I love finding out what other people are reading, but I don’t ask the question nearly enough of my friends and family. So I decided to fix that and e-mailed several friends the above question. I have some very smart and interesting friends so I also asked if I could publish their answers. I figured it would make a change to look at the reading habits of people who read a lot but don’t blog about it usually.
(By the way, if you’re a friend I haven’t asked yet, I promise it doesn’t mean I hate you! I’m just saving you for a second or even third round. I love you all.)
Let’s start right at home with talkie_tim, who is my partner, best friend and all-around favourite person. Yes, strictly I already knew what he was reading, but we don’t discuss our thoughts about the books we read nearly enough, for two bookish people who read every day and, you know, live together. Here’s what he had to say…
Squeee squeEEE! (That’s my best guinea pig impression.)
Right now I’m reading Terry Pratchett. I’ve started re-reading the Discworld books again from the start. Yes, they’re familiar and there aren’t any real surprises, but they’re easy reading, occasionally gripping and kinda comforting to read.
I’m on book number 6: Wyrd Sisters. It’s a copy I bought with my own money and my mum’s staff discount at a WHSmiths back in the mid-nineties. Since my frequent trips to secondhand bookshops as a kid, I’ve always treated paperbacks very gently, with an eye on getting a little more than fivepence back when I sold them on. This one still has a proudly un-creased (if a little time-faded) spine, and I’m carrying it around protected by a jiffy bag. The bookmark is pulled from a Gary Larson’s Far Side calendar showing that I last read it in 1997. I think it’s details like that that give an emotional connection to the physical book in your hands.
Anyway, I get most of my reading done on the 50-minute bus journeys to and from work, when I’m not answering work e-mails en route, or trying to organise everything else. The same time I’m using to write this right now!
I’m also gradually working my way through a shelf of the Complete Peanuts. Mostly at night, as although they’re very beautiful bindings, they’re also super heavy and I don’t want to damage them. I’ve been reading collections of them since I found that most secondhand bookshops in the 1980s would have a few mass-market-sized random collections. I bought a couple dozen of them over the years, but got rid of them all when we moved into a flat to try to make more room for someone‘s books. Reading about Linus, Lucy, Snoopy, Rerun, Peppermint Patty and everyone else went a long way towards helping me understand the adult world around me, and made all of those characters very familiar. These Complete Peanuts collections are the first time an attempt has been made to collect them all together in date order, and it is fascinating to watch the characters react to the big events of the time. It’s also nice to have something in common with a whole extended generation of children including presidents.
As for the next book I’ll be reading – and to note that not everything I read is because of nostalgia and the literary equivalent of comfort food (cauliflower cheese on a baked potato) – released today is the new Paul Mcauley book Into Everywhere. [Note talkie_tim wrote this last week, he hasn’t got the date wrong!] I’ve been a big fan of McAuley’s work for a long time, and I’ve been reading his Jackaroo stories since they started being published, so I was looking forward to the previous one, Something Coming Through for a long time, and it really did not disappoint. They’re glorious tales of the weird and everyday. Humanity’s reaction to these alien worlds is so familiar and relatable. Here’s a blog post from him about unknowability. He writes amazing characters, and in each of his novels there is at least one moment when I have to pause and put the book down to process what I just read.
I’ll be reading it on Kindle, partly because of shelf space and weight when I’m travelling, partly because of my fear of damaging hard copies, but mostly because it always feels right reading SF on this futuristic little sheet of electronics.
Huge thanks to talkie_tim for being my guinea pig. I’m looking forward to lots more discussions with friends about books, and I’ll be sharing more of them with you on the blog soon.
NB The image at the top of the post is from A Child’s Garden of Verses, published 1906, illustrated by Jessie Wilcox Smith.