I like to read.
That may be an understatement.
I’ve never considered reading a challenge but, instead, seem to devour books, beginning to end, with an alacrity that hints at addiction.
I read less these days because I find it difficult to manage that addiction.
I locked myself in my bedroom for three days (two nights) and read them end to end.
It shocked me. I’d always been able to read shorter novels in good time but I’d never dedicated so much time purely to the pursuit of reading. My earlier exposure to such classics as Tolkien‘s Lord of the Rings or Herbert’s Dune had taught me to savour each chapter and take time over the books I read – but Brian Lumley‘s original quintet of pulp horror and psychic heroism broke those chains.
Many people say that certain books are “un-put-downable” – for me, most books follow that description. Of the few books I have encountered that I have been able to easily put down, many have ended up launched as bumf, dross not worth the paper they’re printed upon. (Stephen King’s Tommy Knockers and the first Sookie Stackhouse story by Charlaine Harris – I’m thinking of you here).
So the concept of a reading challenge actually, well, challenges me… a number of levels.
Firstly, whilst I would say I am particularly well read, I do tend to opt for trash fantasy, pulp horror and science fiction. Avoiding the kind of novels that my absolute idiot of an English Teacher forced upon me at GCSE.
I accept I had an abnormal reading age compared to my peers, I remember the protests my infant school teacher made when I insisted on us reading Gulliver’s Travels
in class. I just didn’t understand that my peers were happy with Meg & Mog – I certainly wasn’t.
I’ve reconciled myself to the fact that I seek comfort in tales of heroism, sword and sorcery out of some kind of childish rebellion against the trivia spoonfed to me over two decades ago, at school.
Things improved at college, I had a wonderful lecturer in German who introduced me to Brecht, Süskind and Kafka; for the first time, not only did I understand why I should broaden my literary horizons but also that there really were no boundaries. She also taught me how to properly review a book, something that nobody had bothered to do throughout my whole academic career.
Secondly, as hinted at earlier, I rarely find time to read properly these days. I either schedule a short amount of time in and therefore don’t really enjoy it or I start and find it difficult to stop. Many a grumpy day at work has been the cause of a reluctant three am break in a really good book.
And so, it is with some sense of caution and excitement, that I take up the gauntlet set down by a pair of book reviewers that I follow: The Insatiable Booksluts. You can find full details on the challenges they have set by clicking on the image below.
To make this properly a challenge for me, I’m going to actually try their first two challenges, “Toe Dippin'” and “Full Frontal”. I’d like to try my hand at “Jet Setter” and “Genre Buster” as well but we’ll see how I do with the non-standard offerings in the Noble Laureate and Pulitzer sections first… and there’s always the “Extra Credit” challenge.
I’m actually well set up to start with as a work colleague has lent me the pulitzer prize winning The Road. I’ll read it shortly and post a brief review up here as a way of proving my progress towards the challenge. I’ll try tag the reviews under “Reading Challenge” or “IBC” or something like that to make them easier to collate; I’ll also try to remember to title them in some way so as to allow the posts to be ignored by people who don’t really care about my reading habits.