Introduction

I was getting fed up of never having time to read novels, so I decided to read 52 novels per year (minimum). I am now in my third year of doing this and thought that this blog would be a good way of recording my reading and having discussions/receiving recommendations from other readers.

By profession I am an academic and much of my time I spend reading academic books and papers and policy papers relating to the world of UK Higher Education. What I have found since I have started reading novels again more seriously, is that novel-reading enables me to read the other stuff far more creatively and effectively. In other words, the more novels I read, the better I’m able to read and engage with the academic writing.

I’ve always enjoyed reading detective fiction, so I wanted to make sure that the novels I read included a micx of detective fiction with contemporary and classical literature. Over the next day or so, I’ll post the titles of those books I’ve read over the past couple of years so you’ll get a sense of the range of stuff I’ve been reading. Enjoy and please feel free to comment and offer recommendations.

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10 responses to “Introduction

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  2. phill

    philip roth would be the best author on the list had it not been for david mitchell, both of whom i have michael (and, ultimately, his list) to thank for introducing me to. the ruiz zafon book (shadow of the wind) was fantastic too… the next book i will be lending mike will be ‘sacred games’ by vikram chandra, which i would describe as ‘the godfather’ set in bombay. but in a good way

  3. profmike

    Thanks, Phill, for being the first contributor to what will no doubt become the blog sensation of 2008!

  4. phill

    are you only gonna read fiction? i got andrew the greatest cricket autobiography in the world ever (steve waugh) and you should really make time for that

  5. Jayne

    I can’t believe you hadn’t been introduced to Philip Roth before this!

  6. profmike

    Good point, Phill. I won’t only be reading fiction, although that will predominate simply because that’s what I like reading (I read plenty ofnon-fiction for work). But as with last year I’m not against the odd biography or history book or memoir creeping into the list. If there is a criterion here, then it’s more about the manner of reading. What I mean by that is when I read a novel, I read it from beginning to end and cover to cover. I know that sounds obvious, but with a non-fiction book (especially an academic book) I may read the chapters in a different order, or may even read some chapters and not others. Or I might read it sporadically over a period of a couple of months. So non-fiction is fine here, as long as it’s something that I have read in the same way as I would read a novel. It has something to do with the strength of the embedded narrative…

  7. profmike

    On Jayne’s point, of course I knew of Phillip Roth, but The Human Stain was the first of his novels that I read. Since then I’ve read a further five of his novels. I usually find (with the exception of Everyman which is only about 170 pages long anyway) that I have to get through the first 50-75 pages to really get into one of his novels, but they are well worth perservering with because the writing is so rich and the sense of narrative so strong and complex.

  8. phill

    how many philip roth books had you read pre-2006, jayne? not too many, methinks. and another question… michael, how do you choase which books to read? is it entirely random or do you go for recommendations some of the time? or is it just whatever you can get your hands on?

  9. profmike

    Thanks, Phill. The methods for choosing books are varied. Sometimes I search through Amazon looking for books by authors I’m interested in and sometimes I just browse through the bookshop until I find something I like the look of. Sometimes (such as now) I’m working my way through books I’ve received as presents, and sometimes I read books that other people recommend to me or lend me. I usually have a least two or three books on the shelf for me to choose from and then it’s entirely down to mood – what kind of book do I fancy reading next?

  10. Jayne

    I am enjoying reading your blog, and it reminded me how much I enjoy reading. I am disappointed when I cant find the book I am reading on your list, because I want to compare my thoughts with yours.

    Thanks for the inspiration – as always!

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