I've always loved books. I buy far more books than I actually read though, so I have bookcases sagging under their weight, awaiting the day I retire or break a leg!
Gardening books are a favourite - great for picking up tips and learning about 'what to do in your garden this month'; or flicking through design books, creating a wish list of glorious plants and planning for my dream bigger patch.
Craft books are great sources of inspiration for me too, and a fount of knowledge. I love learning new things but don't always have the patience to stick with one thing. I'm always wanting to try new techniques - patchwork, quilting, beading, felting, applique, knitting, crochet, freestyle embroidery, cross stitch, needlepoint, ragwork, Kumihimo - I've tried them all! Fabric and yarn are the common factors though.
Aside from the gardening and craft books I also have a tonne of fiction waiting for my time. I do have a few favourite authors (Jodi Picoult, James Patterson, Jean M. Auel amongst others) that I keep turning back too, but I enjoy reading all sorts really. I've had a few packs of books from The Book People before and they're great for trying out new authors (they sell packs of ten books for £10 - on a certain theme, or a collection of one author). I also frequent the charity book shops and just pick up whatever takes my fancy that day. I'll get round to reading them all one day! My Dad was a great reader too and he obviously passed on his love of books as my sister, brother and nieces enjoy reading too.
A couple of years ago I spent a lot of time travelling to and from work so I thought it was the ideal opportunity to do something useful rather than just looking out of the window or reading the posters (trying to avoid catching the eyes of fellow travellers!) I decided to set myself a target to read a book a week. In 2007 I managed to read 53 books (a slight counting error led to an extra book by the end of the year!) But part-way through 2008 I changed jobs and my travelling time halved, so I only read 45 books that year. This year, so far, I'm only up to 23 books, which isn't bad really (you can see what I've read this year in the list to the right).
I finished 'The Olive Farm' by Carol Drinkwater last night. I thought it might be just another of those - move abroad, buy derelict cottage, do it up, try to converse with the locals - sort of book but I was pleasantly surprised. As the book states it's 'a memoir of life, love and olive oil in the South of France'. The book is intelligently written; and the detailed descriptions create a really vivid and atmospheric image of renovating, and living on, a run-down but now successful Provencal olive farm. The author has produced an incredibly passionate tale of the highs and lows of her family and professional life, of attracting stray dogs, harvesting olives, travelling the world as an actress and trying to find success as a screen writer.
I've just started 'The Surgeon' by Tess Gerritsen today. Have you read it? What do you enjoy reading? Do you stick to books by your favourite author or do you enjoy walking down new literary avenues?