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Reading Backwards


If there were a prize for the top user of Lewisham Library, I’m sure I’d be in the running. I’m back down there every week or two to return books I’ve finished with and pick up new reading material; that’s how I manage to always keep three or four books on the go without having to constantly put up new shelves to store them.

One of the main themes I return to again and again is following series based around particular fictional investigators. I think it was Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse who set me on that trail and since then I’ve turned up a motley bunch of others – Ruth Rendell’s Wexford, Peter Robinson’s Banks and, most recently, John Connolly’s Charlie Parker.

The only problem is that there’s no guarantee which books in a given series will be on the shelves at any given time. I might be be able to get them in sequence if I ordered books and was willing to wait for them to arrive. However, what I’ve discovered is that I quite like reading them out of sequence. It doesn’t really matter that I’m having to piece together a picture of the characters – who they are and the circles they move. Instead, it’s an extra challenge to enjoy.

After all, I’m reading about heroes and heroines who capture the imagination by how they take disparate pieces and fit them together into a coherent pattern. What an opportunity to join them in intellectual pursuits! Bring them on, whatever order they come in.

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