Yeah this is the New Years Resolution I am most likely to fail. Every year I tell myself to read more books, every birthday and Christmas I ask people to buy me books, and thus the pile of tree spawn next to my bed grows higher and higher. I wake up and roll over each morning, to be reminded of what an uncultered swine I am, with all the books I own yet haven’t bothered to read. So the odds are somewhat stacked against me with this new years resolution. Maybe this is the year I will finally turn things around right..right?
It’s not that I’m not a reader, I love reading. Ever since I was a child I loved reading, and I did get through a lot of books when I was a kid. Granted, aside from Harry Potter, most of those books were not read by choice, rather dictated to me by whatever the school/college/university curriculum was. Throughout education, we would dream of the days when we would be able to read books because we wanted to. Imagine it, a world where we get to read books because we want to, not because we have to. Then University comes to an end, and did I catch up on all the books I wanted to read? Did I bollocks. I borrowed a copy of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, from one of my friends in second year of Uni (2011), and I didn’t get round to reading it until last year (I did message said friend and asked if she wanted the book back, after I’d kept it unwittingly for 5 years, but she was fine with it). The problem is I don’t give myself the time to read. Once I come from home from work, I’m usually go to the gym, then come home and make food, I usually watch something on Netflix whilst eating, then I need to clean the kitchen but I can’t be arsed so I go on Facebook, then I finally clean the kitchen, then I sort out food for work in the morning, then I get distracted by the Xbox One (I mean have you played Overwatch?), or I get distracted by whatever shit is spewed out onto Youtube, then I’m on Facebook again chatting with friends, then I realise I have no clothes for the morning, then I realise I need to clean the house, but then I realise it’s been an hour since I played Overwatch, then I go on Youtube and then BAM! It’s 1am…Bugger.
Half the time, when I do find a quiet moment with nothing to do, I often take to the laptop to punch out some writing, be it scripts I am working on, or more recently blog posts. But then I find myself, as many writers do, stuck in a rut, struggling to come up with… them ideas on…how to write things…good.
You know what helps with that? Reading a God Damn book!
To be fair to myself, I did manage to get through some good books last year, although it was usually down to being placed in a situation where I literally had no other choice but to read. Last year I played the part of Toby in Amy’s View, at The Chesil Theatre. The character only appeared at the very end, which meant I had 1 and 3/4 acts worth of time to sit backstage, and in that time I managed to get through 3 books. The aforementioned The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, David Owen’s Panther, and Hunter S Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in as Vegas. I also went away to Majorca for a week, and when you find yourself on long flights/coach trips, or just sat relaxing on the balcony/by the pool, it’s very easy to sit back and get lost in a great story. In Majorica I read both Room and The Girl on the Train, again two great books and both with movies that I really want to see. There was also a brief period of time, where I ended up having to commute from my parents house to work every day at the start of winter, and so the train journeys gave me the time to read The Shining, leant to me by a friend. I love Stephen King, and being able to read one of his most famous works, made the early-as-hell journey to work, in the freezing cold, all the more bearable. However, once I returned to my own home, with now a mere 10 minute walk to work in the mornings, The Shining remained untouched in my bag for a good few weeks, calling out to me: “Come read with us, Davey!” Luckily, to avoid keeping someone elses property for another half decade, I did manage to finish the book, but it took me far too long to do, especially considering how much I enjoyed reading it to start with.
The problem with me now is that I tend to only read, when there is literally nothing else to do. The only reason I started reading The Shining on the train was because the South West Train Wifi never quite made it to the carriage I was on, the only reason I started reading in the dressing room at the Chesil, was because I had slowly lost my mind and descended into madness, playing non stop Candy Crush during rehearsals. So I am vowing to make things right this year, and actually make the time to read more books in my own time. Like my previous Resolution Revolution post, I am hoping that posting it on here, revealing my shame for all the world to see, will help encourage me to do better in the literary arts (unless I delete this post and claim blissful ignorance).
Anyways, here are a list of books that I own, which I am vowing to read this year.
