Book Magpie: Best of the Web, 10 Jan 2014

Choose Your Own Adventure
Category: Reading

Book Magpie enjoyed a low key Hogmanay in one's nest listening to the local owl’s lovely Hootenanny. Without a riotous bang to see out 2013, this bird felt strangely listless on New Year’s Day. A feeling that has yet to leave my breast.

Lacking inspiration for the year ahead I listened to science-fiction author Hannu Rajaniemi talk about neuro-fiction (in short, how books of the future could shape themselves to what turns your brain on) and it left me thinking two things: 1) Finnish people have really cool names; and (2) it’s time to revisit the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ story. Here goes:-

  1. You want to be more awesome in 2014 - turn to page 1.
  2. 2014 is to be the year when you just enjoy yourself - turn to page 2.
  3. The year ahead will be just another sorry chapter in your meaningless existence - turn to page 3.

Page 1

You start 2014 by retrofitting your home with these 22 DIY delights for bookworms. Each morning you read James Robertson's latest 365-word story on Penguin's story-a-day project. You stick to your resolution to read a book a week as you know your brain function is boosted for days after reading a novel. On a reading roll you manage to read all these 16 books before they are released in the cinema during 2014. Upon leaving the multiplex your ideal mate overhears you starting each sentence with “But in the book…”. You get together. Your new partner falls in love with your cool bookwormish home, then you elope. You start a family and make your babies wear these literary onesies. 2014 is the first year in your new, super-happy life.

Page 2

Upon hearing some self-published authors are coining in $30k writing novels in the murky world of monster erotica you start writing a steamy romance about a premiership footballer and a pterodactyl. Your partner soon grows tired of listening to you sniggering at your laptop night after night and, after an evening at the cinema, watching an adaptation of one of their favourite books, you lose them to some pretentious jerk you make lewd hand gestures behind. Desperately trying to feel young, free and single again you set up a reasonably successful literary club night based on the 10 best parties in literature and try to have rhythmic, poetic sex [don’t worry this links to the Guardian – Ed]. 2014 finishes with you single, with a half-finished erotic monster novella and a hatful of resolutions for 2015.

Page 3

On the 1st of January you realise each year follows the trajectory of life itself. You’re born into cold darkness, you blossom into youth, enjoy it in an all too brief summer before descending once again into darkness, cold and old age. You suspect the economic downturn might be fuelling the sad book releases you see everywhere, and try and cheer yourself up by buying leather armour for your cat but nothing seems to work. Even a night at a literary club brings no cheer and you meet some creep talking about poetic rhythm and sex. Towards the end of the year a story begins to whirr round your head based on that guy. You garner some tips from Scottish Book Trust’s writing blog. They resonate. You finish 2014 with the epiphany: you’re not depressed, you’re a writer!

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