100

books

This is my one hundredth post. Trumpets! Sirens! Well, perhaps not, but I just wanted to take a little moment to mark it.

I started this blog in earnest back in October 2011, the product of creative frustration and a longing to write. Books came second – I didn’t know what the blog was going to be about to start with, as some remarkably eclectic deleted posts festering in the back rooms of the internet prove. But nothing gives me as much joy and regular inspiration as books.

I’m no true Blogger: I don’t post often enough, topical enough, short enough or personal enough. And yet the Room of Joy has become dear to me – a place for the wider thematic thoughts I have when reading, somewhere for my mind to wrestle and my fingers to tap after the last page is turned and I need more than simply picking up the next. I wouldn’t be without it.

So to celebrate this modest milestone, I give you:

10 Reading Thoughts from the Room of Joy

1. DO NOT READ WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN THE WEEK YOU FIND OUT YOU ARE PREGNANT. This is a terrible, terrible idea. It was incredibly hard to write about that book without talking about my horror of reading about the worst possible experience of parenting mere days after I discovered I was going to be one. Disaster! (But yes, I am, delightfully. Watch this space to see if the blog turns into a series of passionate reviews for Spot the Dog.)
2. A favourite book is a friend. Re-read and fall in love again. I don’t do much of this, but following two delightful recent revisitings, I’m setting off down memory lane.
3. It is almost ALWAYS worth struggling through. So many books are slow to get into their stride but pay great dividends if you stick at it.
4. Be a magenpie. (Points for reference.) Don’t get stuck in a genre rut. Know your tastes, but break out once in a while. I like rambling ambitious epics, but the slim little volume of The Enchanted April was one of the most enjoyable things I’ve read in years.
5. Book prize judges know their stuff. I know, I know, I’m shackled to the awards industry machine. But those guys have read a lot of books, and they have damn good taste. Let them do the sifting…
6. …YET the random choices are often the most rewarding. Wander your local bookshop and take a chance. (Crossing to Safety a great joy from this approach.)
7. Take recommendations with a pinch of salt. I will more reliably like a book from picking it up in a bookshop browse than if it is pressed on me with sweaty palms and dilated pupils as the finest read of all time.
8. I should be ashamed at never reading nonfiction. Don’t follow my example. My hope for the next 100 books is to include many more eclectic titles, from cookery to biography.
9. Keep a list on your phone so you always have a set of books ready to read.
10. Keep your passions pure. I spent a while agonising over whether love of reading meant I should work in the publishing industry. I think that was a red herring. I love reading, and should stick to that for the pure joy, able to trounce one I dislike should I so choose. And equally go on a Jilly Cooper marathon if required. Sometimes you’ve just got to do it.

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