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August 31, 2013 / ljbradburn-Smith

Bookerview – Nick


My good friend Nick agreed to answer some very sensible (ahem) questions about books. Here is what he said:

1. Have you ever been put off a book you really wanted to read by the cover?

I’m far more likely to be suckered into reading something based on the cover, only to find out it’s not actually as great as it seemed – but that’s based on the description on the back rather than the design of the cover. That said, I won’t buy books that I need to complete a set because the covers have changed – it drives me mad seeing a bookshelf with a series of books in the same series that have different covers. I’ll wait until I find a second-hand copy with the old style if at all possible.

I also have a thing about buying a book once it’s been rebranded to match the film or TV show that’s since been made about it, as I wonder if people think ‘He’s only reading that because he saw it on tele, the illiterate fool’. And often I am. Reading it because I saw it on the tele, that is, not illiterate. I got in very early with Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, so as I was finishing book three I saw loads of people starting Dragon Tattoo. Oh, how I mocked! That coincided with the Swedish films coming out over here (and, I suspect, word of mouth), but there was then another wave of fellow train goers reading versions with Daniel Craig on the cover. They were very late to the party.

But Game of Thrones caused a dilemma. I bought book one with Sean Bean on the front, against my better judgement, so I then have to wait for the other series to be on tele so the covers match, even though I’m also going against the whole ‘I don’t buy books with TV/film-branded covers’. Why did you ask me this, Lyd? I’m on an emotional roller-coaster over the whole thing now.

2. What is the most interesting novel you have ever read?

Most of what I read tend to be factual books on organised crime, read as a mixture of interest and research. Those interest because they have to. I don’t know whether fictional books interest me in that sense – though they do bring out a range of other emotions and I do very much enjoy reading them.

3. Books or films?

Books. Sometimes, the book and the film are far enough removed that it doesn’t matter (Both ‘The Man Who Wasn’t There’ films by Hitchcock bear no resemblance to the series of short stories of the same name, but he owned the rights to the title so he thought he’d use it. Twice, just to get good value).

But when films do try to be close, they end up as watered down versions. As good as The Godfather is as a film (ie, brilliant), the book is better – at once more in-depth yet more accessible). And LA Confidential is a very good film, but the James Ellroy book is breath-taking.

Books into TV series often work well as there’s more room for the plot and characters to breathe – as shown with Game of Thrones, though I’m told there are some differences – but films are too restrictive.

4. Finish this sentence: I (manly) love books because…

…they inform, entertain, educate, encourage you to use your imagination, make you ask questions and offer escapism.

5. Have you ever borrowed a book and not returned it?

Hell yeah. I’m not sure I’m allowed back in a Hampshire Library as I still have Michael Marshall Smith’s astonishing short story book ‘What You Make It’ from 2006. But in my defence, I only had to keep that because an ex girlfriend borrowed my original copy in 2004. Which I’d stolen from Egham train station waiting room in 2003. There are other examples, but I feel I’ve said too much (and in all seriousness, I am very good at returning books to people – it’s big institutions I tend to target. Fight the machine!).

6. Where is the weirdest place you have read a book?

I tend to read in the usual spots – on the train, in the bath, on flights, by the pool etc. I can read in the car without getting sick, which I guess is unusual, if not actually a weird place.

7. Has a novel ever made you change/rethink something in your life?

Not that I can think of, but I’m sure they must have. Factual books certainly have.

8. Which author dead/alive would you most like to meet and where would you like to meet them?

Neil Gaiman because he’s awesome. Ben Elton so I could ask how someone who gave us Blackadder and the fantastic Popcorn could then turn so crap. Salman Rushdie so I could talk to him about his years in hiding and whether he felt it was worth it (I think it was – The Satanic Verses is a great book, but it was worth it on free speech ground alone). And any author of a religious text. As for where, if it meant the chance to meet Gaiman or Rushdie, I’d go to them. Elton would have to come to me, he’s bloody well earnt enough.

