Confessions of a Bookaholic

I was flattered to be asked to write a guest post on any aspect of reading for Glasgow Book Groups blog and it made me realise how much time I spend reading. Here’s my post…

imagesMy name is Helen and I’m a bookaholic. There are worse addictions to have and it’s a fairly inexpensive and harmless enough obsession. But it is a problem. The reason being that I keep buying books when I’ve still got a humongous To Be Read (TBR) pile to get through and unless I lock myself away for the next year or so, I’ll never reduce the mountainous stack of books on my bedside table.

images (2)My book fetish has become even more out of control recently and I blame Twitter. I’ve been on Twitter (@HelenMacKinven) now for a year and a half and was wary of entering the murky waters of social media. But I dipped my painted toe in and once I realised that the water was not shark infested, I began to relax a bit and engage with other like-minded folk who loved books too. Many of those that I follow on Twitter write blogs on their own writing or review books. This provided me with a never-ending supply of book recommendations to feed my addiction.  I could get a quick fix within minutes on Twitter and before I could stop myself, I’d be hitting the ‘add to basket’ button on Amazon.

images (3)But what makes me chose one book over another? Obviously, taste is subjective and just because my best pal likes to read sci-fi, that doesn’t mean I’d ever consider anything with wee green men in it even although I originally come from Bonnybridge, allegedly the UFO capital of the world.  I’m not a fan of crime fiction either but I make an exception for Kate Atkinson’s Brodie series. And much as I also suffer from being a shoeaholic and have more handbags than I could ever need, I’m not interested in fluffy chick lit either. Then there’s the book every woman seemed to be talking about.  Listening to my pals, I feel as if I’m one of the few women on the planet who hasn’t read 50 Shades of Grey and I don’t ever intend to!

images (1)I’m also one of the few folk I know who doesn’t own a Kindle. I appreciate all the benefits but I still prefer a ‘tree’ book rather than an e-book and as an avid book festival goer, you can’t get a writer to sign a Kindle. A friend (who shall remain nameless to spare her blushes) swears by her Kindle as the best way to read erotica without anyone else knowing. It’s understandable as who would want to be seen on the train reading a bodice ripper? But I did fall victim to the old cliché of judging a book by its cover when I dismissed Me Before You by Jojo Moyes because of its girly pink cover only to later read it after numerous recommendations and found it to be a far deeper story-line than the artwork suggested.

And there are some books that I’ve been told I MUST read but haven’t enjoyed at all. I used to force myself to finish a book even when I hated it but no longer beat myself up and abandon it early on as life is too short. The most recent example was Lanark by Alasdair Gray. It may well be a classic in Scottish literature but it did nothing for me and I’m not ashamed to admit that my wee brain couldn’t cope with the deep and meaningful concepts.

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As a writer of contemporary Scottish fiction aimed at female readers, I tend to choose books in the genre I aspire to be published in so I read and enjoy writers such as Janice Galloway, Jackie Kay, Anne Donovan, Laura Marney, Isla Dewar, Maggie O’Farrell to name but a few. Writers are often given the advice to write the book you’d want to read so that’s what I’m aiming to do. EL James need not worry about her status as queen of erotica!

I’m a bookaholic and proud of it. Are you? What makes you chose one book over another?

11 thoughts on “Confessions of a Bookaholic

  1. haha I don’t think I need to answer that question…
    I’ve just this minute been commenting to someone that in the last couple of weeks, various blog posts and news articles have made me realise that it would be great to re-read lots of books I read before the age of 25 – as basically it’s like another person in another world read them, and I’m really curious what I’d make of them now. Not to mention, I can barely remember what happened in a lot of them. I’ve just started the ‘Great Gatsby’ (and am thinking, it’s amazing if *any* teen likes it – I know they ‘get’ longing, restlessness, money, partying, etc, but even a few chapters in, there is so much there that depends on adult experience to really understand it…I’m not surprised it left me cold as a teenager), then it’ll be ‘Jane Eyre’, and now someone’s just mentioned ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’… and I want to re-read loads more, AND new books too – I’ve still never read anything by JoJo Moyes. Waaaah! Anyone want to pay me a salary to read for 30 hours a week?! 😉

    • Hi Catherine, Wouldn’t it be amazing to be a paid reader? Sounds like our dream job. Like you, I’ve often wanted to reread books I read yonks ago but there are sooo many new books I’ve still to read that I don’t want to rewind, I want to fast forward and get through that TBR pile! But realistically, the TBR pile will always be a feature in my life and that’s the way I like it. And I guess you’d feel the same. 🙂

  2. Definitely a bookaholic and like you the TBR pile keeps mounting especially since joining social media and following blogs of like-minded readers. I love to be influenced by other readers, conversations, external events and travel, and I like to find connections between subjects, so for example The Hare With Amber Eyes, could lead one to Proust and has in fact lead me to discover Elisabeth De Waal’s newly published (by Persephone Books) book, soon after reading her grandson’s book. And a visit to Persephone Books sent me home with Virginia Woolf’s Writer’s Diary extracts.

    At the moment I’m in a Turkish phase, having spent a week in Istanbul, so I’m now reading the non-fiction memoir by Orhan Pamuk, Istanbul: Memories of a City and prior to that I was reading F.Scott Fitzgerald in anticipation of wanting to read the historical novel Z: A Novel of Zelda, ironically I read The Great Gatsby without realising the film was imminent, so obsessed with reading, I was oblivious to the fact I’d alighted on something that was coming back into the mainstream!

    One of the things I love most is the freedom to choose and to change my mind about what to read next, I resist obligation of any form creeping into my reading life, it exists in too many other facets of life, this is one area in which I preserve complete freedom. 🙂

    • Hi Claire, Wow! You really are a bookaholic! I love the fact that your taste is so eclectic and the that one book leads you to another on a never-ending journey of discovery. I also share your love of the freedom to pick whatever book takes my fancy. When I did my MLitt course, it involved reading lots of set texts and it was a huge relief at the end to get back to selecting my own choice of books. Happy reading! 🙂

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