What You’re Reading: Results


Well, yesterday’s exercise has proven to be a fascinating experience, both here and on Twitter. The heartening news is that we all seem to be reading far above the national average (perhaps it’s just readers on this site and similar book sites).
But I’m more interested in the quite extraordinary range of reading.

There’s very little overlap in your tastes; while crime, SF and fantasy feature quite heavily it’s not all genre reading – there’s world literature and non-fiction, and a lot of niche novels, unusual and quite hard to find books which have now been added to my personal reading list and will end up costing me a small fortune.

Reading, we all seem to agree, is good for mental health. It keeps our language sharp and our minds fresh. We’re quite casual and proud about our eclectic tastes. Ian Luck drops in a casual mention of ‘Gargantua and Pantagruel’, Kit’s reading about DNA, SteveB’s reading in German, and Nick Kirby admits to having to plough through Dr Who for his son. Roger offers the most eclectic and abstruse mix of reading, adding ‘Kai Lung Raises his Voice’ by Ernest Bramah, a book and author about which and whom I have not the faintest clue.

There’s a definite sinister edge to a lot of the reading – plenty of devils and demons – we don’t do heartwarming romance here and apparently have little time for sentiment. Are we representative of readers in general, or at the extreme end of the graph? It’s very hard to tell but I expect the latter. Only Barry Wilson had the courage to admit he doesn’t’t read and prefers cinema.

The selection in the photograph represented my current reading for the month, but I’m also reading several books about coroners by women in UK pathology departments (research) and Oliver Tearle’s ‘The Secret Library’ because we’re interviewing each other on stage this afternoon at the Stratford-Upon-Avon Literary Festival.

And yes, Brooke, that’s ‘Islanders’, and very enjoyable, although it makes me think I may not be visiting too many of the British Isles, as some of them sound pretty grim.

Have a great weekend of reading – it’s raining here in London, so after Stratford I’ll be curled up with a book, then heading for the paperback fair tomorrow.


16 comments on “What You’re Reading: Results”

  1. Brooke says:

    Thank you for the note on “Islanders:” Will add to wish list.
    I think you do know Ernest Bramah, creator/author of Max Carrados, blind detective/gentleman sleuth.
    And for US readers who want Hall of Mirrors before end of year, The Mysterious Bookshop (NYC) has copies–UK version with examples of Mr. Fowler’s fist.

    Speaking of rare –for Fosdyke Saga fans (“… classic tale of struggle, power, personalities and tripe”), BBC Radio 4e is broadcasting episodes, starting today.

  2. Roger says:

    Another candidate for your unknown authors, Chris!
    I’m a bit surprised you hadn’t heard of Bramah. He wrote detective stories about a blind detective, Max Carados, which Penguin kept in print until the 1960s and “The Secret of the League”, which influenced Orwell in “1984”.

    If I remember rightly, all the books came from Hammersmith’s admirable Amnesty Bookshop.

  3. Ian Luck says:

    I love Bramah’s ‘Max Carados’ stories. I always wondered if either Stan Lee or Jack Kirby was familiar with the stories, as Max shares a lot of his abilities with the character ‘Daredevil’. Carados, though blind, has expanded his other senses, to the point of being able to ‘read’ printed pages with his fingertips – an ability, though seemingly impossible, that has actually been recorded. I’d love to see these stories reprinted – I was disappointed that Wordsworth, who reprinted some fantastic classic horror, crime, and mystery gems, (most of which I bought) never published a Max Carados collection.

  4. Janet says:

    Dorothy Sayers mentions Kai Lung in Strong Poison.

    I wonder if Ngaio Marsh had Ernest Bramah in mind when she called on of her characters in Death in a White Tie Carrados

  5. Jo W says:

    I discovered Ernest Bramah and Max Carrados in one of the British Library Crime Classics short story collections and wanted to read more. A visit to ‘that’ online site tracked down a couple of collections of Mr.Bramah’s work and very enjoyable reading they were.
    I have made further discoveries of authors that I may never have known,
    from short story collections and also,of course,from your books of forgotten authors,Chris.
    Must close now as my to be read pile is currently at twenty three. It doesn’t seem to get less – I can’t imagine why. 😉
    Hall of Mirrors was great,but I finished it much too quickly. 🙁
    So many books,so little time.

