When writing a novel, there comes a time, in the process of gestation and planning, when other books are required. It is almost as though, Middlemarch-like, your little attempt at writing cannot be separated from what others have written. The world is a great web. Books speak to books. They cry out, call, whisper. I find it very strange. When writing a novel, when so much is held in your heart and your head, certain books quietly announce themselves. Usually, I have found, that happens in bookshops - those rapidly-diminishing repositories of paper and card and ink.
It is not the same online, on the electronic web. Yes, I know that Penguin Random House has just publicised plans to build platforms that will enable readers to share their thoughts on good books.