A good read

18 Sep 2019

I often quote here from books I have read. Seldom do I not get a response: 'Thanks for reminding me, read that book years ago and loved it, keep on reading it etc'.

People say I am 'well read'. I'd have a job to quantify that – the range of books, authors, fiction, biography, history? Remembering what I have read? Identifying with the characters? Pipe-dreams that you are the hero/heroine? Hmm! I joined a sort of 'stitch and bitch' or 'knit and natter' group. I was always referring to books, and nobody had even heard of them. Does that make me an intellectual snob? As a one time journalist and author the genre are the most awful egotists. When I went into the doctor's waiting room and somebody said they always turned to my article/column first I would say a polite 'Thank you' but really one was puffed out with pride.

Questions for people here. Depending on your levels of depression are books a comfort? To curl up (as I did when I could in the last five years) in a warm corner, deep in a book which took you away from the sufferings of the moment. I think some depressions are so severe that concentration on anything is difficult. With holidays, for some it will be how many books can I pack (unless you are a Kindle addict) or what on earth am I going to do with the kids (think of people in flats, single mothers, carers).

For convinced bibliophiles, what are the 'ingredients' of a good book? I've read three Somerset Maugham recently, now reading one of his biographers (book must weigh a kilo). He was not a very nice man, wrote, often unpleasantly, about people he had met, and who had been kind to him. But he was an excellent story teller, and, for me, very important, evocative of places I had visited. John Galsworthy an all-time favourite, unrivalled, in my opinion for his social history moving through three generations of British history.

Jilly Cooper I read again quite often. Her style races along, I am no prude, but find the obligatory orgasm every 20 pages boring and not germane to the story. Her research, whether horses, art, music – even sink schools, is impeccable. I get bored with first person books, and super heros (Dick Francis in this category). Evelyn Waugh's wit and black humour brings me back again and again to his books. I love the letters from him to Nancy Mitford - all her books a must. So many books now, however good, are surpassed by really good TV dramatisations, Jane Austen an author many had not heard of before seeing Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice. That's enough (Ed, as in Private Eye).

What is your 'Good Read', and why?

The Gardener

A Moodscope member.

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