The 2014 Book Rut

Okay so the title might be slightly melodramatic considering we’re actually only 12 days into 2014 and it rut might also be the wrong word.  However so far I have struggled to find a book that I’m in any way interested in actually finishing.  This is not like me at all.  I can usually find something interesting, compelling or intriguing enough to keep me going.  But all attempts at a decent read this year have since been abandoned (at least for now).

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My first book was Reading Lolita in Tehran, a book that has been on my radar for ages and was recommended by the friend who also gave me The Messager, perhaps the best read of 2013.  I should love this book, it’s just the kind of book I would go for.  It’s about an all-female book group reading fantastic literature and discussing it while living under the oppressive Islamic regime in Iran.  Despite all that I just cannot get into it.  I find the author/narrator, Azar Nafisi, smug and self-important, the glimpses of life in Iran are just that and don’t go further (sadly) and the continual literary references to me seem repetitive and dull not having read all the books myself.  I think I could probably get past all of that if the book was better written and followed a structure I could get my head around.  Instead Nafisi chose to break the book into themed chapters, each one based around the group’s reading of particular books.  The events jump around making it confusing and breaking up any flow the story might otherwise have had.  So after getting 120 pages through it, I put it down…..

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Only to pick up American best-selling and highly acclaimed author Joyce Carol-Oats.  In this case it was a book called Middle Age – A Romance.  I have five words for this one…. Get. To. The. Point. Woman!  After reading close to 100 pages I had found out that a guy called Adam Barandt (whose whole name was used every time and often written in capitals, I have no idea why?) died.  I found that out the in the first paragraph.  Nothing else happened for nearly 100 PAGES!  I had a choice, either stop reading this one or render myself unconscious through sheer boredom.

Now I’m feeling a bit gun shy about picking up the next one.  Is it going to be another disaster, yet another unfinished book for 2014?  So my questions, what books have you just not been able to force yourself to finish?  And more importantly what SHOULD I try next?

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12 Responses to The 2014 Book Rut

  1. narf77 says:

    I am busy busy BUSY at the moment so I need literature that doesn’t require me to actually think much about the plot prior to me picking it up again and just before falling asleep holding the book so “Snuff” via the Discworld thanks to Mr T. Pratchett is my book of choice at the moment. Don’t you HATE it when an author just goes on…and on…and ON about sweet bugger all just to increase the size of the novel so you can prop a coffee table on it? I learned not to go by other people’s recomendations. Most of the time I find myself thinking “EH?!!!” about the novel and less about the person who recommended the books taste 😉 A very personal thing a “book recomendation” so I rarely give them unless it is a non fiction and unless it is MUST HAVE when I absolutely positively have to share :). Cheers for sharing another couple of books that I may have come across on the library shelves that I won’t bother with. My new way of picking books is to wander around, pull out a few, look at the picture on the front and read a bit of the burb and once one just grabs me, I take it out. I have a very high “FAIL” rate but whatchagonnadoeh? At least it is only myself I get to think less of this way 😉

    • Barbara Good says:

      Yes that second book really could have held up a coffee table… or a small house! It was very long for no apparent reason. Usually I love a good book recommendation, even if it turns out I didn’t like the book. I find it leads to interesting conversations about books. I’m always interested in why someone enjoyed a book I didn’t or vice versa. My sister and I have sometimes quite different attitudes to books and she often recommends books that she herself didn’t enjoy that much. I tend to enjoy literature with a capital L if you know what I mean, whereas she often gets bored by it. The Inheritance of Loss being a good example of that, she disliked it, I enjoyed it.
      My mum has a new strategy for picking her books from the library. Each visit gets a letter (A, B, C, D…..etc) and she picks up half a dozen books all by authors starting with that letter. It’s been hit and miss (more miss lately too) but she’s found some new authors because of it.

      • narf77 says:

        Hey, whatever floats your boat I reckon 😉 I found Raymond E Feist that way and enjoyed a selection of his books for a while until I got tired of them. I picked up a copy of “Eat Pray Love” after reading so many weepy “changed my life!” comments and couldn’t even finish it! I found it to be a self indulgent ride rather than self enlightening. As you say, each to their own :).

      • Barbara Good says:

        Oh on Eat, Pray, Love we agree ENTIRELY! What an awful book.

      • narf77 says:

        Good to see I wasn’t the only nay sayer 😉

  2. Jenny says:

    Good books I have read recently include The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri and A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki – both Booker Prize short listed books. Also the latest Ian Rankin if you like his books – Saints of the Shadow Bible was, I thought, one of his best. If you are looking for something fairly undemanding, try The Half-Child by Angela Savage. I liked The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan, but it might require more concentration than you have at present … Also, Still Alice by Lisa Genova, about a woman who gets early onset dementia – not cheery but I thought it was very well done. As you will see, I have been reading a lot recently but sometimes have a patch like you are describing, I hate that …

    • Barbara Good says:

      I’ll put both of the Booker Prize books on my list, thanks Jenny. I’ve never read a Rankin either, perhaps I should try one, what’s the best one to start with? I’ve already read Still Alice, a wonderful but sad story. Seems like you’ve been hitting some good reads lately. let’s hope it continues.

      • Jenny says:

        Barbara

        Ian Rankin writes about a police detective, Inspector Rebus, set in Edinburgh. I always like to start at the beginning of such series, so try Knots and Crosses. The older books should be very easy to find at the library or second hand.

      • Barbara Good says:

        Thanks I’ll look it up next library trip. I picked up an easy crime book last night after my fails so he might be just what I need right now too.

  3. Nic says:

    Hi Barbara,
    My top three reads from our book club list last year were: The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee, The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (am guessing you may have already read this) and The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane…would love to know what you think of any of these…
    Nic 🙂

    • Barbara Good says:

      I’ve not read any of them, but the Rosie Project has been on my list. I’m going to go reserve it from the library now. I’ll take you up on the other two as well and let you know.

  4. Pingback: Wednesday Reads – The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion | The New Good Life

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