Read, Read, Reading…

I’ve been a bit quiet on here if late, whoops. The problem, thought its not really a problem is that I simply haven’t been able to stop reading when I have had a spare second, well reading and trips to the seaside and getting about a bit more again. It seems my reading mojo is officially back back back, as you can see from the picture below…

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I am aware I don’t want to end up with a huge backlog of posts and as I am about to start reading the J.K Rowling chunkster for adults on the right, reading and blogging will reach an equilibrium of sorts in due course. I can say that reading by whim is making me have a stonking reading year so far!

Speaking of reading years, how is yours going? What are you reading currently? What corkers and/or duds have you read so far?

19 Comments

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19 responses to “Read, Read, Reading…

  1. My reading has also been highly satisfying so far this year. I would be remiss in not mentioning that one of my favorites so far is your recommendation – The Rabbit Back Literature Society. But I feel like I need to warn you about that J.K. Rowling. It was an excruciating read for me! I really really wanted to like it too.

  2. I agree with Frances – in fact, I abandoned it with the intention of going back to it but haven’t got round to it yet! But it’s been a great year thus far for reading – I’m rather like you, in that I’ve struggled to put a book down and write a review! Finished The Miniaturist last night, loved it🙂 How nice and tidy your bedside is – mine’s a bit shambolic at the mo! Must put books down and tidy up!

  3. Jen

    Seeing as the other two comments so far have been pretty negative about the Casual Vacancy, I wanted to add that I actually really really enjoyed it, (and everyone that I know who has read it seemed to like it as well) so I hope you do too!

  4. Kateg

    I have had a great beginning to my reading year. I finished The Woman in White (thanks so much as I had never heard of it before listening to you on The Readers- Wilkie is not as popular in the US as Charles D.) and Any Human Heart which were both wonderful! I then read My Brilliant Friend which was okay and am ready to start either the new Flavia de Luce or The Girl on the Train. I need to pick one before bed tonight!

  5. At the moment I’m reading some oldies…The Mayor of Casterbridge ( Hardy) and A Question of Upbringing (Powell). Both take some concentration but are wonderful. Powell’s humour is so dry. Hardy is very wordy and poetic and yet such a good storyteller.

  6. I’ll be very interested to hear what you think about The Casual Vacancy…I enjoyed it up until the end, which I thought got really silly. I’m reading All the Birds Singing by Evie Wyld, and liking it so far, except the way she spells out the birdcalls in the text is driving me crazy.

  7. I too have had a rather good reading year thus far! I much prefer reading on a whim instead of planning ahead.
    To counteract the negativity about The Casual Vacancy, I ended up really enjoying it. It’s slow and doesn’t have action or any description, but by the second half I couldn’t put it down. I love the way Rowling writes characters!

  8. I’m in the same boat, Simon – lots of reading but very little reviewing. Perhaps because I’m reading books which I then want to compare with other books, so then I have to reread other books, or at least glance through them… then I have to think a bit more rather than just blurting out a review… then work intervenes and the moment is gone… Anyway, hope to get back on track again soon. I haven’t read The Casual Vacancy, but have read The Silkworm by Rowling (as an avid crime fiction reader) and it was strong on characterisation and atmosphere, but the crime/detection element wasn’t brilliant.

  9. David

    I’m having an interesting reading year so far: nine books in and I’ve read two that will almost certainly be in my top ten at the end of the year, but also the worst (opinion being subjective I ought really to phrase that as “least favourite” but I honestly think “worst” is in this case deserved) book I’ve read in the last three years.

    The corkers:
    “The Jewel in the Crown” – I’ve been meaning to read Paul Scott’s Raj Quartet for years and have this month read the first three volumes. All are very good, but the first book is superb, not least because it took me by surprise. Having seen the TV adaption about 17 years ago I had expected a straightforward and linear narrative, so I was thrilled to discover how cleverly structured the book is, using multiple voices, an invisible author/interviewer, and a couple of different timeframes to weave a story that ripples out from and constantly circles back to the events of a single day in 1942. Scott is also brilliant at writing character – even the most minor figure, even when representing a ‘type’, is rounded, and he excels at analysing psychologies. Added to which, the books give one of the most balanced and clear views of the events leading up to Partition that I have come across.
    The second corker was “Rhapsody” a collection of short stories by the Welsh author Dorothy Edwards. Edwards took her own life at the age of just 31 in 1934, leaving behind just thirteen stories and one slim novel, but the stories are among the best I’ve read; achingly beautiful, they stand comparison with Katherine Mansfield and it is a terrible shame Edwards isn’t as well known.

