This is my second blog.
My first one was called The Art Monster. I was in art school; I spent all day making art, looking at art, discussing art and thinking about art. What else was I going to write about?
That was six years ago. Within a year and a half of The Art Monster’s birth, I graduated and moved to a charming slice of Cardiff known as Splott. And like most people after they leave university, I gradually began to reshape my world according to how the world was shaping me: pragmatically. I had to pay the rent and the bills, and art didn’t do that. (I made video art – not exactly commercial dynamite.)
But, I thought, maybe books can pay the bills. I didn’t want to write a book, but I did want to be around other people’s. Art no longer had its will-o’-the-wisp hold over me, drawing me from one path to the next. Blogging about it became a chore, and books became my escape. Novels and narrative non-fiction, so long neglected during my years at art school, were suddenly brimming with allure; they became my life’s adventures. While I spent the Welsh winter nights ensconced in my bedroom, reading page after page, I crossed the Mexican border with John Grady Cole and discovered corpses with Gypsy Rose Lee. I punched Star Trek-garbed zombies in Houston and watched as the Great Fire tore it’s way across London in 1066. Like all readers, I was living myriad lives.
I got myself a Christmas temp job in a bookshop. It didn’t take me long to become entrenched in that world. Suddenly, my work life and my home life were symbiotic. I was around books all day, I read them all evening, I talked about them with my colleagues and with friends. Life was animated again.
And so, years down the line and three bookshops later, I am paying my bills with books. It’s a pleasure that’s bemusing to some. I’ve known it to be exhausting and downright luxurious simultaneously, and its future success as an industry feels endlessly perilous. But I’m sticking with it, because there are still so, so many books that I’ve yet to read – and what better place to stumble across them than at work.
The Sly Reader is my tentative return to blogging. The things I post aren’t going to be academic or particularly analytical, but they will be personal. I’ll be writing about how a book makes me feel, what it makes me think about and what other books it leads me to. A good book has a knack for altering a person’s outlook on life, and it’s these little transformations that I relish hearing about, whether it’s from my partner, my friends, my family or customers; I want to hear about them all. I’ll be writing about mine here.
To get an idea of what books I like to read, check out my first post here.