Reading without a reading list: post-graduate graspings and gropings in a bewildering sea of fiction..

This blog is nothing more or less than a collection of reviews, criticism and thoughts based on books I have read, starting from January 2011. It’s a project to encourage me to keep reading.

I graduated a few years ago with an MA in English Literature, and have begun to experience for the first time the sense of panic that occurs as soon as one steps outside the confines of a course reading list. I’m trying to experience reading, and the choices made around reading, in a more serendipitous, organic way. Reading outwards, instead of in a straight line.

It is true that sometimes I will pick up a book due to interests formed on courses, but quite a lot of the time I simply read things because I have vaguely heard of them. I am trying reduce my level of snobbery around reading, too. This is an honest account, rather than a list designed to impress. I do think, however, that a certain amount judgement is necessary when embarking into the sea of fiction. There is so much good stuff out there – why read something you’d rather not? For me, that means steering clear of Romantic and Russian novels. Each to their own.

As with so much in life, our behaviour tends to be dictated by the small tribe of people we surround ourselves with. In my case, this tribe is more-or-less ‘well read’. But – and this is important – there is no accounting for taste. I know we have all had the sad experience of pressing one’s favourite book on a friend or lover hoping they will see what you see, to meet only blank stares a few weeks later when they have tried and failed to muster enthusiasm. And it works both ways.

I hope what follows will be an informative and/or interesting dip into the swirling and daunting sea, and perhaps serve as some form of rubber ring.

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