I sometimes wonder why my head spins & I find myself paralysed with indecision when I finish a book. How on earth do I decide what to read next? Mostly, I blame bloggers & the members of my online book group. Sometimes the next book is obvious. It leads on from the book I’ve just finished. Or it’s a brand new book just arrived at work & I know there’s a reservation queue a mile long & my conscience says I should read it next eg The Soldier’s Wife by Joanna Trollope. Sometimes it’s a mention or a reminder of a book from one of the members of my online book group. That’s why I picked up the latest Slightly Foxed edition of Look Back with Love by Dodie Smith which I’ve just finished reading.
Then, there are all the other blogs I read. I try to catch up with them all once a week, usually on a Sunday. I may dip in during the week but I spend all day on a computer at work so I don’t do much more than read emails at night. Last Sunday, I moved from Martin Edwards’s post on the reprints of Ethel Lina White’s Some Must Watch (& his own Harry Devlin novel, All the Lonely People) to Dovegreyreader’s post on Orkney & Kathleen Jamie’s new book, Sightlines, which reminded me that I haven’t read her earlier book, Findings (fortunately I could reserve both of these at the library) to Desperate Reader’s post on Scottish islands. This led me to add Island Years, Island Farms by Frank Fraser Darling & a couple of books by Mairi Hedderwick to my Book Depository wishlist. I’ve always loved Scotland & I collect books on Scottish history, the islands especially fascinate me. Sian’s blog, Life on a Small Island, is a favourite. The adventures of her cat, Button, the chickens & her life on Graemsay make delightful reading. It’s a bit of a reality check to my more romantic ideas about island life.
I’m listening to Simon King’s Shetland Diaries on audio at the moment & now, suddenly, everywhere I go there are mention of otters, here & here, for example. And I have this lovely Folio Society edition of Henry Williamson’s Tarka the Otter & suddenly I need to know more about otters. I listened to David Rintoul reading Ring of Bright Water years ago & I loved it but haven’t got back to any more Gavin Maxwell, even though I have another of his books, The House of Elrig, on the tbr shelves.
Daphne, who blogs at a life in books and music, reviewed Rodney Bolt’s book on the life of Mary Benson, As Good as God, as Clever as the Devil, mother of the famous writing Benson brothers. As the book had also been recommended by a member of my online book group, I had to have it immediately & it was only $5 to download at the Book Depository… Of course, I haven’t read it yet! That’s another thing. My e-reader is a great temptation. E-books can be so cheap & they’re invisible, neatly tucked away on my e-reader, not adding to the groaning tbr shelves. I also bought the e-book of Jill Mansell’s latest novel, A Walk in the Park, after reading an enthusiastic review from a blogger in The Bookseller. However, I started this straight away & I’m loving it. I’d known of Jill Mansell for ages but have never read any of her books. I think the covers always looked a bit too much like light, fluffy romances for twenty-somethings. I won’t start the whole debate about book covers again, we had a good discussion about that here, in reference to Katie Fforde’s covers. Which is a case in point. I don’t think I’d have started reading Katie Fforde if I’d only come across her books with the stick figure girls on them. It was because I’d already discovered her books with the beautiful painterly covers that I’ve gone on reading her no matter what the publishers put on the cover. I’d have missed the pleasures of Jill Mansell if I hadn’t taken a chance based on a review. But, I’m enjoying the adventures of Lara, Evie, Flynn & Gigi & I’m pleased to see she’s written lots more.
I also keep discovering terrific new blogs. This means not only more time reading about books instead of reading books but also endless possibilities for adding to the wishlist & the tbr shelves. Google Alerts can be a dangerous thing. I have Google Alerts for lots of my favourite novelists, past & present. Just the other day, I had an Alert for Vera Brittain which led me to Novel Readings, a blog by Rohan Maitzen, an academic at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia. Rohan is working on a project about the Somerville novelists – Vera Brittain, Winifred Holtby, Dorothy L Sayers & Margaret Kennedy. I spent a lovely half-hour browsing her blog last night & I have lots more reading to do there.
I’ve also recently discovered Rosie’s blog, Corners of my Mind, after she left a comment here. Have a look at this post. Isn’t her Chloe very much like my Phoebe? Rosie & I have many reading tastes in common but she’s currently reading Margery Allingham’s The Oaken Heart – & I haven’t read it & it’s on my tbr shelves!
So, there you have it. A recipe for indecision. And, of course, I fully intend to read all the books listed over there>>>> On My Reading Table. But, I’m so lucky to have such choice. Imagine finishing a book & not having at least half a dozen choices for the next read? That would be a disaster.