I love auditioning a new book. It’s a particularly delicious part of the reading process and the only good thing about finishing the novel I’ve just read.
I take three or four books down from the shelf (the ones that have been in a waiting-to-be-read holding pattern), I sit down with them and I open each one carefully.
Choosing the book I want is easy. I read the first few pages and if I feel like I want to keep reading, then that’s the book that becomes the chosen one. The rest of the poor dejected novels go back on the shelf like the little wallflowers they are, waiting and hoping desperately, I have no doubt, to be picked next time. What? Books have feelings, too, you know.
What book I want to read comes down to a mixture of magic and psychology that I don’t pretend to fully understand. I do know that for me at the moment, my scary books have to be reserved for the daylight hours and the novel I take to bed must be of the cosy or certainly non-plague ridden/ghost filled/desperate fight for survival variety. I’ve found myself of late waking in the wee small hours with the uncanny feeling something malevolent is waiting for me in the darkness. Great fodder for the horror writer in me. Not so great for the me who just wants to get the hell back to sleep.
And I certainly don’t want to return to days of old (well, if last month can be classed as such) in which I flee from my bed in a sleepwalking frenzy, trying to outrun whatever night terror has rudely interrupted by nice little dream about George Clooney and a warm bath of melted chocolate.
I’m a sleepwalker from way back and for those who think it isn’t a big deal, try waking up at one in the morning in your back yard, wearing a baby doll nightie, with a drunk wandering up the road next to your house barking at you. A little disconcerting to say the least.
All of this is to say, my book audition must be divided into two distinct categories: daytime and nighttime reading. In the daytime category I have:
- The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King
- Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (Am told by a very clever fellow book nerd that this is the bees knees)
- Fellside by M. R. Carey (I loved, loved his novel The Girl with All the Gifts).
On the non-nightmare inducing side I have:
- Stoner by John Williams (described to me by someone as “the perfect novel” – no pressure John Williams)
- Room by Emma Donoghue (which may not really fit this category, but I read and loved another novel by her called Slammerkin – seriously brilliant stuff)
- Stone Mattress by Margaret Attwood (have had a literary crush on Ms Attwood since I read The Handmaid’s Tale in high school. She can do no wrong).
Oh the delightful agony of decision. But really, all practical considerations aside, what book I choose boils down also to the magic part of the book auditioning equation.
What grabs me in that particular moment is part of a dark art I am happy to surrender myself to. There is a right and wrong time to read any book and something that might carry you away one year can leave you cold another. That’s why all of my little wallflowers can take heart in the fact that they’ll not be on the shelf forever. They can at some point expect to be read and either loved forever or flung across the room within the first 100 pages.
It’s all part of the fun.
Anyone else got something good they’re about to read?