|harvest mouse on a fat ball|
Once upon a time, I used to work in a public library and had access to zillions of books. I read the reviews and put in requests (which were free back then) and read all sorts of novels on the basis that they sounded interesting. It was the best and probably the only perk of librarianship!
I would not hesitate to admit that my reading matter was eclectic when I was in my early twenties. I barely covered the classics because I thought they would always be around and I could get to them later. Something more interesting was always just coming up on the horizon. I didn’t mind foreign countries. Mishima, Han Suyin and Lin Yutang made a big impression and taught me something of the Far East; Mary O’Hara taught me about Wyoming, and Evan Hunter’s Mothers and Daughters taught me about America. I devoured stories set in India and Iran, Tunisia and Greece, but rarely books set in England except for Jilly Cooper’s Riders which made me hoot with laughter. I learned a lot about cardiology from Slaughter’s fiction, though the medical stuff is no doubt outdated now. Lyall Watson introduced me to Supernature, and I’ve read the first part of Dawkins The Selfish Gene, and always intend to read the rest. Touching the Void had me cringing but I finished it, and names like Rendell, James, Dexter have never appeared on my reading lists. I made an exception for Ian Rankin, mostly because I adored the character of Rebus in the Ken Stott tv series.
Now, my tastes are different. I avoid books set in foreign countries. It is easier to learn about them through film and tv. I like books that have a slightly scary element, like those of S J Bolton, but I shy away from vampires and shapeshifters and the like. I’m too lazy to learn their worlds and rules, and the same goes for science fiction though I used to read lots of it. Dorothy Dunnett’s novels changed my taste in historicals, and I’ve been on the lookout for something as good ever since first reading her. Sansom is good, and so is Shirley Mackay. The more I think of the books I've read, I realise how much pleasure reading has given me.