Luke Galea: ‘Life after a PhD taught me that there’s a lot of uncertainty, which I wasn’t ready to face’

Book Instagrammer Luke Galea tells all in our Q&A

Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday
Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday

Luke Galea, @luke.reads, is a book Instagrammer, and will be presenting the podcast Markapaġna, a collaboration between the National Book Council and MaltaToday. He loves books, and reading, as well as writing poetry. During the day, he lectures at post-secondary level at an independent college. 

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

I normally check my phone, but soon after, I read a couple of pages from a novel/poetry collection.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

To be yourself, and to never compromise you are.

What do you never leave the house without?

I would say my keys and a book. I always carry a book just in case I’m early, which I normally am.

Pick three words that describe yourself

Reserved, hardworking, dedicated.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

I think academically my greatest achievement is finishing a PhD at such a young age, I was around 25/26 when I finished it, and I was chuffed at the fact that I won a scholarship from a foreign university. Even though this is a big milestone in my life, I would say that greatest achievement is when my students tell me they’ve passed their exams – it is such a relief.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Sour gums – you can’t stop me from eating them.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Be careful who you trust, and be careful what you say.

Property and cars aside what’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

Some designer pieces, such as a Gucci bucket hat.

What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?

Even though I’ve had bumps in the road, I think I wish I knew that life can take you along different paths.

Who’s your inspiration?

My greatest inspiration are people who are successful in spite of their struggles. Writing wise I’m very inspired by writers such as Ocean Vuong, Sally Rooney, Nadia Mifsud, Leanne Ellul, the list goes on and on.

What has been your biggest challenge?

I think deciding what do after finishing my PhD. I wanted to return to Malta, but also find a job abroad. So, the uncertainty that comes with these situations.

If you weren’t a book Instagrammer, what would you be doing?

I’ve always wanted to carry out research, and be an academic, however, life after finishing a PhD taught me that there’s a lot of uncertainty, which I wasn’t ready to deal with and face.

Do you believe in God?

No, not particularly.

If you could have dinner with any person, dead or alive, who would it be?

This is a difficult question. There are so many people I’d like to meet. I’d like to have dinner with Sally Rooney.

What’s your worst habit?

Being too critical.

What are you like when you’re drunk?

Loud and fun.

Who would you have play you in a film?

No idea… I’ll leave that for the producers to choose.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Instability, lying.

What music would you have played at your funeral?

It would be one big pop fest – think Festivalbar meets Gay Pride.

What is your most treasured material possession?

Many of my books. They have been constant companions.

What is your earliest memory?

Going on holiday with my family in Tunisia aged 4.

When did you last cry, and why?

Recently, when I finished reading a poetry collection by Louise Glück.

Who would you most like to meet?

Louise Glück.

What’s your favourite food?

Any Asian food.

Who’s your favourite person on social media right now?

I really don’t like to associate myself with people on social media. But I’m slightly obsessed with Chiara Ferragni’s daughter Vittoria (who is still a baby and eats a lot).

If you could travel in time, where would you go?

I think I would go to the literary era of Modernism to be a part of some of the major changes in literature.

What book are you reading right now?

I’m currently reading Francesco Grech’s ‘Kollox jehel maghna’, Lara Calleja’s ‘Kissitru Kullimkien’ and Mieko Kawakami’s ‘Ms Ice Sandwich’.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

Read more books.

What’s one thing you want to do before you die?

Read a lot.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

Tove Lo, Caroline Polacheck, and Beyonce.

In the shower or when you’re working out, what do you sing/listen to?

My own playlist.