David David 's Comments

David 's comments from the UK Book Club group.

Note: David is no longer a member of this group.

(showing 1-10 of 10)

Introduce Yourself (5845 new)
Jul 02, 2010 01:10PM

21875 As one of the newcomers, can I say thanks to Jo, Robo and Em for their welcome.
Introduce Yourself (5845 new)
Jul 01, 2010 12:09AM

21875 S.A. wrote: "David wrote: "Hello SA,

Last Sunday's Observer had a brief article by Richard Rogers on self-publishing based on a longer article by Laura Miller on www.salon.com

Until I read these I wasn't real..."

Since reading your recent post, I’ve been thinking seriously about how I choose to dip in to authors that I haven’t read before. This has been an interesting exercise and reveals a particular mindset which self-publishing authors have to overcome. I’m not for one moment claiming that others think the way I do, we all read different books for different reasons. However, the one thing most serious readers seem to have in common is that whatever they read, they don’t want to get to the end and then say to themselves, “That was rubbish!” So here are some thoughts on the questions you pose.

Self publishing is not a new phenomenon, it has history, and as such, older people, including me, treat it with a degree of scepticism. I was brought up in a household where bookcases were the main items of furniture, my father taught English at a grammar school. So I was encouraged from a very early age to read widely and often. (Interestingly, as a child I wasn’t allowed to read picture comics, only what can only be described as comics with text, the Hotspur was I think, my favourite. So my very early heroes were characters like Braddock VC and Alf Tupper.)

On the rare occasions I was given a book, birthdays and Christmas, it was usually something like one of G A Henty’s stories from history. I remember once when a well-meaning aunt gave me Just William by Richmal Crompton and my father simply seethed, but out of politeness allowed it to stay in the house. I was encouraged to read Dickens, but really when I was far too young, and consequently have never read Dickens as an adult. However, my father used to buy a great many books published by J M Dent in the Everyman’s Library series, and I still have a lot of them on my shelves today. He was also a member of Readers Union – monthly postal book club - and I remember their leaflets promoting the books available each month.

When I first began to buy books of my own volition, it tended to be books about WW2, motor racing and little or no fiction, apart from Ian Fleming. One of the first books I bought after having joined the merchant navy at 16, was Nadine Gordimer’s A World of Strangers. I was in a bookshop, I think in Belfast, and having exhausted our ship’s library of everything I thought remotely interesting was determined to get something ‘worth reading’. The clincher for me was that it was published by Penguin and printed with the familiar red and black on white cover. I now realise that I had unconsciously come to regard the publishers, Allen Lane, as a guarantee of quality. Throughout my late teens and early twenties most of my fiction purchases were Penguins. Later I began to consider reading books published by Faber, and later still, when I developed a penchant for foreign fiction in translation, I began to seek out books published by Harvill.

So your question has made me realise the very great reliance I have placed on the reputation of individual publishers and their unwritten guarantee of quality to guide what books I have bought over the years. One of main issues, therefore, for self-publishing authors, is the extent to which they are able to guarantee that what they offer is ‘worth reading’. Now one way they can do this is to ensure that their books are recommended by a variety of established critics but they have to persuade the critics to read them in the first place, and their reviews have to reach a wider audience.

So a group like this is crucial to the success of self-publishing authors because what I do is to read most of the posts, see what other people are reading and what they are writing in their reviews, and forming judgments about them and their literary tastes and beginning to get some idea that if so and so recommends something, it’s worth reading, but if A.N. Other recommends a particular book, then it’s probably not for me.
Introduce Yourself (5845 new)
Jun 29, 2010 03:06PM

21875 Hello SA,

Last Sunday's Observer had a brief article by Richard Rogers on self-publishing based on a longer article by Laura Miller on www.salon.com

Until I read these I wasn't really aware of the issue of how we sort out the slush from the good stuff in our brave new world.

Perhaps, there is now an even more important role for groups such as this.
Buying Books (470 new)
Jun 26, 2010 10:53PM

21875 Back to bookshops if I may. In the one-horse town where I am currently living we have a very nice and welcoming bookshop called Verzon's. I think it is a branch of a small chain.

As with all bookshops, retail prices that the shop charges cannot compare with either Waterstones 3 for 2 offers or the mighty Amazon.

I'd love to support my local bookshop more, but on a fixed income, I really have to go for the cheapest deal.
Introduce Yourself (5845 new)
Jun 25, 2010 11:53PM

21875 Adrienne,
I am grateful for your information. I've put off reading Ayn Rand because of her extreme political views and her "philosophy" but I guess I'll have to put The Fountainhead on my to read list. I've read a couple of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and my son is a great fan of his, but I simply can't into this particular kind of magic realism. My favourite South American author is Jorge Amado but I don't think he is read much in the UK.

Annie Ernaux I haven't come across but could be well worth reading, especially Les Annees. Thanks very much for that.
Introduce Yourself (5845 new)
Jun 25, 2010 11:58AM

21875 Hello Adrienne,
Yes, I suppose it depends on what you mean by cutting edge, and of course, how you define literature. I'd love to know which particular foreign 20th C writers are read, especially by the younger generation - Hertha Muller? Jose Saramago? Isabelle Allende? Gunther Grass? Michel Houellebecq? or are they into Stieg Larsson? Henning Mankell? and such like? Do they read Naguib Mahfouz or W G Sebald or Ismail Kadare or Orhan Pamuk? For pleasure that is, rather than as a set text for a literature course?
Introduce Yourself (5845 new)
Jun 25, 2010 08:29AM

21875 Thanks Jo,
I look forward to following the various discussions and contributing occasionally.
Jirinka's 50 (39 new)
Jun 25, 2010 08:17AM

21875 Not sure if a male is allowed to chip in here, but I read Night Watch last year and found it both enjoyable and poignant.
Introduce Yourself (5845 new)
Jun 25, 2010 04:18AM

21875 Hello Em and thanks for your welcome,

Yes, I broadly do agree with the idea thst once they have left school, men/boys tend to read lightweight stuff like biographies of sportsmen and technical stuff to do with work and possibly popular stuff like Stephen King, Harlaan Cobban, James Patterson and the like. They rarely seem to read Nobel prizewinners or even the Booker shortlist. I could be way wrong on this and I am sure that there will be exceptions to my rather sweeping generalisation.

Interestingly and also at Hay, Rose Tremain was quite happy to acknowledge that most of her readers were women and it didn't seem to bother her. Having read Music and Silence, I would have thought that men would have enjoyed that as much as women clearly have.

The other thing I would point out is that it seems to be predominantly women who join reading groups, in fact both my daughter and daughter-in-law are both members of reading groups which have an all women membership.
Introduce Yourself (5845 new)
Jun 25, 2010 02:07AM

21875 Hello Everyone,
I'm new to Good Reads and to this group. If you were at Hay you may have seen me stewarding at the Guardian Stage.

I joined because it is only now, in my 65th year, that I am keeping a record of what I read and when, and this has set me wondering what other people read and why.

I would also wish to challenge something which was said in an interview with Yann Martel at the recent Hay Festival. There was a rhetorical question - "Why do men stop reading literature?" This came after assertion earlier in the week to the effect that women tend to read more than me, and particularly that more women read fiction than men. Is this really so and why?

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