What's all this then?

I tweet too much. So I needed somewhere else to start storing all the words. This is it. Think of it as the external hard drive for my thoughts.

I don't have an obesssion, a dream, a fixation or a hook, so don't be expecting a focus here. It's like great big lumps of my twitterings. You may see teaching stuff, rants, maternal anxiety and occasional sojourns away from reality.

Anyway, I like a nice chat so we should talk. By we, I of course mean me...

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Oh Dan Brown, what have you done to me?

In times of stress I used to turn to the comfort of a Georgette Heyer or Jane Austen, maybe a Jenny Colgan if the Regency period didn’t appeal. They were all quite harmless books, not at all detrimental to health and no serious side effects.

However, last year in a period which saw my concentration span collapse in the manner of earth-pea-blackhole-shrinkage, and looking for something undemanding to keep me turning the pages, (like the Dan Brown I once read, but not as infuriating or face-palmy), I picked up a book by Matthew Reilly. If only I’d forseen the effects. It changed my life. Let me be quite clear, it was not a good book. In fact the opening chapters had me snorting derisively at the nonsensical plot devices, the interweaving of myth, urban myth and freudianly big weapons. However, the pages kept turning and by the time Stonehenge was thrown into the mix I was completely, shamelessly hooked.

This was my gateway book into the genre best described as Post-Dan Brown. Now the PDB monopolises my reading. As I scan the blurb of a book I know what I’m looking for. I want references to a shadowy organisation/cult, the Nazca lines, malevolent Cardinals in the Vatican, hidden treasure, astronomical apocalypses, secret chambers under ancient monuments and lost books.  I like a maverick hero with the purity of Galahad and a gun as long as his, um… arm and a female counterpart with a working knowledge of anthropology and a high kick to make Bruce Lee nod with approval; both being led on a merry dance along some of the world’s more exotic leylines.

It is like an illness now. I can't stop. I've tried. I have read such things, oh such things, as a lover of literature should blush to remember. Classics sit unread on the bookshelf as I feverishly turn the pages of another epic jaunt through popular legend and conspiracy theory. I know all the best places to get a fix: jumblesales, charity shops; anywhere second hand books lurk, there you can find a good PDP. As I think of the School Fayre I’m organising, I find myself salivating at the prospect of getting my hands on the donated books before anyone else.

I don’t know why I’m in thrall to the PDB. They have outrageous plots, risible romance subplots and the kind of violence that I squeamishly have to skim over so it doesn’t give me nightmares. But they render me helpless to resist their call.

It reminds me of being 13 and discovering spy thrillers. I read every Len Deighton, John le Carre and Colin Forbes the school library had to offer. I would spend Saturday mornings cocooned in a duvet absorbing worlds of ciphers, dead drops and double agents. Happy, simple times. Teenage-me also read some decidedly iffy non-fiction works, or at least they hovered around one of the fuzzier borders of the fiction barrier. Yes, I owned a copy of “Chariots of the Gods” by the legendary Erik Von Daniken. Owned? I still own it. I can’t bear to throw it away. It’s from part of my life when a good Saturday night involved a bag of Woolies picnmix, scaring yourself witless with whispered stories about people who were never the same after Doing The Ouija Board, and daring each other to say the Hail Mary 100 times whilst looking in the mirror at midnight.

I suppose the PDB genre combines both of these teenage loves (there were no sparkly vampires in those days).  Reading them takes me back to a time before reality was so demanding, before responsibility, before 8am was a lie in. They let me put my anxious brain on hold for a little bit. However, this is my public acknowledgement that I must break their grip. Before I start discussing the Dogon’s knowledge of Sirius earnestly in pubs.

To complete this confession, here is a list of all the PDB’s I have read recently. I have rated each one on the DaVinci Absurdity Scale, where a score of 1 Leonardo represents an enjoyable occult thriller and 5 Leonardos indicate a book so preposterous Russell Grant would treat it with contempt.

You may laugh and judge me. It’ll be like therapy.


  1. Yes. There is a typo, that I am too lazy to correct. Table should say PDB. I don't know what a PDP is but Mangowe says it could be Post DanBrown Pap. She is probably right.

  2. I am reading *whispers* Nora Roberts, can't cope with the plots in PDB/P lolz. But at least I am reading something not lying on the sofa doing nothing.

  3. Hee hee, share the shame Ali!

    The Matthew Reilly was a post-hospital sofa read last year. I look forward to seeing where your Nora Roberts takes you next... x

  4. can't. breathe. laughing. too. hard

    My own Dan Brown related story meant that I stayed up to finish the Da Vinci code and thus meant I missed the huge punch up on Big Brother in 2003. Sob. I do actually regret this. The missing of big brother. Not the reading of Dan Brown.

    I am trash-tastic-zilla. Srsly.

  5. Disaster! Missing classic BB for Dan Brown - the worst kind of culture clash!

    I could have doubled this list, but felt I had fessed up to enough. For now.

  6. This is brilliance! I made the mistake of trying to read The Da Vinci Code in Spanish - couldn't get my head round the vocab foot all that religious iconography - so never got into it. Though maybe I actually escaped a gruesome fate, if your post is anything to go by ;o)

    I did find the Stieg Larsson books unputdownable - are they in the PDB canon?

  7. Thank you!

    Hmmm... I don't know the Stieg Larsson books, but you can just tell I'm going to go and try them, can't you?


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