12 January 2003
Every now and then, Jean prompts me into a quick snapshot paragraph of the books I'm currently reading (see 'What is Chaz reading?' on the front page hereof). Sometimes, though, I think 'What is Chaz buying?' would be at least as relevant, books that I need or want or intend to read, plus those that I'd just like to have sitting on the shelves in case they turn up useful at some indeterminate point in the future.
So: Blackwell's is the last bookshop in Newcastle to have a proper sale, where you can pick up a twenty-pound hardback for a pound or two. It's also the last bookshop in Newcastle to carry a proper range, rather than just the new bestsellers and the discounted backlist of a chain like Waterstone's. So I took a wander through the store this morning, and came home with:
'Turkey: from the Selçuks to the Ottomans' by Henri Stierlin: essentially a coffee-table book, lots of pretty pictures and not too much text. This is research, obviously, for the current fantasy project; I'm not the most visually gifted of writers, so images help.
'Palace Women in the Northern Sung, 960-1126' by Priscilla Ching Chung: an academic monograph published in 1981, and the first book I've bought for thirty years with uncut pages. Again, obviously, research for the big Taiwan fantasy; but I'd probably have bought it anyway, from general interest.
'Codes, Ciphers and Secret Writing' by Martin Gardner: basic stuff, meant for kids, but you never know what you might glean, and this is once again research, for 'Getting Carter' which is going to be very full of secrets. But three researchy books for three different projects is quite enough to be going on with, so
'The Bang-Bang Club' by Greg Marinovich and Joao Silva: its subject is war and the reporting of war, by two press photographers from South Africa. Grim stuff, but this goes on the You Never Can Tell shelf; how impossible is it that I'll never want to write a story about a press photographer?
'The Independent Cook' by Jeremy Round: he was the cookery writer for the Indie, until he died too soon. Worth hanging on to, via this welcome reprint.
'Apples' by Frank Browning: and yes, it really is about apples. And no, it's not a recipe book, it's a book about apples. I was looking at it slightly askance, but I flicked it open and found 'He assumed that his sister would be safe. When he came back to Alma-Ata a few weeks later, however, he found his old room empty and locked. There was no trace of his sister.' Which, in a book about apples, meant that I just had to buy it.
'Lost in a Good Book' by Jasper Fforde: sequel to 'The Eyre Affair', and the next adventure for Thursday Next, literary detective and registered dodo owner. Just for fun; I have no excuse to offer, nor would I if I did. A man's allowed a little fun.
© Chaz Brenchley 2003
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.