I was recently posed a question about reading, and my reading habits. If someone just asked me in conversation, I would say I read mostly fiction, and mostly detective or crime stories. However, when I came to think about it, in answering the question, in actual fact, I’m reading three books at the moment and none of them are fiction!
Q: You’re a writer – are you also a reader, and if so what do you like to read and what are you reading at the moment?
A: Yes, an addicted reader. I like books which contain some mystery or puzzle, so often they are crime books and police procedurals; I particularly like Icelandic authors such as Arnaldur Indriðason, Ragnar Jónasson, Viktor Arnar Ingólfsson and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir. However at the moment I am reading ‘Perverse and Foolish’ by Lucy M. Boston (author of the Green Knowe books for children) ‘South: The Story of Shackleton’s 1914-1917 Expedition’ by Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton and ‘Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy’ by Robert H. Frank… So no fiction! The last fiction I read and really enjoyed was ‘The Red Tent’ by Anita Diamant. I am really not very keen on ‘women’s literature’, and I am very intolerant of pretentious writing – and novels written in the present tense!
I wrote recently about Lucy M. Boston; she write six books about a house called Green Knowe, which in fact was her own home, The Manor in Hemingford Grey, Cambridgeshire. She write this autobiographical piece when she was in her mid-eighties and yet her memories seem bright and vivid, even back to when she was little more than a baby.
‘South’ by Shackleton could hardly be more different; Ernest Shackleton and his crew set out on an Antarctic expedition in 1914, just as war was declared. Their ship was wrecked and destroyed thousands of miles from the settlement. They were so far from the nearest human contact their radios were useless; the war was raging and no rescue attempt was made. However, by sheer heroism, Shackleton and his men survived… I know all this but I haven’t got that far in the book yet! They are still making their way through the ice floes at Christmas 1914!
Robert H. Frank’s book is exactly what the title suggests, a debate on the part played by luck in anyone’s success – and what ‘luck’ actually means! I’m having to read this quite slowly, to fully grasp all the arguments he is making, but it is absolutely fascinating!