I've read a number of books recently which have not been well written. This is disappointing for so many reasons.
Yet in acknowledging the inadequacies of a work, I am reminded of one factor with which I cannot pick fault: at least the author produced a sufficient number of words with a coherent enough theme to create a book. This is more than I have done.
A couple of years ago I realised that the reason I didn't start writing my masterpiece was that if I didn't start, I wouldn't fail. But of course, this isn't true. American author Seth Godin wrote in his blog recently: 'If you don't start, you will fail. Not starting and failing lead to precisely the same outcome, with different names.'
Children who do most of their reading on screen enjoy the stories less and have a poorer reading ability than those who use printed materials, according to a recent survey by the National Literary Trust.
With the number of children using e-books, tablets and computers having doubled in the last two years, and rising, the NLT is calling for a healthier balance in reading using both books and technology.
Its findings from a survey of almost 35,000 children aged 8-16 are worrying but also reveal another interesting statistic: girls are more likely to read in print than boys, and are also more likely to read from a range of on-screen devices.
Had the rare treat of being able to listen to Libby Purves on Midweek this morning but was shocked when she urged listeners to seek out her guest's novels by going to Amazon. I am sure she must have kicked herself as soon as she said it: I do hope so. And this in Independent Booksellers Week too!!
Despite not having read any of Lionel Shriver's books, I have noted her journalism, seen her on tv review shows and recently attended a Q&A session where she spoke about her new novel 'Big Brother'. I have formed an impression of her.
She spoke, at London Book Fair last month, about the fact that the novel was based on her brother who died of an obesity-related illness. Personal details do make the book more distinct, especially in the light of a number of titles recently being published on this subject. But Shriver said she didn't want to use her family to sell her book.
I was intrigued by a recent profile of the author which appeared in The Sunday Times. This article highlighted the author's own health and fitness regime, in the light of the subject of the new book. It revealed that she only eats once a day, at supper. And she has a formidable exercise routine: 130 press-ups in two sets, 200 side crunches, 500 sit-ups, 3,000 star jumps and 500 burpees in 39 minutes. She wears the same clothes all week to save on washing and never turns on the central heating. Fascinating! Is this enough, now, to get me to read her books? Watch this space!
There are a couple of books which have been published recently called 'Weird Things People Say in a Bookshop' and I've got an entry I'd like considered for number three in the series...
A customer came into the shop the other day and asked my colleague if we had a particular book. She was very clear about the title. It's called 'The Man Who Jumped Over a Fence with His Slippers On', she said.
The computer wasn't working so my colleague was unable to look up this specific title, but he carefully wrote it down on an order card and promised to get back to her once he had located it.
In the meantime, he said, was she sure it wasn't the bestselling book called 'The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared'? Yes, that's it, she said, without a moment's hesitation.