That’s right, readers. Nothing too scandalous here; just a man tagged in a post by his mother and encouraged to write about his own Seven Deadly Sins of Reading. I also learned the other day that there is a Seven Deadly Sins of Makeup, but this post is definitely about reading. And so, without further ado…
“What is your most expensive book? What is your most inexpensive book?”
I’m very fortunate in that many of the really nice, expensive books I have were given to me as gifts. But there was one which I couldn’t resist buying myself. I was in Melbourne, and we were in Minotaur, that city’s renowned purveyor of all things geeky and pop cultural. Prisoners Of Time is a sizeable volume, and it collects all the issues of the Doctor Who comic series of the same name into one lovely and glossy hardback. The story was published to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who in 2013, and so it features throwbacks to all the best known characters of the Whoniverse, including my three favourites – Ian, Barbara, and the Brigadier. For a mere $60, it was a bargain I couldn’t refuse. Considering that it helped my hand luggage very, very heavy, perhaps I should have refused it. But, whatevs.
“With which author do you have a love/hate relationship?”
Australian author Tim Winton. I despise him. I cannot stand the way he makes up his own words, I consider needlessly anarchic his refusal to adhere to accepted standards of punctuation, and I find his need to put graphic sex on every other page to be lewd and of no aid to the stories he writes (though 15 year old me reading Cloudstreet was not about to complain). The issue is I also am fascinated by the stories he is trying to tell. Cloudstreet has so much potential. It’s set in Perth, my home town, between the end of the Second World War, and the mid-1960s. The story incorporates many of the landmark occurrences in the development of Perth from a small town into a city, from the opening of the first supermarket to the vile serial killings committed by Eric Edgar Cooke. And when I read it, I really absorbed these bits of history. The characters of Winton’s works have potential, too, but their development is mired in bad writing and confusing dialogue sequences. Put simply, Winton could be a much more appealing writer if he just wasn’t so pretentious. Still, what do I know – he’s still a best selling award winner.
“Which book have you devoured over and over without shame?”
When I was 15, I used to go to local swap meet markets with my Dad on Sunday mornings. One day, I came across a box of books which were all ten cents each. Therein was contained almost all the original Ian Fleming James Bond novels in the Pan paperback editions from the mid-sixties. Finally, I would be able to read all the ones I hadn’t read! One of them I took a particular shine to – The Man With The Golden Gun. Written by Fleming as his final Bond novel, he unfortunately died whilst it was still in draft form. Luckily, his publishers drafted in Kingsley Amis to complete it and make it usable. Despite the fact that this is generally one of the more poorly received Bond novels, I adore it. It’s low key, violent, and filled with classic Bond novel tropes, as though Fleming knew it would probably be his last one. Certainly it’s better than the film, although the filmic Scaramanga is admittedly a better villain. But I could read, and have read, this book over and over again and never become tired of it.
“Which book have you neglected to read due to laziness?”
To be honest, I have far too many to list. Ever since I discovered Book Depository in 2010, my bookcase has been bursting with new books of which I have never even read a page. Errol Flynn’s My Wicked, Wicked Ways, bought during an obsession with autobiography in 2013, is a notable entry. I also have hardbacks of most of Tom Clancy’s fiction works from between 1980 and 2002, which have been languishing unread since I bought them at markets such as those mentioned above. And every single book I said I would read over Christmas is still sitting atop my bedpost, waiting for me to fulfil that promise. But to be fair, much of this is less laziness and more, “I am so busy and now I’m tired and all I want to do is watch all these TV series I’ve been amassing so I think I’ll put on Breaking Bad.” Which was excellent, by the way.
“Which book do you talk about most in order to sound like an intellectual reader?”
Again, there’s no one answer. I enjoy making highbrow jokes, so my admittedly limited knowledge of Shakespeare gets a workout. Basically, if it’s well known and I can work out a pun about it, then I’ll talk about it.
There’s a lot of space below this entry and the next, thanks to the meme at left, so here, have another one:
“What attributes do you find attractive in female characters?”
Strong women with three dimensions are my kind of characters, but caring and compassionate too. Why is this woman who she is? How did she get here? What’s her motive? But this is just a characteristic of good writing. If a writer can’t be bothered fleshing out their characters, their work by its nature will probably suffer.
“What book would you most like to receive as a gift?”
Books enable us to travel anywhere inside our own imagination. But there’s a special kind of book that allows you to travel in the real world. The Australian editions are blue, fairly small, about 35 pages long, and each one is totally unique and personalised. I racked my brain, and of all the books I would most like (which I haven’t already purchased), a Passport is the one. I want to travel the world, and you can’t do that without a passport! So, Gods of money, I beseech thee – rain down upon me a shower of cash so I can get one.