Monday, 26 March 2012
Always on the hunt for books
Readers just move from one book to the next, there's usually an inviting, tottering, heap of books to be read nearby and you simply select the next book that suits your interest or your mood. Of course, sometimes you're allowed to dip into a friend's collection (I've returned the amazing Howl's Moving Castle) and see what else that they've found and you might have missed. I don't regret only just having read Howl, more a sense of 'wish I'd read it sooner'. That's the bit I don't like about so many 'recommendations' lists in the press. They're very current and you miss all sorts of gems of popular and literary fiction that libraries have relegated to the stacks or the secondhand bookshop might just have gathering dust in a corner or propping up a shelf/holding down the lino on the floor, depending on your dealer's preference. Waitrose have a weekend supplement with recipes, articles, coupons and, oddly, a sports page at the back. It's an interesting weekly scrapbook and I've been picking it up and having a good look at the books recommended over the last few weeks. I seem to have kept the page from 15 March where Piers Paul Read mentions late 19th and early 20th century literature as I hadn't read any of the authors, despite intending to read Zola and, um, not actually doing much about it. Much of the 15 March list is from France, so unfamiliar to me as I seem to have started and stayed with Dumas and reread The Count of Monte Cristo on a regular basis. I left Huysmans after University exams were over. The name Edgar Saltus caught my eye while skimming his list and made me slow down and read with attention. Piers Paul Read sees the novel Vanity Square as a cross between Oscar Wilde and Edith Wharton, so this is one I feel compelled to try. I hope lists of this kind endure - I'm trying to be a curious sort of reader and like to know where I might start on a theme on occasion. That said, it's always fun to wander into the stacks and see what there is to find, blow the dust off and begin turning the pages.