“But what about books?” I hear you ask. After all it does say at the top of this blog “A lifetime of music, books, addiction and recovery”. So where are the books?
Well they’re here, on my desk and on my bookshelves and, most of all, on my Kobo, my e-reader. I read addictively, which is to say I start another book as soon as I have finished the one I am reading and I always want more books, even though I have far more than I could read if I live to be a hundred.
At the moment I’m reading The Restless Generation by Pete Frame, about the birth of rock music in Britain in the 1950s. It’s fascinating, and Frame goes into great detail about the trad jazz movement, the birth of skiffle and its eventual mutation into rock-and-roll. Being quite old I remember a lot of the performers and songs – Mary Wilde, Billy Fury, Skeeter Davis and many others. Pete Frame, if you don’t already know his work, is the originator of the Rock Family Tree
I suppose it’s my age but I love reading about the fifties in Britain, whether that’s fifties music, fifties television or fifties culture in general. I also really like novels set in the fifties – Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Billy Liar, Absolute Beginners, The Wreck of the Mary Deare, Lucky Jim – and fifties science fiction – Non Stop, The Chrysalids, The Death of Grass, The Black Cloud, Childhood’s End, City.
I’m what could be called a voracious reader, I read all kinds of books, modern fiction, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, science, popular culture, technology, music, biography and so on and so on.
So what don’t I read? Well, I don’t read romantic fiction and I don’t go much for travel books or books about politics, or fishing, or magical realism or fanfiction, and I’m not really very good with short stories, I like something to get into, preferably something that’s quite long.
I think reading is another of my addictions, the difference being that it doesn’t get me into the trouble I got into with drink and drugs. Also, it’s a bit like the person who comes home from work looking forward to that glass of wine or gin and tonic; I look forward to bedtime, when I can leave the world behind and get involved in whatever book (or books, I often have more than one on the go), I happen to be reading.
When I was a member of Alcoholics Anonymous one of my nicknames was ‘Shoulder-bag Kevin’; this was, of course, because I always had a shoulder-bag. Still do, it’s here by my side while I write. I carried a shoulder bag because I always had to have a book (or books) with me, just in case. The only difference is that now, instead of a book, I carry around my Kobo (I just checked and I have 1967 books on it (I’ve got many more than that on my computer). Is that enough? Probably not.
Throughout most of the 70s I was casualty porter at Lancaster Infirmary. One advantage of this was that I got to wear a long blue porter’s coat with large enough pockets to hold a book – I even managed to get a paperback of War and Peace into the pocket, albeit with a bit of manoeuvring.
I can’t imagine life without books. Does anyone else, if stranded in a cafe or waiting room with no book to hand read whatever is there to be read; menus, posters, sauce bottle ingredients?
The thing about this addiction though, is that it’s one I don’t want to recover from. Not that I think that’s likely.
Just a few thoughts.