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The Journey of a Thousand Books

  • Submitted: 15th February 2016

The Journey of a Thousand Books by Harry Illingworth

Harry Illingworth and dogWhen I saw the new look Booktrail website (which as you can all see looks fantastic), I thought very seriously about what book I might be able to choose to go on there. I looked to my pride and joy book shelf, that shelf in my sitting room, dedicated solely to my signed first edition collection, and I immediately knew I could never pick just one. Doing marketing for Goldsboro Books and being a Literary Agent at D H H Literary Agency means I get through a hell of a lot of books…

Every single one of those books on that shelf evoked location for me. Every single book brought a different memory, whether of place or person. You see, I read everywhere. I read on the tube. I read between tube changes. I read in the pub. I read in cafes. I read in bed. Nowhere is off limits. You see where this is going… Each time I read a book in a different place, and experience a different novel the feeling is unique and whilst I could be reading about a fantastical land full of magic, a hot and sweltering beach, an arctic wasteland, a violent gangland Los Angeles – I’m always brought back to where I am at that present time. Although speaking of Arctic, I sure did feel the cold when reading Ian McGuire’s new novel The North Water. There’s parts of that novel you just can’t think about without shivering. Same goes for Ryan Gattis’ All Involved, you feel like you’re in the middle of the riots for that whole book. Every shot and every punch feels like it’s directed right in your gut.

Harry Illingworth's bookshelfBut mainly it’s the memories of where I was when I read a certain book that really stand out. I won’t forget sitting up in my bed reading Anatomy of a Soldier (Goldsboro’s March Book of the Month) in a frenzied afternoon. I’ll never forget fighting back tears in my local pub as I tried to look ‘oh so casual’ whilst reading the glorious but devastating A Little Life. Being on a train reading a submission from a prospective author and knowing that I want to read the rest of that manuscript. You may be surrounded by angry commuters, but you don’t forget the first time you read an exciting new authors’ work.

These are the feelings and memories evoked by brilliant novels. Remembering the taste of the pint you were drinking whilst sat there book in hand. Remembering the eggs in that café whilst you were finishing off an edit of a submission you’re preparing. Picking up a new book straight afterwards and thinking, ‘yep, I’m ready for a new journey. We’re going to get along just fine.’

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Twitter: @harryillers

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