Book Beginnings… Is It All About Timing?

Have you ever picked up a book that you have been really, really looking forward to reading for quite some time, started it and within a chapter gone ‘oh no that’s not for me’? I have had this happen very, very rarely and actually not at all since my book blogging days have started, that was until last week.

The book in question (and its one I know I will try and read again so I am not slating it by any means) was Cover Her Face by P.D James who is a crime writing legend and on that I’ve wanted to try reading for sometime. It was the first in her series of Adam Dalgliesh series and in fact her first book and the murder all centred around the big house in the village and the local village fete. All these things signalled a Savidge Reads perfect piece of reading material. Yet at the end of the first chapter I had to put it down and then started the sublime Miss Garnet’s Angel by Salley Vickers.

Now I don’t read every book from cover to cover that I pick up though you don’t tend to hear about them unless it’s a very rare occasion like when I tried and failed to read Home by Marilynne Robinson for an Orange Longlist read-a-thon. Why don’t I write about these more? I wouldn’t want to put anyone off reading a book I think that is almost the same as putting someone of reading which in my mind as a book lover is sacrilegious. (Each to their own though, I know a lot of book bloggers do this and some of them are really constructive and say ‘have a go yourself’ I just don’t like the ‘don’t read this under any account’ approach so much.) I also don’t think I can review, or write my book thoughts, if I haven’t actually read the book. I have gone off on a tangent now haven’t I?

I do have the page 80 rule on standy for books that I have been reading for a while but am just not getting through. If I haven’t been enjoying a book and still am not by page 80 then it goes down and either ends up on readitswapit, passed onto a friend who does want to read it or off to a charity shop. I don’t tend to give those books second chances but Cover Her Face I will as I don’t believe I got far enough to judge if I loved it or not, but why didn’t I get that far?

I am a strong believer in the idea that a book has its certain time and place in my reading life. Cover Her Face wasn’t meant to be read last week, the reading stars weren’t aligned as I had anticipated they were. I wasn’t quite read for a book that quickly plunges you into a dinner party with about eight new characters having some very random discussions including one about a pregnant maid who is going to be what the story stems from. It was too much for me for that particular morning on that particular tube journey and I couldn’t get into it, and yet I am fairly sure I will. I may even, hopefully, go onto loving it!

Maybe after a ghost story a crime book wasn’t what I needed? Maybe the people jabbering away on the tube meant I couldnt concentrate enough? Maybe the timing was just off? What I needed that particular day was something I could subtly wade into rather than a short sharp shock as I was shattered and my attention was good but not quite enough for so much information in ten pages. It was bad timing for one book, but perfect timing for the start of another. Thank goodness I always take two very different new books with me in my bag when I have finished on the night before hey, does anyone else do this?

Do you think the timing of opening the first pages of a book is important? Do you find that your mood (I certainly do) when you start a book and surroundings have an effect? What books have you started with high hopes and then put down a few pages in only to start again another day and utterly love?  Have any of you read Cover Her Face and have words of encouragement?


Filed under Book Thoughts

7 responses to “Book Beginnings… Is It All About Timing?

  1. Eva

    I definitely think mood affects how I read books! Which is why I let myself be a picky reader. 🙂 As to giving second chances to DNF books-I do if I think it was my mood rather than the book itself. Usually, I can tell if it’s my mood because I get 5 or 10 pages in and suddenly think of other ‘urgent’ things I need to be doing. 🙂

    I’ve been reading various Dalgliesh books on and off for a few years and enjoying them, but I’ve never worried about order, so I haven’t read this one yet!

    • I think being a picky reader is just the way to be. I have to admit though for a while I got too picky and was cutting some books off to spite my bookshelves and so opened up a little more and found even more books to love, I do fear I opened up too much though!

  2. Ellen

    I loved Cover her Face and most of PD James’ work. But I really agree that not every book is for every person, maybe for a certain point in time, maybe forever. I like how you encourage people to read what speaks to them. I often give up on books, even though they might be well written and well thought of. If I’m not enjoying a book, why keep going, when there are so many others waiting for me?

  3. I don’t usually write about books that I didn’t finish, either, for the same reasons that you gave. I’m definitely a very moody reader, and what doesn’t work for me this moment might (and probably will!) work for me at a later date. The only exceptions are books that I just really, really disliked from the start – but I don’t review those, other, because it doesn’t seem fair to review something I haven’t read.

    I do hope that you will find yourself in the mood for P.D. James in the future. I’ve read Cover Your Face, but it was quite a while ago so I don’t remember it well, other than that I enjoyed it. I also haven’t read the series in order. But I do enjoy her books. Her mysteries are definitely not cozies, they are more suspenseful police procedurals, and there’s usually quite a nice build-up before the murder takes place. I think that’s what I like about them!

    • Belle, I dont think if you have not finished a book its worth writing about as you didnt finish it for a reason, well thats my reasoning behind it anyway.

      I have just posted about another book that started out very oddly but I went on to thoroughly enjoy today so it shows sometime perservering can pay off. I shall definately give Cover Her Face another go!

  4. Pingback: The Brontes Went To Woolworths – Rachel Ferguson « Savidge Reads

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