The Complete Sherlock Holmes: Volume 1 – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
This is a pretty big book, maybe I got intimidated by the size. I got this as a Secret Santa gift from my friend E.J years ago and I was psyched. I love Sherlock Holmes, so what better way to show my appreciation for this literary icon than actual reading some literature? This is only Volume 1, so hopefully I may move on to further volumes before the year is out.
The Familiar – Mark Z. Danielewski
Mark Z. Danielewski’s debut novel House of Leaves is one of my favourite books of all time – holy shit – if you haven’t read this book I urge you to do so (I mean ever re-read this year, it’s that good), so when my friend Leo who introduced me to said book informed me of his new novel, I was excited. Not only that, but this book was set to be the first in a 12 part series? Oh my God, this is going to be the greatest thing to happen since the world was made!
And boy did I hate it. What made House of Leaves memorable was that you had 3 different narratives intertwining perfectly in one novel. So for his next novel, Danielewski decided to go down the Hollywood sequel route and crank everything up to eleventity-stupid. Now there were like a dozen different plots, subplots, narratives, writing styles, words written in a circle that you had to turn the book clockwise just to read a sentence. It was a mess and felt like a pale imitation of what made the first book so great. But, that’s just it, because his first book was so great, I am willing to give this book another chance. Who knows, this still could be the greatest thing ever. Let’s find out.
I love reading autobiographies from professionals who work, or have worked, in the entertainment industry. Writers, actors, comedians, broadcasters, I love reading about their lives, careers and experiences all from the horse’s mouth (or hooves, seeing as it was typed not spoken). A few years back I brought Steve Coogan’s autobiography, and last Christmas my parents brought me John Cleese’s and Brian Blessed’s (Fun fact, it is impossible to read his autobiography and not imagine him screaming it with the force of 100 db). All of these people are icons of mine for many different reasons, and hopefully will be the first of many icons who’s lives I have the privilege of delving into.
I don’t care what you say, but these count as books, and yes I am saying this as a 25 year old man, but I am also saying this as a massive nerd. The first one is a gripping Captain America story that I got from my friends Dee & Tom last birthday, which I started reading, got instantly hooked, but then for some bizarre reason, stopped. I fear it got lost under the forest of books I told myself I would read last year.Now that I have moved that pile onto an actual bookcase, I intend to get right back into this novel, followed swiftly by Moon Knight, a well received gift from the pair last Christmas. Cannot wait.
No Exit and Three Other Plays
I’m an admirer of Jean Paul Sartre, so much so that my friend Louisa brought me the greatest mug in the world back in Christmas 2015.
I directed a production of No Exit back in University, so it only makes sense I actually read the other three plays that came with the script. Who know’s what that may lead to? Plus, as I tend to dabble in script writing, best way to improve on it is to study previous theatrical works again.
Hamlet: Poem Unlimited – Harold Bloom
I begged my friend Leo to lend me this book, Hamlet is one of my favourite plays and Harold Bloom’s study of the play was something I really wanted to read. That was again, quite a few years ago, and I still have it… and I need to finish it. Better get started.
Sonnets – William Shakespeare
My friend Louisa brought me this book a few years back. Seeing as I may end up reading one of them at her wedding next year, it makes sense to brush up on the old Shakes’ work doesn’t it?
Books to help me write
As I said before, the best way to improve my writing is to actually sit down and read a book. So it makes sense to have some books dedicated to improving on this craft. I brought Rib Davis’ Writing Dialogue for Scripts last year at the BFI shop, and my friend Leo brought me Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell for Christmas 2016. Considering I am currently working on three short plays this month, am starting work on an episode of a Radio Drama for Blazing Caribou Studios, am taking on the 28 Plays Later Challenge next month (which I strongly recommend any other writers out there check out and sign up for here), have ideas for two books that I want to start writing – one of which I’ve started – and I want to finish writing a full length play this year, it makes sense that I surround myself with books like these.
So that’s that for my Second New Years Resolution. Granted I’ve made this same resolution at the start of most years, but seeing how much time I’ve spent blabbing on about it on this blog, I’m hoping it will be enough motivation to actually go and uphold it this time around. Here’s to the great stories waiting for me, and the many more out there waiting to be told.
Be sure to check out my first New Years Resolution Post here, and keep your eyes peeled for my third and final one coming soon.