It was Dr. Seuss who said “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
As far as I can remember I’ve always loved reading. As a child, all my pocket money and many hours were spent in WH Smith in Hull: Paddington by Michael Bond; Famous Five by Enid Blyton; the Hardy Boys by Franklin W Dixon; the Adventures series by Willard Price. Not only was I an avid reader, but I became a collector of books too. In my early teenage years, I could feel the anger and became one with Cuchillo Oro from the Apache series of books by William M James.
The seventies were the days before the smartphone or games console, before TV-on-demand. Before reading became a mere hobby and before we jam-packed our days with as many activities as we could. Reading was enlightening, educational and formative.
Arguably, it still is today. But strangely, I only find time to read during business travels and holidays. I’m forcibly trying to change this because after every finished book I feel more satisfied, more learned and more relaxed. There are books that had such a profound impact on me that they helped shape my views and beliefs.
For example 1984 by George Orwell. An obligatory school-read at 18, but a book that I read in one breath in the garden, with sun burn as a result. Another was Trinity by Leon Uris, advised to me by a young Irishman who challenged me on my critical (English) perspective of the IRA. Other books like Mila 18, Exodus and The Haj spurred my interest in historical novels and I discovered the writer James Mitchener and his brilliant books, such as The Covenant, Mexico and The Source
With great enjoyment, I’ve read quite a few of the classics. For example: Agatha Christie, Dickens, Lewis Carrol, Steinbeck, Jules Verne, Arthur Conan Doyle, Roald Dahl. Of all the books I’ve read (too many to mention individually, even by writer), there are two authors that have perhaps impressed me the most and who’s latest novels I tend to buy on sight, are Frederick Forsyth and Jeffrey Archer.
When I read The Day of the Jackal, I was completely engrossed. I remember that when I finished the book, that evening the 1973 film-version was on TV. Despite a very favourable IMDB score of 7.8, I was left disappointed as ‘my read’ was far more thrilling.
Other, perhaps more recent reads I enjoy are the absurd stories of Carl Hiaasen, following my love and understanding of Florida. And Harlan Coben, perhaps because of a growing teenager in my house too.
The books I tend to pick up now, especially at the start of a holiday, are ones I know I’ll quickly ‘get into’ as my reading has increasingly become a mind-set. Though a known name typically assures me an enjoyable read, I do like to experiment with new authors from time to time. On various occasions I have been pleasantly surprised. How about you…?