• A great read.

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    What Ho everybody!

    Gratuitous photo of the Christmas tree and Nero the Schnauzer at his devastating cutest.

    Mrs L has decided that the tree should be in a new spot this year. Mostly, I think that she enjoys watching me move furniture about. In fairness, the tree does look great next to the fireplace and the move has created a little nook, ideal for my armchair.

    This morning I sat in that chair and read. A book. A real one. You know, with pages and everything.

    I spent three hours finishing off an excellent novel with the dog at my feet. I suspect it is only a matter of time before Radio 4 becomes the soundtrack to my life.

    The novel was ‘Rather be the Devil’ by Ian Rankin. It is the latest in the immensely successful Rebus series. I should disclose that I am a massive Rankin fan. I’m not quite stalking the man, but I did attend a book signing in Guildford recently and whenever in Edinburgh I accidentally fall into a pub from one of the stories.

    In this latest instalment, Rebus and his old adversary Cafferty prove useless at being retired and skirmish again across Edinburgh.

    For hardcore fans like me, this novel is bittersweet. Rebus is showing signs of mortality, reminding me that he is getting a bit long in the tooth and has not exactly lived ‘clean’. Still, he’s off the cigarettes and has cut down the booze and takeaways, so perhaps he is going to get a second wind. Gloriously, he remains maverick with a determined, pathological distaste for authority.

    A great read.

    I know that I have read a great novel when I feel sad that I must leave the world of the book. In my head, the last few days I have been hanging out in Edinburgh pubs, trying to piece together clues to the mystery. Now, the mystery is solved and I must return to the real world with sulky regret.

  • X is for Xenophobia

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    (Image taken from The Daily Telegraph.)

    Xenophobia. ‘Fear of that which is perceived to be foreign or strange.’ Wikipedia.

    More recently Xenophobia is understood to mean specifically a fear of foreigners.

    In the best debut novel ever written by me, the hero Sean finds himself in a new country, facing new people and challenges.

    He is Xenophobic. Of course he is. We all are. We would be stupid not to be. I am no evolutionary scientist, but I suspect that fear of the foreign or strange was essential. It is what made our ancestors look at a sabre-tooth tiger and think ‘Hmmm… Not sure that I’m going to go give that thing a hug’

    When I hear or read the word xenophobia now, people are using it to lament that prejudice remains. Prejudice about gender, race, disability and sexuality. I believe that it is in our nature to fear that which is strange or foreign. We overcome these fears through learning and education. At the root of learning is reading.

    Read more.

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    To eradicate prejudice, we need to read more, to learn more, to become familiar with more and more different people and situations. This will help us overcome Xenophobia.

    In short, sign up for my e-mail newsletter and I’ll let you know when the best debut novel ever written by me is available – and you can join the fight.

    By buying it.

    Blogging from A to Z Challenge

  • R is for Reading

    Hemingway Reading

    ‘There is no friend as loyal as a book’.

    That chap Hemingway again.

    Like many people I fell out of reading for a while. Not on purpose. It just happened.

    After all, we are blessed with so much choice now. In the past we had a few channels of TV, a couple of choices at the cinema, our record collection or a book. All of those things were considered art forms. Now, there is ‘content’.

    Technically, you are consuming ‘content’ right now.

    In addition to reading these words, you might have the TV on, be listening to some music or keeping an eye on your e-mail. You might even be doing all of those things concurrently.

    At the time of writing, I am rebelling against the digital world. See here. I drafted this post by hand in a notebook, with a pen. One thing that I will not be giving up any time soon is my e-reader. The ability to have a thousand books to read in a device the size of a small paperback is fantastic. Much though I love a good old-fashioned book, I’m not a huge fan of storing them.

    One thing that I have re-discovered is the absolute joy of losing myself in a book; getting so engrossed that all distractions disappear. Only reading can do that for me.

    Since electing to be a writer, my reading has broadened. I read classics, best sellers and debuts from new writers. I find good and bad in all of them. I learn as much from the bad as well as from the good.

    Writers read.

    Blogging from A to Z Challenge

  • Books!

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    The image is pinched from the Goodreads website.

    If you have an interest in books, Goodreads is a good place to go and find out what is going on.

    As the year turned, the site sent me an automated mail. It was asking me how many books I was going to read this year. Not something that I have ever thought about before.

    “50” I typed confidently.

    “50?” People were incredulous.

    “Are you counting menus?”

    “You are supposed to read every word, you know.”

    A witty lot my Facebook friends.

    I suspect that I will comfortably get through a hundred in a year. Once I get into a book, I can finish it in a sitting or two. Offer me the TV or a book and I’ll take the book every time.

    Predominantly I read on my Kindle. I had resisted this device, absolutely convinced of my love for the physical manifestation of a book. I still do buy the odd book. Non-fiction especially. The Kindle however is a marvel. On holiday I can have thirty novels, all in my back pocket. Should I run out, I can find some wifi and buy thirty more. Its easy, convenient and cheaper. I am a convert.

    Reading is a double-edged sword for me. I enjoy reading ‘as a writer’, where I am mindful of the craft that the author has put into the words.

    However, I also get intimidated. When I find myself at the end of a novel, taken there on a page-turning rush, I doubt whether I might ever enthuse a reader in quite the same way.

    Now, got to rush, time for a couple of chapters before lunch.