Geographer Sofya Gavrilova About Her Favorite Books

A life 2022

Table of contents:

Geographer Sofya Gavrilova About Her Favorite Books
Geographer Sofya Gavrilova About Her Favorite Books

Video: Geographer Sofya Gavrilova About Her Favorite Books

Video: What a first year English graduate student reads 2022, December

INTERVIEW: Alisa Taezhnaya

PHOTOS: Lyuba Kozorezova

MAKEUP: Fariza Rodriguez

IN THE HEADING "BOOKSHELF" we ask journalists, writers, scientists, curators and other heroines about their literary preferences and publications, which occupy an important place in their bookcase. Today, the cartographer, researcher and Oxford graduate student Sophia Gavrilova shares her stories about her favorite books.


Sofia Gavrilova

cartographer, artist

and graduate student of Oxford

"The Chronicles of Narnia"

I know by heart

and because of Tolkien became a cartographer

Since childhood, I was told that the only thing worth doing is climbing trees and collecting robots, although I had Barbies and I loved them very much: time passed, and I realized that one does not interfere with the other. It is not clear how the books appeared when I was small: they were just in the huge family library. My father, until he took up music, was associated with book publishing, my mother typed samizdat on the Erika typewriter. She read me a lot and taught me to read the world classics for children: I know the Chronicles of Narnia by heart, and because of Tolkien, she became a cartographer. I drew Middle-earth endlessly, trying to understand the line of the route and the intersection of the habitats of all its characters. So understanding and living spaces with their own laws has become my favorite task from early childhood.

An active desire for new non-classical books coincided with the emergence of a personal adult space. Later I had to share the library with my parents and sister - for me it was a stage in my life and a certain trauma: it suddenly turned out that it was time to accumulate books at home myself. Book in the country and reading like in a sanatorium has been the main summer occupation all my adult life - and to this day, in order to immerse myself in fiction, I need to leave for a Greek island without a phone and with a suitcase of books. Otherwise, the lists of must-read novels do not shrink.

I am a very emotional person and I react sharply to everything, whatever it concerns - books, movies or personal experience, and then it is taken out somewhere. For me, there is no more difficult question than to name the top ten of something beloved. What influenced me, I most often do not remember by texture, all strong impressions emerge later - scenes, pictures, sensations, points on the map suddenly for me.

The world that exists according to other laws and is subject to its own logic with the prescribed rules of the game is what has always impressed me in science fiction and literature in general. I really love text because it frees up space for visual images. He does not dictate or do his work for the reader. For example, I was never turned on by pornography and erotica, but erotic texts work with me one hundred percent. Where there is an opportunity to complete and re-invent, I feel like a fish in water. I do not like illustrations and the literalness with which they select my fantasies.

My tragedy, like many reading people, is associated with the move. After living in England, my already fragmented library became even more fragmented. Now I find books on several habitats, the most expensive coast is closer to me and I constantly see familiar names on my friends' bookshelves - they bring back to me the memory of everything I read and learned.

I love the text very much, because it frees up space for visual images


Alexandra Brushtein

The road goes into the distance …

The most important book of my life, my hearth, rear and base, the best girlish book in my biography: I read it at the age of six, now I know it by heart and I often dream about it. This is the autobiography of the writer and an important Soviet book that many people read in the past. The story of an ordinary girl from the city of Vilna, living at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, is a typical portrait of a hero against the backdrop of the century.She is Jewish, which does not stick out, but plays a role. A simple linear story of growing up, first problems, relationships with parents, grandmother and nanny.

There are many historical events in the book that are mentioned tangentially, but had a resonance in Russian history - for example, the Yakut monastery revolt, the Dreyfus case, the lawsuit against the Udmurt pagans, which I first learned about from this book. Since the book examines the life of a girl before she left for St. Petersburg with the aim of enrolling in higher women's courses, I grew up with this book and returned to it all the time.

Gerald Durrell

Talking package

Darrell is all my love, childhood and parents. This is Greece - the land of dreams, in which, after the opening of the borders, I regularly vacation with my family in the summer. Parents always found an opportunity to take us out to sea: it was a simple house in Corfu, where we just bathed, sunbathed, ate deliciously, read books and drank wine from a too young age. Darrell lived in Corfu for a long time and came up with the world that teenagers are in love with. The incredible creatures, the basilisks that are taking over the planet, made a tremendous impression on me. And this book is also connected with my mother: I remember how she read it to me at night.

Paolo Giordano

Loneliness of prime numbers

The most poignant book I've read about loneliness, a love story with a simple and understandable analogy about the difficulty of getting closer. In mathematics, there is the concept of twin primes, which are located in a row closest to each other, like 11 and 13, between which there is another number. Giordano's novel is a story about people who live in a happy and lonely state, but there is always another number - close, but never very close. Well, as you know, prime numbers are not divisible by anything except themselves and units.

