Saturday 19 July 2008

Library Books

I make good use of my local library. It's small, but has a pretty good rotation of books (I suspect that the libraries in the Borough must pool their resources and share the books). It never takes me long to choose books. I have a few 'want to read' items that I keep a look-out for, and otherwise pick pretty much at random from displays and shelves. If I end up not fancying a book it gets sent back unread; although I always try to stick to my late grandfather's maxim of finishing a book you start (he was a voracious reader); it may sometimes take me several efforts!

The current crop were chosen in my normal manner. Two were renewals from the last lot (you only get three weeks for eight books from Greenwich libraries) that I had started and not finished. Five of the remaining six were chosen from a 'summer reading' display featuring choices from the 'Richard and Judy Summer Read'. Well, why not? The last was a book I spotted off the shelf, Jeffrey Archer "Sons of Fortune". I realise that Archer isn't generally considered high literature, but I've always enjoyed his books (I must have read "Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less" a dozen times!). I decided to start reading this first, and from the beginning I wondered if I hadn't already read it. I reasoned that I would definitely remember some of the more audacious plot twists, therefore I probably hadn't. There is some familiarity in many of his books as he writes often about what he knows, and so politics often features strongly.

It wasn't until I read the last words of the book that I realised that I definitely had read the book before; the end of the book irritated me, and had irritated me on the previous reading. I don't want to give to much away... but at the end of the book is an election, the election is a tie, and must therefore be decided on the toss of a coin. The last paragraph reads "The mayor picked up the coin and turned round to fact the two candidates. He smiled at the man now standing on his right, and said, 'May I be the first to congratulate you, governor.'" The end. On the previous page you are told that the two candidates are standing "as befitted their political persuasion". During the coin toss you are also told "One of them called, 'Heads,' but then he always called heads." Yep. This was mentioned somewhere in the course of the book. But, for those who have criminally short attention spans and read books in several sittings (often in conjunction with reading several other books) such throw away details are often forgotten. Yes, annoyingly about twenty chapters previously one of the characters lost a coin toss when the opponent called heads and it was mentioned at that point "because he would have called heads - he always did".

I'm not going to tell you who won; you probably haven't read the book and don't really care. You can work it out anyway from the last two pages of the book; and if you want confirmation I'd recommend the beginning of Chapter 31! It just annoys me that I managed to read an entire book without realising that I'd read it before! I'd recommend it if you enjoy a good tale; just as I recommend all of Archer's books (well, the ones I've read, anyway).

A change of pace, next - a delve into 'Richard and Judy's Summer Read' I think.