Second Time Around
Tell us about a book you can read again and again without getting bored — what is it that speaks to you?
I read a lot and the library here is very small. (I’d have taken a picture but it’s raining today, and I didn’t want to stand in the wet.) We’d like a bigger one, but the local council doesn’t live here and would prefer to forget we exist (unless we’re late paying our council rates which they get onto pdq) so it’s not likely to happen unless the town doubles in size which isn’t likely to happen either.
So given the choice is fairly limited, I quite often find I’ve borrowed something I’d forgotten I’d already read, but provided I’ve forgotten well enough and it’s an author I like, I’m quite happy to read it again.
But I do keep a couple of collections on my own shelves that I think of as mental comfort food. The first is Georgette Heyer: unapologetic Regency romance usually with slightly non-conformist heroines and world-weary heroes, all so far outside today’s field of reference that they’re perfect for blotting out the world. They’re also immaculately researched, beautifully written, often witty and a goldmine of quirky characters.
My father introduced me to Georgette Heyer. Unlikely, you might think, for a thoroughly masculine man who ran the Army Education Service during WW11, a university, and subsequently the ABC (Aus). But there you go. I remember him chuckling to himself as he read and puffed away at his pipe, enjoying every word.
My other purveyor of mental comfort food is Dick Francis, spinner of good yarns and master of prose rhythm. Prose rhythm fascinates me: the impact you can make (or not) with the order of words, the length of words, the use of pauses – and Dick Francis does the lot so simply and seamlessly that it fills me with glee.
I tell myself occasionally that I should reread the classics, and maybe I will one day. Or maybe not. But I’ve decided I’m far too old and hoary for what’s now hailed as ‘good’. I’ve had enough of deep and meaningful, in life as well as literature. A good mystery, a thriller, a cast of characters I can relate to who don’t revel in the sort of stupidity guaranteed to lead to anguished soul-searching and unlimited angst.
So the question of what speaks to me and what it says when it does really doesn’t cross my mind, a lot. On the top of the pile I got from the library this morning is a Harlan Coben (which I may well have read) and what I’m expecting from it is entertainment. Very simple, really.