Robert C. Sibley is a senior writer with the Ottawa Citizen and an adjunct professor of political science at Carleton University, where he lectures on modern political theory. He is the author of A Rumour of God: Rekindling Belief in an Age of Disenchantment. His new book, The Way of the Stars: Journeys Along the Camino de Santiago, was just published by the University of Virginia Press.
On your nightstand now:
I read several books at a time, picking up one or the other depending on the mood. Currently, I have four books on the go: re-reading Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being; Julian Barnes's The Sense of an Ending; George Painter's Marcel Proust: A Biography; and David Mitchell's The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet.
Favorite book when you were a child:
Edgar Rice Burroughs's Tarzan of the Apes.
Your top five authors:
John Fowles, Philip Larkin, Virginia Woolf, John Updike and W.G. Sebald.
Book you've faked reading:
Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene.
Book you're an evangelist for:
James Salter's A Sport and a Pastime. Salter's writing is pristine, offering an understated appreciation of life's epiphanic moments.
Book you've bought borrowed for the cover:
William Golding's Lord of the Flies. I remember as a boy visiting the local library and seeing the cover with the blood-dripping pig's head on a pole. Just had to read the book.
Book that changed your life:
The Magus by John Fowles. This is a dangerous book for a 16-year-old to read. The notion of taking part in a "god game" haunted me for years.
Favorite lines from a book:
We shall not cease from exploration,
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
--T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding," The Four Quartets
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Ulysses by James Joyce. Just can't seem to finish this book.
Book you read repeatedly:
Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis. I return to this book every two or three years. For some reason, it always makes me laugh.
Writers you especially admire for their writing:
Andre Aciman, a marvelous travel writer able to capture the emotional paradoxes of travel; James Salter, a master at evoking human emotion in only a few words; Ernest Hemingway, who is simply the best at making the reader feel the concrete world he describes; and last but not least, the poet Philip Larkin who has an amazing ability to create images in the reader's mind that come as close as words allow to conveying the emotion or idea the poet wishes to express.