During 2011, I read a heck of a lot and enjoyed some wonderful books, as I reported in my last post. However, I start 2012 with a familiar sense of guilt about my level of literary consumption. I keep a record, you see, every month, under two headings: Books Bought and Books Read. No prizes for guessing which list is longer! As we move into the new year I feel the anticipation of reading books which will be published during the course of it, but there's also the awareness that I need to catch up on my To Be Read list, a list of almost unassailable proportions, growing like the national debt. Last year I even moved my desk in the study so as to turn my back on the wall of bookshelves there, because every time I looked at it that guilt would wash over me, that hunger to grab and read the lovely stories I brought home from bookshops, stories I was desperate to read in the way you want to put on a new item of clothing as soon as you've bought it, stories which I'd been drawn to by enticing covers, intriguing blurbs, fascinating subjects, familiar voices. It's like the best friend you always mean to ring, the location you always mean to visit, the diary you'll faithfully keep, the diet you'll never deviate from - we all tread on that path paved with such good intentions.
The new books are unwrapped, stroked, turned in the hands, the first few paragraphs or pages read. Then something happens. Life happens. The dinner needs cooking, the clothes need ironing, the tax accounts need compiling. Earning a crust takes precedence. Vegging out in front of the TV after a hard day seems an easier way to deal with exhaustion. Children have exams. Bus-stops must be waited at, the telephone must be answered. Shopping must be bought, unpacked, consumed, renewed. Lists are made and checked off and yet like the overflowing pot in the fable, endlessly restore themselves. When you wake you wake with the vibrant anticipation of all you will achieve in the day ahead. The day rolls to its close and all that grew was The List. The next day follows and the next and the next ... Life happens and keeps happening. 'What are days for?' Philip Larkin asked. 'Days are where we live.'
So, in January, that ambivalent ambiguous month, that junction of looking back and looking forward, I hear myself making the same promises to the god within my head, the god of getting-things-done. I will eat less, do more, write more, read more. Before 2012's To-Be-Read list starts to grow like Topsy, here's a selection of last year's - if you like the sound of these books you can add them to your own TBR list (and I know you've got one!) - hah!
On Kindle, as I said in my previous post I'm looking forward to reading Linda Gillard's Emotional Geology and Untying the Knot, and also Lycopolis by Ali Luke. I've just finished Louise Voss's sparky To Be Someone, which rang the changes of tone between comedy and pathos very well. The coming week sees the book launch for Catch your Deathwhich she co-wrote with Mark Edwards, landing a four book print deal with HarperCollins after very successfully self-publishing to Kindle (my interviews with them are here, here and here).
Finally, I'm delighted to announce that Lynn Shepherd will be guest-posting on Literascribe later this month: she'll be talking about her use of location in her forthcoming novel Tom-All-Alone's, inspired by Dickens' Bleak House.
Succumb to temptation - get reading!
Fictionfire in 2012:
Focus Workshops: Cracking Openings 2 (Jan 21st); A Sense of Place (Feb 4th); The Inner Lives of Characters (Feb 18th).