Introducing The Prose Practice (And Some Savidge Readers)

I mentioned when I introduced the all new look to Savidge Reads that I was planning on doing a books problem page which seemed like rather a popular choice looking back at the comments (I will get to replying but just so you know I am reading them) from some of you. So today is going to be a pilot episode/post of how it will work only I have decided its not going to be just me who answers, its going to be all of you too, well I hope it will.

You see I am a bit of a paranoid android at the best of times so when I had put the post up on Monday I spent about ten minutes every hour or so worrying that people might be sat there thinking ‘just who does he think he is some self prescribed (do you see what I did there) Book Doctor?’ So I thought well how about it isn’t just me as Savidge Reads that responds but all you Savidge Readers* as part of ‘The Prose Practice’ and rather than ask for any of you guys to offer up a prose based problem I thought I would venture forward with my own problems so you can get a feel for it.

I think two problems every now and again could be good and I did come up with a simple ‘I have heard there is a marvellous book about two women, possibly sisters, in the Victorian era that’s meant to be a classic and have no idea what its called, can you help?’ however one of you has already helped and informed me very kindly that its ‘The Odd Women’ by George Gissing. So it could be a problem like that, or it could be something more dramatic…

Dear Savidge Readers
I made the slightly silly mistake of marrying for love someone from another continent who I hadn’t known for very long but knew was the one, like in some great romance, yet who doesn’t really like reading – it should have been a deal breaker! I know, I know its shocking a book addict and someone who remains unbothered by books, Shakespeare couldn’t have written a bigger disaster. I have tried and tried to put some delightful reads in their path but only a few reads have succeeded and literally been devoured. These were;

  • The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway
  • Down Under – Bill Bryson
  • Marley & Me – John Grogan
  • Relentless – Simon Kernick
  • Henry – David Starkey
  • The Boy in the Striped Pyjama’s – John Boyne
  • Tales of the City – Armistead Maupin (but wasn’t bothered about what happened to them all after enough to read anymore in a hurry)

The list of books dumped a quarter, half way through or three pages in could go on for pages. I dream of Sunday mornings in bed lazily reading with toast and tea, or holidays on the beach side by side in deckchairs reading for hours but it seems destined to never be. Could you recommend any books, bear in mind English is their second language, that someone cannot fail to love???
Simon, London

Simon Says: Well I am living this so I am absolutely no help. I would have said The Kite Runner (they didn’t like that) or Harry Potter (too many words which aren’t even English and caused major translation issues) so I am stumped…

What do the Savidge Readers suggest? (And this is where I would, and now will, hand over to you for your suggestions and problem solving so do suggest away**)

*I am personally loving the idea of ‘Savidge Readers’ because it makes me sound like I have started some dark dangerous bookish cult, I don’t think I have… as yet.
**Oh and let me know what you think of this as an idea please and if any of you can drawer I would love an image to go with this feature. Now who else has a bookish problem? Email you will remain anonymous unless requested otherwise.


Filed under The Prose Practise

51 responses to “Introducing The Prose Practice (And Some Savidge Readers)

  1. Not sure I’ll be much help here. The one book that popped into my mind…the one that literally EVERYONE loves no matter what their culture, ethnicity or walk of life…is The Help. But it does have some dialect, so I’m not sure how that would work with someone that is speaking English as a second language!!!

  2. It’s a great idea. I get emails and comments about this stuff all the time. Indeed, people tend to think I’m some kind of Irish and Australian book expert (I’m not) so I’m always getting things like “Do you know the name of the book that’s set in the outback and features a priest and a woman who falls in love?” OR “Can you recommend a great Australian novel to read?” etc etc

    Sometimes I can help, but, sadly, sometimes I can’t. It’s always rather exciting (and uplifting) when I can, though.

    • Thanks Kim, I am hoping that people really go to town with all there problems as it would be nice if we could help people in their bookish dilemma’s. I have a feeling my mother has a list waiting for me when I go up at the weekend. I will also be seeing Granny Savidge Reads and will see if she can come up with a few hee hee.

  3. novelinsights

    Great idea Simon, and the wonder of the community is that there are two tiers of advice, yours and other bloggers.

    • Thanks Polly, I thought that having the two tiers makes uit more interactive, plus I am well aware that I would in no way be able to answer some questions that might come up so the more help the merrier.

  4. Eva

    Maybe some John Green? He writes fun, clever, fast-paced books.

