This year I seem to have discovered more about why I read than good books in particular. This isn’t to say there hasn’t been many good reads – on the contrary.
I think I read for the same reasons I write: to explore. I’m an environmentalist in the text: I like the experience of landscapes, real or otherwise. I like the sense of place. This is partially why I’m drawn so strongly to landscape books: there’s something about a personal interaction with the landscape that appeals to me as a reader and a writer. It is, ultimately, about the world shaping people, after all. Or people shaping an artificial landscape, I never quite know. Inner journeys, at least.
The idea of a ‘increase the number of novels you read’ kind of list doesn’t appeal to me – reading isn’t a race; cramming them in won’t improve me as a reader. Besides, I can still get pleasure from a book if it sits happily on my shelf being a nice edition that I interact with from time to time. With that realisation, I’ll highlight some further areas of exploration for 2014: nature writing that isn’t limited to Britain, although that tends to be my personal escapism these days; history of eras with which I’m not familiar, though I bet I go back to Rome more often than not; more crime novels, though they, too, tend to be strongly connected to settings. For some reason I’d like to try more random biographies, too. There might be the odd SFF book, but writing so much of that genre day and night, I’m not as bedazzled as easily. Or the real world dazzles me more.
A rambling post, this, but I never promised it would go anywhere.
“…reading isn’t a race; cramming them in won’t improve me as a reader”. I couldn’t agree more. As for landscapes, I also tend to consider the settings the very most enjoyable element of a story, be it in a book, film, game, etc. Landscapes are the most impressive, important and mysterious characters (kind of a cliché, I know), just gotta love ’em. They are fascinating. It’s amazing how a fictional landscape – even in written form – can leave a mark so profound that we even experience dèja vus later while drifting by the streets (or woods).
Yes, you’re right – landscape is a character, and just as important as actual people in narratives!