Please don’t send me any books – unless you own a time machine

It's Christmas, and I love reading, but I don't need any more books.

Share

If you were planning on sending me a book – because you saw one you thought I might like for Christmas, or because you’ve just written one and you’d like a quote for the jacket, or because you can’t think of anything more hilarious than buying me a celebrity memoir of someone neither of us could name if they put a gun to our heads – could I ask you nicely to hold off?

I like reading. I really do. I like it so much that this year I judged the Orange Prize, and next year I’m judging the Man Booker. That means, in two years, I’ll have read well over 200 novels, fitted around my usual job (I realise I can’t say proper job with a straight face). I will also have managed to jam them all into a one-bedroom flat: I’m currently considering sculpting them into furniture, and extricating them jenga-style when it’s time to read one.

Now the judging panel has been announced, I find (as I did with the Orange) that responses split into two camps. The majority of people who ask about it look slightly horrified at the thought of reading one or two books a day over many weeks. Most people tell me that they wouldn’t read that many books in a month, or a year, or if you paid them.

But then there are the hungry-eyed people, who can’t believe anyone could be so lucky as to be sent hundreds of free books. And, happily, I am one of the latter, which is why I keep saying yes to judging. Fifteen years ago, when I worked in a video-rental store before the minimum wage act came in, I earned £3.30 an hour. I spent most of it on rent, and virtually nothing on food: I lived off the unsellable broken ice-creams and chocolate bars (and I almost never smashed one because it looked tasty). Then I bought remaindered books and lived in constant worry that I would run out of reading material before the next payday.

Now, I get sent – even without the judging – about three books a week by people who think I might like them. I’m very grateful, but I do often wish I could give them to my past self, who couldn’t afford them and would have had more time to read them.

To try to correct this imbalance, without buying a DeLorean and driving at 88 miles an hour through a parking lot to go back to the mid-90s, I have sworn never to resell books on Amazon or eBay. They go to the local charity shop, in the hope that the person who’s buying them from there gobbles them up en route to becoming a Man Booker judge in a few years.

 

Killing us with condescension
 

I might be less sanguine about reading all the books in the world if The Killing was still on telly. But the final episodes of the final season went out on Saturday night, and now my evenings look much less fun. This series has been a return to form: the first series was a perfect dissection of grief, the last has been about political and corporate corruption, and couldn’t have been more timely.

Viewers have, rightly, fixated on the character of the lead detective, and her excellent knitwear. But The Killing has done more than just present us with a good mystery. It’s captured the mood of the moment, by entwining its violent crime with political shenanigans. The Killing has sought to prove that no one – however respectable – can be trusted. I can’t think of a British crime drama that has done the same thing since State of Play. (I’m not counting The Hour because it’s set in the past.) Since we were all perfectly happy to watch high-end drama that doesn’t talk down to its audience, even when it was in Danish, could our commissioning editors aim a bit higher for us next year?

www.nataliehaynes.com

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Residents of the Gravesham constituency are 10 times closer to what Peter Hain scorns as the “Westminster elite” than are those of Linlithgow and East Falkirk  

Will no one stop the march of localism?

Jonathan Meades
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam