When I first started this blog I had thought I would write a lot more about books and reading. I’m an avid reader and always have been. My parents are both readers, both my siblings are readers – though my sister far more than my brother I suspect. I love what reading can do, transporting you to different places and especially different eras. It introducing worlds that you otherwise may never get a glimpse of and I find it truly an escape from reality – not that my reality is anything requiring escaping from but everyone likes a break from real life now and again.
Sadly for me reading had been one sacrifice made when becoming a mother second time around. My first experience actually allowed me to read more than usual as my daughter was such a light sleeper any noise would wake her. In the end I took to my room with a good book for most of her day time sleeps – these only ever lasted 45 minutes, but a few of those each day saw me powering through my to-read list. This stage didn’t last too long, but then I went back to work a couple of days a week and could read on my train commute there and back again, usually giving me about an hour and a half of reading time each work day.
With two however, I get very little time to myself between 6am and 10pm. They are both actually quite good sleepers at the moment (I say at the moment because anyone involved with children knows that what is routine one day could be totally thrown out the window the next, so I tend to celebrate the good while it lasts) they’re just not terribly well coordinated. When one hits the hay the other is just waking up, but at least that means I get a little one on one time with each of them everyday – see what I mean, celebrate the good! Now my only reading time is before I fall asleep myself, and I usually only manage a page or two, this makes for slow progress through my accumulated reading material.
Today it seems I might have managed to get forty minutes in the middle of the day when they are both sleeping peacefully and instead of reading I decided to write about reading – I enjoy talking (or writing) about books almost as much as reading them. Originally I was going to just write a review of my most recent read, but then thought I could expand on that a little more. So here goes:
1) Most recent read – Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry (have you ever heard a more perfect name for an author). I finished this one a few nights ago, but started it long before that, it as taken what felt like an age to get through. That’s not to say it was bad by any means, I actually enjoyed it, but like all Mistry novels it was somewhat heavy going. The story was set in India (I, for some reason, am constantly drawn to books set in India) and follows the lives of an extended family, grandfather, his two step children and daughter and son in law and their two sons. It’s full of family drama, intrigue about the past and squabbles about the present. In many ways it is a sad tale of family life – though not as tragic as A Fine Balance also my Mistry and set in India and also not as wonderfully written as that one – but I loved the relationship that played out between the two grandsons and their invalid grandfather. In all a satisfying read.
2) Books I love to re-read – I know some people never re-read a book, once it’s been ticked off the list it’s time to move onto the next, but for me there are some books that I just can’t help but come back to. These books are the ones that instantly transport me to another time and place and that resonate in my mind long after I’ve finished them. The stories seem to lose nothing of their integrity or wonder despite knowing the end before I begin. These books include Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, the entire Anne of Green Gables series by L. M. Montgomery and anything by James Herriot. Notice a theme here, not a recent novel among them, but that speaks volumes about me more than anything else.
3) Books that stayed with me – in this list there are quite a few recently published novels. These are books that got me thinking and that I haven’t been able to get out of my head since. Most often it’s something about the writing style that draws me in even more than the story. I’m quite a picky reader compared say to my sister who will read anything, and it is really good, powerful writing that I look for. A few from this list – there are probably too many to name all of them – include The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson, Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides, The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne, the Tudor Court series by Phillippa Gregory and pretty my everything by Geraldine Brooks, but especially Year of Wonders. Many of these are historic fiction, probably my favourite genre.
4) Biggest disappointments – to be honest I haven’t read that many books that I’ve been disappointed in, usually because I select carefully, but there have been a few. The stand out in this category is a book called A Million Little Pieces, this is the only books I’ve actually thrown in the bin (good thing it wasn’t a library book!). This, in my opinion, is one of the worst examples of writing I have ever come across and I am totally bewildered as to how it ever came to be published in the first place. Not only was it horribly written, but the author (I can’t remember his name and have no desire to look it up) touted it as a true account of his life which later turned out to be a complete fabrication. Another on this list was Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, which seems to be of the love it or loathe category and I quite clearly loathed it. I found this on the list of 1000 books to read before you die (did I mention I love a good book list) and I really wanted to ‘get’ this one, but for me it was just gratuitous violence without much meaning. I had to put it down in the end. Finally on this list goes novels by James Patterson. While I enjoy a good mystery and his plots are quite interesting, his writing is so pedestrian it generally turns me off. This is one of the few occasions when I’d rather see the film than read to book.
5) Final category – Current Read
Another Phillippa Gregory – one of my favourite authors, but this one isn’t historic fiction – Alice Hartley’s Happiness. Thankfully this is an easy read and relatively short. So far it is quite strange and I’m not sure where it’s going, so it’s keeping me interested.
Well you’ve read my thoughts on all things (well some things, it’s an endless topic of discussion) books. I’d love to hear yours, I’m always up for a good recommendation.