This last fortnight, I’ve been on a reading spree. It’s probably because I’ve been staying in a couple of weekends, and so have been finding more time than usual to read. So, I finished The Amber Spyglass (the last of the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman), I completed Aram by Jeyakanthan (reviewed earlier), The Crocodile Bird by Ruth Rendell, Roseanna, the first book in the 10-book police procedural/murder mystery series by Swedish authors Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo, Bring Up The Bodies, Hilary Mantel’s sequel to Wolf Hall, A Mighty Heart, Marianne Pearl’s heart-breaking account of her husband Danny Pearl’s kidnapping and murder, and also re-read Bill Bryson’s Notes From A Small Island. I am at the moment reading Mul, an autobiography in Tamil, by Muthumeenal, an account of her life as a young woman affected by leprosy.
Apart from Roseanna, I didn’t buy a single other of these books.
Quite apart from the fact that I’m saving a great deal of money and space at home by not buying books indiscriminately, what strikes me is that I am also reading more diverse books than I would if I were buying. When buying, I tend to be rather cautious and stick to authors I’ve read or that I’ve definitely heard very good things about, from people whose tastes match mine.
Thanks to two things in the recent past, I’ve been freed of this. One is having joined an online library, Book & Borrow, (we interviewed them on Women’s Web) where I look through the catalogue and pick up anything that catches my fancy – if I don’t like it, all I need to do is return it and get another. The other thing that’s happened is a lovely group called RAPO – read and pass on, which works on the concept of members reading and passing on books that they’re ok with not keeping a copy of.
Together, they’ve started me reading authors that I may not normally pick up at bookstores and I’m much happier for it!