Page Returner

I had a book on my “to be read” shelf that has been there for years. Years and years and years. I’d forgotten in was there, but I have perfected a new technique for book choice – to keep it entirely random – which is to reach past the first row of books awaiting my interest and to just read whatever book I touch on the second row. It’s basically my new rule for this year’s reading.

I can’t see what it is because of the books in front. So it’s a mystery read.

And when I pulled out The Grave Tattoo by Val McDermid, I made a terrible groaning noise. Because I’d tried to read it more or less since I’d got it, but it was such hard going. It was boring as anything – despite the quotes on the cover (from reviews of books that definitely weren’t this one) saying that it was truly gripping.

So, because I’d picked it, I read it. There were five hundred and fifty pages. It took me eleven days to read. I can normally polish off a book in two or three days of sporadic reading. But not this one. Nearly a fortnight of abject misery and boredom.

But this is what you get when you take advantage of the cellophaned together collections of books you sometimes find in supermarkets for bargain prices. There was The Grave Tattoo and Wire In The Blood for tuppence ha’penny, or something like that. And I figured it was worth a punt. I had heard of Wire In The Blood – still unread, incidentally – so thought that the set might be good. Clearly, the set was made to try and shift The Grave Tattoo because it was all sorts of shit.

But at least it’s finished now and will leave this house in a plastic bag, bound for pastures new. Or a charity shop in Brighouse, probably.

When I’d done, I returned to the “to be read” shelf and, again, stuck my hand into the back row – a lot like Timothy Dalton sticking his hand into that rock in Flash Gordon – and pulled out a new book to read.

It was another Val McDermid.

I put it back and chose a book I wanted to read, instead.

Rules are made to be broken, right?