Coming up for air today in the middle of rights negotiations for Title 6, more family history research than I ever thought I’d need to do to search for an heir of an author who’s a strong possibility for Title 7 and an interesting exchange of emails with the graphic designer whose eye is always better than mine. Then again, that’s how it should be. I have a small badge on my desk until I find a better home for it. It’s one of the few lasting souvenirs (I ate the chocolate) from the London Book Fair and states ‘read on’ in large capitals. That’s just what I intend to do and what I hope my readers intend to do. I read at every opportunity: on the train, but less on the bus. I’ve missed too many stops and had a longer walk back to make that a habit. You do hear interesting, if slightly odd comments from other readers about their choice of books.
One former colleague won’t visit the library – ‘books other people have touched’. Really? It’s rare to find a book with an ‘in case of exposure to infectious disease’ label in it, though you can find the odd survivor in the stacks.
One commuter was heard to say that he only read books that had won prizes. That way he knew they’d be good. I do see his point, almost, and I suppose some sort of peer review or angry compromise has gone on, but it seems a perfect way to narrow your choice of reading material.
Finally, and this is one of my pet hates, hearing those who do the ‘I don’t [won’t] read anything published after [insert date of choice] as that marks the death of the novel [or similar]. I doubt this view has any real weight, but it’s usually said with such force and sincerity that no-one around argues the point. Not that I want to suggest that this view is wrong, more oddly limiting.
I suppose my feeling is that you have to take books from all sources and read what you enjoy, what you think might help you or just to learn a bit more about the world. You can’t just rely on your local bookshop (if you’re still lucky enough to have one), or your branch of a larger chain (possibly ditto these days), or even your local library. Better yet, seek out unusual publishers, like me (if you feel so inclined). You’ll find a range of books in each, but you’ll find something else to discover on blogs, newspaper reviews or friends’ bookshelves.