced” (2011) and “Boogie on the Brain” (2018). Find out more about Dr Dance here
Peter Lovatt lives on the beautiful north Norfolk coast with his partner and their two sons.
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