As you know, I write genre fiction – that is to say it fits neatlyish into a specific genre type of book – I write mysteries. My books are not, by any stretch of the imagination, literary, nor are they ‘general’ what ever that is. Some writers are quite apologetic and embarrassed that they don’t write something high-brow. Not me. I believe that genre fiction has huge benefits and there’s no need to feel that I ‘only’ write mysteries: ‘Oh it’s only a mystery’ or ‘I really only like romances, I’m afraid.’
You see, I believe that books are lifesavers. Books are companionship for the lonely, entertainment for those who are bored. It doesn’t matter if you can’t hear, or if you can’t walk, if you’re old or young, you can enjoy a book. And if you can’t see, you can listen to audiobooks. Books can be a comfort and a much-needed means of escape from what is sometimes an anxious, or difficult world. We all need a break – and a book is perfect for that.
I had cancer a few years back, and whilst I had tests, surgery, appointments, sat in busy, soulless waiting rooms, and anxiously waited for a prognosis, I read books. It was a relief to get out of myself and my thoughts and into a world where the only bad things that happened would be solved by a detective and the villain locked up. Bliss! A few hours free of my own troubles was just what the doctor ordered. I realised as never before just how wonderful it was to get lost in a good book. I was so grateful to the authors who offered me that respite.
I was lucky, and I am now free of cancer and healthy, but my love and respect for books and their authors will never die.
So a little while ago, I asked my mailing list subscribers some questions about what they love. Here are a few of the most popular responses I had:
Q1. I asked, What is the best thing about finding a new book you love?
- Finding a new book can be tough, and it’s important to find relatable characters, an engrossing plot and a style that appeals.
- Many people said they were drawn by the cover – which is exactly what they are designed to do – to lure you in!
- For some, finding a new book or series is like meeting a new friend.
- When readers find a new book or series, they love to tell their friends and family about it!
- Readers like the idea that the book will be theirs to read again and again, and to refer to, a book that adds to their knowledge or understanding (mainly reference books)
- People love the sense of starting out on a journey, of ‘meeting’ new people and having adventures along the way. A kind of vicarious holiday.
Q2. Do you always read the same genre, or do you like a lot of different types of book?
You were largely split over this, with many people saying they read anything and everything, and others stating that they only ever read the same kind of books. I’m largely that way myself. I do enjoy the odd history book and classics, and poetry, but almost always I turn to crime, figuratively, of course!
Q3. When do you read?
Again, responses were quite split between those who read during the day, usually with lunch or a coffee or cup of tea, and those who read almost entirely at night before going to sleep. Some people read during commuter journeys on trains and buses. Now that I’m at home during the day, I tend to read with coffee or lunch. When I was working in the big wide world, I used to read on the bus or when I had a lunch break. It’s so nice not to have to sit on a bus for hours on end anymore.
Q4. Actual book or eReader?
The odds were almost overwhelmingly stacked in favour of ‘actual’ paper, hold-in-your-hand-and-sniff-the-pages books. Most people who read on eReaders said they did so mainly for the convenience. I must admit I’m the same. My trusty eReader goes with me when I travel or am away from home, but when I’m at home and reading in comfort, it’s always a ‘real’ book. The great thing about eReaders of course, is your nearest and dearest have no idea just how many eBooks you’ve bought – that little secret is between you and your gadget. One person pointed out that the advantage of reading at night on an eReader is that you don’t need to have a light on in the room, so you don’t disturb your partner. A great point!
Q5. What are your other favourite past-times?
Wow we have a lot of pastimes! Here are just a few:
Writing! Reading, obviously. Walking the dog, taking pics of your cats, gardening, flower-arranging, cooking, various arts and crafts including model-making, embroidery, card-making, painting in oils, painting in acrylics, crochet, knitting, drawing, sewing, photography. Then we had the DIYers, the mad exercise buffs, the tennis-players, the golfers, the swimmers, the dancers, the joggers, the cyclists. You like playing board games and card games, going to the pub, spending time with family and friends, eating out, sport, sport and more sport. You love travel. You love learning new things at evening classes. Some of you like to help others in the community, or volunteer in charity shops or care homes. You play musical instruments, you babysit your grandkids, and all kinds of other amazing stuff. You guys are seriously impressive! No wonder you sometimes need to sit down with a book and just chill.
Q6. What are your favourite TV shows, if you watch TV?
Again, a huge range of results here: people gave general responses such as drama, crime, reality shows, documentaries, comedy etc. but we also got some very specific shows mentioned: Peaky Blinders, Line of Duty, Gogglebox, Brooklyn 99, Poirot, Family Guy, Outlander, Once Upon A Time, Bridgerton (I know why you like that!), The Bay, QI, Mock The Week (RIP – and yes I did sign the petition…), Would I Lie To You, I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, The Great British Bake Off, Strictly Come Dancing, Made In Chelsea, Any Star Trek, Star Wars, or Marvel thing, Famalam (not for those who don’t like very, VERY naughty words… but truly hilarious), Unforgotten, any football, all cricket and rugby, True Crime documentaries, and so many more…
I hope you find this as fascinating as I did. Some of the responses were so similar to my own, I feel we could easily be best buds.