Sunday, May 07, 2006

Reading List

This is my current reading list (see below).

It changed, recently, when I realised that the novels I was reading were not the types of novels I wanted to write. So, out goes Mike Gayle (His n Hers, My Perfect Girlfriend, Mr Commitment) and in comes this far more literate and impressive list of novels:

  • Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Márquez
  • Slaughter House Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Time Travellers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (I haven't read this yet, but I know it will be what I call a good book.)
  • The History of Love by Nicole Krauss (reading this right now)
Other novels that I've bought but may well consign to the Mike Gayle Slush Pile include:

  • A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
  • Inconceivable by Ben Elton
  • Whatever Love Means by David Baddiel (I've met David once. Well, I didn't meet him but he used to hang out in a pokey 'night-club' in Bristol called The Tropic, at the same time I did.)
By the way, I hope you realise that to be a writer you should be a reader, an avid reader.

And this is where I am tempted to veer into 'how to write a novel' mode, but when I have not written a novel and so am therefore not an expert on writing a novel, I feel it would be, to say the least, in appropriate.

I shall include excerpts from the various 'how to' books that I think are relevant and helpful to me.

The above is the first excerpt, that everyone advocates: want to write, then read!

So why the above reading list?

I'm interested in the themes of communication, commitment, fear so you can see why Mike Gayle appealed to me. I must say, however, that whilst I enjoyed Mike's books and think he is an able writer, I also found them to be lacking depth. As was the case with Bridget Jones' Diary (Mike is meant to be the male Bridget Jones, which realy doesn't make sense!)

But more than those themes, I prefer to read books that challenge my mind or provoke me in some way, or books that are written from a clever perspective, or books that are just damn good!

Hence the new list, above.

If I'm going to write one novel I might as well model my efforts on the best rather than just the saleable! No?

I was also going to read Man and Boy by Tony Parsons, but I just couldn't face it (don't know why! Maybe it's because I love the barbed words of his ex- too much).

I tried Andrew Collins' Where Did It All Go Right?, and whilst I appreciate his attempt at revisiting his own happy 70s and 80s from a happy perspective, I found it at best smug and at worst very very put-downabble. (Add it to the list of did not finish books that include Nelson Mandela's autobiography, Zadie Smith's White Teeth, and Umberto Eco's turgid Foucault's Pendulum. Yes, I plead guilty.)

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