Categories
Geek

Read me to sleep

I have four bookcases with 600 books. They range from a history of the bible to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson via Marx and bridges. From Roald Dahl to Jose Saramago through Hugo and Melville. Like everything else in my life there is an eclectic mix of topics, they are just sitting there collecting dust.

I could once set myself a target of reading fifteen books a year, and could achieve that. A combination of plenty of alone time and a comfortable toilet seat meant I could power through a book in a week. Parenting has slowed my reading to a crawl. I love reading, but what can I do to read more?

I used to read on the train to work but what happens when I reach my destination and I haven’t finished? So I can’t read Game of Thrones on the locomotive, I would go sailing by my stop and spend an evening on the rail network.

First thing in the morning is not that conducive to doing mental tasks, especially those that require visual acuity to do. My eyes and brain are too tired to process the words on a page. Considering tome in my satchel is “The signal and the noise”, about using big data to forecast events, then I may just call this a losing battle.

Perhaps I should read at night before I go to sleep, but reading excites me. Whether it is because I’m reading an enjoyable novel or an interesting piece of nonfiction having a glance at a book at night only wakes me up. I suppose I could try something less exciting, or boring, but do you know what they call those books… Man Booker prize winners. I’m looking at you Life of Pi, a book so boring it makes me angry I even read the back cover blurb.

Seriously, don’t bother with Life of Pi.

It should be good sleep hygiene to turn off a screen and pick up the sheets of paper that don’t burn into your brain and keep you awake. Yet I’m buying more and more digital books just so the next time I move I don’t have to pack them all up.

Just like the train ride, I also don’t want to reach a point where the book is smashing into my face because I’m too tired to stop reading an exciting part. The stress of a Red Wedding is not the ideal preparation for a good night’s sleep.

So now the only time I get to read is around 7pm when the Feliciraptor goes to bed and she gets her bedtime story. I’ve already read The Tiger that came to Tea and Dr Seuss so instead I will read some of my own books, I have a rather interesting one on quantum physics and the last Game of Thrones I’m still working on. It will be a strange childhood for them.

Categories
Geek

Boring Books

In recent years I have lost the reading bug, being married means I have other things to do at night than curl up with a good book. For instance, making lunches and doing the washing up. As a result, I have to be more particular with which novel I pick up. There may be plenty of problems with The Da Vinci Code, but it did something Captain Corelli’s Mandolin couldn’t. Make me want to turn the page, and that is a key factor for a book getting its teeth into me.

I read Life of Pi, and I am told it is a well-written book, but I thought it was rubbish. It won literary prizes but nothing happened, or if it did, I missed it. For me this is the greatest crime any book can commit, to be boring. It helps if it is fun, but some of my favourite books (like The Book Thief or Hey Nostradamus) are oppressive. They still wanted me to finish them because they had a real bite from page one that refused to let go.

This is the problem, I’m not a fan of books that explore the deep hidden truths of what makes the human spirit, or any of that similar nonsense excitedly lapped up by book prize judges. As a fan of genre writing I am constantly frustrated that there are some amazing writers that are ignored, just because they write fantasy (thinking of China Mieville here, it’s a literary-crime that none of his novels have won outside of the geeks award circle).

All the time I am being preached at, told how crap the world is out there. Entertain me like a Roman Emperor looking down on a father who will get his revenge in one of many worlds. I want action, or fun, or just something that resembles forward momentum. I don’t care if it is hard to read because it is so literary. I’ve read Nobel literature winners (seriously Jose Saramago is amazing) so this isn’t about being an adjective snob, it’s about stories that have little narrative. If I can read the synopsis of your book on Wikipedia and it still bores me, then I will not invest in reading your 300 page novel.

To help me avoid the boring books the publishing industry has helpfully created a category to allow me to avoid them, they called it the MAN Booker Prize.

Rather than sitting here moaning, I should get my fingers sorted and start writing a novel. The question then arises what kind of story would I write? Will it be a deeply layered mythos like Middle Earth or Bas-Lag? A modern sci-fi parable about the dangers of science or a fantastical hero’s journey across ancient lands? A 500 page novel of danger and thrills, or a 300 comedy?

They say you should write what you know.

So coming soon to all good bookstores…”My life behind the screen”. The tale of a man who sits on his computer all day hoping to write a great piece of fiction that will make him millions, but puts it off and is far too easily distracted by cricket and girls. That sounds so dull and boring… perhaps I have a chance of winning the MAN Booker prize.