Posts Tagged ‘Sci-Fi’

You’d be forgiven for imagining that the bookshop experience put me off reading for life but some things are so far entrenched as to be unthinkable. In fact, the thought once crossed my fifteen-year-old mind to rescue countless titles from the grasp of those two hideous old witches and re-house them on some friendly shelves where they would be loved and appreciated.

I used never to throw or give books away: I let them accumulate – from Enid Blyton to the Metaphysical Poets I hoarded books of all varieties for years, rearranging them often and repeating the dusting ritual begun at Crooks Books.

I tend not to amass many these days – I pass them on to friends and colleagues, the charity bookshop or simply leave them on a train or plane. Only books that I may conceivably read again remain, on a small shelf in my kitchen.

I belong to a small book group. We get together every six weeks or so, in a different pub each time (who knew there were so many within a few miles of home) and we take turns in choosing a title to read to discuss at our next meeting. We’re very informal but it provides a challenge to read something that perhaps I wouldn’t otherwise have chosen. However, I make sure that I also have a title of my choice on hand to read straight after finishing the group one.

So what is my preferred reading material? How do I go about choosing a book? I’m not sure I’d know how to classify my choice given that I don’t go for Sci-Fi or Fantasy, Chick-Lit or Aga Sagas, Thrillers or Historical Fiction. I’m not partial to Mystery, Romance or Crime, either. Is there anything left? Most definitely. I’m never short of reading material – sometimes I feel a bit overwhelmed at the height of my reading pile – so how do I choose?

I start off by having a good mooch around a decent bookshop. I have to say that a large Waterstones is perfectly adequate. I even have a loyalty card which accrues points and every so often – yippee – I have enough for a ‘free’ book.

I’m drawn to a beautiful cover, obviously. Good design coupled with a tactile matt finish can set me reaching for my credit card without even turning a page. I’m kidding, of course. Once seduced by the visuals I check out the title – anything slightly odd, quirky or off-beat ensures that I turn to the first page to examine the writing style.  Then, if I’m suitably gripped, I’ll turn to a random page halfway through. This is usually enough to help me decide whether to part with my cash. I used to always read the last page too – happily I’ve trained myself not to do this now. (Nevertheless, I do like last lines of novels and often remember them which is probably why, when I write a story myself, I work out the ending and write to that).

It is with caution that I recommend books – I’m happy to divulge an enjoyed read and then discuss it but I don’t like to provide a resume or write an appreciation or otherwise – I’ll leave that to the reviewers. Now, this might sound mad but I only ever read reviews once I’ve read the book because I like to make up my own mind about what I read and then find out what the literati might think. I have a few favourite authors I seek out and I like to read debut novels, as long as they fit my other criteria. I’m always interested in what friends and colleagues read and why they’ve liked the book or not although it won’t necessarily sway me to follow suit.

 If you’re curious, here are a few books that I’ve read and enjoyed in the last few months although I wouldn’t dream of presuming that you might enjoy them too.

We’re All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal

The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer

Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibin

The Care of Wooden Floors by Will Wiles

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

City of Women by David Gillham

And here are a few that I’ve loathed:

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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I’m currently reading The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell (the jury’s still out but it’s looking promising) and on my reading pile is H for Hawk by Helen Macdonald (lovely cover) and The Fault In Our Stars by John Green.

So, in the week that news has filtered through of Harper Lee’s ‘lost’ manuscript (should that be Hype-r Lee?) I’m wondering what’s on your bookshelf and how you decided it should be there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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