Those Hard To Encompass Books…

Isn’t it difficult when you read a book that you simply can’t seem to describe or encompass? I am not just talking from the perspective of a book blogger, though I will say that trying to encompass yesterdays book thoughts on China Mieville’s ‘Embassytown’ was possibly one of the hardest I have done of late, but we all have those moments when we are trying to explain what we thought about a book and how the book played out and we simply can’t don’t we?

Be it a book that you thought was wonderful or one you really didn’t, it really gets under your skin when you have read a book, understood it and yet you simply can’t explain it. In the flesh with friends I would just go quiet, or probably try and explain it all in so many ways they are left utterly confused. When it’s on or for the blog, like yesterday as I edited and re-edited and re-edited my thoughts on ‘Embassytown’, I wonder if in actual fact I am doing the book a disservice and I should simply not talk about it? Or do people like a ramble that makes no sense?

It did have me feeling both really frustrated and like a book blogging fraud. Something similar happened at book group the other day when I was trying to explain my personal emotional reaction to Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye’ and yet I couldn’t get it across, I had a mind funk, my personal passion for the book seemed to get lost in translation somewhere down the line.

So which book or books have you found really hard to discuss, encompass or write about? Why did they have you in a muddle or a whirl, was it the scope or just your reaction to it? I wonder if there will be a book that gets mentioned more than once.


Filed under Book Thoughts

13 responses to “Those Hard To Encompass Books…

  1. cath

    One book that definitely got under my skin years ago was Robert Pirsig’s Zen and The Art of Motorcycle maintenance.
    I am unable to explain why yet even now after so many years I still can recall the reading experience and how it stayed with me forever. Don’t even know if I could say I understood what it was all about, the book I mean, just know it had an enormous impact. Ever since I have hesitated to try reading it again.

    • I hadnt thought about going back to those hard to encompass books. More food for thought as ever. I think I might not want to and yet would want to dependent on the book. Vague, but true.

      I do find it as fascinating as I do annoying when I cant explain why I loved a book so much, its infuriating but makes you think.

  2. For me, there are two categories of books which I find hard to talk about: the ones that touch me the most, and talking about them feels like I am going to spoil their charm and the impressions that still linger in my mind (“One Day” is such a book) and the books which are too hard to truly decipher, such as Borges’ stories.

    • There is something about blogging and reviewing which can actually be a very personal process and I think if some book has touched on that (for example Cats Eye which I found hard to write about) part of you it can be hard to discuss in the open ether indeed.

  3. Simon – I think there’s a difficult line here. I started blogging about books to get back into writing and because I enjoyed the community. I wanted to be part of a book club-ish atmosphere. But we too often turn into reviewers. And reviewing a book you have a lot to say about is difficult. Often there are so many facets you want to include, but you know no one wants to read a really long blog post.

    I recently participated in Nicole (Linus’s Blanket) and Jen (Devourer of Books) book club read of Galore by Michael Crummey. It was actually really cool because there were questions, but the commenting feed went wild. It was so satisfying because I actually got to delve into parts of the book I wouldn’t in a review.

    So – a really really long way of saying I think some books need a different format to be discussed well. Do I know what that format is? Not necessarily. But something to think about.

    • I hadnt thought about that actually Jenn so thats really interesting.

      I have to say of late I have found my reviews getting longer but actually I think they are better. I always thought I would keep things succint and yet I felt I had lots to say. Maybe this means people wont read Savidge Reads as often but thats not really why I blog. I want to remember why I loved a book I read and if that means that I write more and more thats fine. I want to relive a book when I read about it, or be invited into a world of the book when I am reading about them on other blogs.

      I agree some books cant be done justice in a review, blog post or some rambling book thoughts, its occasionally fun (or really frustrating) to have a try though. Interesting points you’ve made that I will go away and think about further. Thanks.

  4. This certainly happens to me. Last one I can remember was The Good Earth by Pearl Buck which I loved but couldn’t think how to write about. Luckily Simon T gave it a really good review so I felt he’d done it for me!

    • Hahahaha there have been a few times with a few books where I have been very tempted to say… visit this blog they have said it much better than I could. The end. Its interesting how sometimes we can’t put into words what others then do perfectly which we wish we had said isnt it?

  5. I’m rarely satisfied with my reviews of brilliant books (I mean the ones I would give higher-than-possible ratings too) and often just as unsatisfied with my reviews of average books. When I don’t feel I can do a book justice I will often decide not to review. I know that in the case of reading a brilliant book there’s not much time to consider exactly what I’m liking because the whole thing is taking my attention as I enjoy reading it.

    • I havent yet had a book I have decided not to review as I don’t feel I will do it justice. If I think that might be the case I tend to simply state it, maybe thats foolish lol

  6. Pingback: Re-evaluation, Revamping, Resting & (More) Reading | Savidge Reads

  7. I find it hard to write about books I love in a very personal way. There are books I can rave about in an intellectual kind of way, for example about Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy. But there are others which I love even more, somehow more emotionally, and when I get down to writing about them, I feel helpless, I grab here and there and try to grasp my elusive joy and share it with my readers. I often feel that I fail miserably, but my readers keep telling me that they enjoy when I write like this, so this is okay with me. My latest experiences with hard-to-write-about novels were, by the way, How the Light Gets In by M. J. Hynes, and a novel by Belgian author Dimitri Verhulst which I don’t think is available in English.

    • Yes its the personal aspect thats hardest in part because its something you understand on a different level I guess and that can be harder to put into words in a way. I think there is also the worry ‘am I exposing too much’ and thats a hard one to judge and combat.

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