Chick Lit

To be honest, I don’t know what Chick Lit is; but that’s a poultry excuse!

As “Amazon Prime” subscribers – my wife’s idea – I get a monthly invite to download one of eight new ebooks – their “editor’s choices” – for free (well, included in the subscription cost, to be fair).

Almost without fail, these titles will be authored by women. Although disproportionately represented, I don’t have a problem with that. What does bother me is the subjects of these chosen novels – they all seem depressingly similar.

Even though a download of one would cost me no more other than a bit of storage space on my device or in the cloud, it’s pointless. I’m just not interested enough in the dreary synopses to want to try one out.

I’ve looked to see if there’s a setting I can change, or some means of feedback, but I can find none.

wives, mothers, girlfriends, widows, and aunt tamsin cobley and all.

Book Truth

It seems I’m running a bit late at the moment, I don’t know why. It’s Wednesday but this is Truthful Tuesday and questions on literature preferences presented by Thoughts and Theories.

image by Lilly Rum via


Do you have a favorite author? If so, who and why? If not, why not?

I don’t go with the idea of favourites as I feel it builds prejudices. Also, I like to avoid reading the same sort of book in succession.

Yet I suppose I do have favourite authors. I like John Steinbeck and I like William Golding. Both of these authors’ works are reliable, entertaining and thoughtful.

What was the first book you remember enjoying reading?

As an adult – well, to be precise, I was just sixteen – my enjoyment of reading began with The Gun by CS Forester. But before that, I read avidly almost all of Anthony Buckeridge’s Jennings novels.

What three books best sum up your taste in literature?

Okay, I don’t see how I couldn’t really include one each by Golding and Steinbeck. If I try to bypass those, I might say,

A Clergyman’s Daughter, by George Orwell.

The Peregrine, by JA Baker

The Time Machine, by HG Wells

The Joy of a Random Segue and of Reading at Odd Moments at Work

On Music

I’ve said I’m back working. Just for a bit, hopefully, as I realise I am genetically unsuited to it. However, as into each life a little rain must fall, so too does every cloud have its silver lining.

In the hour long drive at each end of the day, I’m enjoying listening to my playlist again. Ever since I owned a car and had audio fitted – a twenty-five quid diy job for my first car, I remember – I’ve always loved listening to music while driving. At the start, it was tape cassettes; a fiddly process at the best of times and always a risk of the machine chewing up your favourite recording. Thank Apollo! for digital and the invention of the USB memory stick, a thing half the size of a thumb which holds 750+ songs and that’s only half its capacity. I plug it in the car’s audio and request “Shuffle” and it plays my favourite songs in a random order.

I could make my own playlists, as I did with cassettes. The problem with this, for a perfectionist like me, is getting the segues right so that the mood of the music flows. This is not as simple as it sounds and it’s a good reason to leave it up to the mindless machine. However, even the uncultured gadget occasionally delivers beautiful segues and makes me think, I must make a note of that. But I never do. I haven’t worked out how to make notes while driving along.

On Reading

I’ve also started to grab an odd moment at work to read. This might mean the last ten or fifteen minutes at the end of lunch. It’s easy to think, ah, ’tisn’t worth getting out the book, or tablet, for such a short time, but I’ve found it is.

Reading at different times of the day and in different environments is surprisingly a different experience to normal, I find. Habitually, I tend to read last thing at night. Contrary to what experts say about reading off an illuminated tablet, I don’t find it induces insomnia. I actually find I’m nodding off and though I’m following the text, there’s a point when I’m not taking anything in. This isn’t really a good way to read at all but, in a busy day, it’s the only time regularly available.

At work, I find these moments where there isn’t much else to do. It’s not time to get back to the grindstone but lunch is eaten and I’ve done all my personal chores like checking my finances, answering personal emails, and shopping. It may be just ten minutes but out comes the iPad and I kick back and read a few paragraphs, and I realise it’s a different kind of joy. And whatever it is I’ve read stays firm in my mind, which is what it’s all about, isn’t it?

image of person reading by Blaz Photo via

Oh, no!

