his birthday present from me, Claire Tomalin's biography of Charles Dickens. My brother gave him another biography about Mawson, the Antarctic explorer. Last year he read, among many other things, a biography of Roald Dahl.
He also reads theology, psychology, gardening, woodworking, conjuring, "crime yarns" and "anything genuinely funny". He likes authors like Alexander McCall-Smith and Ian Rankin too. There are also other things my father might read, if he had time. He confines his reading mostly to the evenings. There are too many other things to do in daylight hours. The shed and the garden always beckon.
Occasionally he will go back to a "classic". He went back to a volume of Dickens last year but put it aside. Nevertheless he mentioned it would be interesting to know more about him. The book's publication was one of the serendipitious things which was not to be ignored.
Recently he re-read one of the books written by a very distant relative. When he had finished it he told me, "I enjoyed that far more now than I did when young. I think I have grown into it."
Yes, I think you can grow into books that way. My paternal grandfather had an entire set of that author and would re-read them occasionally. I used to wonder if he read them because of who the author was rather than what the author was but now I believe that, like my father, he had grown into the books and felt comfortable with them.
My father likes to have two books "on the go". There will be one that is non-fiction, an autobiography or an intellectual issue or problem of some sort, and another which is fiction. Fiction is, in his view, something there to be enjoyed. He does not read prize-winning literature simply because it is prize-winning literature. If it does not interest him, and more often than not it does not, then he will put it aside and read something he does want to read. There are, he says, too many books he wants to read to waste time on books he does not want to read. He likes to feel comfortable with what he is reading. At the age of 89 that is his right.
I have no doubt he wants to read the biography of Dickens. He has not eaten breakfast yet. He is still immersed in the beginnings of the book.