An invitation to read in ‘community’

The Isolator, invented in 1925

The Isolator, invented in 1925

Dear readers,

I hope that this finds you well, and firing on all (or at least on most) of your cylinders. I have a request to make of you: if/when you have read one or more of my books or anyone else’s books, may I ask you to please resist the urge to read in isolation and instead share your thoughts on what you’ve read, whether via a blog (it seems that us bloggers used to do this more often in the ol’ days than we do now), or via Goodreads, or via penning a few ‘review’-like words on the relevant Amazon or other bookseller’s site … or even with an actual person. I ask this because I’m increasingly bothered by the way that most of us read ‘alone’. One of the reasons that I greatly appreciate emails from readers about my books—and I will continue to welcome such!—is that the conversations and comments that emerge in such correspondence are very often of mutual help to both reader and author. Most of this could be widened.

I’ve ummed and ahed about writing this ‘letter’, mostly out of fear that it is motivated by a desire to increase sales. I sincerely hope that this is not the case, although my—and probably yours too—adroitness for self-deception is significantly developed. On my most conscious level, this request is motivated by a conviction that anything that helps readers read and to both articulate and gain a guileless assessment of a book is helpful, especially when one feels free to be as ruthlessly honest and as critical and as fair as one needs to be.

Thank you for considering this wee request.




  1. “ummed and ahed” – OK, that’s different to the way I write this, but my spellchecker doesn’t like ANY version of it! Good to see someone else giving it a go! I always want to write ‘hummed and hahed’ or something. I thought the ‘h’ was aspirated.
    Anyway, in regard to the important topic of your post, I can only endorse what you say in every respect, being, as you know, a fragile writer – a group that is much larger than the world thinks. I recently re-read some of Stephen King’s book, On Writing. Now there’s an author you’d hardly think would ever feel fragile about his writing. Nope, just as fragile as the rest of us. And it’s a constant refrain with many writers, some of whom admit to it frequently (Anne Lamott, for instance) and some who don’t. Ask any author who’s just had a real success if the next book will be much easier to write. Nope, it won’t be. Just as hard as the first.


  2. I’ve commented on your blog, but also just want to note that I didn’t realise you’d contributed to the book, All Shall Be Well, which sounds like an interesting read. I’ve put it on my ‘to-read’ list…though it’s a bit pricey at the moment!



  3. I have the same concerns. But I think ‘the book’ is a dead art form. I have been voicing that concern for years to my wife, who has worked for 40 years for some of the best academic presses in the US. To me we are entering a new age of transmission analogous to oral culture (including early Christianity!).


  4. Thanks for inviting comments and input. I always assume authors are too busy or uninterested. Just remember, you asked! ;)


  5. Love the notes about selfishness and self-deception! Reminds me of Augustine’s worrying that the Confessions were written simply for vainglory. So, at the very least, you’re in good company.


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