There are times when I feel rather like an obnoxious tourist in the land of literature, slowly learning the ways of the traveller.
Over the past year (and a half!) I’ve discovered books I wouldn’t previously have considered reading; books by authors I hadn’t heard of this time two years ago. I’ve revisited familiar stories, still warm with memories of my childhood. I’ve found new favourites that sit comfortably at the very core of my being, curled up like contented cats…
For me, reading has become an adventure. I never really know what’s going to happen next. It’s actually quite thrilling.
I’m completely aware that I’m not exactly doing this whole “life” thing terribly well. But reading these books, writing these words, makes me feel as if I might just be doing something right.
I owe a lot to my Mum. It’s from her that I inherited my ridiculous sense of humour, my disdain for housework – and, most importantly, my love of reading.
The thing is, although my Mum and I are both readers, we’ve never really been into the same kinds of books. She reads crime novels; thrillers – even historical fiction. Her shelves are full of novels by Lee Child and John Grisham and Patricia Cornwell. They’re quite different to the books on my shelves. Though we talk about reading all the time, we’re always discussing completely different books.
When I was growing up, most of my family’s books occupied a huge, floor-to-ceiling shelf in the passageway between bedrooms. My Mum’s books held a special fascination for me for two reasons: firstly, because there were so many of them, and secondly, because they were kept on the top shelf, out of our reach.
Amongst my Mum’s books were her Agatha Christie novels. I remember their simple, covers, all variations on the same design; a neat row of white spines. I vaguely recall some of the titles…
But, for some reason, I’ve never read a single Agatha Christie novel.
Choosing a novel – just one novel – to represent the year 1939 was always going to be tough.
For some reason, 1939 was a pretty good year for literature. Perhaps it was something in the water? James Joyce published his final novel, Finnegans Wake in 1939. But given the…err, slightly less than ideal experience I had reading A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man last year, there’s no way I’m ready for another barrage of Joyce’s particular brand of bollocks genius just yet. Maybe later. Much later.
John Steinbeck published his other well-known work, The Grapes of Wrath in 1939. But, to tell the truth, I’m not completely over Of Mice and Men. I can’t even think about rabbits without getting a little teary. Which isn’t very convenient, given that it’s the Easter long weekend as I write this review.
If you’d excuse me for a moment, I think there’s *sniff* something in my eye…
Book to the Future isn’t only about reading the so-called classics, you know.
I’m making it my mission to read plenty of popular fiction too. Ideally, I’d like to pursue as much variety in my reading as possible. Although it might seem as if I only read books by dead white dudes, that’s never been the point of this project.
As the years go on, deciding what to read is going to gradually become more and more interesting. And difficult…