Beyond the Book: Background information when reading The Bad Book Affair

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Bad Book Affair

A Mobile Library Mystery

by Ian Sansom

The Bad Book Affair by Ian Sansom X
The Bad Book Affair by Ian Sansom
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Paperback:
    Jan 2010, 368 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez
Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book

This article relates to The Bad Book Affair

Print Review

Ian Sansom on Libraries, Writing, and Flapjacks
On his website Ian Sansom speaks about the role libraries have played in his life:

"Libraries are places where you go to invent and reinvent yourself, or maybe just to use the toilet, if they have toilet facilities, and to find out how other people have reinvented themselves, and what they've written on the walls, and the desks, and in the books; they're a wonderful hiding place, but also a way back out into the world. The whole point of a library is that you don't have to buy the books you read. You don't have to undergo the agony of going into bookshops, those brightly-lit half-houses of the soul, and shelling out your hard-earned cash for something that in all likelihood is only going to be fit for the fire, and which you're never going to read much past the first couple of chapters. The great truth and beauty of a public library is that you don't own the books: they, briefly, own you. There's probably a moral there, but if I pointed it out my editor, or my wife, or my agent would tell me not to talk such a lot of stuff and nonsense and just to get on and tell the story."

Sansom wasn't raised in a home where there were a lot of books, he says. But he and his friends all had library cards and made frequent trips to the local library. It's perhaps the biggest single influence on his ultimate career choice - even though Sansom claims "I would never tell anyone that I was a writer, not because it's a secret, but just because it sounds so daft - 'Oooh', I can hear my family and my friends and the great heavenly host of actual, real dead writers chorusing, 'He says he's a writer.'"

Sansom once made the statement that, "most books are used by authors and by readers just to waste time, or as a pretty basic means of self-amusement - books used like mental knitting, or television." At a reading of one his own books a library patron called him out, asking whether he thought his statement denigrated reading and writing. "Didn't it make [reading and writing] sound worthless and pathetic?" she asked. She further challenged him by suggesting that such a statement demonstrated his own "obvious superfluity, and [his] limited grasp of the potential of great literature to transform us and to make us anew." Sansom had to agree, saying that, "'mental knitting' is maybe not quite right," and adding, "I think it would be better to compare writing as an activity to making flapjacks."

Flapjacks or not, as not only an author but a prolific book reviewer Sansom is clearly devoted to the power of the written word and the buildings (or mobile vans) that house bound tomes. Expanding on his flapjacks/books analogy he says that writing, "takes longer, of course… and one hopes it gives people a little something to chew over. I think I could stand by flapjacks, even in a heated debate; no need to apologise for them, because I believe in the making of flapjacks in exactly the same way I believe in writing, as a small gesture of hope in the face of the unbeatable and overpowering logic of despair. The trouble is, you can never make enough flapjacks; they're always gone before you know it; the air-tight container has emptied. By writing, one hopes, there's more than enough to go around."

This "beyond the book article" relates to The Bad Book Affair. It first ran in the March 3, 2010 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Latecomers
    The Latecomers
    by Helen Klein Ross
    The Latecomers is the third novel written by acclaimed author Helen Klein Ross, following What Was ...
  • Book Jacket: The Inflamed Mind
    The Inflamed Mind
    by Edward Bullmore
    It is common knowledge that depression diminishes the quality of sufferers' lives, but few people ...
  • Book Jacket: The Adults
    The Adults
    by Caroline Hulse
    Things have already fallen apart on the first page of The Adults. The novel opens with an emergency ...
  • Book Jacket: News of Our Loved Ones
    News of Our Loved Ones
    by Abigail DeWitt
    The Delasalle family of Abigail DeWitt's News of Our Loved Ones are no strangers to the dark specter...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Force of Nature
by Jane Harper

As atmospheric, tense, and explosive as her New York Times bestselling debut, The Dry!

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    House of Stone
    by Novuyo Rosa Tshuma

    A masterful debut, pulsing with dark humor, that explores the often destructive act of history-making.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Uncommon Type

Uncommon Type
by Tom Hanks

Surprising, intelligent, heartwarming, and a must-have for Tom Hanks fans!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Tell I T T M

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.