Is there a competition to read the most books?


I’m not competing to read the fastest, or the most books, or even attract the most reviews on Goodreads. As a fiction author and being relatively new to Twitter I felt obliged to show my credentials by reading only fiction, but the last book, or at least its English translation, took me so long I had to renew it three times. I read it as a lesson in how not to write; that is don’t be melodramatic. But after finishing it I was desperate to go back to non-fiction starting with one of several areas I’m obsessed with and which is also relevant to my second book.

I hesitated writing the title on Twitter in case, well, I have no idea why. But I should be me and at the moment I prefer non-fiction especially the hundreds  of (auto)biographies I should have read but haven’t. I went to the library looking for The Compleat Angler and even expected a display on the author, this town being his birth place, but I couldn’t find it. I nearly took out Fred Astaire’s biography, but instead found Roger Bootle (difficult to miss him).

Oscar Wilde still stands out as the best fiction author I’ve read recently. The author who has had the greatest effect on me in the past three years or so has been Robert Graves (Goodbye To All That) and finding Dirk Bogarde (For The Time Being) was a pleasure and a humbling lesson. I still think I should memorise more lines of Julius Caesar.
I don’t think it’s simply a case of reading as much as I can but also what books I’m reading and how long I take over them – I don’t mean because of the translation – so I can recognise, understand, and enjoy the words before me. It’s also a pretty good standard for my work as an author.

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About S.A. Aslam

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