    This whole thing cracks me up though. 🙂 I’ve never dated a reader…my boyfriends have just had other hobbies they could enjoy at my side while I was reading (like playing the guitar).

    I love this idea, and I’m totally trying to come up with a reading problem to e-mail you about. 😀

    • I have never heard of John Green, so will have to scurry off and find out more about him myself.

      Oh please come up with a problem or two Eva they would be most welcomed and I imagine they would be toughies.

  5. gaskella

    I think its a wonderful and innovative idea!

    In terms of your problem, well I would suggest books that have highly visual prose styles – something that you can picture as a movie in your head as you read, e.g. something from the Golden Age of crime like the Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett perhaps, or more modern Elmore Leonard – Jackie Brown is totally dialogue driven, and it would be hard to misunderstand what they’re saying!

    • Thanks Annabel glad you like the idea. I thought that more recommendations the better and people have been very responsive to this one already.

      Ooooh good point about books that you can instantly picture in your head, I like that idea a lot.

  6. I have never had the joy of dating a reader either, so sad! Are there any current event issues that she is interested in? What about a non-fiction book about something she is very in to – I know some people can read non-fiction better than fiction.

    Also, I love the ‘dark dangerous bookish cult’!

    • He has tried Bill Bryson which was a hit but I had bought three and the others have remained untouched. I even bought a book about discovering the amazon… again, left to one side. Weirdly we were waiting for a tube and there was a huge advert for Guillermo Del Toro’s ‘The Strain’ and I got the comment ‘oooh I want to read that’. It’s all a mystery to me!

  7. Look on the bright side! My husband doesn’t read either but he is a football fan. All those hours he watches football, gives me hours of peace to read as I will. This summer is going to be heaven!

    But if really want your other half to read, I’d ask for a recommended list of works written in his/her own language that have been translated into English. Find something you both want to read, do it each in your own language and discuss.

    P.S I suspect Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “News of A Kidnapping” (which must have been translated from Spanish into Portuguese) might do the trick.

    • Hahahaha, I dont have football to contend with but any thing like ‘You’ve Been Framed# or ‘Planet’s Funniest Animals’ and I might as well not exist. Oh and Britains Got Talent now. Tut! Lol.

      I have passed him a copy of Patricia Melo but it was angrily thrown across the room for ‘portraying Brazil like everyone else does, so stereotypical’ haha.

  8. Linda

    How interesting, Simon. Your predicament person for your book problem page sounds a lot like me in relation to my beloved Italian husband of 40+ years, except I gave up on the mutual interest of reading long ago. Instead, I read – he gardens, cooks, makes wine, does DIY (mostly without instruction books of any kind). So long as we go to places of historical and literary interest all is well.
    Now,I’ve been spending the morning on puzzling through the web of my late mother’s papers on our family history in order to help a cousin solve some gaps in his knowledge. I enjoy novels that feature several generations, especially if a family tree is included. Can anyone recommend a contemporary novel where someone is trying to find out about their past (not necessarily a crime or period genre).

  9. Perhaps Lolita by Nabokov? I’m not sure if it would be considered wordy but she could give it a go. Or, The Hunger Games! That one is very exciting and it moves quickly.

  10. I’ve seen a book clinic on another blog recently and I thought it was a fun idea.

    If he enjoyed The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas then perhaps The Book Thief (I wasn’t a huge fan of it myself but seem to be fairly alone in that)?

    • Oh The Book Thief is a very good idea Claire, I wouldn’t have thought of that one!

      Oh where did you see the other book clinic I dont want someone thinking have ripped them off… eek.

  11. Kinga

    This is a fabulous idea! I, too, always get asked to recommend books but when I do, people then come back and complain that they were too depressing. Ah, well.

    Luckily, my husband was a reader waiting to happen, so we both read for half an hour in bed every night (the family that reads together, stays together). But he has other hobbies, too, so often doesn’t read as much as I do.

    As for Simon’s problem, Simon, how about Nick Hornby? Or the rest of Bill Bryson’s catalogue?

    • There is nothing wrong with a depressing book, its something that makes me a little book grumpy to be honest as we need books with joy and books with hardship in our lives. I will get off my soap box quickly though.

      I love the idea of a reader waiting to happen. Nick Hornby… hmmm maybe.

  12. I recommend to everyone who doesn’t read much Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist because it’s short and, I’d say, of general appeal. I seem to remember the writing being easy enough too.

