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My Books and Me

I love reading. Which boils down to the fact I will read, to be honest, pretty much anything. I enjoy a wide range of genres, and prefer not to limit myself with preconceived notions about a book based on it’s genre. I do tend to gravitate towards fantasy a lot. I also find books with a political slant appealing, most particularly of the dystopian variety, but my interest is broader than that would suggest. I enjoy a lot of classics (well, who doesn’t – a book has to be pretty darn good to stand the test of time and remain popular with generation after generation of readers). I like historical fiction, contemporary fiction, sci fi, thrillers, mysteries, horror, children’s fiction, and even the occasional romance. Pretty much the only thing I actively avoid would be erotica. Of course, that doesn’t mean I like every book I read ever. It just means I will give most books a chance. Sometimes this can cause a lot of frustration, because I can end up reading a lot of not-so-great books. Particularly with so much self-published material out there these days. There are some real gems out there, but sometimes you have to wade through a lot of detritus to find them. And even some of the rubbish contains much to redeem it, and I find myself wishing the author had had the benefit of a skilled editor, because there is so much promise there that failed to deliver. I should make clear, I am no writer myself. I sometimes feel guilty judging the works of others harshly when it is still vastly superior to anything I could write. On the other hand, I think it does the author no favours to give false praise. I believe criticism is something we all learn from, and can lead us to better achievements. So when I review I try to err on the side of frank criticism where I feel it is warranted. This is not meant to offend, but inform. I may not be able to write fiction myself, but I am quite capable of assessing my own enjoyment of it – and that is what I intend to express.

Currently reading

Death Comes to Pemberley
P.D. James
The Ladies' Paradise (Les Rougon-Macquart, #11)
Émile Zola
Under the Dome
Stephen King
Son of a Witch (Wicked Years, #2)
Gregory Maguire


S. - Doug Dorst, J.J. Abrams How do I even begin to review this book? It's not so much a book, as an experience, I think.

Firstly, just as a physical object, it is A Beautiful Thing. Every book lover should own a physical copy of this book, and although an e-book format (for tablets) exists, it would lose something important to it in that form. Part of the joy of this book is that you have a physical copy of the book-within-the-book, Ship of Theseus, complete with library date stamps with the look and feel of an old and well loved book - it even smells like it! Within you have the hand-written annotations and notes of two people studying the book, trying to divine its secrets and identify its author and his story. There are also numerous inserts, items the readers have exchanged with each other... letters, postcards, a hand drawn map on a napkin, a newspaper clipping, photographs and more. Of course, all of these things are mass produced items, but the quality of them is such that sometimes you forget that. It feels very much like you are handling the very book and ephemera that Jen and Eric (our two readers) did.

The story, unsurprisingly given the above, is multi-layered. As you read through S several stories reveal themselves. The most blatant of these is Ship of Theseus itself complete with footnotes, which is itself also revealing of a story connecting to the author. There is also the story of Jen and Eric. And these stories are interconnected, with many parallels. That in itself is another story.

And there are the puzzles. Some are obvious. Some the book answers for us. But others will take rereading and checking out other sources (there are various related websites) to even reveal the puzzle, let alone solve it. Technically, I may have finished the book, but I have by no means finished with it - there is a lot here to examine and reexamine and reread, and I still have questions which I will no doubt enjoy trying to answer, even if I ultimately can't.

This may just possibly be my favourite book ever.