Many of you have been asking about the Well Read Wednesday blog. There is no clear answer since reading has been an ever increasing part of my life during both lockdowns, but for whatever reasons, writing has not. Time to remedy that, but maybe not quite as before.
The Corona Virus Pandemic has changed our world in so many ways but those changes are not all negative. For each of the past few years it seems that some naysayer or other has been ready to jump up and tell us that books are on the way out, that nobody has time to read any more and that the novel is dead. Not this year it isn’t! It is true that trends have come and gone. First it was the rise of the Kindle (other e-readers are available)and yes for sure nobody could have predicted the rapid rise of the e-book. Despite the dire warnings however, traditional book sales have continued to rise year on year. This year of course, the rule book was tossed, book sales have increased dramatically and in order to feed our increasing appetite, publishers have rolled out ever more material for us to consume.
The torrent of new books is not all bad either and as we fell in love with fiction again, so we have been spoilt for choice with many great new novels feeding our imaginations. It’s true that a handful of authors resorted to tales set in Covid times. Most noteworthy is probably Ali Smith’s Summer which is the fourth of her seasonal quartet and which looks at an England divided deeply by Brexit when Covid strikes. It appears however that what we really needed was a prescription for a large dose of good old fashioned story telling. Not old fashioned in every sense however, because we have also witnessed a much greater diversity among authors which has been reflected in the range and quality of the writing.
Everyone’s reading list is a very personal thing, but since many of the books I read often come as recommended by others, I present my choices in the hope that others may be helped or inspired in their choices. My reading list has always been varied and the ‘to be read’ pile is always way to big. Split between both fiction and non-fiction, the latter feeds my desire for life-long-learning and also fuels the research for my own writing. In fiction I need to have two essential elements present. First it needs to be a great story intelligently told. Secondly the story needs to be populated by believable, well formed characters. Beyond these basic needs, a book will usually appeal because of its setting either in time or place, or it may simply come highly recommended by somebody whose tastes I respect. Of course another important trigger for me maybe that the story comes from an author whose work I admire.
All of these things have occurred this year and I have read some really good books and some quite extraordinary ones. Between now and Christmas I will share my reading list with you through these blog posts and each one will address a particular pile of books. Non-Fiction is divided between those books which I’ve read for betterment and those which have joined my reference collection. These are not for cover to cover consumption but rather for dipping into as needed. The fiction group will also be divided into two piles for a very particular reason. Firstly there are the individual stories, none of which disappointed. Then there is the pile which has given me the most joy during the second half of this year. These are all by the same author who I regret to say I have come to very late in the day. Back in August I wrote about my discovery of the works of Patrick Gale. I read A Place Called Winter and then Notes From An Exhibition. I was hooked! I then chose a path I’d not taken for many years and set out to read Patrick’s back catalogue in order of Publication. For this reason my list of Patrick Gale books read so far, deserves it’s own pile.
My book reading is also supplemented with regular magazines and periodicals since by the very nature of their publication, they deliver more contemporary information and trends than long-in-production books can do. Once I have covered all that material dear readers, I may look forward to the New Year and take a peak at that ever growing pile of ‘books to be read’. There will also be some news on my own writing/publication plans. I can only use the garden as my excuse for so long and with that put to bed for the Winter, it’s time to get back to the planting of new words!
Coming soon: The Lockdown Reader Pt2 – The Non-Fiction list