  6. Paul Graham says:

    There was a Max Carrados segment in the “Rivals of Sherlock Holmes” book, a and t.v. series. Robert Stephens played Carrados. As with anything,it’s on YouTube.

  7. SimonB says:

    Fascinating reading both this and the previous post and all the comments. I was planning to respond on Friday but time somehow slipped away from me. Anyway, having looked back over the stats I seem to be averaging around 50 books per year when audio books and also cartoon collections (what I wouldn’t do for new Calvin & Hobbes) and graphic novels are included. Peak year was 104.

    So far this year I am definitely below average, but for the interested they have been:
    Helen Arney & Steve Mold The Element In The Room
    Michael Kaminski The Secret History Of Star Wars (Audio)
    Julian May Magnificat
    Agatha Christie The Big Four (Audio)
    Bruce Dickinson What Does This Button Do?
    John Scalzi Old Man’s War
    Simon Bradley The Railways: Nation, Network And People
    John Lloyd, John Mitchinson, James Harkin & Anne Miler 1,423 QI Facts To Bowl You Over
    Dan Brown Inferno (Audio)

    And am about to finish Riding Route 94 by David McKie which is a fascinating bit of social history through bus journeys – including one that I helped plan!

  8. Ian Luck says:

    Roger, thankyou very much for the link. Those Wordsworth reprints were wonderful – they brought authors I wasn’t aware of to my attention, like Oliver Onions, JH Riddell, and Gertrude Atherton, amongst others. Being reasonably priced, if you didn’t like a particular book, it didn’t hurt to put it in the charity shop bag.
    I’m also addicted to the British Library short story collections – the stories collated in chronological order appeals to me greatly. It was through this series, that I first discovered Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s deeply unsettling short story ‘The Lost Special’, which shows just how dark that nice Dr. Doyle could get. The story’s plot is definitely worthy of Moriarty.

  9. Ken Mann says:

    Not sure that reading something by Malcolm Hulke counts as an admission. A very interesting man.

  10. Ian Luck says:

    Ken – Malcolm Hulke’s work was always full of social conscience, and his work writing for Doctor Who was no exception. The classic ‘The Green Death’ is about the twin evils of corporate greed, and polluting the landscape. That’s one of his. ‘The Dinosaur Invasion’ is about the misuse of science. ‘Frontier In Space’ is about racism, and the dangers of ‘Sword rattling’. All his novelisations of his stories are greatly expanded, and his characters are fully fleshed out, to the point of having, in ‘The Green Death’, a scene related via the P.O.V. of one of the huge, lethal maggots. He was a great writer, who could present big ideas, in a way that anyone could get the point, without the big idea being diluted in any way.

  11. Helen Martin says:

    Our library system has one Ernest Bramah book, Kai Lung’s Golden Hours. I think I’ll reserve it. I remember the Dorothy Sayers mention and that I didn’t know the reference and DID NOT follow it up. I know better now, but I’m still lazy.

  12. Roger says:

    You can look him up here, Helen Martin: https://archive.org/search.php?query=kai%20lung%20bramah

  13. Helen Martin says:

    That’s neat, Roger, and now I will definitely reserve the Golden Hours. If I start looking to buy any of them I will just add to the heaps of books I already have and one library paperback has already gone walking. Too bad it’s a paperback because I don’t know what the title is.

  14. Henry says:

    I missed the poll but interestingly it is listening to books that has got me back into reading. This year I have read 5 or 6 books but have listened to a lot more. Anyway, felt I had to comment as I saw Madness is Better than Defeat in your photo, which I bought on a whim (based on the cover and blurb) and absolutely loved.

  15. Helen Martin says:

    Found the missing paperback which turned out to be Alan Furst’s “A Hero of France”. I had never read any of his but may see what else they have since he created such a vivid atmosphere in this one. (Really vivid since I couldn’t remember the book at all after finishing it only a week before!)

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