Each year there are lots of events at a local level, across the country, allowing people the opportunity to share their love of reading. In late 2009 I went to the TVNZ7 New Zealand Book Month debate in Auckland, which was quite a cool event. From a crime fiction perspective it was also great to see that Dame Ngaio Marsh was among a handful of Kiwi writers who were highlighted in large photo format as a backdrop to the debate. Too often Marsh's achievements are overlooked amongst some of our other 'classic' New Zealand authors.
I was also very pleased to hear the head of NZ Book Month talk about the importance of valuing our popular or genre fiction, as well as the literary fiction, poetry and short stories we are sometimes so proud of as Kiwis. And I was flattered rather than perturbed when I realised that part of her opening speech was, uh, 'borrowed' from an article I'd written for a magazine.
Unfortunately there is no New Zealand Book Month in 2010. However, the very silver lining to that dark cloud is that the structure and organisation of New Zealand Book Month has been overhauled to ensure it returns bigger and better in 2011, and earlier in the year too - in March 2011 rather than late in the year (so there will have been about a 17-18 month gap, rather than a 12 month gap - so not too bad considering the exciting future it's created). The new website has recently been launched, and you can check it out here.
I will be talking more about New Zealand Book Month as it approaches, and of course doing my best to get a few crime fiction events on the agenda. For now though, I thought I would highlight something that is happening on the website; readers are voting for their favourite books of all time (NZ and international), and some well-known people are sharing their top 5 lists, along with the 'book that changed their lives'.
I went to start voting the other day, and was flummoxed. Couldn't narrow it down to five favourite crime novels, let alone five books of all types. And I've had a few different books that have changed my life, in small and larger ways. But it got me thinking - for you crime fans out there, what would your Top 5 favourite crime novels be? And what was a book (crime or not) that changed your life?
I thought I'd share a couple of personal anecdotes and examples, rather than nailing down my own top 5 and life-changing books list yet. One book that changed my life was THE HOBBIT, which my mother bought for me from a mail-order book club that provided books to primary schools when I was growing up. It was the first real 'adult' book that she'd bought for me (I was about 8 I think), even though according to the school I had a 16+ year old reading age even then. She bought it in order to read it to me, thinking I wouldn't quite understand all the 'big words' yet. I was bored, honestly. I remember sitting on the couch listening to her read "In a hole in the ground there was a hobbit..." and then all this description of the hole, with nothing happening. Aarrggghhh (remember, I was only 8 or so). But then, apparently, when she left to go and do something else, I picked up the book and started reading it myself. And quickly fell in love with it, and started reading more and more young adult and adult books. So that was a bit of a life-changing moment for me.
What are your favourite crime novels? What are some of the books that have changed your life?
Please share your thoughts.