Thursday, August 01, 2013

The books that choose to be read and the boats that choose to be bought.

In the blog challenge, the subject today was to answer the question "how do you choose the books you read?" Michelle Heatley has done an interesting post about this question, but she also mentions that books often just choose you and not the other way around.

I think this is possibly true. We frequently chance upon books that we haven't come across before or wouldn't even think of reading if they didn't present themselves to us. This is certainly true of many of the books I've read recently, but it's particularly so for me when it comes to boat books. My post yesterday described the book For Better for Worse. When I bought it, I was actually looking for a detective novel I could read on my holiday in France. I was at the airport in Bergerac waiting for my sister to pick me up, so I was browsing through the books they had on sale. I think I was just about to pick up an Ian Rankin novel or something similar when the cover of FBFW caught my eye. When I read the blurb, it was absolutely meant for me, I knew it. If this was not a book that leapt out, grabbed my hand and said "buy me", I can't think of another way of putting it.

It was much like that with my barge, the Vereeniging. As I have said in a previous post, it was presented to me as a 'what about this' possibility, but it was only when I saw it and discovered what its name was, I knew I had been chosen. I think, in fact I know, I have mentioned before that Vereeniging is a town in South Africa for which I have a particular fondness. However, I'd never seen a barge with that name anywhere in the Netherlands before, and that coupled with its 'buy me' grace and elegance was what conquered me. I had no choice!

Now I realise buying a book is not quite the same as buying a boat, but you'll forgive me if I get them intertwined a bit. I'm so busy with both activities (some might say obsessions) that it's hard to separate them - this is especially the case now as I work at writing the story of the Vereeniging for my next book!


  1. Val, it seems to me that you have been hooked by a book :)

  2. Nice blog. I'd still recommend picking up the latest Rankin. I enjoyed it, and not just because of our long tour of Scotland that hit so many of the places in the story. Rebus is back!

  3. I always have wondered where the name came from.
    I wish I shared the love of books. I guess I am one who never learned to sit still. My parents always pushed us to go outside and play. So I did , and sports became my passion. But I always envy those who can sink themselves into a book. There are so many great ones to discover. xo

  4. Haha, Mel, I have! I've read it twice too, and may even go for a third re-read :)

    Anne-Marie, I didn't know Rebus was back! I'll have to get it then. Thanks for the tip!

    Grace, books have been my companions since I was a small child. I always loved reading and never enjoyed sport at school, so there we differ :)

  5. Interesting how your boat found you! I wasn't looking to move when I met my house - my eldest daughter had just left for uni and I'd promised not to move for at least a year. Just three weeks later her sister wrote to you to tell her to come home for a weekend cos Mum's gone bonkers and bought a house!

  6. I choose books about equally from two main stimuli: reviews and bookshops. If I didn’t read reviews, which I do, a lot, I simply wouldn’t find out about them. However, the serendipity which occurs in bookshops (though rarely for me, I confess, in airports!) is a magical experience which Heron’s View (please introduce me!) delightfully terms ‘hooking by book’. The power of a cover is not to be underestimated in the bookbuyer’s psyche! There is no greater turn-off for me, for example, than gold foil letters! Word of mouth might also seem important, but what one person likes is not necessarily to others’ tastes and, though I might look at a book that someone has recommended, my choice is not really affected by it. The social networks are, for me, a gigantic review magazine and bookshop, where I browse, read, chance upon and choose! They have the advantage, too, of introducing me to plenty of authors (more than I meet in real bookshops, anyway) and engaging with them, which also might lead me to choose one of their books.
    Hello, Valerie, I’m very pleased to meet you. I’ll have a look at your FB page, out of interest…. OOOOH!

  7. I like 'genres' and now covers are easy to identify them. Nordic Noir...dark and bleak..chicklit bright and primary.... I don't tend to go on other people's recommendations..I HAVE tried, and people are always lending me books, but I find very few people whose reading taste matches mine. Fussy, I suppose.

  8. Jo, isn't it funny when your children start being more sensible than you? I can't quite remember when mine started saying "Oh mum, what have you done now?" but it's become the norm now!

    Christina, meet Mel, a.k.a. Heron's View. He hails from somewhere in middle Ireland (easily confused with middle Earth) and has a wonderfully diverse ane eclectic blog with one compelling theme running through it - the Heron man himself:-) I so very much agree with you about the gold foil lettering on a book cover, and I am also interested that you really do follow reviews. I've heard so much criticism of them recently that I wondered whether people really take them seriously. I find the whole issue of reviews rather daunting, so it's good to read that you find them a good source of information. Yes, too, on book covers in general. I'm very particular about what appeals to me in a cover.

    Carol, it's great that you know so well what you like, but I guess it makes it difficult to 'sell' you something new. Interesting that you find covers identify the genre for you. Largely speaking, I really dislike the book covers of most of today's novels, so I have to try and ignore them, but I will normally look at books that have images of boats on them and see what they're about! I love the For Better For Worse cover and also the Narrow Dog to Carcassonne cover, so that might tell you what sort of book covers grab my attention!

    Maybe my next post will be about book covers!

  9. I am very eclectic in my reading tastes and always have at least two books on the go. No, I take that back, three books because I read my book club book at lunchtimes. I tend to go on recommendations, but if something hasn't grabbed me in the first three chapters I stop reading, life is too short for bad books! On the other hand if a book really gets me I have been known to abandon all other life and spend the day with my nose in the book xxx

  10. Your love of books and reading as a small child has made you an exceptional writer, and that is fantastic.


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