Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Summer fiction

Each year as the weather warms, my brain cells atrophy and go all teenage girly. In the autumn, the grey matter rehydrates and becomes more discerning. But those summer months of utter non-intellectuality are to be enjoyed, because that is when the bad fiction gets stacked by the bedside and devoured in steaming heaps. There is always a two-inch thick bonkbuster special or chicklit surprise on the kitchen table or by the bog to be munched through in 'spare' moments. Picking through the Oxfam book stock becomes a fortnightly addiction, and the local market provides 3 for £2 if you have time to browse between securing the week's cheese and veg supply and haring back to the desk.
It often starts with a re-read of a Jilly Cooper, although this year's temptation was freshly printed and bought cheap cheap at Paddington station. At the moment I am chewing through (why? shoot me now with a stone-age weapon, she is dire) Jean M Auel's Earth Children series. There is a heap of Georgette Heyers (first time for me) that I failed to wade through in adolescence. I do have some limited standards though. Jean Plaidy, Danielle Steel, Dan Brown, Jeffrey Archer (arggghhh!) and Terry Pratchett are permanently OUT. The distinctly classier Barbara Pym, Paul Auster and Philip Roth do rub shoulders with my current trashy stuff.
Many years ago, at a house warming party, the woman I showed round first gasped at the Jilly Coopers piled next to the complete, unmatching sets of James Joyce and Henry James. She spent the next hour commenting on and showing other people my apparently bizarre (and I must admit alphabetized) book collection. What she saw was my summer stock put to bed with the rest of the library - and at what I think is over 3000 books, I suspect it is becoming something of a mini library. My catholic reading is something I see reflected on friends' bookshelves. The more rigorously informally educated they are the more eclectic their collections and the more I want to prise their gems out of the vertical. In my head I am a book snob. In my heart I am a book slut.

8 comments:

Eurodog said...

Thank you for adding me to the Devon blogs. I am honored. I live in Brussels but spent a lot of time in Cornwall. On the North Devon coast.
You might like to add Silk by Alassandro Barrico to your summer reading list. A most charming book.

lady macleod said...

"book slob..book slut" Brilliant. I usually have one 'serious' book going and a nice piece of Brain Candy for breaks. Have you read J. Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series? Just like chocolate, yummy and you don't have to think too deeply.

Drunk Mummy said...

Do you know - I keep thinking I should re-read some Barbara Pym. I read loads of her stuff around A-level time (supposedly some sort of compare and contrast with Jane Austen) but with typical youthful arrogance, I dismissed her out of hand. I remember the stories being beautifully written, but the plots were all about women 'of a certain age' having a crush on the curate. I am now a woman 'of a certain age' myself - although extremely unlikely to have a crush on a curate!

The thinker said...

Drunkmummy - 'crush on a curate' would make a good name for a cocktail wouldn't it?

Lovely turn of phrase Mopsa - Glad to find I'm not the only one with a strange mix of good/bad books on shelves/floor/bedside table etc. I have 2007 edition of Encyc Brit. alongside PCs for Idiots and Judith Krantz!

Mopsa said...

Ooohh....keep those trash recommendations coming - I'm off to my fave market stall next week.

mutterings and meanderings said...

You can't beat Jackie Collins for trash! Or Shirley Conran - I remember reading Lace at school, and the Flowers in the Attic books - who wrote them again?

I like to escape with a Dick Francis and am currently enjoying a John Francombe (in a similar vein) ...

Mopsa said...

M&M A quick Google says VC Andrews was the author of the Flowers in the Attic sagas - a new one one me.
Lady M - Evanovich also new
DM: you never know, the curate might just have something ...
Thinker - Judith Krantz -now that's a blast from the past - copies stolen from friends that were peppered with sand from the beach

Flowerpot said...

have you read Mark Haddon's latest? - A Spot of Bother. I've just finished it and loved it!
Great blog - flowerpot