I can’t believe it is that time again already, as I only did my 100th post in December. But with 68 reviews under my belt since then I’ve definitely been busy. Not that my TBR pile is much smaller though…
My 200th post has two parts, the first of which looks at my reading as a whole in my last 100 posts. Although an ardent fan of Golden Age detective fiction, I wondered how much of my reading was from that time period. Therefore I decided to find out which decade most of my books come from and what was the most frequent year of publication. My results for this first question was quite reassuring as you can see below, with the decade my books came from most frequently being the 1930s and in fact I managed to read at least one book from each year in that decade.
However, when it came down to the most frequent individual year I was surprised to find that it was 2016, having read 6 books from this year, which were either secondary criticism on crime fiction or were crime novels which are set in the Golden Age and/or reflect a similar style. But in joint second place were 1936 and 1938 with 4 books a piece, so I won’t be getting booted out of the Golden Age fan club this yet.
The second part of my 200th post is one I looked forward to a lot as it involves me answering questions from my readers/ followers and fellow Golden Age addicts over in the GAD Facebook group. So big thanks to Bev Hankins (at My Reader’s Block), the Puzzle Doctor (at Insearchoftheclassicmysterynovel) and Shahrul Hafiz.
1. How did you become a fan of Golden Age detective fiction? Did you start the passion by reading Enid Blyton, for example?
No I can’t say I have ever read an Enid Blyton novel and in fact my love of Golden Age detective fiction is a comparatively recent one, only being about 4 years old. I got into the genre whilst at university, moving quickly from the Sherlock Holmes stories to Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Gladys Mitchell, Ngaio Marsh and Josephine Tey. I think my late arrival into the genre was partially due to the fact that when I was a child I often much preferred reading non-fiction and especially when I became a young teenager I did not enjoy the fiction at the time being marketed at my demographic and gender – it felt rather twee. Thankfully though, over the years, I got introduced to more grown up fiction and the fact my sister owned a set of Christie’s works certainly helped made my discovery of her work an easy one.
2. How long does it take you to read one Golden Age detective novel, on average? Do you read one book after another or do you take a break in between? Have you ever abandoned any book by not finishing it for whatever reasons? Or are you a completest, in a sense of finishing a dud book?
On average, I can probably read a Golden Age detective novel anywhere between 2-4 hours, depending on how gripping the book is, the density of the language and how many distractions there are. Reading such books for the purpose of reviewing on my blog has made me slow down a bit too when reading as I need to make notes. I don’t think I have abandoned a book, not even one by Freeman Wills Crofts! This is probably because I think a blog shouldn’t just have books you love, as showing what books aren’t that good is also useful. But yeah an unread finished book makes me feel uneasy…
3. Do you have any reading resolutions?
I don’t really have any specific reading resolutions, though something I try to do is make sure that the books I am reading are a mixture of ones I got a while ago and ones I acquired recently.
4. Do you read modern mysteries? Or horror genre as well?
I definitely don’t read horror novels, though a quick scan of my shelves does show the odd modern mystery novel. These tend to be novels although published recently are set in earlier times such as Hans Olav Lahlum’s K2 series which is set in the 1960s, Ian Sansom’s County Guide series which is set in the 1930s and Boris Akunin’s Fandorin and Sister Pelgia series which are set in 19th century Russia. There are also modern authors I read who write mysteries which mirror or pastiche the Golden Age such as L. C. Tyler.
5. Do you have a secret passion for what may seem like an unusual genre for a Golden Age fan? [Space opera science fiction; biographies of sports figures; poetry based on hip-hop lyrics; etc.]
No I don’t think I have any secret passions for other more unusual genres. I suppose the most unusual fiction I read is quirky (usually) translated non-mystery related fiction such as The Library of Unrequited Love (which is a brilliant monologue by Sophie Divry) and The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain.
6) Are you an e-reader person or a book person?
I am definitely a paperback/ hardback kind of person, as I like not reading off a screen and I like the way a book feels in my hands. Very often I buy second hand copies of books and I like how such books have gone on journeys around the world and I also like to see the odd things people live behind in books. I think the most unusual item I found was a poem written by someone to their partner, apologising for a fight. You can’t get that with an e-reader, though of course I can see the advantage of them.
7) Do you ever grab books to read based on their covers (and nothing else)? And, if so, what draws you to them? If not (or in addition), how do you decide to try a new author- read the book blurb; search out author info/reviews?
No I don’t buy books purely based on their covers. A cover may draw me to take a look at a book and read its blurb, but I wouldn’t just buy a book without some further investigation into it. When I find out about new authors through groups, my own blog readers and other blogs, I read reviews of their work and try to get a feel for what their writing style is like. There are certain buzz words which will either draw me in or put me off and I also find it interesting to find out what writers they are likened to. Being able to find reasonably priced copies of their work is also a crucial factor as I like to try just one novel before getting completely carried away and buying loads of the author’s work.
8) Tell us your reading routine in a week.
I don’t really have a routine unless you count whenever I can as a routine! Though my usual time for reading is in the afternoon. On Tuesdays I tend to write my Tuesday Night Blogger post for the following week, which often involves reading a book. To keep a track of books I need to read for challenges, books which are review copies and books from my existing TBR pile I usually plan 4 books ahead what I am going to be reading.
9) How do you find the time to read & blog so much?
Well I’ve always been a fast reader and pre-blog I think my record for most books read in a year was either 206 or 208. Since beginning my blog my rate at which I go through books has slowed down, as obviously I need time to write up my reviews and other posts. Various health conditions have meant I am working from home at the moment which probably means I have more time for reading. Also I think I watch a lot less TV than I used to, so again that inevitably means more reading time.
10) Please let us take a peek at your home library. Be a sport and please fulfil this request.
Well since you asked so politely I’ll bit a sport and show you a couple of pictures of my book stash at home. It is currently spread across 2 ½ bookcases and two rows on top of my wardrobe, so it wasn’t possible to get it all in one photo.
11) What are your top 10 Golden Age Detective authors?
This was definitely a tough one! Well at the current moment of writing this these are my top 10 GAD authors. I worry I have forgotten or left out some brilliant writers but I think my main criteria for choosing the authors I chose were someone I have read at least two books of, but hopefully more, that the books I have read were of consistently high quality and brought about an excellent reading experience which had me gripped.
- Agatha Christie
- Dorothy L Sayers
- Delano Ames
- Frances Iles
- Edmund Crispin
- Juanita Sheridan
- Pamela Branch
- Alan Melville
- Ethel Lina White
- Joan Coggin
12) What are your top 10 Golden Age Detective, sleuths?
Again this was another tricky question and in doing so I tried my best to pick authors from between the two world wars, but I did end up counting detective pairs as one entrant to my top 10 list.
- Miss Marple
- Lord Peter Wimsey
- Gervase Fen
- Hercule Poirot
- Lady Lupin
- Mrs Bradley
- Tommy and Tuppence Beresford
- Jane and Dagobert Brown
- Nigel Strangeways (Early appearances only, as in later novels he turns into a much more unpleasant character)
- Haila and Jeff Troy
And finally to finish off my 200th post I have taken some pictures of my pets who also wanted to demonstrate their love of detective fiction… [I tried getting the goats to put on the hat, but they weren’t very keen – I think their taste in literature is more the Three Billy Goats Gruff]