Saturday, 27 October 2018

‘Beta’ the Devil You Know

I love the excitement of a good book on its first read, but I’m an inveterate re-reader. It’s so much safer at the end of a long day to settle down with a reliable favourite; either a book I know or one by an author on my ‘authors worth reading’ list. With no external stimulus, I might never read another new book. Recognising this trait in myself, I tried joining reading clubs, but they never worked out. I swayed between cherry picking and forcing myself to keep up, and eventually after ploughing through a couple of books that didn’t spark my interest at all I gave up.

Then a few years ago, I found the answer. I began beta reading new books for a publisher with an eclectic list. The variety has been amazing. Have I enjoyed them all? No, but I count the real turkeys on the fingers of one hand, and I’ve encountered some amazing new authors.

From last year’s new offerings here are two books I’d never have found otherwise. They’re as different from each other as the proverbial chalk and cheddar but have added two new names to my ‘authors worth reading’ list.

Mary Brown’s I Used to Be is a debut novel from an author in her 80s. She got the idea for it whilst listening to William Golding at Reading Literature Festival several decades ago. My review is HERE.

Walt Pilcher’s Everybody Shrugged is a clever (and very funny) parody on Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged – well, that’s the way I saw it. Rand does not get a mention. My review is HERE.

Left to my own devices I would not have picked up either book. Thank heavens for beta reading!

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