No two persons ever read the same book.-Edmund Wilson-
I love to read. When I was a university student and wasn't sure of the right career path for me, I first did a degree in English Literature and mainly this was because of my love for reading. I loved reading and words and the world they created so much that even Chaucer had some appeal. I rarely spoke up in class, intimidated by those individuals who had always taken the most appropriate prerequisite course and thus knew exactly how to compare the piece of literature at hand with something of ancient origin. One day a young man in my contemporary British novels class dared to say out loud that he really didn't have any educated thoughts on the book, he was just there because he loved to read. I mentally applauded him. Okay, if I'm honest, I mentally dated him, perhaps I mentally married him, I don't really recall but he was my hero for at least a whole week. I am just here because I love to read.
I do have to confess to being a bit of a literature snob, though I enjoy a little bit of genre fiction too. I have my opinions on who writes well and why and which books I would not be caught dead on a subway reading. I don't know if dead people read on subways but let's pretend that they do. I have a horror of anything stamped Oprah's Book Club even though Oprah has endorsed some very fine books. I usually won't buy a copy of a novel if it has images from the movie on it's cover, and if I do I will replace that copy with a better looking one for my bookshelf later. I sometimes go slumming and read a piece of fiction which would not be considered literary in the same way that once a month or so I might eat some potato chips. And I really enjoy those potato chips. What makes fiction literary or not is debated but for me it means the writing has some depth to it that goes beyond just advancing the plot. The characters develop and grow, the prose is beautiful or creative in some way that moves me and the content makes me think and challenges me in some way. A piece of fiction that doesn't do those things may still be a well told story and a much needed escape for the reader. Someone I once knew called them beach novels. I wonder what it says about our culture, that Dickens was the equivalent of a beach novel writer in his time.
If you have the patience to follow me, it will not have escaped you that I am a bit verbose. So all of the above is my way of saying, I have a hell of a lot of books in my possession and a whole lot of love for them. I want to share my favourite books and hopefully inspire others to read them. They will not necessarily be from the latest New York Times Bestseller list, as I buy many books second hand so I don't necessarily read a book at the height of it's popularity. I doubt I am alone in that so with that in mind I hope to select a book I have read to review once a week and I also hope that if you have not read it, I can inspire you to give it a try.
Nigella Lawson's library, source unknown to me.