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Chrissi

Gosh, has BookLore been running that long? How long, I hear you say, and I have to admit that I have to pinch myself (and rue the number of years past) when I consider how long we have been at this. I am using the royal We, of course, as anyone who knows me realises that I am a Luddite and Nigel is the true brains behind this operation.

Well, back in 2000, I did a course on presentations and as my grand finale, my assessed bit, I spoke about books in general, my favourite authors to be precise, and when everyone asked afterwards about the books that I had spoken of, I wrote it down and gave it to them. In case you had not guessed, that has remained on the site as my reasons for reading. Unfortunately it is nothing more than a list of Book Recommendations to a group of people who read only the odd thriller while on holiday; it is nothing more, containing only books that I thought that would appeal to them, nothing oblique or surprising. I would hate to think that people have seen it and assumed that those listed, the well known and easily available, are my primary choices of reading matter. I’ve been meaning to make it all a little more personal for ages, but as my fascinations can change at any time, I could never think exactly what I wanted to say, but then again, there will probably never be a good time so maybe now is as good a time as any.

I cannot remember when I didn’t read, I don’t remember learning my alphabet or anything like that, although I do remember being in primary school and someone was trying to teach me the phonetic alphabet and I couldn’t (still don’t) get it. I’d gone through the children’s section in the library by 8 years old and the older section before I knew what some of the words meant!

Around our house there were always lots of books, Louis L’Amour, Douglas Reeman and Frederick Forsyth to name but a few. Upon running out of suitable reading material at school, the first adult book that I picked up and read was my father’s copy of Wilbur Smith’s The Eye of the Tiger. Hardly suitable reading matter for a nine year old, but I was delighted…a collection of books, just waiting for me.

Although these books were a big influence on my early reading, purely because they were there, my father and I do not share a similar taste in most of our books these days. Dad likes adventure and thrillers, anything from Patrick O’Brien and Tom Clancy to Michael Connelly and Stephen Leather, whereas I’ve branched in many directions and will basically now read anything.

When I met Nigel, oh, so many years ago, our reading tastes dovetailed so neatly; it was so nice to find someone with whom I could talk abut my love of books. Although many people read, there are few as voracious as the pair of us, and it is difficult to find someone who, upon seeing that you have only a small amount of a book left to read (50 pages or so), will walk away without disturbing you, to wait for you to finish. Or, if you are lucky, cook tea, wash up, or do other mundane tasks while your mind is so pleasantly occupied elsewhere Smilie

For Nigel and I, something we share is the ability to not see the words in a book but see the story unfold as if it were a film, something I’m sure we have both mentioned elsewhere. This is a difficult thing to explain to a non-reader, and is one of the main reasons that it is so hard to watch films adapted from favourite novels. It is also the primary reason for comments on the flow of prose in a book, because the daftest things can spoil that flow.

Although our tastes overlap, it is not the subject matter that joins us; it is the fact that both of us read to be entertained. You might consider that to be a strange statement, after all, it is a statement of the obvious, and yet it is not as simple as that. Not everyone reads to be entertained; to have your imagination seized and taken to lands and times completely alien to our own is not everyone’s idea of entertainment. I am sure that you have had conversations with people who cannot see the point in any book, other than a TV listings magazine or computer manual, and poke fun at what they believe to be an old fashioned pastime.

So, my general preference is for well written books, and beyond that I am not fussed. Before I continue, it is probably easier to write a bit of a list rather than have me lose my marbles trying to say what I like and why…

Thrillers
These can be spooky, adventure, or gruesome murder mysteries, but anything that has a hook will get me every time.
Mathew Reilly (do I need to say anything more about Icestation?!)
Karin Slaughter
Janet Evanovich

Tweenage Literature
Like many adults, I am sooo jealous of modern children. The books that I read as a child remain with me, but the range of choice is so much greater.
From now:
Garth Nix (I just adored the Abhorsen Series – brilliant)
JK Rowling
From then (must have made an impact to remember them all these years later)
Judith Kerr - When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit
Ian Serraillier - The Silver Sword

Science Fantasy
I love the sheer scope of imagination that is employed to bring these to us. Whether epic or comedic, I can quite happily lose myself for hours.
Raymond F Feist
Terry Pratchett
Kim Harrison (Bad covers, good books)

Popular Science
These tend to be a tad more eclectic, I tend to pick these up in bookshops, on the basis of a subject that I think interesting. Stuff like this comes in useful for playing trivial pursuits or pub quizzes - I am the queen of useless random information!
Diarmuid Jeffreys: Aspirin: The Remarkable Story of a Wonder Drug
John Emsley: The Shocking History of Phosphorous: A Biography of the Devil’s Element
Simon Singh: The Code Book

This is not exhaustive; in fact I find it difficult to give so few examples. I was asked for a top ten a while ago, and could not manage it - it is just too broad a selection, I need guidelines else I am a lost cause; without some kind of limiting factor, I cannot make any sort of choice and dither terribly.

One of the biggest differences between, say, Nigel and I, is in our views on re-reading our books. N is a purist, who reads a book once, and often never returns to it, whereas I reread favourites. He asks me why, when I have so many books to choose from, do I read the same things over and over again, and I have to say to him that I am giving my poor hard-done-to brain some down time, as the familiar images unfurl in my head with soothing familiarity. I return to some books simply because I know that I enjoy them and that that guarantee of enjoyment is really very seductive.

I also find certain books very difficult to put down, even if taken from a shelf with a view to dipping in for ten minutes. Every time I pick one of these up, I usually end up reading the whole thing in one sitting because I know it is like an old friend that matches my mood perfectly.

I am sure that you know that I work in a hospital, and it makes for a very fertile place for book spotting. I am the annoying one who always comes and asks you what you are reading and how are you finding it. I have given and taken so many recommendations from the lovely ladies and gentlemen in our waiting rooms, although to be honest I have probably written more titles on post-it notes than I have taken from people.

Here on the website, I try not to be negative, as I find that there is generally something to appreciate. I admit that there are books out there which I absolutely adore, and some which fill only time, but seeing as how there are few books that take more than a few days reading, (and seeing as how the washing up gets done without my participation ;-) I’ll probably always finish reading them, if only to get onto the next one.

In writing a review, it is not always easy to say why you like something, and to convince someone else that they should like it too can sometimes result in their deciding that it is really not for them. Please, then, if you read my reviews, and I seem a tad gushy, forgive me but do not refuse to read the book on principle.

Unfortunately, my appetite for reading is greater than that for reviewing, for which I do apologise, although, being an evangelical reader, I will probably bore you senseless banging on about the ones that I have really enjoyed. For this I shall not apologise, as how are we supposed to find things to enjoy, if people do not share with us... a recommendation is a gift, giving you something to look forward to; and until you get your mitts on a new smelling book, what more can one ask?

I would love to think of you sitting there, engrossed in a book. If you have any recommendations for me, I would love to hear them. Don't forget, you can any comments you may have to chrissi(at)booklore.co.uk.

Link to previous profile: Book Recommendations.

Articles

The links below take you to articles written by Chrissi:

Free Kindle Books - April 2014
Non-Fiction Books Part 2 - Popular Science
Non-Fiction Books Part 1 - Popular Science
Clarecraft Disworld Event 2003
BookLore History
Chrissi on Christina Jones
Three Go Mad in Wales - Hay-On-Wye

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