Wednesday, 11 June 2008

What am I reading?

A big part of writing is reading - if you see what I mean. I have to say, however, that I read a lot less than I used to. Partly this is due to my no longer travelling anywhere on public transport. When I lived in Norfolk and commuted into London two or three times a week, I got lots of reading done. I don't miss the travelling, but I do miss the excuse to read.

I have lost the habit of carrying a book round with me as I used to do when I was younger. Instead of the paperback I always used to have on me, I have a notebook and when I have a coffee or whatever, I tend to write instead of read. I suppose I also do not have the genuinely 'free' time I had then. I also watch too much TV. And far too much bad TV. Television is a curse for both writer and reader.

That said, I always have a few books on the go. I have been reading a book about Hereward the Wake - Hereward by Victor Head - as research for a book I am writing about the aftermath of the Battle of Hastings. I am reading The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins as an aid to getting into character for my new book of Victorian(ish)creepy stories and because my son bought it for me as a present. And because it is a really fantastic book. And because I have a bit of a thing about epistolatory novels.

I have also been dipping into Chris Ware's Acme Novelty Datebook 1986-1995. This is a companion volume to the one I have mentioned in an earlier blog - the Acme Novelty Datebook 1995-2002 (though I notice I mistakenly called it the Acme Novelty DIARY in that posting). It has a sticker on it saying 'Not Suitable For Younger Readers'. This must me one of the great understatements of all time!

I am also reading My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell to my son as a bedtime story. I loved this book when I was young but I was older than my son when I first read it. I had forgotten how grown up some of the passages are. I thought my son would love the nature observations because he is a nature-lover himself, but it is the family scenes he most enjoys and finds so amusing - particularly those featuring the extraordinary Larry Durrell. But we are back to the silliness of age-banding again.

Speaking of which, Philip Pullman wrote a piece in the Guardian last Saturday on this very subject. Follow the link and have a read - then sign up if you feel moved to do so.

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