This may sound like hubris, but it’s actually relief. Amazingly, in the course of the past hour or so, I’ve discovered that there are two people of my close acquaintance who have even worse computer skills than I do! And last night at a ‘live’ screening of a rather good Shakespeare production, the complete stranger in the seat to my left tsk tsk-ed even more loudly than I did when the presenter invited all and sundry to ‘join the conversation’ via the dreaded Twitter! So it’s not just me. Phew.
Which wasn’t at all what I planned to post about today at all, so let’s move on. Pondering on a suitable topic in the shower earlier this morning, I thought back to last week’s post, and considered the possibility that I may now be the reader on the Dead Guy panel: the end of that from-idea-to-bookshelf chain. Self-appointed, perhaps; and certainly not in any way suggesting that the others on the panel don’t read; I’m sure they do, at least as voraciously as I do. But they all have an alternative point of view to post about; once I did too, but these days I don’t, not really. Well, maybe occasionally. But mainly reading is what I do to contribute to the progression.
Maybe because I read so much, I decided some time ago that life is far too short for books I’m not enjoying. That doesn’t apply to books I’m reviewing, of course – a commitment is a commitment, and unless it’s really, really bad, I soldier on to the end. And out of what must be close to two hundred books I’ve reviewed, there has been just one that was so bad I couldn’t finish it. A few – though only a few – have been books I wouldn’t have read in any other circumstances, and their authors don’t figure on my wishlist, but even they had their moments. The vast majority are on my shelves and I have no plans to cull them for the charity shop.
Following Santa’s generosity, I have a well-stocked shelf at the moment (actually a houseful of well-stocked shelves, but I’ve read most of those). And I still review for Mystery People, which means anything up to four, sometimes even six, books a month which I probably wouldn’t come across any other way. And I have a bookshop habit which may not be quite as expensive as the more destructive kind of habit, but is definitely at least as compulsive.
So – what have I been reading? One of the most recent additions to the shelf via that habit was The Light Between Oceans, which is only crime fiction in a loose sense, but is still unputdownable: that rare breed, in my experience of a book in the top ten bestsellers which is worth a few hours of anyone’s time. I read it back in December, loved it, and highly recommend it. Santa’s bounty included The Ambridge Chronicles: pure self-indulgence made me add it to my wishlist, it’s not crime, and it won’t mean anything to our friends across the water, since it relates to a very British radio soap which has been running for over sixty years. I’ve read that too, and loved it. My New Year began with Mistletoe and Murder, the latest in a delicious and hilarious YA series my daughter keeps supplying me with. It's set (mainly, though this time it moves to Cambridge University) in 1930s boarding school life. And my reviewing role most recently supplied What Remains of Me, by A L (otherwise Alison) Gaylin, which is definitely crime fiction, and which I gobbled up in two sittings because she's an excellent and much undersold writer.
I don’t know to what extent all this qualifies me to be a designated reader, even a self-appointed one, but it’s what I have to offer. And, in the absence of other interesting topics to post about, I’ll be posting about what I’m reading over the next few months, possibly in a little more detail than the paragraph above. I hope that’s OK with everyone. Or anyone.