I Read and I Like – Marguerite Kaye
Hi there, and thank you Raven, for asking me to talk about one of my very favourite subjects – books.
I’ve always been an avid reader, but I think it’s fair to say that before I also became a writer, I was a bit of a literary snob. Of course I read romances, of course I had a secret stash of Mills&Boons and Georgette Heyer’s – but that was the point, they were secret. Not now though. Being a writer is both humbling and grounding, and it’s also really opened my eyes to the amazing variety of books that are out there.
The other thing that has radically changed reading habits is my Kindle – because it’s radically changed my buying habits. I sample loads of stuff either because it’s on offer, or because it pops up on my ‘recommended’ list. Yes, there are some average reads and some bad ones too, but there have been some excellent ones – Louise Doughty’s courtroom thriller Apple Tree Yard, and the fantastically dark, smutty and funny Kitty Peck and the Music Hall Murders by Kate Griffin, are two recent examples.
My local library in Dunoon is also great for sampling new-to-me authors. I came across Gillespie and I by Jane Harris there – an extremely unusual take on a Victorian crime set in Glasgow during the Great Exhibition. My library usually has displays of the Channel Four and Richard and Judy book club books, which I like to dip into. Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers was outstanding, The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson was that rare thing, a really funny book, and Before I Go to Sleep by S J Watson actually lived up to its hype. As for The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, and Me Before You by Jojo Moyes – if you haven’t read them, why on earth not!
All this sampling means my auto-buy list has dwindled. I love a good old-fashioned detective book I’ve read all of PD James’s Adam Dalgliesh stories, and am currently working my way through Elizabeth George’s Viscount Linley series. There are some authors whose books I never miss and who rarely let me down. Anne Tyler is one. The Accidental Tourist is one of my favourite ever reads, and her latest, The Beginner’s Goodbye, has that same lyrical, wry and yet emotionally heart-wrenching quality. William Boyd, Iain McEwan, Marian Keyes, Kate Morton and Rose Tremain are other favourites, while Kate Atkinson, in my view, is one of the least appreciated and best authors out there. Finally on fiction, I have to mention two of my all-time faves, Jamie O’Neill’s At Swim, Two Boys and Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News.
I’ve always been a history nut, and I still buy all my non-fiction in print rather than ebooks. I have a huge collection of film history, war history, and of course all things Georgian and Regency, strictly for research purposes – not! Lyn Macdonald’s Roses of No Man’s Land is the perfect combination or brilliant research, obscure facts and people-based history I love, and I’m currently reading Georgian London: Into the Streets by Lucy Inglis – yay for scurrilous history.
Biography is another passion. In fact, I often find that some ‘lives’ are more interesting to me than the writing. Byron is a case in point, and to an extent Virginia Woolf. I’ve got a life of Constance, Oscar Wilde’s wife in my tbr pile, and two bios, of Lady Hester Stanhope (by Lorna Gibb) and Lady Jane Digby (by Mary S Lovell) are my constant companions right now, while I’m writing about 19th Century Arabia. The Jane Digby book was recommended by a Facebook friend, which is the other place I’ve been getting loads of new titles. I rarely buy on the recommendation of a blogger (Wendy, Superlibrarian is one exception) but the people I chat to on Facebook are a fantastic source of new reads, loads of which I’d probably never have looked at.
So what don’t I like? It’s down to the characters. If I can’t empathise, if they’re too shallow, lacking motivation, if a book is all plot and no people, I don’t like it. My sister recommended David Nicholls’s One Day because it was set in my youth. I should have liked it, but I couldn’t stick it because I really, really loathed the main protagonists. Ditto another I should have loved, especially since I enjoyed her other books – A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. And though it’s rare, I couldn’t even finish The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared – plot, plot, plot, plot.
I could go on. I haven’t even mentioned my addiction to cookery books which have their own bookcase, shared only with my own. If your interested in more of my thoughts on what I read, then you can read my reviews on Goodreads But for now I’d love to hear from you. How do you pick new books, what are your favourites, and what do you think of mine?
Marguerite’s Goodreads page: http://www.goodreads.com/MargueriteKaye
Thanks so much for sharing Marguerite.
Happy reading everyone, and to make one of you even happier, Marguerite is giving an copy of her November release, Rumors That Ruined A Lady to one lucky commenter. Here's the kindle details, but you get the paperback...