    The dud:
    “The Book of Strange New Things” by Michel Faber. It has a nice cover and is a breezy read, but I’d struggle to find anything else positive to say about it. The writing style is horrible – frequently clumsy and almost YA in tone, the dialogue sounds very unnatural and is littered with Americanisms (his central characters are English). The characters are poorly developed; the set-up is hackneyed but makes no sense and is full of holes; the exploration of faith is shallow and feels researched rather than experienced (as crises of faith in fiction go Paul Scott gets more emotional truth into one paragraph in “The Towers of Silence” than Faber manages in 584 pages)… I just found the whole thing very poor and only kept reading to try and find out why everyone else seems to have loved it!

  10. My reading year is also going well… My only dud so far is the wacky short fiction of Stanley Donwood – Humor. However reading Marcus Sedgwick’s The Ghosts of Heaven which I’m reviewing at Shiny New Books later this week more than made up for it.

  11. I’ve got almost the opposite happening: too much blogging, not enough reading! I will say, though, that The Girl on the Train was amazing, and I read it in a single day. I hope you enjoyed it just as much!

  12. I hope you enjoy The Casual Vacancy. So many people wrote it off because it was so different from Harry Potter, but I felt her characterizations, especially of the teenagers, was incredible! Not to mention of sleepy village life. I was pleased to see in the Galbraith series that she was able to resuscitate her ability to write viable adult characters as well!

    I’m thoroughly entrenched in what I’m calling Jane-uary. Re-reading Northanger Abbey for a Jane Austen Book Club we’re doing. And in stark contrast I’m tying up Male Sex Work and Society. Both of which are enjoyable!

  13. Hey Simon, I just want to say to David that I agree with him about Michel Faber’s novel. It read like young adult to me as well. The novel was a disappointment. Seeing David read Paul Scott, Olivia Manning and Anthony Powell, and you Simon with your Muriel Spark and Rose Tremain is why I keep coming back to your web site. I know no one else that reads these writers. My heart skips a beat in excitement knowing they are being read. Like minded people across cyber space.

  14. Same here, reading going well this year but reviewing isn’t happening! And reading by choice this year is lovely.

  15. I have just started Angela Carter’s “Wise Children”. Before that a couple of non-fiction that I strongly recommend, two books by Richard Fortey; “Trliobite!” and “Life: an unauthorized biography”

  16. queenofthepark

    Read Strayed’s Wild in preparation for seeing the movie. Loved them both. Didn’t so much love My Brilliant Friend by Ferrante, so much buzz about this and its trilogy companions. Reading taste is such a personal thing isn’t it! I spy the Bees on your substantial pile and I recall a very enthusiastic comment from you or did I?
    Also beginning Rachel Cusk’s Outline, promises well.

  17. I’m halfway through My Brilliant Friend and liking it very much. It’s sort of a cross between Jane Smiley’s Some Luck and Simonetta Agnello Hornby’s The Almond Picker.
    My faves so far this year are Margaret Atwood’s Stone Mattress, Evie Wyld’s All the Birds Singing, and Caitlin Moran’s How to Build a Girl.
    Two that I’ve given up on are The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Lindsay Hunter’s Ugly Girls. Wrong time for them, I guess.
    I’ve had The Casual Vacancy in my TBR for a long time – still waiting for the right time. I spy several books on your pile that I’ve read and enjoyed: The Guest Cat, The Bees, and The Encyclopedia of Early Earth. Also, is that The Strange Library on top? I own a UK edition, but mine is violet, not yellow. I’m planning a blog post comparing the North American to the UK versions, with their very different illustrations.

  18. I’m having the same issue — I’m reading like crazy, over 3000 pages in January. I really need to take the time to write posts so that I can share these wonderful reads with everyone else! First, though, I think I’ll just start Kate Riordan’s Fiercombe Manor tonight …

  19. I am having a bit of a so-so year on the reading front. Lots of books I’m looking forward to but not that many have gripped me once I start reading. I may have spread myself too thin and just not be giving reading enough time. Definitely need to work on that.

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