There are quite a lot of people who are great readers (or they say they are - how am I to know if they are telling the truth, when I haven't read any of the Great Books they've read, so I can't ask them questions to try to catch them out!), and usually I've never heard of more than a quarter of the authors and books they mention. I'm ashamed. How can a person be a published author if they haven't read any of the Great Books of our time? I don't even know what the Great Books of our time are! It's not right is it, and it shouldn't be allowed really. I should put more of an effort in, to read good, high-moral-fibre-providing literature. I'll start as soon as I've read the zombie book.
I would dearly love to be a great reader, but I get too obsessed with the trashy stuff. You know the stuff that's designed specifically to suck us in and maintain a firm stranglehold, and make us buy Merchandise? Well, I'm intelligent enough to know that that's what it's written for, but I allow it to take hold of me anyway. *Sigh, at own stupidity* I hardly ever read anything that's obscure, that no-one has really heard of, that is gritty and thought-provoking. I did try Neil Gaiman's American Gods, but got about fifty pages in and realised that I was mind-numbingly bored. I have to assume that since the book was written by someone marvellously talented and brainy, that the fault is with me for being a rubbish reader, and for not being clever enough to care about the characters in Gaiman's story. I preferred Stardust, because it was fun! I like my literature to be fun, if at all possible. And if it's not possible for it to have great dollops of chucklingness, then it at least needs to have some real magic in it. I like Fantasy very much - haven't really tried Science Fiction, but I will at some point. I've always assumed that I'm not clever enough to understand SF, but I've learned lots about science in the past few years, so maybe I could keep up now.
I might possibly be being a little hard on myself actually. Let me look at what I've read this year. I have read a fictional account of the last years of the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanov. I've read Twilight, twice - ahem, moving swiftly on *blushes horribly, as impure thoughts of Edward Cullen try to invade her mind, again*. I've read The Books of Pellinor by Alison Croggon - stonkingly beautiful fantastical story, lots of magic, very good. I've read almost a whole encyclopaedia of spirits - that was an enormous book; learned a lot about faeries and things. Oh, and I read a few of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels - they're always very, very enjoyable. I read Small Gods - that's my signed copy of Small Gods, yes. Signed by the author, not just by anyone! Yes. Terry Pratchett, yes, I met him. He is the only famous person I have ever met, and not at all a celebrity to be ashamed of :) (Oh, no he isn't the only one, I met the guy with the massive hair out of Toploader whose name I can't remember, but who was incredibly good-looking!)
At the moment I am reading a book called A Fraction of the Whole, a novel by Steven Toltz. I can't really describe it in any way that will do it justice, but it's a funny story about a man, his dad, and his dad's brother. That's all I can tell you really. You'll have to read it - I'm sure my description of it has you completely intrigued!! (Now you can see why I will never be paid to write book reviews!) It's an excellent book, and not like anything I've ever read before - but strangely, it is like something I'm writing. That's quite bizarre because the thing I am writing was started months before I'd even heard of Toltz's book.
Well, I think I have proven, with these witterings today, that I am definitely NOT a great reader. I read a lot of books, but I fall so desperately in love with so many of them that I have to spend a lot of time re-reading books that I've already read more than once. This is a problem, because it means I never get around to reading that biography on Marx that my dad bought for me a few years ago, or that copy of Catch 22 that I got for £2 from HMV in 1999, or that collection of essays on the Elizabethan underworld that I bought from a charity shop when I was sixteen. I really should take my reading more seriously.
So, I will now go and get on with Mr Toltz's book - this is a book I'm not ashamed to be reading, because it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for 2008. Oh yes, it's THAT good. When I've finished it I absolutely will not read Twilight or Harry Potter again, definitely not. At least not this year. Maybe next year. If I've been good and have read several books that are very high-brow indeed. Maybe.