Since I was a child, as I wrote in The Romancer, I have obsessed about books, on shelves, in libraries, in bookshops. And like most readers and writers I gather books like a magpie and end up with a sometimes towering must-read pile. My flowery Kindle has added to, not ta not taken away from this habit. Often the pile expresses just who you are and what you are up to in your life. The pile changes, it does not diminish. It is like the granny's apron in the child's story whose pockets are magically filled as they are emptied.
I thought I'd make a list here of the current pile with the reasons why the books are there.
Writing Poems by Peter Sampson.
I am a professional novelist but a very amateur and innocent poet and this book looks business like and practical, not intimidated by or intimidading about the arcane process. I could learn something here. Also I have a poet in my current novel and am trying to get inside her mind.
Delighting the Heart. A Notebook by Women Writers. Susan Sellers Ed 1989
Found this in a second hand shop. Very right-on 1980s but with some essays by good names, including Helene Sixous (Writing as a Second Heart) and Emma Tennant (A Strong Story Telling Impulse) Worth dipping into. Also there are many self-conscious (in a good say...) poets here. Useful for the current novel.
Writing with a Vengeance. The Countess de Chabrillon's Rise from Prostitution. Carol Mossiman,(2009)
Academic study and analysis examining the life and works of a Nineteenth Century Courtesan, a self- taught novelist and writer. This is for research for a new novel. Should be fun to read and best illustrates the delight of mixing work with play just written about today on Life Twice Tasted. To be read and noted in depth
France The Dark Years 1940-44 Julian Jackson (2001)
Already read and noted but still on the pile - like a safety blanket - to check facts and approaches for the current novel, nearly complete.
Mr Stephenson Regrets David Williams (2012) To read in preparation for interviewing David Willians for The Writing Game in April
Bridge to The Moon Eileen Elgey (2012)
Novel about a boy who has emerged from the care system by a talented and sensitive writer. To read and review for this page.
For the Sake of Silence Michael Cawood Green (2012)
A magisterial novel about silence built around a narrated biography of Abbot Pfanner the charismatic leader of Trappists in South Africa. this is a highly imagined novel based on immaculate research and deep thinking.I met Michael and his talk of this novel was intriguing so I had to have it. As a writer I am interested in it to think through the technical leap from fact to fiction. I am well into this book and look forward to finishing it when I will feature it on this page. Going very well so far.
And piled up, waiting for me on my flowery Kindle are:
The Road, by Cormac McCarthy.
To read for the Iconic Book Group
The Chouans and four other novels by Honore de Balzac
To read as background for the courtesan novel (see above).
The Sense of and Ending by Julian barnes.
Because my friend Gillian says I should read it. Recommendations by well read friends is the way books go viral.
I know! I know! Looks like the inside of the mind of a raving book obsessive. Well, I suppose that's what this blog is about, isn't it?
Last thought: I wondered if there was anyone out there who would like their own annotated pile shown on this page. If so, let me know.