Every day in our bookshop we meet customers keen to 'disappear into a story' but who are struggling to find, or regain, their literary mojo. Some ... suffer a reading disorder. ... We meet customers with health issues; their chemotherapy, or post-op recovery, drug treatments, or sheer exhaustion, have affected their attention spans. 'I just want an easy read' is a common request from the unwell, the infirm, the emotionally drained, the weary.The writer's 'remedial' reading list includes J. D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carré and Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach.
Uplifting or wrist-slashing? Is Catcher in the Rye more likely to reignite one's literary passion, or kill it stone dead? Some of those books are icons of a particular kind of mid-twentieth century literary mindset. It must be difficult being a bookseller. Do customers ever walk in and say 'That last book was too easy. Give me something I can't get through'?
I read history and edge-of-seat detection for escapism. The faster the pages turn, the quicker the cure. George Orwell described an early James Hadley Chase novel as 'a brilliant piece of writing, with hardly a word wasted or a false note anywhere'. Chase mixed crime, detection, hatred, murder, insurance salesmen and gothic horror. He wrote about a hundred books and you can't get them any more. They've all disappeared. Chase was a bookseller when he started writing. He must have known something.
Of course, there's more than one way of disappearing into a story. Another tomorrow.