Follow this Blog by Email

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Goodbye 2014

2014 was a good year for reading, I managed to read 70 books, that's 2 more than 2013 and the same total as in 2012, so I am pretty consistent if nothing else. I read 44 non-fiction books and 26 fiction books in 2014. I only read 9 library books and 11 books from Surrey's electronic book library. I am going to have to read a lot more paper library books in 2015 if I am to achieve my aim of reading a book from every bookcase in Dorking library.

My favourite fiction book of 2014 was The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and my favourite non-fiction book was Hitler and Stalin: Parallel lives by Alan Bullock. I read both of these books quite a few months ago but at least bits of them are still fresh in my memory, whereas so many books you read are forgotten a few days later.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Becoming An Adult

When I first started reading adult books around the age of 12, it was like unleashing a monster. Suddenly I was able to go round this whole new part of the library and try whole genres at random. I was able to read adult books with some mildly racy passages for the first time, perhaps a bed scene or the depiction in words of naked flesh. Nobody ever got killed in children's books either. I initially read lots of detective novels by authors like Agatha Christie, a few basic thrillers, the odd Western. It was not unusual for me to rattle off ten books all by the same person over the course of six months. One by one I got tired of the repetitive nature of these fairly simple books and my tastes gradually evolved into the preferences of my early adult years.

But it's that early process I want to recapture. I want to read at least one of every type of book, in part to see what I have might have overlooked between the ages of 12 and 15, but secondly to re-experience that initial euphoria at having the whole adult library at my fingertips after having being constrained for what seemed so long by the children's' books I had outgrown.

May it soon begin.....

Friday, December 26, 2014

Rules of Engagement

Now the basic idea of the project has been laid down it’s for a few ground rules. I need to arrive at a bookcase knowing what the rules of operation are!

What is a bookcase?

This may seem a bit basic but if you go and look round your local library you’ll see all sorts of mechanisms for holding books. Some are laid flat on the table, paperbacks are sometimes in wire bookcases you can rotate, and even “normal” bookcases sometimes are rotated so that the form something like a hexagonal group.

For my purposes a bookcase is a set of parallel horizontal shelves with vertical sides. As soon as you cross a vertical line it’s another bookcase. Tables of books laid flat I will treat as one bookcase.

What is a book?

I will only read English prose/poetry books, so things like telephone directories and dictionaries which are not meant for reading I won’t consider as books, likewise audio cds and recordings of people reading books are not for this project. If there are no valid books on a bookshelf then I will ignore that shelf.

If possible I will not read any book or author I have read before and I will select books at least 150 pages long. I’ll only break this rule if there is no other choice on the bookshelf.

My intention is to stick to the adult library and not to select books from the children’s section.

What happens if I don't finish a book?

Should I hate a book so much I don't want to finish it, then I will go back to the same bookcase and find another book. I don't want to torture myself reading endless boring books. I enjoy reading and the aim of this exercise is to broaden my horizons not to punish myself.

What order shall I go round the library?

I shall start at the door and work my way round the outside of the library in an anti-clockwise direction, gradually spiralling into the centre. It’s easier to keep track of what I have covered that way. I’ll have to come up with a little diagram to make it all a bit clearer.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Dipping my toe in the Water

First of all let me try to quantify in a single sentence what it is I am trying to do: I would like to read a book from every bookcase in Dorking Library.

So there. I have stated my goal. There are several reasons why I would like to do this. I would like to help publicise the wide range of books available in the library. Libraries are under threat being "non-essential" public services, and I bet there are many people who would use them at least occasionally if they just knew all the services them offered.  Dorking Library might be miles away for some readers of this blog, but in reality it could be any library anywhere for the purposes of my project. If you're reading this then just think of it as your local library wherever that may be.

Secondly, I am a fairly eclectic reader already, reading a large amount of non-fiction and some fiction, but even I have become set in my ways. I tend to overlook whole sections of the publishing industry because I think I don't like certain types of book, or certain authors, or certain subject matters. But how often do I review my own fairly arbitrary decisions? I could tell you for instance that I am not a fan of Westerns, but I am not sure I have ever read one, certainly not in the last 30 years anyway.

Thirdly, I have read everything I want to. I've probably got about another five books I could even vaguely say I was desperate to read on my immediate horizon. Don't get me wrong I have loads of books to read but I wouldn't miss 95% of them if they were to disappear tomorrow. So I need new inspiration - from somewhere. Maybe it will come on the 21st case, who knows!?

So by taking a book from every bookcase I will force myself to re-examine at least some of my long-held opinions on what I do and don't like. My project will be a journey though the complete range of the publishing industry, in English anyway. It will be a journey that I would like to share with you.

I'm making it a bookcase and not a shelf because I want to see the project through. I don't want to die midway through my undertaking, or for the library itself to disappear. A bookcase seems feasible within a reasonable timeframe. I have in my mind a figure of about a year, that may turn out to be laughably naive but it's what I am currently envisaging the project taking.

I will be starting my project in the New Year, but I'll have lots to say before then.