Iain Dale tagged me yonks ago to write about books. I’ve been rather avoiding answering. Although I love reading, I seldom read anything of any weight. I snatch hours here and there to read detective fiction, but even when I do have longer periods, it does tend still to be the same old tec fic. I carried An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Liberalism around in my bag for months but never got beyond the first chapter. My Dad gets the Booker Prize winner for Christmas each year because he likes weighty fiction, but I haven’t read one of them before giving since Pat Barker’s Ghost Road.
1. Name one book that changed your life.
That’s a very tall order. I was always very taken by Mr Tickle. Just the idea of being able to get biscuits from the kitchen without ever having to get out bed…
2. One book you’ve read more than once.
Marked for Life by Paul Magrs.
Back in 1995, I was working at Ludlow Library as my Saturday job during my A Level years. It was a very good job for me since at the time I did a huge amount of reading. I jobshared with someone I only met once or twice, because we were both language students and we were both likely to take time off for travelling. I used to borrow huge amounts of books, CDs and the like for free. Whenever anything interesting came over the counter, I snaffled it for myself. So often, I learned my library card number so I could type it into the terminal: R2206004395.
Another of the perks was that books about to be published got promoted to the library. We used to get a deck of filing cards with titles, and a very brief synopsis. Something about the book grabbed me – it could just have been the word ‘gay’ in the description. I marked the card as one I wanted the library to buy, a few weeks later, the book showed up, I borrowed it, read it, and was wowed. I bought it for myself a few days later. Now I can’t really remember much about what was in the book, but magical realism featured. Something that really sticks in my mind was a sex scene between the tatooed guy the book is named for and an invisible guy who’s only visible at all because of a glow-in-the-dark condom. Marked for Life is the first in a trilogy, the others are Does it Show? and Could it be Magic? Some of the characters from these books also turn up in Magrs’ Dr Who fiction, which is an interesting crossover of genres.
All these books are amongst the very large stash of my books in my parents’ attic. They’re in a box that says I have to look at them again in ten years from when they went up there. That must be coming up soon. Gawd only knows where in this house they’ll go!
3. One book you’d want on a desert island.
This one looks like a good idea.
4. One book that made you laugh.
Tough call – go for the Pratchett or go for the Fforde? I did hoot recently when re-reading The Eyre Affair at the idea of a perfomance of Richard III given the full audience-participation of Rocky Horror. (“When is the winter of our discontent? ‘NOW is the winter of our discontent.'”) And The Big Over Easy was full of terrible jokes all the way through. Then again pterry manages whole books predicated on one bad pun…
5. One book that made you cry.
I’m not sure anything has for decades. I do remember being very upset as a nipper by the book You Remember Me! by Nicholas Fisk, a sequel to Grinny and by the same author as Trillions, and A Rag, A Bone and a Hank of Hair. The cover of the Puffin edition of Grinny makes it look like a charming, quirky little story for quite young children. I remember it as a horrifically frightening book – one of those books that scares you witless, but you go back to and read again and again for the thrill. This teaching site lists it as a Key Stage 3 text, which is age-range 11-14, but I think I must have read this at 8. I was probably a wee bit too young. Anyway, I would ly recommend Fisk to anyone with children interested in science fiction. The reviews for Rag sum it up:
i first read this way back in the 70’s and, to be honest, i scared me witless for years after. maybe i was a sensitive child or something. so i came back to it a cynical adult and after the first twenty pages i was laughing at my previous fears, but then the plot really kicks in and remarkably for a thirty year old kids book it hasn’t dated.
6. One book you wish you’d written.
7. One book you wish had never been written.
Oh, what kind of a question is that?
8. One book you’re currently reading.
I’m currently reading 80 Days Around the World for Librivox. Draft files here. I really need to find some time to record more chapters. An actual book? – I have Monster by Jonathan Kellerman on the go, one of the Alex Delaware series.
9. One book you’ve been meaning to read.
I bought that Kennedy biography, but haven’t got off the first page yet.
10. Now tag five people.
I don’t tag people. If you want to do the list yourself, knock yourself out.