Thursday, 24 March 2011

World Book Night 2011

I have begun some kind of quest to read each title on this year’s World Book Night book list (which can be found here).  
There’s no attachment to WBN, none. But I was passed one of their books (Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ ‘Love in the time of cholera’) across the counter one afternoon - which bore the branding. Inside the cover, to my delight, was the full reading list. 
The attraction lies solely in the ‘list’ factor. It takes the problem (if you will) of choice out of the equation on deciding which book to read next, and I like that it’s written down in one place for me, rather than me having to remember to find the scrawled note.
I scanned the list and I recognized several titles which were filed away under my mental category of, ‘ooh! I’ve been meaning to read that one!’ 
The other advantage of working through a list such as this, is that I am given a head start: having read 2 or 3 of the titles already. I think we can just glaze over this suggestion of appalling laziness on my part. Plus, there’s a bonus title (Margaret Attwood’s ‘The blind assassin’), which lives on my shelves but has never been read. 
In this attempt at a series of blogs, I’ll talk about where I found the book, where I read the book, and what I thought of it. And, if you’re especially lucky, it won’t be nearly as boring as the previous sentence. 
Bristol, I am slowly discovering, is a mine of good bookshops. Indies, 2nd hand, vintage and a nice large Waterstones.
I like reading. I’ve liked reading for a long time. But I don’t like having to actively find good books to read. I hate reading books to discover I am not enjoying the journey.
It’s only very, very recently that I’ve twigged my personal preference in a book is The One Where each chapter is written from a different perspective, a different voice. (Can someone enlighten me on the correct terminology, please? My English tutor would be horrified.)

St. Nicks Market, Bristol
Happily enough, the first book that I found on a recent scavenge in a 2nd hand book shop (Beware the Leopard Books, St. Nicks Market, Bristol - go in and say hello, and buy a book) was Kate Atkinson’s ‘Case Histories’.

It’s brilliant. 
I’m skeptical of reviews. Respected publishing houses and broadsheets having word-gasms all over a back cover isn’t usually what reels me in. I do like reading a good bit of teaser prose though - and I get tetchy with the author/publisher who denies me this. Atkinson has done nicely. 
Without giving too much away - I could still punch the guy who told me Dumbledore dies at the end - it’s a detective novel. There’s a few horrific deaths at the start, a really awkward sex scene that I physically tried to read through my hand covering my eyes, a healthy dose of characters who have completely broken down home lives and 410 pages of who in the hell did it. 
It’s taken me about a week to read it - I’ve been driven nuts by well-meaning, arseholing family and friends who want to spend time with me, and hear about how I’m doing, or in work, when I could be sat completely solitarily reading this bloody excellent book. I’ve been grabbing at spare 20 minutes and - I couldn’t believe myself the other day - I actually set my alarm early so I could get in a chapter before work.
I think, once I’ve exhausted the WBN2011 list, I’ll come back to Atkinson. 
Next up, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ 'Love in the time of cholera'. I’ve heard it’s a bit heavy going so I’ll get back to you on my progress.

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