Who is the Book Phantom? Why the mystery and the mask? No, Fezzik, I wasn’t burned by acid or something. And although I find my mask terribly comfortable and think everyone will be wearing them in the future, it isn’t for fashion’s sake either. I prefer to remain anonymous because (1) I’m shy, and (2) I like sneaky giving. I get a thrill out of slipping interesting pieces of ephemera into borrowed and gifted books. I like making people wonder what it’s all about and what it has to do with the book they’re reading. I guess I’m like a literary Banksy, except for the illegal vandalism thing (I’d never deface a book).
The Book Phantom is loyal to no genre and will read nearly anything that is well-written or has a good story, including a good deal of non-fiction. I follow a strict reader’s regimen of my own design and have developed a formula for figuring out what to read next. Generally, I pick a topic inspired by the goings-on in my life or by some spontaneous tickle in my fancy, and I immerse myself in that topic. I have five general types of reading:
1. New Releases: Typically the latest literary fiction or best-seller material, but I also read new genre fiction if it’s intriguing. Sometimes my pick may be new-ish or old contemporary – it just depends on the nature of the literary tickle.
2. Classics: I wouldn’t want to miss out on the best history has to offer.
3. Non-fiction: Lifelong learning, baby. Exercise the brain.
4. Juvenile: This could be picture books, middle grade, YA. I love ’em all, and so do my kids.
5. Writer’s Inspiration and Reference: These are books I consider “professional development” reads. Writing is my thing, but butchering, baking, or candle-stick-making may be yours.
All five of my selections for a given period have a common thread. From time to time, I’ll choose a random bonus read on impulse or because someone gave me a book. Like I always say: ‘Never look a gift-read in the book flaps.’ Bonus reads are my literary wild cards that keep things spontaneous. Sometimes limitations (such as my book allowance) will also influence my choices. While I almost always purchase the New Releases on my list, I check my local library for the others and make substitutions when something equally interesting can be borrowed. I usually end up purchasing at least two of the books on my list. I also like to buy paperbacks and give them away.
In addition to being a rapacious reader, I am a fledgling novelist (isn’t everyone these days?). So far, my manuscript defies all genres. Is it historical? Maybe. It’s set in a real place in ancient times. Magical realism, perchance? Uncanny and fantastical events take place, yet I wouldn’t call it paranormal. My characters are merely victims of their superstitions. I could even make an argument that it’s YA because of the coming-of-age aspect (but it could be too edgy). Some might even call it fantasy of the ilk of Mists of Avalon. I haven’t read enough of that genre to be sure. Regardless of its classification, the work puts me in my own little world for a few hours each day, and it’s immensely gratifying.
Now that you’ve had a peek at the nameless face behind the mask, I hope you’ll join me regularly for book reviews, writer-ly inspiration, and other literary fun stuff. Get in the literate spirit!