There is no Book of the Week this week. I’m sorry. I spent the start of last week reading a string of books that I’m reviewing for Novelicious – and I don’t review/recommend those here before my reviews have gone up there, although I do put them in my list of books that I’ve read. It’s a courtesy thing. I’d planned to use read some books from my to-read pile at the end of the week, from which I was hoping a BotW would emerge. And then Friday happened.
As many of you will know, my “proper” job is as a journalist – and I was on shift on Friday, Saturday and Sunday as the terrible news came out of Paris. And after that, not only was I exhausted and sad, but my brain just couldn’t cope. I didn’t feel like sitting down and reading new books and thinking critical and analytical thoughts about them.
I know there’s been a lot of talk about Paris getting more attention than other attacks, and I’d like to say that my feelings aren’t because it’s Paris where this has happened rather than somewhere outside Europe. It’s because this has been a year where there have been more dreadful images and video than any other year that I’ve been working in news. I’d list them all, but I’d be sure to leave something out and that would defeat the point of what I’m trying to say.
I’ve seen dead bodies around the world, people cut down by gunfire, bombs and natural disasters. There’s been video of people killed on camera, of dead children, of wreckage smashed on mountainsides and deserts, of grieving families, of funerals. And all that’s without the videos from so-called Islamic State (or whatever you wish to call them) of the killings of hostages which, thankfully, I haven’t seen – because my employer put safeguards in place so that only a few people in the whole organisation had to watch them. And of course I haven’t gone looking for them – once you’ve watched someone be killed – for real – on camera, you don’t want to ever see it again.
So there you are. I could have cheated, and recommended something that was the only new book that I’d read that wasn’t for Novelicious, or a book that I started on Sunday and finished this morning. But both of those solutions felt disingenuous and wrong.
Books are my coping mechanism for life. When I’m stressed, tired, fed-up or upset I turn to the worlds inside their pages for comfort. And that’s what I’m still doing. I’m getting out my old favourites, worlds where bad things only happen to bad people, where everything turns out all right in the end. So if there is a Book of the Week this week, make it one of your own old favourites. One you turn to when you need solace. Personally, I’m back in the world of boarding school stories and romance. Normal service will be resumed soon. I hope.
Buffy: Does it ever get easy?
Giles: You mean life?
Buffy: Yeah, does it get easy?
Giles: What do you want me to say?
Buffy: Lie to me.
Giles: Yes. It’s terribly simple. The good guys are always stalwart and true. The bad guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, and, uh, we always defeat them and save the day. No one ever dies and… everybody lives happily ever after.