9. How many books do you take on holiday?

Depends on timescale. Normally one, and then I buy another at the airport. But when me and Em spent four months in Australia I took about five, as did Em, and we had to buy a new suitcase to bring all the extra books back.

10. If you could rewrite one book what would it be and why?

Lord of the Rings. It’s crap. There, I said it.

11. What is the perfect amount of words?

However many is needed to get the job done.

12. Beer or books?

Books because I can live without beer. I’ll happily drink vodka instead.

13. Which book would you most like to eat?

Anything by Salman Rushdie because of the richness of his language – I imagine that would create some good tasting food. Also, a good portion of the Redwall books by Brian Jacques describe feasts, and they always sound nice, so probably those, too.

14. If you had to die from either jumping from the top of a massive pile of books, getting stabbed with a book spine or bleeding to death from a paper-cut what would you pick and why?

From that list, jumping sounds the most fun, and if it was big pile you may blank out. But being beaten over the head with a heavy book is another option as you’d be knocked out before you died and wouldn’t necessarily feel much.

15. What are your top 3 books and why?

Popcorn by Ben Elton – I read this book more times than any other – in fact, it’s probably the only novel I could read again and again (short stories don’t count). It raises important issues on the media and the way it creates borderline celebrities out of bad people and how we’re moving into a blame free culture. This was in the mid-90s, and the prediction has gone way beyond even the parody of the book.

LA Confidential by James Ellroy – a deep, twisting, grimy, intricate epic of a crime noir novel written at a machine-gun like pace and leaves you feeling pretty unsettled.

The Sandman graphic novel series by Neil Gaiman (and various artists) – Now collected as 10 books, the series displays an astonishing breadth and depth, taking in themes and influences from more cultures than you can shake a stick at. In one of the forewords a science fiction author, when commenting on the fact many still don’t see the medium of a graphic novel as valid, says: “If this isn’t literature, nothing is”. My own take would be that to suggest this isn’t literature simply because it is made up of pictures is like suggesting a takeaway menu is literature because it’s composed entirely of words. Content is everything, the medium is moot.

16. If a book was written about your life what would it be called?

Nick of Time, because I like watches? I don’t know, not really thought about it too much just yet!

17. Have you got a question for me?

Have you finished Smoke and Mirrors yet, and if so did you like it and has it encouraged you to read more Neil Gaiman?

I haven’t finished it just yet, I have done the usual thing of reading several books at once, I think I just get a bit overexcited when it comes to books! What I have read so far though I absolutely love and it has definitely inspired me to read more of his stuff. Thanks for lending it to me, I promise you will get it back……one day 😉



Leave a Comment
  1. calmgrove / Sep 3 2013 9:11 pm

    Really intelligent and interesting comments from Nick, and I’m encouraged to expand my range of reading matter — which can’t be bad. Only one little black mark for his LOTR comment but, hey, nobody’s perfect.

    • ljbradburn / Nov 26 2013 4:49 pm

      Haha! Glad you enjoyed it 🙂 You can see why I like him 😉

  2. Nick Capehorn / Nov 14 2013 4:03 pm

    I’ve recently broken my golden rule about book covers – I had the first Hunger Games with the film cover (much to my displeasure), so I waited patiently for the second one to come out with a film cover, but I’ve gotten so into it (and yes, I know its demographic is 14 year old girls, and I know it’s fairly poor quality writing that littered with similes, but I don’t care – I find it such easy and fun reading) that I bought the third one with a different cover. I feel dirty.

    • ljbradburn / Nov 26 2013 4:48 pm

      Oh Nick, how could you? 😉 hehe! If it makes you feel better I admire your dedication to the written word. You are so dedicated that you are willing to overcome your book cover issues in order to read. I’m still your friend! x p.s I love the Hunger Games too.


  1. Smoke and Mirrors | My Feather Quill

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