Wednesday, May 23, 2018

When you need a librarian

The man from whom we hired the narrowboat tries to give his boats little finishing touches - such as a bowl of fresh fruit, cotton sheets, toiletries in the bathroom, and a pint of milk in the fridge. He also had a shelf of books, some games and some dvds. We took our own Scrabble so we didn't need the games, but I checked the 12 dvds and there was nothing either of us wanted to watch. We both took books and didn't need his, thankfully. But at the end of the week when we were packed up and waiting to hand over the boat, I had some time to fill so I picked a book off the shelf to read.

This was the selection:

There are some big-hitting writers here in terms of sales, and apart from the one by Jane Francis, the Rankin and the Sharpe, they all look to fall in a similar category. I picked the Ian Rankin. I am not a crime fiction aficionado, but I know Rankin is a superb writer, and indeed, the book drew me in.

But the collection made me think. If I were furnishing a narrowboat with 14 books and wanted there to be something to suit everyone's taste, what books would I choose? 


Ana said...

I am partial to a good Ian Rankin read, certainly to an audiobook read by an incomparable Scottish actor.

Anonymous said...

Interesting blog. As a seasoned narrow-boater and writer I think you could also make suggestions as to what could be on the bookshelf. I have read two of the books on there: the Rankin and the Grisham. I think one of the criteria needs to be that you can finish the book before you leave the book, unless you can take it with you and leave another in its place. I’d be interested to know your choice.

Christine said...

From the point of view of a crime fiction fan, this isn't such a bad selection. Michael Connolly receives the CWA Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement this year. Possibly these are books left by other holiday-makers?

Sue Hepworth said...

Thanks for the crime writer’s perspective, Chrissie. There’s not a lot to go on if you don’t like crime, however.

Anonymous said...

comment from Marmee -

For comedy I would prefer The Diary of a Nobody by G and W Grossmith. Oh that one always makes me laugh out loud.
I have not yet read anything by ( I think your friend) Christine Poulson but I do enjoy her blog so will probably like that. At one stage I read and read I Rankin. I love P D James, nice slow re reads and and Louise Penny writes thoughtful crime fiction , and Susan Hill’s crime fiction is uncomfortable but worth it. I think I would be happy to find the latest Rankin’s , so i could catch up with Rebus.

I did not enjoy Claire Tomalin’s biography of Jane Austen so I am not so sure about that choice. But in all honesty, I am in a phase where I am struggling with biographies. Just this week I borrowed the Hermione Lee biography of Penelope Fitzgerald from the library and we will see .

Charles Dickens for me will be Bleak House. I am a Dickens fan but in a circumpect manner, not across the board.

Would Middlemarch by George Eliot count as a historical novel? I love a book like that ( also a reason for liking Dickens) that lets you stay in it for ages. But I so enjoyed The essex serpent so would enjoy seeing it on my barge.

Poetry??? Oh I have to have T S Eliot when on holiday AND A E Housman .

Contemporary : I would prefer to find Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner and I would rejoice to see the Strangers and Brothers novels by C P Snow and settle in to read the series beginning to end. This is going to have to be quite a long trip!

But I must complain: you have neglected the feel good comfort read section:
my favourites here are by O Douglas ( sister of John Buchan). Pink Sugar of course and the others are less sweet (!) but no less comforting in that we are taken to a world where right prevails. By the bye, I think it was P D James who said that was why one likes crime novels: because issues get sorted. And then probably you need to have a whole bunch of D E Stevenson books on the barge to read while lying in the sun dozing. Have you ever come across these ? Light and frivolous sort of WW2 era.

And of course I concur with the chicklit choices but I dont know about that memoir. Let’s let it stand and also the politics choice, but I wont be reading those. Feels like too much reality.

I generally dislike out and out thrillers so let's not have one. I am happy to to have the Garrison Keillor short stories.

Sue Hepworth said...

Thanks, Marmee.
There is a lot to think about here. I have not heard of half of these books.