Tag Archives: Amelie Northomb

Magpies, Sheep and Tigers (Honestly, I Haven’t Lost the Plot!)

Whilst it is not an attractive attribute I have to admit that I get jealous sometimes. The green eyed monster in me rears its ugly head now and again. For example if someone looks at my other half a certain way, if the evil lady downstairs tries to feed my cat, if I see someone tweeting a picture of a giant custard slice they are about to eat, etc, etc.  This also happens with other peoples reading habits weirdly and catching up with a friend last week and asking them what they were reading sparked it off again and lead me to thinking about magpies, sheep and tigers – I promise this will make some sort of sense.

My friend who will remain nameless, though I wasn’t so discreet on this week’s episode of The Readers podcast, but suffice to say I have always been rather envious of their ability to find books and authors that are off the mainstream, invariably I have never heard of, and that sound amazing. Their latest read was no exception. I had never heard of Amelie Northomb before and therefore not ‘The Character of Rain’ which sounds amazing frankly. “The Japanese believe that until the age of three, children are gods, each one a ‘Lord Child’. On their third birthday they fall from grace and join the rest of humanity. Narrated by a child – from the age of two and a half up until her third birthday – this novel reveals that the move from deity to ordinary member of the human race can be a very difficult thing indeed from which to recover.” Doesn’t that just sound brilliant?

I asked where my friend had heard of this and the response was “oh, I just came across one of her other books and really liked her”, why does this not happen to me? Or am I being too hard on myself? Managing not to sulk slightly at the ability to discover these gems we finished nattering away but I was left thinking about it. I realised that my friend is a tiger (or any other animal that tends to live alone apart from mating), if we apply animal analogies to ourselves as readers (I do this with all sorts of things, did I just hear someone whisper ‘how weird’?), as they go off alone and hunt down hidden treats lost in the wilderness. What am I?

I worryingly started to think I was either a magpie or a sheep. You see magpies spot beautiful new shiny things, like books, and simply have to have them. They also kill competitors young; I have yet to do that so maybe I am ok. In my head magpies also start off with one shiny thing, grab it, and then decide they want another shiny thing. Fickle some people might say. Though I don’t tend to do this all the time I have noticed I do like the shiny new books, though I am now trying to go for older more classic (both modern classic and ‘classic’ classic) so maybe that makes me an owl? I have been talking about magpie behaviour a lot as it’s something that I don’t think that I like in my own character. But I guess we all do it don’t we? Though I don’t actually ask for many books via Savidge Reads, in fact I had to explain only last week that in a picture of nineteen books that had arrived in a week fourteen were unsolicited.

Why do I also think I am a sheep? Well I have noticed that if everyone is going on about a book or if I hear a rave review on a podcast/blog then I want to read that and follow the crowd. This has happened with ‘The Twelve Tribes of Hattie’ by Ayana Mathis. Oprah announced it was on her book club, the publishing world went mad about it, everyone wanted to read it and so did I. I got it before Christmas, and I have only just started it. It has now also happened with Amelie Northomb too, my friend mentioned it and so I have picked up ‘The Character of Rain’ and ‘Sulphuric Acid’, from the library since. That said I was about to start Hilary Mantel’s ‘Bring Up the Bodies’ again when it won the Costa and I decided as everyone else was going to be going crazy for it I really didn’t want to read it. What animals are crazy and completely contradict themselves, maybe I am one of those?

I thought I would put all this madness out there to you all to chat with me about. Do you think that actually we all have the magpie effect in built in us and it’s just natural to crave the new and shiny? Do you also think we all like to be a little like sheep and follow a crowd because reading is by its very nature a lonely pass time and we like to join book groups or have discussions one on one or on blogs and forums etc because of that? Do you sometimes crave to be someone who goes off and finds undiscovered gems, or lesser known ones, that you can tell everyone else about and get them excited about? I would love, as always, to know your thoughts – it might make me feel a little less barmy, ha!

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