This is a weird thought I had on the way to Wolverhampton today.
I am currently reading this book. I can’t put it down. It is easy, quick, fun, moving, light and fast.
Every spare minute, I pick it up and a read a few pages. I read it while walking. I read it at the traffic lights. I read it on the toilet. When I have finished it, I will miss it. I am currently addicted to it. But ask me in a months time whether I miss it? I will probably say no. I might even say ‘what book?’ Why? Because I will have moved onto something else.
My weird thought runs thus: books are like lovers. How you feel about the book you are reading mirrors how you might have felt about various lovers in your life.
This book, Never Greener, a rather good book (I recommend it), is by Ruth Jones (of Gavin and Stacey fame). She’s very talented. It isn’t meant to be literary. And as a result, it isn’t. So to me it is like an intense romantic encounter with someone who doesn’t have a huge amount of depth hiding below the attractive exterior. It’s message is clear – the grass isn’t greener. That’s it. I bet many of you reading this have had lovers that mirror this book: short, sweet, addictive but mono-layered. The relationship I’m talking about, short though it is, is all based on fancy. You fancy the pants off this person. They make you smile, tingle and long for more at the start and this tingle might actually last until near the end. But there isn’t a huge amount under the surface. The relationship ends as quickly as it started, once you realise you need more, especially if you race through it. You feel initially quite sad at the end. But then, you realise, it wouldn’t have lasted anyway.
I am also listening to this in my car. Now this book is a slow burner compared to Never Greener. It isn’t funny, light and fast. It is complicated, dense and intense. It wasn’t immediately lovable. I fancied it at first, but it took a while for it to grow on me, due to its complexity. Now, I feel a real, deep love as well as a fancy. It is a love that grows. It is the love that builds on that initial fancy. Ian McEwan is like your soul mate.
Then, there is everything in between and further away. There are the sorts of books (lovers) you know you should read because they have a lot to offer but they just don’t do it for you (Ulysses by James Joyce). There are the dull and boring ones you are forced to read to please others (A Man for All Seasons) that you give away as soon as you can. There are those you buy on a whim at train stations, last the journey, and then are gone. Those are the one-night stands of the literary world.
So books are like lovers. I admit I haven’t had that many in my time but I read a lot so what I know about different types I have learnt in books. Ironic? Maybe.