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Sky Gilbert, a teacher at the University of Guelph, reads in the tub of his Toronto pied a terre.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

I'm not sure why, but I enjoy reading when I'm in or around water. In the summer, I have to find a pool I can read by, and in the winter I read in the evening in the bathtub. I guess it must be memories of the womb, or something.

I have to read a lot for my teaching at the University of Guelph, so I do bathtub and poolside reading just for fun. That means novels. I'm old-fashioned: The novels I like must have stories. But also style.

For this reason, I'm a fan of antique-ish English novelists; right now, I'm reading Prisoner of Grace, by Joyce Cary. However, my favourite novelist is Barbara Pym, who writes about 1950s English spinsters (most are obsessed with the vicar).

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My second favourite novelist is Michel Houellebecq, a highly controversial French stylist. We have much in common (many hate him, and many hate me) and he tells it like it is. I'm counting the days until his new novel - La Carte et le Territoire - is released in English, by reading Public Enemies - not a novel, but letters between Bernard-Henri Lévy and Houellebecq. I'm reading it very slowly because I'm afraid it will end.

Sky Gilbert is a poet, playwright and author, and an associate professor at the University of Guelph. His play The Situationists opens at Buddies in Bad Times in Toronto on April 14 and runs until April 24. His next novel, Come Back, is to be published in 2012.

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