Whilst this travelling is all well and good, I don't want to take my
eye off the crop of good-looking contemporary fiction heading my way at
the moment and the first few weeks of 2008 have heralded some
I love new writing as much as old as much as middle as much as everything else and I get a lot of e mails asking how I read so many books, so it seems like a good question to try and answer.
It's easy really, I devote a lot of time to it and far less these days to watching TV.
Is Tiffany still in Eastenders?
I've waited a long time to get to this phase of my reading life, my three babies in four years now independent twenty-somethings and me with time to spare. Even though I still work three days a week and at the very sharp end, that is a lot more free time than I have ever had before.
I have a sort of a method for weaving all the new arrivals in amongst the books of my own choosing. It would be easy to feel pressured at the sight of all these books but reading must always be for pleasure first here so I never let it phase me.I've always read about four books a week and for years kept a variety of hand-written journals, now it's all on here.
I read what I want, when I want like everyone else but I have a bit of a system now too.
Books arrive from publishers and are logged on a spreadsheet with details about who has sent them. The sheet is printed off each week. This might seem a bit over-fastidious but if you saw it here some days you'd realize I needed a system at least as good as the one I'm sure every single newspaper review section must have.
They do don't they?
Several times a week I sit down with a pile of new arrivals, fiction and non-fiction and read the first twenty or thirty pages of each.
I know quite quickly whether a book is going to work for me or not.
Some I know are absolutely right for what I want to read now, some may have to wait a while but I know I'll get to them eventually. Even if the first thirty or so pages haven't intrigued there may be something in the writing style or the subject matter that keeps me interested.Others might not make the immediate cut but you never know when I may be in the mood for something off the wall and quirky.
If I've just had a run of crime I might need some law-abiding reading.
Too much violence and I need soothing.
High octane only suffices for so long before I sink back exhausted in the chair and long for pot of tea and egg sandwich books.
Too much drama at work and I need light and fluffy.
Too much melancholy and I must head for some happy happy joy joy.
Too much fiction and I want some reality.
Too much twentieth century and I need something historical.
Some books suggest a whole new reading trail and I will start gathering like with like for a future reading project.
As reported, a recent evening was a fine and thrilling example of test runs, I've had a great week's reading since and the Now Reading sidebar has been re-instated over here<<<<<<.
However safe passage from Now Reading to the year list further down is not guaranteed. If it all goes belly up I stop, even if I'm 150-200 pages in I'll stop.
I quietly remove from Now Reading, and that's that.
If it makes it onto the year's list <<<<<<<then it's been read first word to last and every word in between .
If it makes it onto Book Thoughts >>>>> then that means it will be covered in pencil scribbles too and I've had something to say about it here at dgr scribbles.
I might write a draft post immediately, I might wait a few days because if I can contain my thoughts a lot of books have a very beneficial afterburn.
Something will often fly into my mind days later.
Then I go back to the draft post and edit ruthlessly (though you may not believe it!) usually cut it down by at least half, try to refine the thinking, stir and mix then leave it to simmer before a final check and another edit, then I schedule it for posting on here.
So just one or two hurdles for a book to jump before it makes it through but it's easy really.
PS The picture is Winter Reading by Jessie Wilcox Smith (1863-1935) who studied with the Brandywine artist Howard Pyle. Of this and much more I knew virtually nothing until I discovered illustrator Paul Giambarba's blog 100 Years of Illustration where you'll find much more about Jessie and a wealth of detail about countless other artists including Paul's own work which includes graphics very familiar to most of us.