2023 Grateful 36: Change the channel

There was a time when I swore to the world and anyone else listening that I’d never, ever, ever, go digital when it came to books. I argued for the smell, the feel, and the presence of the printed tome that simply couldn’t be replicated. I frowned, disparagingly when I saw a friend or acquaintance who had gone over to the other side and kindled their reading experience. I’m embarrassed now at how intolerant I was and am sure I have friends who wished I came with a remote so they could change the channel.

A piece of trivia for you:

Branding consultants Michael Cronan and Karin Hibma devised the Kindle name. Lab126 asked them to name the product, and they suggested “kindle”, meaning to light a fire. They felt this was an apt metaphor for reading and intellectual excitement.

I bought mine when on holiday Stateside. It sat in its box for months before I got around to opening it and setting it up. I’ve never looked back. Always an avid reader, I now forge through three or four, sometimes five books a week. And when I find the first book in promising series, I binge.

My escapism is crime fiction. Police whodunnits. Procedurals. If I were to be banished to a desert island with no electricity and could bring the complete works of just one author, I’d be lugging the life work of Dick Francis.

Celebrated as one of the greatest thriller writers of all time, champion jockey turned bestselling author Dick Francis wrote forty-four thrillers in his illustrious career, including four with his son, Felix Francis, who later went on to write continuation novels in his father’s style.

My litmus test for a good book is whether the characters are believable and whether the dialogue is credible. That paper will take any print is one of the many truisms I grew up on. And there is a lot of drivel out there. The plot can be as farfetched as you like as long as the characters are real.

I’ve just finished the last of 14 books in the DI Declan Walsh series by Jack Gatland (Book 15 is due in July this year). When I closed my Kindle last night, I felt a little bereft. I’d spent a pleasant month or so in London with the miscreants from the Last Chance Saloon and although I’m a tad sceptical about Declan’s daughter Jess being as involved as she is at just 16, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the series, particularly as Gatland/Lee points out the sites in London where the novels are set.

I only wished I’d read them when I was living in London. Searching them out would have been a pleasant way to pass the weekend. I’m particularly partial to a thriller that uses real places as a backdrop and introduces me to quirky facts and places that I’d otherwise not know.

Gatland is the pen name of Tony Lee, better known as a graphic novelist. It wasn’t until 2021 that he outed himself as Jack Gatland and fessed up to his mystery-writing self.

As Lee, though, he’s doing what he can to help reluctant readers find their way by showing them how they can change the channel.

I’m currently running a season of school talks labeled CHANGE THE CHANNEL, where I spend a day at a school (including a lunch with a writing group), based around the simple fact that many reluctant readers, if faced with a book they don’t enjoy will often walk away from books altogether. I compare this to other mediums, showing that if you’re watching a movie on TV and hate it, you simply change the channel – and how ‘changing the channel’ in book genres, and finding your own favourite book ‘channel’ can often be a good thing.

If you like a good thriller, with likeable characters, and would enjoy a closer look at London, the DI Declan Walsh series is worth checking out.

Am grateful I made the move to Kindle because now, when I finish one book, I can start immediately on the next. I might just have a problem…



One Response

  1. When I’m reading a paper book, I get the urge to touch the word I don’t know the meaning of, and must laugh at that reaction. Because, of course, that and many other reasons: X-Ray, Wiki and internet searching, translation and the rest, must be the smartest thing going when it comes to a revolution in reading. Right? I mean, amazing! Even magical! Hah!

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