Behind the Mask

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!