Wednesday, 7 May 2008

On Reading and Books

Reading is a great escape from what’s going on around me. I read for pleasure for at least an hour a day - in bed. Thirty minutes when I get into it at night and thirty minutes before I leave it in the morning. I get through a good few books that way.

While I love reading and often find it hard to put a book down, it also helps me with my writing. I can be critical about the way sentences are constructed, and think I must take care not to make that mistake myself. Or I can be admiring of a turn of phrase, or how something is expressed differently, or how a new element is introduced in a story. All these things will get me thinking about how to improve my own work.

Last night I finished a novel, Sea Otters Gambolling in the Wild, Wild Surf, by John Bennett, published in 2006. I give this date because I learnt from it so much more about how young people today think and interact. It was also a highly original, but believable adventure story, set in the here and now (well, a couple of years ago) and making use of all the technology available to us. The flash back technique was used to really good effect as well. The book was completely different from any I’ve read before and I thoroughly recommend it.

Since I always have a book on the go downstairs, for those odd moments I find myself at leisure – eating alone, or waiting for the washing machine to finish its cycle, or some such – I’m also into a non-fiction travel story by Josie Dew. Saddled at Sea is her story of a 15,000 mile journey from France to New Zealand on a Russian freighter. Apparently she normally writes about cycling and her plan was to cycle round New Zealand once she arrived, but this is the story of how she gets there. I’m up to page 209, and she is still mid Pacific but keeping me entertained with her ruminations about pirates and drowning, her discoveries about the ship, the sea and its flora, fauna and flotsam, and her interactions with the crew and the five other passengers.

Only about 60 pages to go. I’ll definitely seek out a cycling story after this.


Dave King said...

Interesting in that my experience seems to reflect yours - in all but the speed at which I get through books. I like to read in bed at night, but find I doze off or lose the thread of what I am reading, long before I would wish to stop. Old age, I suppose! Good to know, though, that in these strange times there are still folk who like to read books.

jakill said...

Thanks for your comment Dave. I can't imagine not wanting to read books. I read so many I have to use libraries or I'd be skint. My local library here in Dorset is always busy with people choosing their books.

I used to live in Surrey too.

Ken Armstrong said...

Trying to write without reading is like trying to walk around without breathing, I think. :)

I'm a bedtime reader myself and I suffer a little of what Dave mentioned. The early morning read sounds like a good idea - I might try that. it's a good time for writing too, all the dream stuff is still there in the mix.

jakill said...

Thanks Ken. Just lately I've been finding I can't stretch to a half hour's read at night, either. Must be a sign that I'm working harder and getting more tired in my old age.

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