One of the (many) great things about working in a bookshop is the discount we get on books which encourages us to read more, another that publishers often publish proofs of books and are nice enough to send them to booksellers to read.
You could say that it increases your product knowledge. I just enjoy reading, so it never feels like work. And I hate referring to books as texts or products. Yes, yes, I know they're handy terms but they sound awful.
In the past fortnight these are the proofs that have been floating around my bedside table.
Jim Crace's The Pesthouse - coming in to sign at the shop in a week or so, and I (did anyone not?) liked Quarantine.
Clive James' Cultural Amnesia - 100 or so essays on the great and the good of history and culture. It's a book you dip into. Perfect because it'll take you a quiet moment to read an essay, but you then spend the rest of the day/night percolating your thoughts on Clive James and what he's writer about. I'm not sure that - I'm pretty sure actually - that I don't agree with everything he says. But working out why has made me think a lot about what matters to me. I would defy anyone to not find something of interest in this book. Of the 20 or so essays I've read so far, my favourite is the one on Sophie Scholl. After writing about how important she was/is, James appears to digress and starts talking about what a great actress Nathalie Portman is. He neatly dovetails these two strands to then make conclusions about Hollywood and truth.
A lot of the people James writes about are unknown to me. But that doesn't really matter. He provides enough information for you to then engage in the argument that he wants to make. There are of course people I wish he had written about. Reading the essay on E. R. Curtius, I wanted to read his thoughts on Eric Auerbach (if you do look up the Auerbach link, you'll find out, among other things, that he supervised Fredric Jameson's doctorate which makes sense and I do find interesting). But he didn't write on Auerbach.
Ramachandra Guha's India After Gandhi. I'm sure that there are going to be many books on India this year as it celebrates it 60th year of independence. I'm hoping that reading this will give me a good overview on the history. It had better - over 800 pages long.
Jenni Mills' Crow Stone. The proof cover is festooned with puffs/praise from all and sundry at HarperCollins. Even if I weren't going to be at a HarperCollins trade dinner with the author (Patrick Gale, Kate Bucknell and Nicola Barker will also be there, so it should be a really good evening), I would read the novel (am reading it): it's set in Bath!
Tad Williams' Shadowplay - the sequel to Shadowplay. It's taken me a while to get into this, but after the first 80 or so pages, I want to carry on reading just to find out what happens. But at the back of my head is the knowledge that this is the second of a trilogy, so I'll end up frustrated at the end of the book.
It can be like Christmas working at Pan - you never know what goodies come in the padded envelope.