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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Literary Influences - Books and I.

Last evening I realized that I had accidentally given away a book that I was reading. I can't say that it was unfinished, because I had read it before. I can't say that I was rereading it deliberately, because that too was accidental, but I felt a loss. I was ready to continue being led through a novel, who's characters had grown familiar, and now they are gone. If I want to know the rest of the story I will have to buy another copy; which is ridiculous. as I was already slightly miffed that I had purchased something that had twinges of deja vue.
I read a lot; it is my escape. As a kid it was Rudyard Kipling, Enid Blighton, anything with animals or horse crazy children who often were detectives during "the Hols". The Famous Five and The Secret Seven were my idols.
Then there were the books that made me cry; Born Free followed by Living Free & Forever Free ( I am almost sniveling now as the memories rush back of how connected I felt to Elsa the lioness and her human family). Ring of Bright Water about Midge the Otter and Grey Friars' Bobby, about the loyal dog who made a home in a Scottish cemetery after his master's death.
Fiction too; My Friend Flicka and all the sequels. I can imagine my vision of the wild mustangs described, as if 40 years had not gone by since I last read about Flicka and Thunderhead and Loco.
I think that the best thing about books, as opposed to films, is that we read and then conjure the images inside our heads. Images that we can go back to and story-lines that we can wonder where they are leading us; even characters so compelling that we puzzle over their problems to see if we might be able to help in some way.
The Poseidon Adventure, Towering Inferno and Airport will always first be books to me. The Lord of the Rings has such a unique place in my history that I could never go to the movie in case it spoiled something irretrievably. I read it over and over from one volume to the next and then beginning again at the beginning.
I do confess that one phase of my younger reading taste involved the bodice-rippers with men like Fabio on the cover, clutching broken hearted heroines to their virile chests. I evolved (in little steps) via Daniele Steel, then more progress with Herman Wouk's Winds of War and into anything by John Grisham.
In contrast to my perfect recall of the books of my youth, I have long since given up trying to hold on to the titles and authors' names of the novels that I buy in paperback from the best-seller display. I now have a self-imposed rule. I select a book that I think I might like and turn to the publishing history. If it was released in paperback over six months ago, I do not buy it. Too many times I have sat down to the pleasure of a new book only to find that I had read it before.
I ignored my own rule, which is of course how I ended up with my current repeat. The story sounded so intriguing that I took a gamble on a book first written in 1997. Grrr! I was enjoying it despite that, but I can't buy the same book a third time. (I can't remember what it was called, anyway!).


  1. Ooooh, I love to read too! Isn't it funny, the rules we have for the books we buy? My rule is that I purposely avoid any book that is ON the best seller list. I like the unknown authors who aren't yet writing for the masses.

  2. Hi Shattered,
    Our local talk radio is very good about interviewing authors of many styles. I often go to the book store to get something specific that sounds interesting. (Still within my 6 month rule too)

  3. Firstly, I love your blog! secondly, I completely agree with you about books over film. It seems like everything is being turned into a film.. I make sure my daughter (a book fiend) reads the book before she sees the film, that way the film is always a let down. I am very fussy about what I read, if it doesn't grab me in the first few chapters I give up, so there's no danger of me repeat reading... sadly, lol.

  4. Some old favourites of mine in that list too. Yes, I love to read, I think films are always a let-down once you've read the book.

  5. Every book is a film in my head already. No point in seeing someone else's version when mine is so much better.

  6. Ah Jean, succinctly put and bang on.
    Di, as soon as I posted I started remembering a million more titles that fit the bill.