The book that I read

The list of books I would like to read is hugely longer than the list of those I've read. I'm not telling myself that this is because of a lack of time. Quite frankly, if I find enough of real value in the reading of a book I will always make time to read it. I suppose it's a combination of my being a slow and selective reader.

I read slowly perhaps because I want to understand everything about the words and about their connections one to another. Why did / did not the author use that semi-colon? What relevance has this character's dialogue to the story? Why did that particular passage move me so much? Often I'll go over a paragraph again and again to try to understand its construction or simply to marvel at the writer's art. Straight to mind, for instance, the Molly Bloom soliloquy in James Joyce's Ulysses; the final page in Hemingway's For Whom The Bell Tolls and the first paragraphs in his To Have And Have Not; and many many passages of words by William Shakespeare and also in the King James Bible. John 1:1 … In the beginning was the Word, And the Word was with God, And the Word was God. (Guess I take that quite literally.)

This is all a part of the pleasure I personally get in reading books. And 'selective'? Of course. All who read books have to be selective in what they read. We need to be with half a million books published and on sale every recent year alongside all the previously published tens of millions. For instance, perhaps as the result of my fascination with my native language, and cannot think of a story without thinking of the way in which it has been written, I exclude all things in translation. I will also exclude anything that doesn't light me up in a single paragraph taken at random from a book by a writer unknown to me. (The reverse is also true.)

I was once given as a birthday present a book signed by Booker prizewinner Ian McEwen. Black Dogs. I was very sorry to find it without merit so I'm not going to read him again, however much he is lauded by the literati. On the other hand Cormac McCarthy seized my enthusiasm from the moment All The Pretty Horses was recommended by our local mobile library operator. I think I've read all that this man has written even though there's nothing classical about the writing or even his stories. The point is that for me they resonate.

I hope some of the stuff I write might resonate for you. A taster? Go to and click on the free as the air short story of the month button, if you like.

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