When I started writing this blog post some weeks ago, little did I think I’d have the time to do some serious reading! What follows is largely what I wrote then. The main difference is that I now plan to write short reviews of the books by my bed to share over the coming weeks while we’re all staying at home.
As regular readers of my blog posts will know, I’m a lover of real books and enjoy reading almost as much as writing. My reading is largely Influenced by author reputations; based on previous books I’ve read by them, and recommendations from other book lovers that I respect. There are currently 14 unread books by my bed – in alphabetical order by title…
The books – the baker’s dozen
Broken Vows; Tony Blair – The Tragedy of Power The unofficial biography of Tony Blair. Bought for 99p in a book sale and, given its size, it doubles as a doorstop from time to time when the bedroom window is open. https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Tom-Bower/Broken-Vows–Tony-Blair-The-Tragedy-of-Power/19673554
Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us I like popular psychology books and a positive review by Malcolm Gladwell (one of my must-read authors) prompted me to order this probably a year ago. I’ve got to page 61. https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Daniel-H-Pink/Drive–The-Surprising-Truth-About-What-Motivates-Us/21901101
Duane’s Depressed given/lent (can’t remember) to me by brother-in-law (author of Nobody of any importance – see below) a fan of Larry McMurtry, who also wrote The Last Picture Show and Texasville, and other American authors. I see I made it to page 116 first time around… https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54816.Duane_s_Depressed
How to be alive: A guide to the kind of happiness that helps the world Already people are talking about how our world might (or might not) be changed forever when the Coronavirus pandemic is over. This book is apposite in that context. I bought it, got to page 184, then my daughter borrowed it to read (she’d read the author’s previous book No Impact Man) But that was a while ago, so I think I’ll have to start again! https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Colin-Beavan/How-to-Be-Alive–A-Guide-to-the-Kind-of-Happiness-That-Helps-the-World/19419158
Nobody of any importance This book is written by my brother-in-law and is his late father’s recollections (written and verbal) of frontline action in World War One. It’s a great work of love and dedication – self-published and sold in aid of the British Red Cross. http://www.footsoldiersam.co.uk
One Hundred Years of Solitude This book gets my award for ‘most-appropriately-titled-Coronavirus-reading’ (alongside Love in the Time of Cholera by the same author). A gratefully received recent gift which, given my past life in publishing on Latin American affairs, is wholly appropriate. A book I’ve been meaning to read for many years (but not 100). https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Gabriel-Garcia-Marquez/One-Hundred-Years-of-Solitude/15437723
Rethink: The surprising history of new ideas Author Steven Poole writes on ideas, culture, language and society. I share his love of words and I’m interested in creativity, so that was the attraction when I bought the book (a couple of years ago…) https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Steven-Poole/Rethink–The-Surprising-History-of-New-Ideas/20530224
The Last Landlady This was an impulse buy, except it wasn’t; I paid for the book but didn’t receive if for another 18 months or so. You see, publication was crowd-funded and the campaign must have come to attention at the right time. As a book and pub lover it was particularly appealing so I happily paid over the odds. The book is described as a memoir of the author’s grandmother – a landlady – and a social history of pub life. https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Laura-Thompson/The-Last-Landlady–An-English-Memoir/23910248
The Sentence is Death Crime writing at its best says the publicity, but I already know that Anthony Horowitz is a versatile and talented writer so I believe the blurb. I’ve particularly enjoyed his new Sherlock Holmes novels, and I expect this second title in his Daniel Hawthorne private investigator series will be equally entertaining. https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Anthony-Horowitz/The-Sentence-is-Death–A-mind-bending-murder-mystery-from/23639303
The Snowman Author Jo Nesbo has millions of fans worldwide and my brother-in-law (another one) is one of them. I was given this book as alternative holiday reading (I usually take the latest Lee Child or John Grisham blockbuster). My bookmark tells me I made it to page 17 when I last picked up the book last summer. https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Jo-Nesbo/The-Snowman–Harry-Hole-7/16453092
Tickbox Written by David Boyle who I’m admired for many years as a thinker (and writer) and known through our shared involvement in Timebanking when it was new to the UK. He writes on diverse subjects – I think he’s essentially an economist (he’s a Fellow of the New Economics Foundation) and has written the wonderful Little Money Book, but I also enjoyed his book Authenticity: Brands, Fakes, Spin and the Lust for Real Life more than 15 years ago. https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/David-Boyle/Tickbox/24240617
Top Five Regrets of the Dying Strangely uplifting given the subject matter (and the current Coronavirus crisis) this book started life as a blog and grew into a journal of the Australian author’s own life and learning as a professional end-of-life carer and house-sitter. https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Bronnie-Ware/Top-Five-Regrets-of-the-Dying–A-Life-Transformed-by-the-Dearly-Departing/23828296
Upstream: How to solve problems before they happen A new offering from one half of a writing team of two brothers (Dan and Chip Heath) who author intriguing popular psychology type books. I can recommend Made to Stick: Why some ideas survive and others die and The Power of Moments: Why certain experiences have extraordinary impact. https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Dan-Heath/Upstream–How-to-solve-problems-before-they-happen/24555849
The 14th book in the photo (spine to the wall) will be my last read – if necessary – when I’ll reveal what it is, if I do read it.
Why do they remain unread?
Despite 4-day weekends, I can’t find/ don’t make enough time for reading for pleasure. Luckily, I don’t have any problem getting to sleep at night or staying asleep, so no reading in the wee small hours. You’ll notice I’ve started quite a few of them, so maybe that says something about my inability to stick with reading books a bit at a time – I need a long run-up like when I’m on holiday. I’m also a slow reader. The magazine you see on top of the pile of books – Private Eye – is another reason I don’t get through books; I’m too busy reading that (I’ve been a subscriber for decades).
Another reason I have so many unread books is… shameless plug; I can’t resist the ease of ordering online through Hive Books (often cheaper than you-know-who and they support local independent bookshops https://www.hive.co.uk). Even when I’ve bought a book but not (yet) read it I don’t feel it’s a waste of money. For now my plan is to read the books by my bed, before adding to the pile.
Once the books are read, some will stay in our house (‘too many’ says my wife) , others will find their way to my little library (outside https://www.facebook.com/MillRoadLittleLibrary) and/or charity shops, or will be given as gifts to friends (Man Walks into a Pub https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Pete-Brown/Man-Walks-Into-A-Pub–A-Sociable-History-of-Beer-Fully-Up/783549 being a recent example)
Do share details about your own bedside reading – ideally with a short review!