Saturday, October 15, 2016

Genevieve Cogman

Genevieve Cogman is a freelance author who has written for several role-playing game companies. She currently works for the NHS in England as a clinical classifications specialist. She is the author of the Invisible Library series, including The Burning Page, The Masked City, and The Invisible Library.

Recently I asked Cogman about what she was reading. Her reply:
I’m one of those people who always has several books on the go at once. It’s not a deliberate form of gluttony – it’s just that I may be reading different things at different points in the day, or I may be sidetracked by an entirely new book, or I may go to look up a reference in an older book and then find myself rereading large chunks of it. (It wasn’t my fault. I was sucked in. The book made me do it.)

Take today. I was trying to get a bit further into The Book of the Courtier by Castiglione (translated by Charles Singleton) – a book in which the author discusses the ideal “Perfect Courtier” (and Court Lady), and in doing so gives an informative and interesting description of the Italian Renaissance. Very worthy, very useful, very interesting.

However, this is also rather heavy going, and I ended up being sidetracked into a couple of volumes of the graphic novel Girl Genius series, by Phil and Kaja Foglio, which is a beautiful piece of work, and an excellent story – and often very funny. (For the curious, it’s also online.) And the problem with reading something like that is finding a good place to stop. You always want just one page more.

And then there’s the sudden advent of temptation, done with the best of motives. I couldn’t remember the specifics of a line from a particular short story* in the Stalky & Co collection by Kipling: I could only remember vaguely that I’d liked it at the time and thought that it was elegant. So I had to go and look that up, and I ended up rereading the entire short story, and it was only with difficulty that I stopped myself reading even more...

It’s not so much a question of “What are you reading?” Sometimes it’s more a question of “What aren’t you reading?” I am easily led astray by tempting books. And that probably isn’t going to change any time soon.

*For reference: the short story was "The United Idolators," and the line in question, describing a disagreement in the staff room, was: “The Reverend John did his best to pour water on the flames. Little Hartopp, perceiving that it was pure oil, threw in canfuls of his own, from the wings.”
Visit Genevieve Cogman's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Masked City.

--Marshal Zeringue