I’ve just been out to buy a book. Yep. Like in the olden days. I bought it and the people in the shop put it in a brown paper bag just like in the olden days, and like in the olden days I walked out with it under my arm knowing I was about to read some new words. Muswell Hill Bookshop is one of the little delights of the area where I live. A bookshop that has that smell bookshops should have. Its not of anything in particular, but I imagine its the waft of many pages of paper imprinted with ink. It’s always quiet and has a few nooks and crannies you can wander off into to browse at shelves. The book I chose was lying flat on one of their display tables and had a huge octopus tentacle on the front. This immediately grabbed me. Not the tentacle itself. That’d be terrifying. I just meant the artwork. I’m a fan of giant squids and octopi. Well not a proper fan. I don’t want to high five one or get its autograph (which I assume it would give with its own ink), and where I ever to find myself in the sea with one I’d probably instantly die of fear. They are horrible, scary, awful things and the fact they exist makes me often irrationally feel afraid of them.
However, put that large rubbery creature of doom in a book and I’m already excited. The book is called ‘Stories For Nighttime. And Some For The Day’ by Ben Loory. I know you’re not meant to judge a book by its cover but I always do a bit. The cover and the name immediately tap into my child brain and made me pick it up and rifle through its lovely thick pages. The Author’s Note at the front merely says ‘Here are some stories. I hope you like them.’ and from that, I knew I’d buy it. I still stood around reading the first story, which further confirmed my belief and off I went, book in hand.
I have an odd relationship with books at the moment. I miss them. I miss getting completely ensconced in a world within their pages, completely escaping the real world while I’m reading. I miss them because I really don’t read books very much anymore. This is for three main reasons. Main reason number one is because I tell myself I don’t have time. I rarely get the train for a long enough period of time to sit and read a book (three or four tube stops is about the right amount to open the page, realise all the jolting around has made you re-read it four times then close it again as you get off) and apparently you’re not meant to tuck into a good novel whilst driving. At bedtime I’m usually a few beers down from my gig or too bouncing around with adrenaline to sit still and read and so seek crap internet videos or terrible TV. This also ties into poor reason number two. Reason two is that when trying to write material or script or in fact anything to do with my bizarre career, I just can’t read. I know books should influence and give you further ideas, but I find that I need to think of nothing else but what I want to write about otherwise I get sidetracked.
Reason three is the worst one of all though, and its just because I am very picky with what I read. A good book I’ll pick up, read one sentence and know that I can’t put it down until the last page is dealt with. Sadly, a bad book, I’ll read two sentences of and decide very quickly whether I like the writing or not, ploughing through a few more chapters before putting it away and avoiding all books for a while out of disgust. It’s not even writer specific at times. I loved Glen David Gold’s ‘Carter Beats The Devil’ but ‘Sunnyside’ left me cold after chapter 1. I’ve read all of Alexi Sayle’s books in record speed but ‘Mr Jones’ sits, getting dusty and ignored on the shelf. Chuck Palahniuk’s ‘Haunted’ doesn’t sit by all his previous books in our living room, shunned by his earlier, better writing.
So as a consequence, while I can read a book a day on holiday, in normal life I have to be very careful about what I pick or it just clogs up our Ikea case and wastes trees. Not this new book though. This new book will be read by tomorrow and then I’ll spend the next six months thinking about reading another one. Yey books!