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?