George Eliot Went To Thailand
Actually, she went twice.
Charlotte Bronte went to Barbados.
Laurence Sterne spent a couple of weeks in Majorca.
And I spent a wet weekend with Alan Hollinghurst in Brighton, but he ended up in the dustbin.
They’re all authors I’ve dragged away with me on holiday (purely in book form, you understand) who have come back virgins, their pages unruffled, their innocence intact. Every year there are dozens of books I buy which I promise myself I will read. They go up on the shelf, then down into the suitcase, only to return from vacation undefiled. What is it about certain books that refuse to allow readers entry? I’m about to go travelling again and after contemplating the bookshelf, I’ve cut out the middle-man as it were and haven’t even bothered to pull Middlemarch down.
I want to read it.
I’m sure I’ll like it.
But something – just – stops me.
Popular literature is called that because it’s, well, popular. So here’s my Top Five Still-Unread-After-At-Least-Five-Years-On-The-Shelf Books…
We Have To Talk About Kevin
Just to balance this, The Quincunx, which looks like the most unreadable book of all time has been read twice by me (so far).
Life is short. Books are long, and there are too many to get through in a lifetime, especially when you’re a slow reader, as I am. So this year I’ve decided to concentrate on all the books I’ve neglected. But it means I have to be tough on the books I’m sent ‘to say something nice about’. 2010; raised reading standards, more demanding authors – the way forward.