The other obsession

I thought I’d rattle on for a short while about my reading habits and how I’m finally choosing which books to write about. This is because I’ve actually come across a couple that have brought on the need to ramble (Stella Duffy’s The Room of Lost Things and Drew Magary’s The Exit Specialist (or, as it’s more commonly known, The Postmortal) – watch this space). Also I thought it’d be nice to give a break to those readers (’cause it turns out I do have them!) who aren’t that interested in the sport side of things. Those who are interested in that side of things – don’t worry. There’s another one of those entries brewing.

I’ll probably never review something that’s fresh out to shelves, and it’s likely that I’ll only ever write about something that I really love or really hate (or really like mocking, but 50 Shades of Grey has been done to death). The main reason for this – overlooking laziness as a factor – is that I can’t possibly review every book I ever read. I read a lot. I also reread stuff a lot. I average three books a week on a slow week, courtesy of being a fast reader with a decent commute, and also incapable of going to sleep without  reading a few pages of something. I forcibly press books on other people to read when I love them enough – bits of my personal library are scattered across London and Wales. I have just paid off my substantial public library fine and rejoined the library. The walls in my front room look like this:

One wall in our flat. You can safely assume that a couple of other walls are similarly decorated.

I grew up in a family that devours the written word – both my sisters will back me up on this, as will my poor Mum, who has been trying to ‘clear the shelves’ for as long as I can remember, but is herself afflicted with a sad, hereditary, condition that means she can’t exit a charity shop without at least five books. Not reading is a deal-breaker for me when it comes to relationships. Not friendships,  I should clarify – but then I went to uni, work in publishing and most of my friends like to read so it rarely comes up. Oh, insulated life.

I heartily approve of cultish series such as George RR Martin’s  A Song of Ice and Fire, because conversations about them become ridiculously heated as the readers become more and more invested in the characters. People keep track of where their friends are up to in the series and wince when a slightly slower reader expresses any hope about certain characters, and nod understandingly when someone explains that they can’t come for coffee because they’re up to  this bit and they need to see what happens next (which, alas, isn’t always something you find out – thanks, Mr Martin). One initially quiet night in the pub turned into a loud hour-long argument about Sansa Stark (of all people) between about six of us, while the only two people who hadn’t read the series sat looking baffled. (“… and all the names you were yelling were so outlandish, it was confusing,” said one of the two, months later. ) It’s the ultimate soap opera of book series, with no closure and no safety for any of the characters. Brilliant.

So, anyway,  some sort of passion has to be there if I’m going to devote time to actually writing down my thoughts, rather than mouthing off to my partner; or my bookish friends; or my mum; or the stranger on the train who looked at the cover of the book I’m reading with just enough interest to get me talking; or, on one occasion, the girls in the pub who pulled out a copy of a book just as I was discussing it with a friend). Any author whose book shows up on this blog can take it as a given that it’s some sort of compliment – unless I’m really ripping into it. But then I’m not sure I could be cruel about the books I think are terrible. If they can pull a person into reading who otherwise might not have bothered, then it’s all good.

One thought on “The other obsession

  1. I think the books we hate are just as worth discussing as the books we love! They’re still saying something to us, to provoke such a passionate reaction. (Unless what they’re saying is, “I haven’t given a though to grammar since I was 11 and my publishers are too mean to hire me an editor.”)

    To my sorrow, I’ve found that I can’t read and teach at the same time. Oh, I can read fluff — and hence my devotion to blogs — but if I pick up a good novel, there’s goes the grading. Heck, even a mediocre novel will mesmerize me in my current deprived state. Books are only on holiday for me now, which saddens me.


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