I was musing, while reading Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope, how curious it is to think of all the other people who have read whatever book I happen to be reading at any one time… and how widely that varies.
This probably wouldn’t strike the sort of person who picks up their books from the bestselling table, or who subsists on a diet of accepted classics. But most of us go back and forth, between Jane Austen and the latest literary author and an out of print author from the 1930s. We mix and match. And it definitely changes the way that I think about a book – or, more particularly, the way I think about my blog posts.
While reading Barchester Towers, I’ve occasionally thought “Oh, this section is wonderful, I must jot it down.” And I have, and I will tell you about it when I’ve finished reading it – but I certainly shan’t be surprising anybody. Nobody is going to think “Thank goodness old Anthony is finally getting a bit of a leg-up”, or “What is this Barchester Towers, then?” Everybody’s heard of it. Many of us haven’t read it yet, but it is hardly going to be a revelation to praise it. When I’m writing about (say) Miss Hargreaves, Patricia Brent: Spinster, or Guard Your Daughters (all wonderful books that others recommended to me before I started spreading the word) I can be confident that most of my blog readers won’t have heard of them, and that my praise might send people off in pursuit.
It isn’t necessarily more worthwhile to advocate those novels, but I feel on firmer ground when starting a review. Perhaps because I don’t feel the weight of a hundred thousand readers on my back? Whatever else my thoughts will be, they won’t be controversial or flying in the face of public opinion. They also won’t be unoriginal! What can I say about Barchester Towers that hasn’t been said before? What can I say about Guard Your Daughters that has been said before?
And, more abstractly, it feels very different to join the legions of people who have read and loved Trollope than joining the hundred or so who have really loved Patricia Brent: Spinster, or the half-dozen alive today who think Economy Must Be Our Watchword by Joyce Denys is a rare gem.
Just some musings while I put off writing you another book review (teehee!)