Amis and Hornby and Rankin and more

Singapore officially on Saturday was on a reading jag. READ!Singapore, a 12-hour reading marathon, was organised by the National Library Board to promote the reading habit. Singaporeans swot for school and to climb the career ladder but fewer and fewer people read anything other than textbooks and professional books. So says the READ!Singapore website. The National Library would like people to read more and one of the things it did was organise a book talk for taxi drivers, says Rambling Librarian.

Well, the event was over and out of the way when I visited the Woodlands library yesterday. The place bustled with the typical Sunday crowd — mums with kids borrowing children’s books, youngsters mooching round the shelves, readers browsing in quiet corners.

I was in luck. I got not one, not two, but six good books. Martin Amis’ Money and London Fields, Nick Hornby’s How To Be Good, Alan Lightman’s The Diagnosis, Hari Kunzru’s Transmission, and Ian Rankin’s A Question of Blood. Rankin has already come out with another Inspector Rebus mystery — Fleshmarket Close (published as Fleshmarket Alley in the US). I wonder when I will be able to lay my hands on that. I immensely enjoyed reading Hornby’s High Fidelity — even tracked down some of the songs — and would like to read Fever Pitch again. I had tackled Money earlier — and “tackled” is the word — but though the writing was absolutely fantastic, as hip and colourful as anything written by Rushdie and Tom Wolfe, the voice and character of the hero-cum-narrator was somewhat over-the-top. I got bored. Let’s see if I like it better now. I have never read Kunzru, but he has been praised to the rafters as one of the brighest young writers, and this book looks promising, mixing London and Bollywood and Silicon Valley. I have no idea at all about Lightman except that his book has been highly praised. But I must finish Rankin first. After all, we both love the Rolling Stones!

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