The book perfectly conveys the feeling of a person's impossibility to overcome himself for conditional social happiness and in the name of strange laws of self-preservation. I took Giordano's book as a call for conscious loneliness, and my mother commented on this book, arguing that she was annoyed by such people - self-absorbed and reveling narcissists or egoists.

Mario Vargas Llosa

Doomsday War

This novel was advised to me by a friend before a trip to Latin America, to Brazil. All Latin American literature is incredibly close to me, but Llosa is the last in a large form in my writing biography that deals with the historical context, national culture and social problems. Free, neat and intimate handling of the facts of history in books has always interested me. Llosa collects beads of history of antisocial characters who are trying to construct a society out of nothing. Who he chooses and who these builders, thrown by the centrifuge and thrown to the sidelines, is a separate conversation. People in the minus degree, according to some parameter, lovingly add up to them into a convincing and complex construct.

Christopher Priest

The overturned world

The general ledger, in which the temporal-spatial coordinates are changed. As is often the case in science fiction, what happens is more or less explained around the middle. The townspeople of an unknown city lay rails in order to set the city in motion - at the points where space is curved and the three-dimensional world turns into two-dimensional. According to the laws of the genre, there is one who doubts the correctness of the city's life support system. Roughly speaking, he asks: "Why are we laying the rails and what will it lead to?" On the one hand, this is a book about an alternative view of the unimaginable world, on the other, the story of a personal rebellion in a rigid hierarchy.

Montgomery Otwater

Avalanche Hunters

When I wanted to enter the geology department, I dreamed of studying avalanches and physical geography. I was not taken to the department, I cried for a long time and came to the laboratory.My wonderful academic advisors, who have greatly influenced my life, gave me this book and asked me to return for a conversation in a month.

Otwater describes 20 years of experience in avalanche service in exciting and beautiful language, explains how to save people and predict disasters. Rescue gust, snow-capped mountains - all together I was so captivated that I worked with avalanches for several more years and defended my Ph.D. This book guided me professionally, but unfortunately I never tried to cut the slope on skis like Montgomery.

Stephen Hawking

A Brief History of Time

When people explain complex and interesting things without lifting their noses, I think it's very cool. Hawking was read by me to holes, half is not understood, something is explained with the help of "Wikipedia", something - by the comments of friends-physicists. I admire the precise calculations and constructions that can explain the world ahead of modern philosophy, and Hawking's approach is very close to me. He tries to embrace the immensity and describe the laws by which everything and everything functions.

Mo Yan

Country of Wine

Mo Yan's books are, in my understanding, epic at the level of "Buddenbrooks" or "Quiet Don", literary critics will probably scold me for this. The usual format from school is the history of the country through the history of the family. Having a very poor understanding of the complexities of Chinese history, I enjoy reading capacious and classical structures with historical motives. I also like Mo Yan's other book, Big Breasts, Wide Ass, which I read first. "The Country of Wine" is about a half-myth, the existence of monkeys who crush wine from grapes in a natural way, and the institute of wine that are looking for this wine.

As an oenophile, I absolutely could not pass by this book - if there is a hero in the book who writes a Ph.D. due to wine made by monkeys, I dissolve and lose my will. The "Land of Wine" consists of semi-pagan cults, fantasies and folk myths that are closely intertwined - and it is not clear where one begins and the other ends. Ishiguro's book "The Disconsolate", which is similar in sensations to me, is constructed according to the laws of nightmare and bad dreams: the doors do not open, time goes back, - you want to throw the book out on the third page, but it is impossible to tear yourself away.

Jerry brotton

A History of the World in 12 Maps

The book was found by me on some collapse in Paris. She greatly influenced me, including the work I am doing now. This is a story about constructing a picture of the world through 12 world maps of different eras. The approach is quite pop, but in this case it is very accurate: geopolitics here is tied to cartography, and cultural studies - to the historical context. It is obvious how the Euro-centric view represents the world around and what happens when it is replaced by the American-centered one. Changing projections over time, distorting the proportions of countries and continents - all of this is explained in detail by Brotton's book.

Hertha Müller


Romanian prose, which is very relevant these days and even hit me painfully. This is a story about a group of four student friends during the totalitarian regime in border Romania and how each of them breaks down individually and their friendship under the influence of difficult circumstances. In general, a typical story of human relationships at a time when the question is point-blank. The story of choices made over and over again is written in incredible language with emphasis and a call to basic inner sensations: smells, a sense of home, and concepts of betrayal.

Romain Gary

"Light of a Woman"

"Your ticket is no longer valid", "Save our souls"

A very important writer for me with inimitable stories of loneliness. It feels like many of his books are late autumn and the last sad love. I discovered Gary about five years ago and come back to him from time to time. I can't read it all the time for the reason that it can throw me off balance and plant a difficult seed in me. You have to dose.

Popular by topic