I fucking LOVE books

Talking about the love of books. With a lot of swearing.

Wide Reading (makes you a better writer)

First things first, apologies for radio silence. It was easter bank holiday weekend and I spent it getting drunk and going to funfairs. I may love books and reading, but it doesn’t stop me being a bit of a party girl.

I want to talk about one of the negative aspects of reading a lot. They do exist!

They exist because not every book in the world can be a mind-expanding piece of glorious literature. That’s fine! Sometimes all you want is a bit of brain candy, especially if you’re having a hard time of it lately. And bear in mind, this is not a literary/genre thing, there are beautiful, soul enriching books among even the most poorly treated bits of genre fiction just as there are dire, emotionally mean and beige works among literary.

As I said, there is nothing wrong with these books. There is nothing wrong with reading something just for entertainment. The problem comes if you JUST read these books. It’s why I say a wide reading habit is the best thing you can do… it tests your beliefs and makes you think about different things, which has the effect of broadening your horizons. But if you ONLY read one type of stuff, ONLY read generic, brain candy books, you’ll do as much damage to your thinking as a diet of pure sugar would do to your body.

But why? Surely any kind of reading is good?

Well, yes and no, and if you’re someone who doesn’t really read (freak) then reading even imaginatively narrow and poorly written stuff is a start. But, in an ideal world, you would be increasing your reading habits to include things NOT in the favoured genre. Why? Because narrow reading= narrow mind.

Certain genres of books have their tropes – techniques they use to tell the story. The best examples of genres use these tropes well, abandon out dated or unpleasant ones, or outright subvert expected tropes. The average merely use those tropes competently. The poor, however, use them with no subtlety, and it often leads to unpleasant attitudes going unchallenged by the work. For example, thrillers often have a tendency to treat women like set dressing. They’re victims or seductresses, there for the man to win.  If you only read that one genre, you won’t have any opposing points of view to offset that. This can lead to problems. For example, recent controversies about racism and rape apologism in some Urban Fantasy books.

It becomes more important to read widely if you are a writer. It’s only through reading widely you can develop taste – by which I mean the ability to tell when a type of writing is bad or good –  and if you only stick to one genre of fiction, you artifically restrict your writing ability. Sure, you should read a lot of books in your chosen genre (and there’s a hell of a lot of sci-fi and fantasy on my shelves) but you should also read outside it. For your readers sake, if not for yours.


Thinking for yourself (scares people)

A sufficiently wide reading lsit from a young age teaches you to think for yourself. I can get why that may frighten even the nicest and sweetest of people: What if your child starts thinking things you don’t approve of?

Well, that’s kind of their right. The only things we ever really own in our existence is our body and our mind, and giving your child the tools to make up their own mind is one of the most powerful gifts you can give them.

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Dancing, shape-shifting, archaeologist/rock star FROM SPACE.

I was… kind of a weird kid. Good natured, but overly intelligent for my age, and I hadn’t quite figured out that other people couldn’t quite keep up with my mental jumps. And as for imagination… phew. Well, kids are imaginative at the best of times, but me…

Ok. To explain. My childhood ambition (and most common type of play) was: Dancing, shape-shifting tiger archaeologist-rockstar FROM SPACE. (this was also the first story I ever told.)

I don’t think I need to tell you I didn’t have many friends.

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Format doesn’t matter to me (but I love stroking the covers)

In my first post I (briefly) mentioned a thing I have about format. It doesn’t matter to me. I like physical books and e-books and I don’t care how things come to me as long as I can read them, as long as I can sink myself into that world with luxurious abandon.

There are places I prefer one over the other – physical copy is better for reading in the bath, e-books for long journeys – but in general I don’t give a shit how I read.

However. There’s always a however.

I have an almost sexual lust for the smell of paper and the feel of book covers under my fingers.

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Practicing grief.

“Daddy, no. He’s not dead. Gandalf isn’t allowed to be dead.”

I was seven, or so. This is the readthrough of LoTR that I remember, cuddled up with my dad as he read it to me. He even did the voices.

“I’m sorry sweetie, but it looks like he is.”

“No. He’s gonna come back, right? Him and Boromir? This isn’t fair.”

Dad knew, of course, how this book panned out, but he wasn’t going to spoil me.

“Little one, life’s not fair. And neither is death. It’s not something you can come back from.”

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Age Appropriate

Otherwise known as Something My Parents Did Not Believe In.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, they had some caution over what I read, but from a certain age they trusted me enough to think that if I was disturbed or concerned by something I read, that I would talk to them. A lot of the time they were right.

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Shakespeare in the garden.

My father taught me to read using Tolkien.

As a start to this blog, that is, I think, the most powerful statement I can make. About the sort of person I am, the sort of parent my father was, and about the sort of expectations that were put on me from a young age.

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I fucking LOVE books.

I love books in physical form, and books in digital copy. I love books that make me think, and books that are throw away brain candy. I love books that make me cry and books that make me laugh.

This is where I talk about that book love. Part memoir, part love story to fiction, this is where I talk about the ways that books have kept me going, and in some cases have kept me alive.

Sometimes, I’ll do reviews.

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