Sheesh! I hope I don’t live to regret it but I’ve accepted a bit of work, succumbing to a little flattery from those responsible. I find, when sat at a desk, working, I have more moments of inspiration for blogging but less time to write anything up. Still, with an hour’s commute at each end of the day, I’m listening to more music.

I can’t say too much about the job but It’s the usual “fools rush ahead” fiasco and something about it put me in mind of the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dyke – that’s a levee thing for holding back the sea.

Googling it, I’m surprised to find it isn’t a Dutch story at all but an American myth. It’s a story within a story and features in the 1865 novel, Hans Brinker, or, The Silver Skates: A Story of Life in Holland, by American writer, Mary Mapes Dodge.

The poor boy isn’t named but the story goes that when walking past a section of dyke, he discovers a hole and bungs a finger in thus saving the whole of Holland from a tragic flood. He remains there all night, freezing cold, until the grown-ups come looking for him, rescue him and fix the hole.

So, that was me this week, feeling like an unnamed boy with a finger in the hole. But nobody came to rescue me.

In my first week at work, I was invited to go “plogging” at lunchtime. This is, apparently, where you go jogging and pick up any litter and rubbish you see on the way.

What will they come up with next? “Blogging”, where you run along, thinking up daft things to post?


Under a previous post, the 99 word challenge story, No Expectations, Charli Mills kindly commented about the story’s shape. I like the idea of a story having a shape, like a neatly wrapped gift.

In Primary School, when we were first tasked to write stories, we were told they had to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. For a long time after, I felt the end was the most important because;

a) Primary School teachers probably require closure (can you imagine having to read and mark 20 – 30 stories with plot lines that left you hanging?)

b) We’d still be sat there, writing sequels.

Personally, I like to read a good beginning;

The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there; It was a bright, cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen; There was me, that is Alex, and my three droogs, that is Pete, Georgie, and Dim, Dim being really dim, and we sat in the Korova Milkbar making up our rassoodocks what to do with the evening, a flip dark chill winter bastard though dry.

That kind of thing.

I like to think the middle can take care of itself but I’m afraid it’s the middle which forms the shape of the story and the shape of it is important; a good story is like water, a poor one like fire. A story must accept the shape which contains it.

In a nutshell. This is what’s said sometimes before recounting an event, or the listener imploring the teller to be considerate and brief. Do not embellish, do not digress, just give me the kernel of the tale, solid and sweet. He told it without an ounce of fat.

But the end is where I usually start. This way I can establish exactly what it is I want to tell – and whether it’s worth telling. Also I have a better idea how it’s going to fit the shape I have in mind for it.


Does anyone subscribe to Bookbub?

It used to advertise itself as the best kept secret of book lovers. (That would be ebook lovers.) I don’t know how I came across it, maybe from that advert though adverts and me don’t seem to connect much. I have to say that after a few good titles early on, there’s been a chronic dearth of tempting offers.

But today I’m taking a chance on this novel. I don’t know anything about it or its author only I’m a sucker for a long walk. I’ve read quite a few books involving long walks, I don’t know how I haven’t yet created a shelf for them over on Goodreads.

Yes, I’m on Goodreads, the one other platform of social media I do now I’ve abandoned the vile, ego driven, now practically useless Twitter. (Why would they even allow politicians accounts?)

I did a reading challenge in 2016 when I read only women authors for a year. This was to address my natural reading bias towards men. I didn’t do one last year. This time, however, I thought I’d try to read more authors who are still breathing. To address my bias towards older “classic” books. I may even attempt to stick to those published after the millennium.

Also, I like to throw some non-fiction into the mix. I think it’s important not to read too many older books with non-fiction as, ironically, facts – what we think we know for sure – are in the habit of changing over time. It’s that toxic blend of knowledge and opinion.

I spotted this book this morning. A “international best seller” for 99p. Why We Sleep by Professor Matthew Walker, Director of Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab, University of California. It should be interesting and vital, but I already know why I sleep: I’m too tired to do anything else.

Good reading! And no sleepwalking!