This is something of an ’Is it just me?’ post – and one where I expect that it actually is just me.
But, the thing is, I have a whole range of self imposed rules regarding what fiction I can and can’t read.
I don’t know how it started or why – but there’s been this list in my head for as long as I can remember regarding what I can read and how and when. It’s a list which sounds odd to me when I see it written down – and until now I haven’t had it written down, it’s only been in my head.
If I were to analyse it I suppose I could come up with sound reasons for some of these rules, even if they sound odd to other people. They impose discipline for example, they make sure I finish what I start, they make sure I read widely and well – and so on.
This is a rulebook which only applies to fiction – I can do what I like with non-fiction.
Here goes – and in no particular order:
I cannot borrow books
– either from the library or from other people, I must buy them, read them and then put them on my book shelves.
I cannot start reading a new book until I have finished the one I am reading
– I must finish each book I start, even if I don’t like it. If it’s boring I will persevere until the end, then hope the next one is more interesting.
I will not read more than one book by any given author
There are always so many fantastic authors I’ve not tried yet, I always feel I have to move on. Sometimes I promise myself I will revisit a favourite when I have time – but there’s always someone new.
I will lend my books out to special people
– but will fret and secretly seethe if they do not give them back to me. For example, my brother, an engineering contractor, once borrowed my copy of Martin Amis’s Money. When I asked for it back he said ‘I’ve left it in the office’. When I said ‘well why don’t you pop to the office and get it?’ He said, ‘the office in Nigeria.’ I was not happy.
Once I’ve read a book I must keep it
– on my bookshelves, in case I ever need to look at it again, which I rarely, if ever, do. If someone has left my copy in Nigeria I must buy another copy and keep that on my shelf instead.
So there we go. I think I probably have other weird reading rules as well – these are just the ones which are top of mind for me at the moment. Ebooks, I have discovered recently, are exempt from my rules plus, the rules only apply to fiction. I can do what I like with non-fiction books – borrow them from the library or a friend, read them two at a time, chuck them when I’ve finished or leave them on a table in a sub-Saharan African state. The world is my lobster.
What I would say though is that rules are made to be broken – and I have broken all of mine at one time or another. I just don’t like to.
Don’t forget if you get a moment to take a look at my book Song of the Sea God. You can look inside to read the first few pages free and download a free Kindle sample for UK readers here. And for readers in the USA here.