I am aware that I have been a little quieter over the last few weeks or so and frankly I blame this all on Fiction Uncovered, in a nice way. On Thursday we are meeting for the first of the ‘whittling out the winners’ meeting (or as I harshly put it ‘the first culling’) and it has been pretty full on in the lead up reading lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of submissions. It has been really rewarding both in finding some utter corkers that I had never heard of before and getting very excited about what the list might look like, though I think there is lots more reading, rereading and discussion before we get to that stage.
On a selfish level it has been like a crash course in reading and I have learnt lots about myself and my own reading habits and prejudices (some of which we have discussed before) in a very condensed period. Though I’m aware reading as a judge is slightly different from just reading as you might normally, with the context of only having a certain not endless books to read and deadlines and the fact these books will a) win the author money and b) could make a real difference to their readership, meaning the judges can be judged on their listing. Anyway… As well as keeping lots of notes on the books themselves I have been keeping notes on what the books have taught me about my own reading and, so far, it looks like this…
- I can’t always judge a book by its cover, sometimes I really can.
- Sometimes a single short story in a collection can have as much power as a 500+ page novel.
- You can tell if a book is for you pretty quickly (probably within 70 – 100 pages) – yes there are books that have an amazing twist at the end, but if you can’t get there without wanting to cry or forcing yourself not to fall asleep then is it worth it.
- Sometimes that first paragraph really isn’t just a bumpy start, sometimes you can stop reading a ‘quite good book’ when its not giving you life… all in all sometimes Simon you’re really not as ‘Savidge’ as you should be, or savage.
- Font matters. It shouldn’t but it does.
- Sometimes I like the idea of a book, or ideas behind it, more than I like it in reality.
- There are lots of ‘very good books’ the ones you really love and want to hug to a pulp are few and far between. Note – this is not a bad thing.
- I like dark themes in books, I have my limits though.
- Some books get better with distance, others burn out.
- My Kindle still works, I still don’t like it.
- Some book covers feel funky and can put you off.
- A brilliant writer will make you enjoy subjects that you wouldn’t imagine they could – yes even horses, world wars, sports, ships etc.
- One bad sentence can kill.
- I have prose ticks and serious prose crosses.
- Ignoring a blurb can really help, a surprise joy is a real buzz. Oh and some lie.
- I clearly have a very different view on what makes a good book from what might make one for others (this might become even more apparent after the meeting this week, ha!)
- I don’t like being disturbed from a really, really good book.
- Certain terrain has been far too quarried by novelists.
- Life’s too short for books you don’t like.
- There are far too many good books going unnoticed and maybe it’s time to change the direction of the blog to look at those, after all with so many blogs out there shouldn’t I have a point of difference?
- I funking love books and reading, even when reading till my eyes might bleed.
I think we will stop there for now or I could go on all day. Of course we never stop learning about how we read and indeed our tastes change, just as they do in food, overtime. I am sure that the meeting on Thursday will enlighten me even further, I can’t wait, and I will report back after – well without giving away any secrets. I am hoping that this year might be the first year ever Fiction Uncovered announce a longlist, I am putting that up for discussion this week. I think that could be really exciting.
Anyway those are some of the things I have noticed about my reading habits in the last few weeks/months, some might just become longer posts over the next few weeks, do we share any? What have you learnt about your own reading habits; the good the bad and the ugly?