Thursday, 22 August 2013


No-one asked me, but I want to play anyway, more for my own amusement than to spark a debate, but here I go.......

What are you reading right now?
I always have a couple on the go. I’m currently reading Sandra Brannan and Noah’s Rainy Day, the 4th in a series with Liz Bergen. My first taste of this author and at the halfway point I’m enjoying it without being stunned or amazed. Liz is a newly recruited FBI agent drafted into assist in the investigation of a missing 5 year old.
My second book is The Boyfriend by Thomas Perry which is on loan from my local library. I’ve read a few by Perry before and loved them. I’m only 30 pages in so far, but I’m liking it.

Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that?
A few possibilities – Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins which my wife nabbed from me and read. She absolutely loved it.
Or, The Necessary Death Of Lewis Winter by Malcolm Mackay, a first novel about a Glasgow hitman.
Or Tomorrow City by Kirk Kjeldsen, another debut novel set in China.

What 5 books have you always wanted to read but haven’t got round to?
No classics or great literature for me......
 Jess Walter – Over Tumbled Graves
Charlie Stella – Rough Riders
Mike Nicol – Killer Country and Black Heart
Olen Steinhauer - “Milo Weaver” books
Robert Littell – The Company

What magazines do you have in your bathroom/lounge right now?
Lounge only, no reading material in the bathroom.
A few old issues of National Geographic that were passed on to me.

What’s the worst book you’ve ever read?
A tie between Jack Kerouac – Lonesome Traveller and Brett Easton Ellis – American Psycho.....both equally grim!

What book seemed really popular but you didn’t like?
American Psycho – I just didn’t get it.

My wife read the 50 Shades trilogy because of the hype and because her colleagues at work were reading them. Because I read what she reads (eventually), I manned up and read all 3.....Oh Christian, Oh Anna, Oh Christian, Oh Anna, creaking bed-springs and the sound of a riding crop whishing through the air, followed by a sharp yelp, Oh Christian, Oh Anna etc etc .........well at least I won’t have to suffer through that again!

What’s the one book you always recommend to just about everyone?
A Prayer For Owen Meany – John Irving - but no-one listens!

What are your three favourite poems?
Without cheating and going to look something up, I don’t have three. I was always touched by the poem John Hannah recited in Four Weddings and a Funeral but the title eludes me....Stop the clocks????

Where do you usually get your books?
Amazon UK – you can thank me for my contribution to the continuing demise of small bookshops up and down the country, sorry!

Where do you usually read your books?
At home, on the sofa, in bed, in the garden. Sitting in the car waiting. Work with a few snatched minutes at my desk at lunchtime

When you were little, did you have any particular reading habits?
Quantity over quality, which might have stuck with me into adulthood.

What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was so good you couldn’t put it down?
I love my sleep too much to do that!

Have you ever ‘faked’ reading a book?

Have you ever bought a book just because you liked the cover?
Many, many times. The one that springs to mind Leonie Swann – Three Bags Full. Absolute rubbish, I wanted to stick pins in my eyes so I could experience a different type of pain when reading it, still I have no-one to blame but myself.

What was your favourite book when you were a child?
Too long ago to be honest, I did used to like the Hardy Boys, but couldn’t remember too much about them, was one called Jeff?

What book changed your life?
Possibly Elmore Leonard’s Unknown Man No.89 or The Hunted, my first introduction to crime fiction probably late 80’s or early 90’s. I was quite saddened by his passing earlier this week.

What is your favourite passage from a book?
Sorry, I don’t save quotes or passages. Nothing springs to mind.

Who are your top five favourite authors?
Elmore Leonard
John Irving
Charlie Stella
Michael Connelly
Marcus Zusak

What book has no one heard about but should read?
Tom Kakonis – Michigan Roll

What 3 books are you an ‘evangelist’ for?
John Irving – A Prayer For Owen Meany
Jess Walter – Citizen Vince
Norman Green – Shooting Dr. Jack
Marcus Zusak – The Book Thief – 4 then!

What are your favourite books by a first-time author?
Terry Shames – A Killing At Cotton Hill

What is your favourite classic book?
Not very well read in this department, so I’ll go with my “O”- Level Literature book, Charles Dickens – Great Expectations

Other Notable Mentions?
Ken Bruen, Roger Smith, Daniel Woodrell,

You can find more rounded responses from Angela, Margot and Bernadette on their blogs.


  1. So you really meant it when you said I should read Owen Meany huh :) I don't know why I've never done it as I'm rather fond of Irving.

