I go through phases with reading. Sometimes I read loads, other times not so much. Last week I had an OU essay to write so most of my reading was about greensickness, melancholy and charlatans. Thankfully that’s out the road. In the last week I’ve managed to finish a grand total of three books, two of them started and finished within a couple of days, and the other started ages ago and finally finished on a 26 bus on Musselburgh High Street. Glamour. Those were Only The Dead Can Tell by Alex Gray, A Brush With Death by Quintin Jardine and East Lothian Folk Tales by Tim Porteus. I also read The Head Teacher of Football by Terry Christie recently but that was a re-read.
I’ve read crime novels for years and I eagerly anticipate the latest works by Alex Gray, Quintin Jardine, Stuart MacBride and Ian Rankin in particular. I have the new Peter May waiting for me at work that I might read over the weekend too. Ann Cleeves I like but I’ve only read the Shetland series. Stuart MacBride is class and DCI Roberta Tiberius Steel is cracking. I like how Alex Gray writes. Glasgow is very much a character in her novels, the changing cityscape a constant feature behind the plot. Lorimer is unlike most male detective protagonists in that he doesn’t drink or smoke, like Rebus for example, and his fellow characters, including Rosie the pathologist, Kirsty Wilson and Maggie Lorimer, all play prominent parts in the latest one. Quintin Jardine I like because Bob Skinner lives in Gullane and I can imagine some of the places that feature in the books. This particular one was good, particularly with the inclusion of Lottie Mann and Danny Provan, the Weegie detective duo, though it was a bit implausible in how Skinner got involved despite not being in the polis any more.
The East Lothian Folk Tales book I had bought weeks ago and have taken to a couple of Hibs games to read on the train. Tim Porteus is a storyteller who lives in Prestonpans. He writes interesting tales which appear in the Courier every week. This book is a collection of tales featuring witches, ghosties and all sorts of creatures and folk from across the county, including the tale of Black Agnes and her granny from Dunbar Castle. As I said, I finally finished it on Saturday after the Hibs-Celtic game as I sat on a bus going out to Morrison’s Haven, appropriately enough in East Lothian.
My to-read pile is as big as ever. As well as the Peter May, I have a book about seabirds that I’ve had to read for months as well as a Hunter S. Thompson book that’s been in my backpack for ages. I also have a pile of Muriel Spark books that I bought one evening when my route home took me past Waterstone’s in Braehead. Near the top is How To Survive The End Of The World by Aaron Gillies, a book about anxiety and how to live in this world, a couple of books by Helen McClory published by the wonderful independent press 404 Ink, and I might also re-read Wanderlust by Rebecca Solnit soon, a history of walking. Rebecca Solnit is a very good writer.
When I read some of these books, I will of course need to think about a bookmark. The Wednesday’s Child blog featured a very nice post the other day about bookmarks which you should check out. It seems a bit self-referential to reference a post which in turn mentions me but there you are. It was the kind of post that I wish I had written myself. Anyway, as for bookmarks, I tend to use whatever I have to hand, notelets, train or bus tickets, sometimes actual bookmarks. The Tim Porteus book I read recently had a bus ticket, incidentally.
While I have to know about new books for my job, I tend to ignore the bestseller lists for my own choices, going on recommendations or following my nose. The main time I get to read is when I’m travelling – like when I’m going to the football as I wrote about here – and I would rather read something I’ll like rather than something which is popular. Popular books are often good ones though not always.
Tomorrow I will be off to Edinburgh to see Hibs play Kilmarnock. I haven’t decided what my travelling book will be though it’s between The Comforters by Muriel Spark and maybe one I have by Susan Calman. In the morning I’ll just lift it up and go and maybe it’ll be done by the time I return, maybe not. The book is part of the experience, enhancing it at the best of times.
Thanks for reading. Sunday’s post here will be part of the Streets of Glasgow series, this time Dundas Street.