09 October, 2006

So who reads?

Richard Bailey recently asked this, and yesterday the Observer asked 150 literary luminaries to vote for the best British, Irish or Commonwealth novel from 1980 to 2005 and tomorrow is the Booker Prize. It seems you can't turn today without some very credible source telling you you must be reading.

And, as credible sources often are, they are right. We should, I should and everybody should. But we don't.

While I was at school I was a bit of a bookworm (to be fair my house was always filled with literature), I read recreationally constantly throughout my degree. It does improve your writing, it gives you a wealth of different linguistic stylings, points of view and allows you relax for a while.

But these days I am stuck in a rut and reading has taken a back seat to other activities. So I have decided to run a little survey and see what people can recommend to me. What have you read in the last few months that I could learn further from. I'd rather not be lugging textbooks but in the same breath no Mills and Boon. Something I can learn from, be it through beautiful prose or a relevant storyline.

What do you think? What makes a good book?


Karel Mc Intosh said...

For beautiful prose you can check out a novel called "Discretion" by Elizabeth Nunez, an acclaimed author, who is widely hailed as a great writer. The book is a love story about a man from Africa and a woman from the Caribbean, and how their cultural backgrounds affect their expectations of the boundaries for their relationship. It isn't a sappy love story, and well I won't tell you the ending. However, the beauty of the book is its seamless and captivating movement from scene to scene. Did I mention that the author is Trinidadian? Lol. But seriously, it's a great read. Additionally, you never know when you could borrow such a seamless style of writing for PR products.

Alex Pullin said...

That is so true, you can be inspired for writing from pretty much anything, no matter what the subject, I find often that it gives me a new perspective on what I write too.

I shall check the book out, it sounds intriguing. I hope it won't have me sobbing on the tube like a loony, like Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks did!

Anonymous said...

1. Ian McEwan - Saturday
2. Martin Amis - Money
3. Irvine Welsh - Trainspotting

My opinion.

Simon Collister said...

City of Tiny Lights by Patrick Neate is a corker... if you like down-at-heel East London private detaectives, russian prostitutes and post 9/11 political intrigue.

Hang on... that soudns awful. Seriously, it's a great book... gripping yet funny.

I also read On the Road by Kerouac recently. Possibly the finest read ever.

Also just started Exploring Public Relations for the CIPR Diploma. I never knew systems theory was so fascinating... ;-)

Richard Bailey said...

But I thought you were a Guardian book reviewer, Alex...

mel starrs said...

My best reads of the past few years (fiction)

1. Oryx and Crake - Margaret Atwood
2. Old School - Tobias Wolff
3. Philip Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy
4. Divided Kingdom - Rupert Thomson
5. anything by Douglas Coupland

(I'd recommend you read the Philip Pullman NOW before the films come out and ruin the experience - cynical, but probably true)

Alex Pullin said...

Ha ha ha. Was, once, kind of, for a limited time only.

And they weren't exactly curl up on a winter night kind of books.

Although if anyone from the Guardian wants to send me a book or two, I'll read 'em. ;-)

Simon - it sounds hilarious, you should go into sales not PR. Sold.

Richard - I've read trainspotting but I will try the other two. Thanks.

Alex Pullin said...

Right then, I have my shopping list now.

I have read his dark materials trilogy many many times, and every time it inspires me.

So I hope that all the others I will be purchasing, or at least borrowing from the library will allow me to write better and give me a greater understanding of the written word.

Or at least transport me away on the tube.

Anonymous said...

Am I too late?

The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman

One of those books you could read many times and get something new from it. Beautiful prose - it takes something special to get me crying over a book...