Readers like to read and writers like to read. But writers like to write too, which leaves less time for reading. It’s a humdrum conundrum really, but one that I’m faced with now. I’m currently reading six (yes, 6) books. They would be, in no particular order: Life by Keith Richards, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, Chez l’arabe by Mireille Silcoff, Falls the Shadow by Stefanie Gaither, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin, and For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway.
Call me an idiot. Go on, I know you want to. Thank you.
But the fact is, I just can’t help it. I don’t pick up a new book because I’m bored with the one(s) I’m already reading but because I’m excited to get to know the new stranger that has appeared on my doorstep/shelf/Kindle.
And now today the mailman brings this. Why, oh why did I order it? Ian McEwan is one of my favorite writers, so why did I think I’d be able to resist adding this to my TBR pile (that’s a To-Be-Read pile for those who don’t have this particular reading disorder).
And yet… the wonderful thing about my problem is that each night I get to spend some time in the company of whoever I feel like. Yes, I’m treating these books like people. Maybe it’s because I’m an author, but I can’t help over-shooting the story itself and landing smack in the middle of the writer’s mind. Obviously with Keith Richards’ autobiography, that’s normal, and Mireille is one of my friends, so in her case I can’t help it, but there are two dead white guys in that pile and yet still I experience an inescapable, almost tangible connection to them. No, it’s more than tangible. I could have a drink in a pub with Wilkie Collins, were he not far beyond moldering, and that would be cool. But no matter how buddy-buddy we’d become over our Guinness (or the Victorian gentleman’s drink of choice – probably Guinness) I don’t think I would get as much of a feeling for what makes him tick as when I’m tucked up under the covers with him (if you get my drift).
Isn’t that the beauty of literature though? If it’s done properly, not only do we get transported to a fictional world, but we also mainline the author’s mind. Even if you’re reading about Hannibal Lecter, Thomas Harris’s personality seeps through. And this is an odd thing, because I suspect he’s not a psychopathic killer. Shakespeare’s oeuvre covers a vast range of realities, but whether they’re historical tragedies or fantasy comedies, you’re still – when reading the plays more than watching them – in the Bard’s head.
So yeah, I like hanging out with great writers. The more the merrier. And speaking of merrier, the Bard’s Head would be an excellent name for an English pub. Maybe that’s where I’ll have that Guinness with the ghost of Wilkie Collins one day.