Author: Guest blogger
2010 was the first year I kept track of all the books I read. Given I’m a compulsive list maker, it’s amazing I never did it before and I wish I had. It would have been amazing to see what books have made up my life, and perhaps more interestingly, which ones are glaringly absent. All up, I managed to read 99 books last year, roughly 8 a month then, depending on how thick the devils were. Included in that lot were doorstops like The Passage (Listen to Anita Barraud’s interview here), The Lonely Polygamist (listen to or read the review here) and Freedom (listen to Ramona Koval’s interview here), which, as book 99, prevented me from breaking a century. I fell asleep about a dozen times whilst reading it, though that may have been due to the rum-laden Christmas pudding rather than Franzen’s convoluted characterisations. I guess we’ll never know.
Twenty-eight of those books were read in order to write reviews. The idea that some magazine, newspaper or AWESOME radio show is willing to actually pay me to tell them what I think about a book never ceases to amaze me (and probably never ceases to amaze my many dastardly enemies too). Writing about a book helps me understand its subtleties and nuances, and for that I am grateful. I don’t think about the review when I’m reading it though – I like to let it settle in my mind for a few days before sitting down to work out exactly why I liked or disliked it, to allow myself time to remember other books that might have been similar or attempt to understand what the writer was trying to accomplish. The book will expand in my mind during this time and flesh itself out and that’s when I start to see chinks in the armour, or flashes of brilliance.
Very few books are perfect and that’s okay, faults don’t bother me unless they’re blatantly ignored by single-mindedness and an author’s insistence that everything they write is necessarily amazing. I don’t like being condescended to in a book. I like being entertained, in a literate fashion. Who doesn’t love a great story well told, after all?