This year everyone I give Christmas presents to, is getting a book. And some I don’t normally give presents to…because the book jumped off the shelves into my hand with their name on it! There are a number of reasons for this decision, which might, to those who don’t read (REALLY?), uninspired:
- Reading is good for your Mental Health!
- Books with major publishers at least, tend to be reasonably well written—I’ve just seen a number of Hollywood movies I couldn’t say the same about…Great characters, great stories…who doesn’t want to disappear into one?
- If everyone read as much as I did a whole lot more authors wouldn’t need a day job!
- We’ve been so busy with the Two Steps Forward book tour, the only shops we have time to be in are Book Shops!
As it happens, while the younger members of my family (niece the exception, go Samantha!) might groan at the sight of a book (instead of the latest Nintendo/Play Station etc), it was actually a lot of fun trying to pick which book for which person. I tried to buy only authors I’d read and knew (either personally or met through presenting with them at festivals), which still meant I had lots of scope! Exception was for young readers—yes I do know Andy Griffiths but I thought they probably had his books, and judging from the queues he gets, he doesn’t need my help! And also a couple of ones I couldn’t go past—advice to wives and husbands from the 1950’s…priceless, as well as a Canadian crime book (Louise Penny) for my girlfriend who would be reading it from the train in the Rockies. Other wise there were books from Tania Chandler, Helen Garner, Ann Turner, Di Morrissey, Lianne Moriaty, Matthew Reilly, Gary Disher, and classics from Carlos Ruiz Zaphron, Marcus Zuszak that everyone should read. Such diversity—from romance to crime and some nonfiction. The stores are brimming with fabulous books – so get your final presents there!
For me, the memorable books from 2017 were a varied lot, not necessarily published this year. The one that gripped me was nonfiction—Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer. I was walking the Overland and each hut had a copy, so I read a little more each night and could hardly put it down. I had read article about the doomed Everest expedition (and there was another in today’s New York Times about retrieving the bodies of two Indian climbers), but this gave so much fascinating background and insights—as well as being very moving, and it made me really think about what it means to be human and what would I do—help the climber who might die anyway (as might I) or accept its every man for themselves and they knew the risk (as I am never going to pay $60,000 to do something I think inherently stupid, this is rhetorical, but the most moving parts—including in the New York Times story today, was those that sacrificed their chance to summit in order to help—and for the Indian woman who was rescued by a Brit—and save.)
There was the usual run of great crime books-usually with Ice or Snow in the title! I was seriously disappointed by a John Grisham, and loved The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter, which I think is her best—though less crime and more family dynamics, which might not appeal to everyone. I found a Tim Weaver book I had missed (thank you Tim’s Bookshop in Canterbury—he has a great crime section with complete sets of less known writers. Brilliant! He also sings a mean song, and did, right before our presentation!)
We’re temporarily living in the country and a lot of books in storage while our apartment—with library—is being completed. Meantime the shelves here are groaning and I suspect it will be worse in a week. Least I hope so. Please Santa, give me a book!