Thursday, 29 September 2016

Z is for Zafon

As this series has focussed on writing, and the tools of a writer's life, I can hardly close without a word about reading. Reading is as essential to a writer as breathing. From time to time one may see someone claiming that this is not so, generally in a writers' group on Facebook. Then, one immediately knows that person is not a writer. Even if he is a hack who has published something, he is not a real writer. And I'm happy to defend my statement against any and all attacks.

This being the case, it's time for me to review my own reading habits. From time to time I make myself a reading list. Although some of my less literary friends think I've read everything there is, actually I don't consider myself particularly well-read, and there are a number of quite important books I've somehow never got around to reading. So, today I am going to make a list to remedy that.

I take as a starting point that BBC list that floats about from time to time. You know, you must have seen it - the one that's headed 'BBC believes you've only read six of these books'. It turns up perenially on Facebook and we all vie to have read the most. I usually win, but at 65 out of 100 that isn't anything to shout about.

There are thirty-four books on the list I make; I refuse to count the complete works of Shakespeare. I hate reading plays, and never do it. The proper way to experience plays is by going to the theatre.

It would, of course, be a nonsense to attempt to tackle the whole list, so in accordance with our daily theme I choose The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Zafon and Germinal by Emile Zola. And as luck would have it, I already have a copy of The Shadow of the Wind.

I load the book onto my Kindle, but as I'm already reading eight books, reason tells me I need to finish something before starting yet another. I nearly always have a number of books on the go, because different days and different moods call for different reading, but there has to be a limit - if I have too many in progress, it gets confusing, particularly if several are in the same genre, as is the case at present. Here's the lineup:

 With all this lot, it's hard to decide just which one to finish. I run over the field and decide to finish Connelly's The Scarecrow before I start on the new book. 

I start reading, but on this sunny, windy day it just isn't what I'm in the mood for, I want something more light-hearted, so I decide instead to finish Bubbles Unbound. Those Bubbles books are so much fun.

First, though, a walk in the park. Emily has to have exercise, especially on such a beautiful day.

Is she not the most divine being you've ever seen? Even after swimming in the duck pond.

After that, I settle in our favourite reading spot, equipped with coffee, Bubbles and Emily. I finish Bubbles Unbound and read some more of The Scarecrow, then switch to Death du Jour. Not for the first time, I wonder about the prevalence of murders, especially perverted serial killings, in detective fiction. My own crime fiction, in my two published novellas and the novel I am still writing, deals with more innocuous crimes; it's difficult to be funny about a mangled corpse, so I stay away from the gruesome deeds. Why are we so fascinated with these disgusting, extreme crimes? I wonder if it is a symptom of some deep sickness in our society.

Be that as it may, I know that I won't get to starting The Shadow Of The Wind today. But it is next on my list.

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