Thursday, November 8, 2012

Max Glaskin

Max Glaskin is an award-winning science and technology journalist with a special interest in cycling. He has contributed to a vast range of publications, including New Scientist, Reader’s Digest, and the Times (London).

His new book is Cycling Science: How Rider and Machine Work Together.

Last month I asked Glaskin what he was reading. His reply:
Three weeks ago I put down The Sea by John Banville. I was glad to have finished it because at times I had feared I never would. It happens often for me. Of all the books I've ever started to read, I reckon that I've never reached the end of about half of them. (Maybe you feel the same about blog entries and this is as far as you'll go.) Then I feel a certain inadequacy. Increasingly I think that the problem is not in the books I pick up but in me.

I'd first started The Sea several years ago. It was a gift and I hadn't been involved in its choice. I gave up within 80 pages and gave it up to our second-hand bookshop, in exchange for the price of a coffee in the excellent café opposite, where I read the ephemeral sports section of the newspaper.

Then, this September, the book group to which I belong, chose The Sea. Actually, it was the member of the book group who always chooses novels with an Irish setting and which I have repeatedly failed to finish, who had made the choice. My heart sank. Already I was feeling inadequate and I hadn't even started reading it again. Fortunately my inner self-help manual kicked in and on page 101 it says that the only way to deal with the condition of serial book-quitter is to finish it.

Having traded my copy and spent the money on caffeine, I was reluctant to buy a brand new copy. It had been an award-winner and a best-seller so I walked into town and called in at every charity shop which sells second-hand books. The fourth one, Oxfam, had a perfectly good copy for a knock-down price.

Then I made the time to read it. The sports pages of the newspaper were left unopened. The TV sulked alone. I fought through the first 80 pages and then began to be surprised by the odd sentences here and there that John Banville had sprinkled with glitter. His focus on detail became startling and no longer a drag. It was to be read slowly to enjoy his new ways of describing the oft-overlooked.

He came to the end of his story and so did I. I enjoyed it and I hope that he'd enjoy Cycling Science.
Visit Max Glaskin's website, and follow Cycling Science on Twitter and Facebook.

--Marshal Zeringue