I didn’t read enough fiction during my years at university. I read all the set work (except for Ulysses), loads of classics (mostly Dickens) and, obviously, mountains of academic stuff, but I didn’t read much else, and I feel like I’ve been playing catch-up ever since. Before deciding that I wanted to get into publishing, which was only about a year ago, really, I tended to be ignorant of and indifferent to the hype around new books, perfectly at ease to read whatever was readily available, the Harry Potter books being the only notable exception. (I was there with the rest of the rabid Potterheads waiting in line in the early hours of the morning for every new release.) For the last little while, in between other reads I’ve stumbled upon or had presented to me, I’ve been picking my way through books previously long- and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, not because I think the Booker is necessarily indicative of brilliance or worthiness, but because I find infinite choice to be overwhelming, and picking from this pool narrows it down a bit.
I tend to be quite selective about what I read because I’m not a fast reader. It’s something I need to work on, particularly if I want to be successful in publishing, and I am getting better at it, but still… I’m not someone who can race through a thick book in a couple of days without a significant effort. I read intensely, deliberately, carefully. I take in each. and. every. word. If I miss something, I read it again. I flip back for refreshers. I pause to ponder. It’s a slow process, and yet, mere weeks and months after finishing the books, I generally can’t remember most of those details I agonised over. When I’m very stressed out about things, I sometimes find it difficult to keep my mind latched onto the text in front of me. I’ll be reading without comprehending and then I’ll have to mentally slap myself and reread all the pages I zoned out on. Awful things for a literary enthusiast to admit, but there they are.
Given all these things and that I am trying to write a novel and that I was/am/will be trying to get into publishing, I should probably start writing reviews from time to time, because that’s what the cool bloggers do (see my friend Jess Manim’s blog for loads of YA reviews) and because I have opinions! It would be good to channel all that reading intensity into an excuse for writing practice, and it would be useful to have my recollections on record, seeing as I forget things so easily. I wouldn’t care much about these reviews being useful to anyone and I wouldn’t structure them according to accepted formats, because I’m too lazy for that; I’d basically just ramble about my impressions. I know I’m going to have a lot to say when I’m done with my current read, The City & The City, by China Miéville, and perhaps that’s a good place to start.
So,watch this space! But don’t watch it too closely, because I’m right on the cusp of a very busy and uncertain chunk of my life and also because I sometimes (often) give up on things before I’ve even started them. I need some sort of self-slapping device attached to my head that activates whenever I doubt myself or procrastinate or needlessly fail at life. I suppose that’s sort of the point in this post; it’s a self-slapping device. If I write my intentions here, perhaps I’ll be more likely to follow them through to avoid guilt and shame in the future. Yeah… Anyway.