Monday, 17 November 2008

My Dirty Little Secret..... Catherine Johnson


I'm in North Wales again. I don't know how Jacqueline Wilson does it, writing on a train that is, my brain goes to mush, especially now they go so fast between London and Crewe that you can't even look out of the window. Anyway North Wales, where the animal rescue charity shops sell grubby paperbacks for under 50p each which means I cannot resist them (St Kentigern's Hospice shop is even cheaper). I pop out for some Welsh cakes (delicious warm) and come back with The Eagle Has Landed or Heart of Darkness or The Boys From Brazil or The Historian.
I then sit up in bed and read the thing until it is finished happy in the knowledge that there will be a new one tomorrow. I know it is not good to read like this. For one thing. I know second hand book shops are the bain of a writer's life (is there no where so sad as Hay?) and we should all try and buy new just so as our brothers and sisters will eat. And for another, is it right to gobble down these works, all of which, pulp fiction or not, will have taken their authors years or months of toil and rewrites.
Then I come along and wolf them down in one.
I have only just arrived and my Mum (I am here nursing her through a hip op) will send me out very soon. Should I try and wean myself off cheap novels? Only buy in independants and good local bookshops at full price like a good reader?
Or should I go in and see what waits for me today?

5 comments:

adele said...

No, Catherine, it's nothing to be ashamed of. I too am a greedy golloper of pulp fiction of all kinds and I think we ought to be proud of it! I buy lots of new books too, and some of those are pulpy as well....oh dear. No hope for me, I'm afraid. But it's GOOD PULP. I can't read the bad pulp. And good pulp is excellent stuff.
You enjoy yourself and good recovery to your Mum.

Anne Rooney said...

Don't feel guilty, Catherine. You don't buy the old books *instead* of buying new books, they're just extras. I buy lots of secondhand books, too - it's environmentally friendly, and I'd much rather one of my books was passed on for someone else to read than languished on a shelf for years and was then chucked in landfill! And many secondhand books we buy are by dead people - they don't need the money :-) More reading is good - don't feel bad about it. And the money is for a good cause if you're buying from a charity shop. It's not so different from getting a book from a library. The author won't begrudge you the 6p PLR :-)

Mary Hoffman said...

6p? We should be so lucky! Otherwise I'm in complete agreement with Anne. I think most people who haunt secondhand book shops also buy new books, both in shops and on Amazon. We certainly do in this family - all five of us.

And, Catherine, anything that gets you through a difficult time is OK and it's cheaper than booze and cigarettes and not even bad for you. What's not to like?

Penny Dolan said...

Agree with Mary totally! Especially as many may be out of print, temporarily or permanently. However, at my reading group last night I've just heard of a fairly local village pub stacked to the windowsills with secondhand books, all sold for a good cause . . . Best if both worlds???

The Ginger Darlings said...

When I traveled in Australia I used to haunt the book swap shops. Because choice was limited to what other people had taken in my reading was wonderfully eclectic.
I read Woman in White on the beach, hot sun blazing down, snakes in the grass and dolphins shapes glassy in huge rolling waves, and was transported into Victorian Britain. I read Raymond Chandler and had for a while a beautiful first edition of The Well of Loneliness by Radcliff Hall.
Because I was traveling I had to part with all and every book I read, returning and part exchanging for another wondrous world. There was always something there to delight.
Such a shame I didn't realize how much the Radcliff Hall was as a first ed, but then I did get sand between the pages.
And in a wonderful second hand bookshop in Ireland , where the books lived two deep on the shelves and I moved almost every row to get at what was behind, I found a book by George Mackay Brown, short stories, perfect. This one I still have.