Welcome to Thaddeus White
Where are you from? The United Kingdom (Yorkshire, more precisely)
On average how many books do you read in a month? It varies a bit, but two would probably be average. Recently I’ve not been reading as much. I was working on 2-3 projects at once, and when I got most of those done I really wanted to crack on with writing a book I’d postponed for a little while.
Why are books important to you and what does reading bring to your life? Well, I started reading at a very young age and can’t really imagine not doing so. Books bring a huge amount. It’s enjoyable escapism to read fiction, and history is fascinating stuff that happens to be educational. Reading stimulates the imagination more than any other medium, I think, because the author provides you with the skeleton of a story and your creativity has to add flesh to the bones.
What genres do you prefer and why? Most of the stuff I read is classical history or fantasy, but I do occasionally read science or science fiction. I find older history (Roman and Greek stuff) interesting, partly because it’s a whole different world and partly because if things had been a little different in the past the modern world would be wildly different (we might not be using the Latin alphabet, for example). Fantasy offers escapism, as well as being the genre which allows for the greatest degree of freedom and creativity. I love reading lore and how authors have put together their worlds.
Do you have a favourite book or author, why do you think you like this book/author so much? Picking a single author is tricky. Going for history, I’d probably say Theodore Ayrault Dodge is my favourite. His military biographies on Hannibal, Alexander and Caesar are fantastically detailed and festooned with useful maps, diagrams and illustrations. And, because he was a soldier in the American Civil War, he has a soldier’s mindset and I think that helps him interpret what happened and convey it to the reader.
What medium do you prefer – e-books, audiobooks or paper books? Would you care to expand on this? In a perfect world, paper books. I prefer the feel of a real book in my hand, but lack of space and lower cost/greater convenience means that most fiction I buy is electronic. For histories (partly because they often have maps/photos in and these don’t translate as well to an electronic format) I usually buy a physical copy.
How do you usually find the books you read? For example: recommendations from friends, promotion on social networks, your local library, following authors you already know? A mixture of ways. I often visit Amazon and find a book I really liked, then check what others who got it subsequently bought. Sometimes I’ll check the Kindle Store and see what’s recommended for me. For history I might want to find out more about a specific period or person and go searching for something to cover that particular subject. If I see free books advertised on Twitter I often download those.
Oh, and I also sometimes buy ones that are Book of the Month at the Indie Book Club on Goodreads. I’ve found a few good books that way.
When choosing a book what makes you stop and give it a second look? What makes you turn away? Do you read reviews by others and if so do they influence the choice? I do check reviews and ratings, but the biggest advantage of e-books is that a sample can be downloaded. I do that quite a lot, because then I can see for myself, for free, what the book’s like and whether I like the writing style. If I simply don’t care what happens to the characters/story after that then I just don’t bother buying the full book.
What is the most important aspect in a book for you? Plot? Characterisation? Well written etc.? Characters. I’d rather read about an interesting and witty fellow doing his tax returns than the most boring man on Earth saving the world in a tedious way. Obviously the other stuff matters too, but that’s top of the list for me.
What aspects turn you off from a book? Are there things you avoid? Ahem, this may be a long answer. Deus ex machina really annoys me (this is when a bunch of loose ends are conveniently tied up by a contrived plot device that comes from nowhere). It renders the whole plot practically meaningless and is pretty hackneyed (even in classical history audiences loathed it, and it got its name because an actor playing a god would descend on the theatre and sort out an overly complicated plot in the last few minutes).
When authors try and ram their own brand of politics or morality into the reader’s face it’s irksome. This can sometimes happen in history when modern morality gets imposed on the ancient world.
I also like fiction that has a bit of humour. Not a laugh-a-minute (although I do read comedy sometimes) but just to show that the characters/world is credible. I can suspend disbelief for dragons and magic and elves, but not for a world where nobody takes the piss or makes sarcastic remarks.
Do you think bricks and mortar bookshops are in decline? Absolutely. It’s not hard to see why, and it’s more surprising to me that it isn’t happening more quickly. Books are perfect for an electronic format, and delivery is almost instantaneous. Plus, websites have enormous stock which can’t be matched by the confines of a physical store. I do think it’s a little sad, but there’s only one bookshop within walking distance of my house. It’s small, cramped and has a poor selection. The alternative is a bus into town, which takes (there and back) an hour or more, and a fiver. For that I could download at least two decent e-books in a few minutes.