I love reading.
I should say that I love reading good books. And a good book is one that teaches me something, or makes me look at the world in a new way, or takes me to a place I hadn’t imagined before.
Good novels can do the last two of those criteria. Good biographies can do the first two. Good SF can do the last two. Exceptional books can do all three. But, even if a book does only one of the above, I will still enjoy reading it.
I became a reader in my early teens, and the book that tipped me over into being a book-worm was “All Quiet On the Western Front” by Erich Maria Remarque. This was required school reading, and frankly, I’d rather have been outside playing football, than reading boring school stuff. But, at that time there was this thing called the Vietnam War, and I had cousins and school friends who were involved. Something in this book made me realise there was a dimension to life that I hadn’t considered, and that it could affect me and those around me, despite the fifty years that had elapsed. Why hadn’t we learnt?
Why could someone write a book like this, and no-one take any notice and allow things to happen just like they had before?
I discovered teenage idealism. I discovered that the human condition was what drove most of the authors I read to writing what they did.
The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.Mark Twain
I then started to devour books.
Some years earlier I had done a speed reading course which taught me remarkable reading skills. It took a desire to read to make what I had been taught into something useful. Today, some large fraction of a century later, I still read at around one hundred pages an hour – and can quote you from the book afterwards, if you think I am just skimming at that pace.
I will read anything that anybody suggests. Until recently I never left a book unfinished, working on the belief that if an author went to all that trouble to write it, the least I could do was finish it before passing judgement. Unfortunately, my Kindle does seem to recommend crap, and most of the unfinished books have come in the last few years when I have paid attention to their recommendations. But they are few, luckily.
Here are some of my favourite bookst.