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READING OR DEVOURING? by Aimee

I have never liked much the expressions for “voracious reader” – bookworm, “rat de bibliothèque”, “Bücherwurm”… I’m neither a rat nor a worm. But I have to admit I can’t remember a day in my life when I haven’t read a chapter or two.

As a child, I had a steady diet of the Famous Five, Nancy Drew, The Dana Girls, Fantômette, and a lot of other books. I soon graduated to my parents’ library, and around ten, I discovered Jules Verne, Alexandre Dumas and other classics, such as Colette… I didn’t quite understand what was going on between Claudine and her teacher, though… And then, at about the same age, I started to read in another language, which gave me access to other books and series… Malory Towers, St Clare’s, The Chalet School, Sweet Valley. It wasn’t until much later that I started collecting girls’ school stories, though, and other 20th century children’s books. After that, I started on the real classics – you know those quizzes you can find on FB, where they ask you how many of those you’ve read? Well, I usually score pretty high – bragging unintended. So during my adolescence, I read anything from Victor Hugo to Tolstoy, Austen, Dickens, Boris Vian, Kafka… And when I was at university, I wrote my thesis on WW2, so I read about five hundred books about that too.

Jumping to today… I started participating in a reading challenge in 2021, and since I was curious about my book consumption, I decided to write down the titles of the books I was reading, and number them. I’m slightly horrified to admit that as I’m writing this – mid-May – I’ve read 275 books already… Including three audiobooks, but still. But reading, like writing, as we all know, is not a matter of quantity but of quality.

So… What do I read? I need a book to be reasonably well-written in terms of style, and without typos – I always spot them, and it spoils my reading. Otherwise, I’d say that anything is fair game. Nowadays, I read mostly wlw fiction. I’ll read general fiction, historical fiction,  romance – I like my romance with a bit of plot and not too many tropes, though, scifi, fantasy, even erotica if there’s BDSM in it. I usually draw the line at horror, werewolves, shapeshifters, and I’m not enamoured with vampires, even though I’ve read two vampire novels recently, and I have to admit that a handsome butch vampire with ethics isn’t unappealing as a heroine. I have to admit I’ll read almost anything with a woman in uniform, whether she’s in the military, in the church, or a doctor, and that shows in my three novels…

As for my favourite book… I really couldn’t say. I did find two jewels last year, well-written, literate, full of humour, empathy and just enough pathos, and these are Kate Mulgrew’s two memoirs, Born with Teeth and How to Forget.

“The reader, like the author, can be considered as the main character of a novel, without him nothing happens.” , wrote the French author Elsa Triolet. I don’t think one can write without reading, and therefore I’m very grateful to my fellow authors, who provide me with a steady diet…

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