I came across the following book my accident. That is to say, I was reading the books pages of last Saturday's Financial Times. (My husband buys it. I don't read the financial stuff but it does have excellent arts coverage.) Anyway, I stumbled across a brief review of a book I hadn't heard of before and would have passed me by completely. Although having said that, I am now hearing about it all over the place, especially as it's currently the BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week with daily broadcasts. Within five minutes of reading the review, I was reading it on my Kindle. Never have I been so pleased with an impulse buy.
Despite of what I think is a God-awful cover, it is a gem. It's a series of essays (don't let that put you off) about the magic and power of reading written by some wonderful people as Michael Rosen, Zadie Smith, Jeanette Winterson,. Mark Haddon and others. It makes a great case for reading, not as a tool of education, where it is all too often ghetto-ised and therefore ignored by the vast majority of the population, but as a way of enriching the mind and the soul. It briefly touches on the digital age but is not so much about physical books, although it pleads the absolute necessity of free libraries, but what reading does and what it could do if not treated as 'literature' apart from and 'above' everyday minds and life.
Despite its inclusive message and the fact I devoured it, I can't see it making much impact because it's preaching to the converted. It will only be picked up by people who are committed readers anyway, which is both sad and self-defeating. And if it is found lying around by someone who is not already a committed reader, then its bossy shouting cover is more likely to annoy rather than entice. However, given its passion and the fact that one inspiring essay describes the positive benefits of 'read out loud' groups within hospitals, prisons and care-homes, I think a copy should be sent to every MP. Then again, I doubt that any of them would bother to read it.
My second book is not about reading but writing. Although this blog is more about how to write better rather than how to get published, the two things are closely entwined. You probably know all about Nicola Morgan's soon-to-be published Write a Great Synopsis (WAGs for short) but perhaps you haven't so I offer no apologies. I shall be a port of call shortly on Nicola's forthcoming WAGS blog tour so will not go on at length about it now, except to say that if you've ever struggled to write a compelling synopsis (come on, be honest) then this is a must-read. Available at a reasonable price on Amazon Kindle from next week (£1 until the end of January!), you'd be a fool not to buy it. You will anyway, won't you? It's short and sweet and cheaper than a cappuccino.