To keep writing criticism and commentary one has to keep reading. This occasional column is intended to list the books I receive that I may or may not be able to deal with at greater length. The aim is to acknowledge books and authors rather than let them slip past invisibly. This has been on my conscience for quite a while as I’ve had to order my reading along two lines: books that are relevant to what I’m currently writing, and books that I’m driven to read for private reasons. Books are my single biggest expense, and the ones I’m reading for my own interest are generally not those that turn up, unsolicited, in the mail. At a time when many people find it hard to read anything but social media posts, it seems more important than ever to stand up in defence of the book.
I will, therefore, have two categories: Books Receivedand Books Read. They’re not mutually exclusive but there will be many books received that I don’t have time to read straight away. The Books Readsection will concentrate on those books for which I’ve madetime – as it’s incredibly important to keep reading widely on many topics. It’s an indulgence of sorts, but one that informs my thinking and writing to a huge extent. I’ll try and keep my comments brief and to-the-point, and hope there are a few mad readers out there who understand this compulsion.