    I laughed out loud at the description of wanting to stick pins in your eyes - have to agree with you about that book - utter twaddle. And I didn't like American Psycho either - in fact Ellis is way overrated all up in my opinion - he was here for a writers festival here a few years back and behaved like a right pratt - demanding this, that and the other thing - a friend of mine was one of the volunteers who got trapped being his mignon and she said she imagined shoving her scissors into his eyeball just to get through the day

    1. Yes, definitely Meany! I need to pick up another one of his soon, probably read The Fourth Hand about 2 or 3 years ago. It's been too long.

      Ellis - if I never pick up anything else of his it will be too soon. I kind of toyed with the idea of giving Less Than Zero a go, but soon snapped out of that. Disappointing to hear, how he behaves towards people, but some people get so far up themselves.

  2. Col - OK, so Meany? I will have to check it out. And the rest of your answers are terrific. Just loved your answer about loving sleep too much to stay awake all night reading. In all seriousness, you've suggested some great authors I ought to try. But one of them will not be Leonie Swann...

    1. Margot, thanks. I would recommend Owne Meany, unreservedly to anyone who loves books. Swann - definitely not!

  3. A Prayer for Owen Meany - yes yes yes, totally agree, one of the best books ever. I half-hated and half-liked the sheep book, there aren't many books I've been so conflicted about. I did wonder if I was missing the point in some massive way. And I HAVE read Robert Litell's The Company, one of the longest and most boring books I have ever read, written so that every time it got interesting, or I could work up some enthusiasm for plot or characters, he would insert another 20 pages of US history for Dummies.
    And of course, total agreement on the Terry Shames.

    1. Moira, I remember you agreed with the Meany selection when I was mooting my "I"s for the Alphabet.
      Agreed on Shames.
      Disappointed to hear you knock back The Company, I'll probably ease my way into him with one of his shorter books first. Worst case, we don't get on I have a sturdy door stop!

  4. Good stuff, Col! Lots of new books by new authors. I could kick myself for being so out of sync with contemporary fiction. But I am glad we share a common ground: John Irving. He is one of my all-time favourite authors. I have read many of his books though not Owen Meany yet. I have heard a lot of good things about it and I am glad I have the book on my shelf. Irving is a terrific writer and I like his work in spite of his obsession with Austria, bears, whores, tragedy, sex, and incest (at least in Hotel New Hampshire). I had started reading A Son of the Circus but for some reason let it go. I hope to finish it soon.

    1. Prashant, he does like his wrestling also! So glad we have him in common. I need to read some of his later works though.

    2. Col, yes, I forgot wrestling and he was one too. I think he was Vonnegut's student.

    3. I think one of his non-fiction books is about his wrestling days, another one to wish for!

  5. Enjoyed reading this list, Col. A Prayer For Owen Meany has been on my tbr list for years. I've heard how great it is and still I haven't picked it up. It was on sale not long ago at Amazon so I snapped up a digital copy. I did buy the Terry Shames book on your recommendation. Great, great list.

    1. Keishon, I hope you enjoy the Shames and can squeeze the Irving book in sometime soon!

  6. Another fascinating Q and A. And I want to play too! totally agree about American Psycho!

    1. Sarah, I hope you do, I'll keep an eye out for a posting! Glad someone else feels the same way about AP!

  7. A great set of answers. I am tempted to do this, but don't know if I could come up with anything much. Although we did discuss poems at dinner, and some occurred to me. The poem from Four Weddings... is Funeral Blues by W. H. Auden, and now I am going to have to watch that movie again.

    I guess I will try A Prayer For Owen Meany. I have such a hard time motivating myself to read anything but mysteries. The Company by Littell is very long (over 800 pages) and there are some boring parts, but I plan to read it again, so I guess I like it. The only other book I read by Littell was Legends, under 400 pages, and I loved it. One of my favorite books ever.

    I am glad you made some suggestions for Elmore Leonard. I have been wanting to read some of his books ever since we watched the first season of Justified. I have Get Shorty and Be Cool, but wanted to start somewhere else.

    1. Tracy, thanks. I've not seen the film for a few years now, I'll catch it with the family when it next appears on the box.
      Glad there's a positive vote for The Company! Legends is on the pile also, so I might start with that.
      Leonard's early books were westerns which I have enjoyed nearly as much as his crime fiction. I have read most but not all of his stuff, but plan on re-reading as and when time allows. (Probably might stand a chance, if I stop adding to the pile!)