  13. Oh, dear. I know the feeling, too. Funny how many of we readers married non-readers.

    I offer up my own grandfather. My grandfather was the happiest, most contented person I’ve known. He was beloved by everyone in his neighborhood as well as by his family. He left school before finishing sixth grade because he had to work to support his family. I never saw him read anything except a worn copy of the New Testament, and I’m not 100% convinced he could read that.

    My point, as hard as it is for many of us to admit, one does not have to read books to have a good life. Value the things your partner brings to the relationship, the things that made you love him in the first place. After nearly 15 years together, C.J. and I have grown to appreciate each other. Trying to change each other just didn’t work out all that well.

    Gee, maybe I could be an agony aunt. 😉

    • No you are right there is no 100% reason they have to read just sometimes it would be nice. Fortunately I have my Gran and mother on the end of a phone who are happy to talk books and of course all of you!

  14. I recommend The Solitude of Prime Numbers. It is a gripping easy read that has sold really well around the world.

    Good luck finding some great books!

  15. What about going with books from authors of that particular country. If the person lives abroad you can get quite nostalgic for books written about your country / with a background in your country

  16. Ditto on Mystica’s suggestion.

  17. For a while I worried that my husband wasn’t much of a reader. But then he really got going on gardening books. Not just the kind that tell you how to do things, but garden essays and other kinds of writing. Maybe focusing on books related to this person’s hobbies would be helpful?

    Also, you used the phrase Book Doctor in your post. There is actually a wonderful novel called The Book Doctor by Esther Cohen.

    • Hmmmmm I will have a chat with Alaercio (oops sorry the Converted One) and see if that might help. I know any books that have planes (he’s not a spotter, has just always wanted to be an air steward lol) in hold some hope, any book also needs to be quite fast paced too.

  18. Jenny

    CB said what I was going to say. Don’t change the one you love. That’s why you love him or her. As long as you spend time together, why do you both have to be reading? My husband took up knitting so he could sit next to me while I read. Now that’s love.

  19. Jenny

    I should add that my husband is a big reader. But does many other things as well, while I JUST read. 🙂

  20. Simon, I share the same concern! Married a guy who reads ONLY cook books and chef’s books. So take my suggestion with a grain of salt, lol.

    Anyway, my pick would be Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince. (?)

  21. My first thought was “find books in the partner’s original language”. But, as long as partners get along great other wise, why worry? My husband (of many years) only reads work-related books, when he does read. Because he is a “car-guy”, I thought he might like “The Art of Racing in the Rain” (which I enjoyed) but he still hasn’t cracked that one open yet. Oh, well!

    I think this could be a fun feature overall!

    • Thanks Valerie, I think I have another one coming up in the not too distant future.

      I have tried looking for Brazilian books but to not much avail, plus I am not allowed to buy books this year!

  22. I like the advice column idea. For what it’s worth, husband No. 1 didn’t read books. I did everything: put books in his stocking, bought books to read together, tried reading aloud together. Divorce. (Not just because of the book thing). Husband No. 2: we met in a bookstore. Kismet

  23. Its a great idea and will make interesting reading for your regular visitors. In this case, I would suggest your correspondent gives up immediately. You can’t force people to read if to them its an alien activity. I think Lizzy has it right – make use of spare time to read – couple’s shouldn’t be doing the same thing all the time anyway

    • No true your right couples doing the same thing all the time is not good. However we only get a day and a half together a week when we arent working so being thats when I most want to get lots of reading done it can be a bit of a shame. I will have to maybe be more flexible with not reading lol.

  24. Bet

    I love the idea of the Book Doctor, but I’m not sure it will work, as sometimes the reasons for liking a book are slippery and hard to articulate.

    And I wouldn’t worry about your husband not enjoying reading. A couple doesn’t have to share every interest, not even the “big ones”. The differences between us are just as important as the simlarities. And a kind, forgiving heart trumps everything. That’s just my humble opinion, but I’ve been married for 29 years, so I suppose that counts for something. 😉

    • Hmm I am sure there might be the odd impossible question but I reckon if we put our collective book heads together then we will come out with some helpful hints and titbits for readers.

  25. I’ll have to think longer before coming up with a suggestion, but I love this idea! Should make for a really fun feature.

  26. Pingback: The Prose Practice – Family Histories « Savidge Reads

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