Monday, 18 April 2016

Wanky Ode To Reading

When people wax about how much they love reading, I sometime find it a little smug. That being said, this is a blog post about how much I love reading. To proclaim how much you just looooove to read is a none too subtle way of saying 'actually, I'm quite intelligent, actually'. Worst of all are people who say they don't watch television. YES YOU DO. YOU ARE LYING. Just because you don't have a television doesn't mean you are not sat up every night, like the rest of us, watching TELEVISION on your laptop. Have you always not had a television? No. When did you decide that 'actually, you know, I think I can do without a television'? WHEN BROADBAND GOT GOOD.

As a child I used to read a lot. Every day of the summer holidays included a visit to my local library and the bottom of my bed always featured a pile of at least ten books. In my teens this stopped. Instead, my summers were spent driving through the neighbourhood wacking letterboxes with a baseball bat and intimidating four younger boys who were about to go on a life changing adventure - hang on, no, that was Kiefer Sutherland in the movie Stand By Me.

When I was at university and went through the only period of my life without a TV (or computer) I returned to reading. For the first time ever I read grown up books about grown up things. I found that there was something about the medium - the fact that the words are not said aloud but in minds of the writer and then the reader, the one and one relationship that results between the two - that led to honesty. Far more honesty, it seemed to me, than I saw in films or on TV.

Then, after Uni, my reading slowed down. I'm not sure what I did instead. Listen to podcasts? Bang broads? Either way, I wasn't reading much and when I was, my choices were seldom ambitious - Keith Gillespie's autobiography was a low point.

For my New Year's Resolution in 2015, I decided to read more. Good decision. I've been struck again by the honesty that comes out of good books. People get away with saying things in books that they would never dare say on television/radio/Twitter/Facebook/in my house. Say something challenging on Twitter and you can expect an immediate backlash. Hide your darker thoughts 200 pages into a book, that's my advice. Any backlash is likely to reach you a lot slower, if at all.

Here, for my own satisfaction more than anything else, is a list of the books I can remember reading since my 2015 resolution. It's not a mega long list cos I'm not a mega fast reader. I liked them all. Bold means I liked them a lot. Bold and underlined means I liked them a lot a lot.

Saturday - Ian McKewan
The Children Act - Ian McKewan
The Secret History - Donna Tartt - Blew me away. Probably my favourite of the lot.
The Bees - Laline Paull - Very odd - it's a novel about bees for fuck's sake.
Flash Boys - Michael Lewis - I like Michael Lewis a lot. 
Open - Andre Agassi - First half brilliant, second half boring.
The Plot Against America - Phillip Roth
Perfida - James Ellroy - 800 pages long. Do I get a prize?
The Black Dahlia - James Ellroy
My Brilliant Friend - Elena Ferrante - First in a series of four novels. End of this one ensured I will read the next.
This Boy - Alan Johnson
So You've Been Publicly Shamed - Jon Ronson - Everyone else read it, so I did too.
Kill Your Friends - John Niven
One Summer: America, 1927 - Bill Bryson - Ludicrously entertaining. Read about 700 pages in a week.
Australia - Bill Bryson
Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson - By now, I was getting a bit bored of Bryson.
Run, Rabbit Run - John Updike
Freedom - Jonathan Franzen - Damned honest writing, I thought.

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