52 books (or maybe 26) in 1 year. Week 1, Book 1: ‘Moriarty’ by Anthony Horowitz

As well as not eating bread, pasta, chocolate, avoiding beer, trying to have at least two non-alcoholic days per week (how silly is that?), trying to do all the day job stuff whilst also still aiming to get a feature film fully funded, finally cast and into production, trying to get a novel ‘trilogy’ deal whilst also writing and completing the sequel by the end of 2016, starting to write a new non-fiction book whilst also reissuing the last book with brand new chapters, exercising a bit more, improving my tennis, smiling much more, resolving the million things I still haven’t resolved from previous years – I have also set myself probably the hardest of all New Year’s resolutions … to read a book a week.

It started very well, as all resolutions do. It has certainly lasted longer than the ‘not eating chocolate’ resolution, which came to a halt on 1st January itself, late afternoon in front of the fire, whilst I was enjoying the reading resolution – but I now realise it might be impossible to read a book every week of the year, too (although I’d love to).

There are so many books I already own that I still want to read, and so many books that will be published that I will want to read, that I thought it was time to put some kind of plan in motion. I thought it would be simple enough (easier than the chocolate thing). I used to read a lot. I still do read a lot – but not as much as I used to, and not as much as I should. I also thought it would be fun to try and analyse how and when I found the time to read each day. But I now realise that if it hadn’t been for the lazy lull between Christmas and New Year, or a 2-hour wait for a Ryanair flight on 4th January, and then the 2-hour flight itself, I probably wouldn’t have finished the first week’s ‘Moriarty’ by now. When do you read? How often do you read? How do you find the time? Or do you not read much at all?

I chose ‘Moriarty’ by Anthony Horowitz as the first book for several reasons. I’d never read anything by Horowitz before. The ‘relentlessly fast-paced, entertaining’ and ‘finest crime novel of the year’ blurbs appealed to me. It was on The Sunday Times paperback bestseller list at the end of November, and I’d already read ‘You are Dead’ by Peter James (excellent) and ‘For Valour’ by Andy McNab (I struggled), also on the same list, and so I thought it was a good idea to plough my way through the ST fiction list every other week.

I’m not an expert on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or Sherlock Holmes at all – but Anthony Horowitz certainly writes beautifully. It took a while for me to be hooked, though – in fact I had to re-read a couple of chapters because I thought I’d missed something – and I also had to Google for background information on the Reichenbach Falls and Conan Doyle’s criminal Professor Moriarty in The Final Problem to understand a bit of the background to the novel. But then once Frederick Chase and Inspector Athelney Jones were having dinner close to the inglenook fireplace in a snug Swiss hotel restaurant, with bowls of steaming soup, a basket of bread and a pint of red wine, with the flames crackling and leaping at the chimney … well, I was there with them. I loved the book and I learned from it, so it was time well spent in more ways that just escapism, or to see how well others write.

But now here’s the thing: I’m changing this resolution to one book every two weeks. Fair? Let’s say a minimum of 26 books for the year (like that minimum 2-day a week non-alcoholic ‘thing’). Next book: ‘The Girl on the Train’ by Paula Hawkins. It was a Christmas present and I have been wanting to read it for ages. As I am about to spend a lot of time on trains over the next two weeks, I thought it would be appropriate. Don’t tell me what happens …

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