This week I have discovered a whole new world: Goodreads. What a wonderful website! Such a vast, welcoming community of like-minded book lovers, keen to share recommendations and talk about books they’ve read. My ‘to read’ list is completely out of control, now, thanks to all the marvellous books I’ve discovered.
I think one of the greatest pleasures in life is discovering a new book that you’re excited to read. When one of my favourite authors releases a new title, I’m like a child on Christmas morning, full of anticipation. It’s rather like having lunch with your best friend since childhood whom you don’t see often – thrilling, affirming, comforting and delightful in equal measure. Just knowing that the book is on the shelf, or on my bedside table, waiting for me to open it gives my mood a lift. And it feels as indulgent as eating chocolate to curl up in an armchair or sit beneath a tree in the garden and turn to that first page, knowing I’m about to escape into a world rich with romance and wonder. Heaven!
I come to new books via different avenues. Recommendations from friends. Reviews in the newspapers. Browsing in bookshops. And now discovering them online, of course. But what I love best is to just stumble across something special, a book with which I connect and which opens up a new experience or way of thinking.
This week the Huffington Post ran an interesting article on the ‘book-choosing code’. The author, Ella-mai Robey, writes of the importance of sometimes moving away from following the fold, and reading something a little different. She points out: ‘if we all read the exact same things all of the time – what of the longer lasting implications for the intellect, the imagination, and nuances of the individual psyche?’ I agree – both as a reader and as a writer I think reading across genres broadens the mind and helps one develop an appreciation and understanding of writing.
I read all sorts of novels, though of course romance books are my favourite. And I love the research phase when I’m writing a book, during which I read all manner of books on a place or culture – cookbooks, books of quotations and proverbs, travel books, history books, novels set in the area.
As the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges put it, ‘I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.’