I found this via a Facebook group that I am in called A World Adventure by Book. In the post, Beth had listed 10 bookish facts about herself and you can read this here. It was linked to a post that other bloggers and booktubers have made called 25 bookish facts about me. From what I can see I may have missed the boat on this one as a lot of them were around four years ago. However, I thought it was a good idea, and so have sat down and thought about what would be my bookish confessions and it tied in with a series of posts that I wanted to do in 2019 explaining why I am a reader and what makes me tick.
So here we go:
1. I have been a reader for as long as I can remember. I remember when I was eight I was given a book by my teacher at the time, Mrs Wilson. It was called The Otterbury Incident and the author is Cecil Day-Lewis. It was a book set in a fictional town in the aftermath of World War II. I sat down to read it after tea and pretty much inhaled the whole book that evening. Took it back the following morning and she didn’t believe that I had read it the previous evening, so I recounted the story. It kind of dawned on me then that I was a faster reader than most others.
2. If pushed I could probably narrow my favourite books down to 50 or so. But I don’t just have one favourite, so don’t ask.
3. The same applies to favourite authors. I might be able to narrow it down to two or three per genre, but every time a new author appears they get added on and none gets dropped. I am possibly slightly obsessive about reading every book that a favourite author has written.
4. I do like reading fiction, but the majority of my reading is non-fiction, in particular, travel, natural history and science. I have always tried to read the shortlists for my favourite prizes, The Wainwright and the Stanford Dolman, but until this year, never did I think that I would be a judge for one of them. I really enjoyed the experience and would recommend it if you have the chance.
5. I have been fortunate enough to have met lots of authors in my time and now have a lot of signed books. I mean a lot too. Horatio Clare was the last author that I met and I got him to sign eight of his books that I had taken up to London with me. I took a massive bag to the Wainwright Prize and came back with them signed too! I even have two signed Terry Pratchett Books that I have found in second hand and charity shops. Very lucky to have those. It might be coming to be an obsession.
6. I have nine bookshelves at home, most of which are double stacked. At the moment only one has some semblance of order on it, and that is the one where all my natural history and landscape books. All my Pratchetts are on one shelf with the Neil Gaiman books and some travel and a random selection of others. One day I will get a little bit more organised. There is no such thing as too many books, however, there is such a thing as not enough bookshelves.
7. I once set fire to a book. And it was a library book too! I was reading a book at the dining room table and managed to lean it back over the lit candle! Oops. The library staff were very good about it and managed to repair it.
8. I haven’t dared count the books around the house, but we are suffering from a severe case of tsundoku. I reckon that I must have over a 1000 books spread over the house ( and half a shelf on my daughter’s bookcase too). It does drive my long-suffering wife, Sarah, slightly mad… It is not hoarding, if it’s books, so they tell me.
9. The hardback / paperback / kindle / audiobook argument is ridiculous. I would rather see people reading in whatever format they choose, as it is the reading of different ideas and perspectives that is the important thing. I do have a preference to buy paperback books though as I can get slightly more of them on my shelves.
10. I am slightly addicted to spreadsheets for my numerous booklists. I have one for everything that I have ever read, one for my library book loans, one that has several publishers entire book catalogues that I am slowly reading my way through. There is another for the book challenges that I do every year, one each for the awards that I follow.
11. I won a prize at school for the best project for a write up for a week away that my year did in Wales. The prize was a book token and I bought an Arthur Ransome book, Missee Lee and I still have it.
12. I don’t think I read a lot, given the size of my backlog. Last year I read 200, but normally (if it is normal…) I read 190 per year.
13. I have not read a single line of Shakespeare since school. The dreadful English teacher we had then managed to put me off them completely. The same applies to classics like Jane Eyre. I just have no desire to read them at all. I read Of Mice and men for the GCE (yes I am that old) and have rediscovered the delights of John Steinbeck and similar authors like Geroge Orwell and Graham Greene
14. Discovering a new author to me is a thing of joy, it means that I have a whole backlist to explore
15. I don’t really have a favourite place to read, as I can read pretty much anywhere, but if I had one it would be the conservatory. I used to read in there, but there is a drum kit in there at the moment. That will be going soon, so I can get a chair to go back in there.
16. It is not just books I have a thing about, I really love bookmarks too. I have hundreds of them as I make a point of helping myself to them when in bookshops and libraries. I have got all sorts, some beautiful and some not quite so practical, I even have a Chinese brass one that sits with part of it over the spine. I am not a corner folder as some are. My feeling is that if it is your book you are fully entitled to do exactly what you want to it. However, if it is my book that you have borrowed, then I expect you to look after it, return it and ideally return it undamaged.
17. I am fortunate to receive a lot of review copies through from publishers generous to send me them. Some of them I keep and I donate a lot to my local library after I have read them so others can borrow and enjoy them.
18. I am a big advocate for libraries and have two library cards. They are the best free bookshops in town. Not only do you get to take a book away with you gratis, but the author gets a little payment for each and everyone that you borrow. I am a member of the committee of the Friends groups for my local library too and we try to organise things for members every other month, support the library by buying covers for donated books and so on. Visit your library as the more people that use them means that it will be harder for the government to get rid of them; they are a vital resource for all of society and civilisation.
19. I rarely read hyped books. Mostly because they are in genres that I am not that worried about, but also because I have found the ones that I have read in the past have not been worth it.
20. I spend way too long on Good Reads. It is not a site for everyone, but it has been great to organise my virtual shelves into some order.
21. Love bookshops and could spend far too long in them, and too much money. I have pretty much stopped buying books off Amazon now, using them for second-hand books only. Support your local independent bookshop they are a vital resource for your community too.
22. I used to struggle through and finish a book, but with soooooo many to read, a book has to really prove that I need to read it. I give them three chapters or around 50 pages before setting it aside. Sometimes I will pick it up again, but more often than not I won’t. The flip side is that I won’t slate a book, but as a reader I reserve the right not to like it.
23. I buy a lot of books to give away to people as presents. No surprise there, I make sure I buy the nicely presented hardback book and before wrapping it up, I read it. I thought I was the only one to do this. Turns out I am not and this seems to be a thing with others too. When my children were younger they would occasionally tell the recipient of the gift that ‘dad’s just read that’… Ah well.
24. I love Terry Pratchett’s books and when he passed away I was genuinely was upset about that. He is a genius for comedy and parody and has an ability to hold a mirror to modern society to show our flaws and good points. I have got all the Discworld series but still have not finished them. Had been meaning to do it a couple of years ago and finally last month I got back to reading them. This year I will finish the books that I have not read from the 41 in the series. Then I intend to start them again as they give me so much reading pleasure.
25. I will often have five or six physical books with me at any one time.