Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Book confession: I love Doctor Who novels

I have, over the past few years, developed a rather concerning habit - reading Doctor Who spin-off novels. That's right I, the world's worst book snob, like to immerse myself in stories about the eponymous Time Lord (in his various incarnations) and his ever-changing companions. 

The main reason I like them is that they are easy to read and have predictable plots (they are, after all, aimed at children). You know no matter how terrible the baddie is or how fiendishly clever their plot is, good will conquer evil - particularly comforting given recent events. Plus, because they are "cannon" (ie. officially part of the Whoniverse), nothing that can happen that could affect the events in the TV show - the idea is that the adventure is happening "off screen" during the timeline of that version of the Doctor and that particular companion. For example, I've just read a book featuring the 10th Doctor and the fourth series companion Donna Noble (The Doctor Trap by Simon Messingham). They both face a fair bit of peril in the story but you know that they will survive it because they are alive and well throughout the fourth series (well apart the final episode, which I am still not really over). 

I also like the books because I get to spend more time with my preferred Doctor and companions. Matt Smith did a good job playing the 11th Doctor, but I think David Tennant had the edge as the 10th  - Smith's version of the Doctor seemed like a (charismatic) big kid whereas Tennant's had a bit more pathos and you felt less embarrassed that you were an adult watching a kids' show (though, given its popularity, I think you're "allowed" to like Doctor Who because of its cult status). By reading the novels, I can pretend Tennant never went off to do Broadchurch (forgivable if it wasn't for series 2), Rose never got stuck on a parallel world and Donna still remembers the Doctor (less bothered by Martha as she only really came into her own when she wasn't with the Doctor). 

Finally, the books may never be contenders for the Man Booker prize but they are all well written (mind you, I've only read five of the seemingly gazillions that are available so chances are some of them are a bit ropey). In fact, some of the authors are established authors in their own right. For example, Ben Aaronovitch, author of Remembrance of the Daleks (written to tie in with four episode he wrote of the same name), is the author of the popular Peter Grant series of novels (an apprentice wizard who is also a detective). "Chic lit" author Jenny Colgan has also penned a Doctor Who novel (as "Jenny T Colgan") as has Doctor Who affectionado and Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss (he's also written episodes of the TV show).

I am not sure why I am so embarrassed about my predilection for these novels. It's not like I have a rep to protect. As a colleague recently said  - in what I am deciding to see as affectionate tones - I am the "biggest nerd" she knows. Ultimately if you like something, presuming it doesn't hurt anyone else, you should just enjoy it. Life's not only too short to read bad books it's also too short to worry about reading the right type of books. On that note, I am going to dive into the new book I've just bought, the deeply unhip A Street Cat Named Bob (By James Bowen)

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