I am told. Right. There are a lot of books I apparently should read. I do not always want to read them.
Now, let's get this straight. There are a lot of things I must read. Newspapers and news feeds on the internet are a must. Reports, reviews and articles in areas of concern to me come close behind. Then there is the non-fiction, mostly in the fields of language and psychology, that I feel a certain compulsion to read and some of which I enjoy. There is the occasional knitting book.
There are certain blogs I like to prowl through - and they teach me a good deal.
When it comes to fiction however I want to choose my own reading. It is one reason why I do not belong to a book discussion group.
Book discussion groups for adults do not normally consider the merits of children's literature. I happen to like reading children's books. I like to be able to talk with children about what they have been reading. There are many children's books which are well written and they make enjoyable reading. Many adults never read a child's book. That is their choice and I accept it.
It does not appear to work the other way around.
I am constantly being told by well meaning people that I should read this or that or another thing. I am told that books are "marvellous", "fantastic" and "a great read" or that someone is a "terrific" author (terrifying?) . Then there are the award winning books and award winning authors with their literary novels, the introspective, dark and confusing novels in which nothing much seems to happen and which leave me wondering what the story was really about.
And then there are what I think of as television novels, some of them are actually television tie-ins. The characterisation is flat and the story line is full of holes. It might have been okay on the screen but does not work as a book.
One such book was thrust at me in the library on Saturday. I made a rash promise to read it. By the time I was a third of the way through the first section I was thoroughly bored. The writing did not flow. The characters were static. There were descriptions that had no relevance to the story. There were long passages of conversation that did not lead the story forward - they probably came directly from the television script. I skim read the rest of the book in half an hour and found something else to read.
What bothers me however is that I looked at the on line catalogue for the library. There are three copies of the book available for borrowing. The are no less than twenty-seven titles by this author. There are waiting lists for six more recent titles. Obviously other people do like reading these books. I wondered why and then decided that, like Enid Blyton, the books are an easy and undemanding read. It is why I could skim through the book in half and hour and still get the gist of the story line.
I think I may also be a lazy reader of fiction however. I do not want long Russian novels or literary navel gazing novels. I do not want the adult equivalent of Enid Blyton. I want something in between. I want a story line, I want some characterisation, I want the conflict that makes the reader turn the page and I want to experience something as I read it - something other than boredom.