Saturday, 9 June 2012


I like to read. Since I was little there has always been time, even if there was no time the rest of day, to read in bed before lights out. Now, I struggle to get to sleep if I haven't read a bit first.

Big got me a Kindle a couple of Christmases ago and it really is the greatest thing I've ever been given. I haven't picked up a paper book since, I love it so much. Especially as I like to read a fair number of rather large, heavy books. Let me tell you, if you read in bed until you fall asleep, a kindle is much kinder landing on your face than, for example, a hardback of Lord Of The Rings.

Not that I've read the Lord Of The Rings since I was about 14 or so. Maybe a little older. I loved it when I was eleven but I got older and realised it's mostly padding, like Tolkien's primary objective was writing the longest possible book. Also, about that age I was introduced to Terry Pratchett and when you fall in love with the Discworld, you can't really take LOTR seriously ever again.

In case you are unlucky enough not to have read any Pratchett, he's written some oooh, must be coming on for 50 books now, maybe more but I'm not about to go and count them right now, and most of them have been set in a universe of his own devising, on a planet called the discworld which travels through space on the back of four giant elephants who in turn are standing on an interstellar turtle called Great A'tuin.

What he writes is classed under the genre of Comic Fantasy and for the first few books yes, that's pretty much all it was but as he settled into the world he'd made the tone of the books, while still very funny became more and more little essays on the nature of the mankind. Because I came to the books at such a formative age it's a very chicken and egg situation, I no longer know if I love the books because we agree on worldviews or if I agree with his worldview because I love the books. I think it's the former though, I simply don't think I'd have loved them so much if they didn't speak to something that was already within me. People in the Pratchett world are not heroes, are not noble, are not selfless, are not pure, are not shining examples of everything we hope we could be. Everyone is flawed, both the protagonists and the incidental characters. The general public are generally written as craven, stupid, easily led and out for anything it can get. And yet it's so very warm. He writes people as people really are, not idealised versions of them and says 'it's ok though because mostly people will do the right thing, even if it's for the wrong reasons.' He makes you understand it's ok not to be perfect, no one is perfect but you can make the best of the worst of you. His only ire is directed at people who know the worst of themselves and make no effort to be better. It's so wonderful.

Right now I'm reading Night Watch again, it's my very favourite Discworld book. Deals with idealism, revolution, government, how politics affects ordinary people and now much politicians notice and care. Fabulous book.
This is the worst thing for me, when I love a book I really love it and will read it and read it and read it again. I frequently read the whole discworld series in order, although there's so many of them now and I have so little reading time that it can take almost a year to get through them all. Other big favourites for me are Mike Carey's Felix Castor novels (slightly alternate modern day London, ghosts and other supernatural entities are real and acknowledged, Fix is an exorcist) and Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden novels (vaguely similar in pretext, alternate modern day Chicago, Harry is a Wizard, but not like the other Wizard of the same name). Pretty much anything by Neil Gaiman is also read to death, especially American Gods and then, when intelligent writing picking apart the human condition gets too much, I read Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire Mysteries, which are unforgivably awful but endearing none the less. Besides, there's Eric and I'll put up with quite a lot of tosh for a bit of Eric.
All this means that I don't venture out to new stuff very often, which is bad. Another saving grace of my Kindle though, is the sample facility. Even if I'm locked in a very OCD need to finish a series, if I become aware of a new bit of fic that is vaguely interesting but untried, I get Amazon to send me a free sample to my Kindle and when I have a break in my reading I'll give it a bash. I'm always open to recommendations but in the past I tended to forget about the book when I needed to read something, at least now I can have a batch of new things waiting to be investigated. The last thing I was tempted to was a very odd book about a megalomaniac supernatural cat trying to manipulate humans into creating him a vast zombie army in St Pete's Beach, Florida. Very, very odd.
Let me know if you think you know a book or series of books I'll like, based on this rambling and otherwise rather pointless post :)

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