Tag Archives: Yann Martel

Novel Insights on Savidge Reads #2: Reading Apathy Strikes

A few months ago I was a little bit gutted when the lovely Polly of Novel Insights decided that she wanted to give up blogging, especially seeing as I nagged and nagged and nagged for her to start one in the first place – can you tell I am not quite over it yet? Anyway I felt the blogosphere would miss Polly’s ‘novel insights’ into the books she has been reading and so I have bribed her (the things I know after twenty seven years being friends) to come and do a monthly post on Savidge Reads of the books she has been reading and rather enjoying. Well Polly has been a bit rubbish and not bothered for a few months (excuses about weddings, new jobs, looking for a house, training for some charity thing, etc, etc) but now, bloody finally, she has come crawling back to share some of her bookish thoughts over the last *cough* three months.

img_5742-fixedWell as I start typing this post I am wondering whether Mr Savidge has decided to disown me or whatever the blogging equivalent is! So if you are reading this then I have hopefully been forgiven for being tardy in the extreme with my second guest post on Savidge Reads. (She thinks she has been forgiven, dear readers, she forgets I am in charge of her hen weekend!)

Being completely honest, I am not sure that ‘Novel Insights’ is an appropriate pseudonym for me at the moment. I am definitely experiencing a kind of reading apathy. The symptoms for a book lover like myself are worrying, but the cause is clear. At the moment I am planning a wedding, in the process of finding a home to buy and six months into a rewarding but demanding job. Oh, and silly me signed up to do a 12 mile gruelling obstacle course called Tough Mudder, which took place this weekend just passed (involving lots of running, mud ice etc), so I have been training for that too.

All of these things are both exciting and major life events and I’m not sure how I am going to return to a normal speed of activity once this year is over. I am extremely grateful for my good fortune but none of this leaves much time for reading. I did go to a very enjoyable Penguin Bloggers event with Simon a few weeks ago and the wonderful Foyles and I enjoyed listening to the author’s readings, but have to admit that my mind was still in several different places and it wasn’t an immersive experience for me. I did take away copies of those that sounded promising though so perhaps over the next few weeks/months I will flick through those and see if there is anything I fancy.

Having said all of this, I have read a small handful of really excellent books. Anyone who is in Riverside Readers with me will recognise that three out of five of them are book group choices! I have mixed feelings about this as I’m sure most book group members do at some point, because when you are not reading as much as you would like, it can feel as if you are only reading books selected by others. On the other hand, without it perhaps I would have read much less and two of my favourites of this year are book group choices…

‘The Snow Child’ by Eowyn Ivey swept me away to Alaska, with a mix of magic, human struggle and the feeling of a raw frontier experience that reminded me of the Laura Ingalls Wilder novels that I used to read as a kid. My Uncle and Auntie sent me The Little House in the Big Woods and then each subsequent book (some may remember The Little House on the Prairie TV show that was based on the most famous in the series). It is a beautifully conceived novel, with a moving plot line and charming characters and I would recommend it to anyone to read.

‘Under the Skin’ by Michael Faber (who also wrote The Crimson Petal and the White), is probably the most original and surprising novel that I have ever read. I dare not say anything more about it for fear of ruining the reading experience for others, except to say that it is a fascinating piece of literature. It is also apparently being made into a film with Scarlett Johanssen, which I am a little dubious about.

I chose the infamous ‘The Life of Pi’ by Yann Martel to read, when I went out to meet my photographer fiancé who was travelling in India and Philippines. I spent a wonderful week with him on a little Philippine island called Boracay and dipped into this book now and then. I bought The Life of Pi partly because I was looking for reading inspiration and saw it was 20p (Simon tuts VERY loudly in the background) and also because I always thought that I should get around to reading it. I became quite involved in the story and genuinely wanted to find out what would happen to the hero but I found his narrative voice to be quite superior sounding which irritated me at times. Overall, it was an excellent read and was left pondering at the end, which I liked.

  

I raced through Val McDermid’s ‘Wire in the Blood’. I am proud owner of a signed copy, which I procured at an event that Savidge Reads hosted in Manchester Waterstones. I thought the plot line was totally ace and the villain, a monster almost on a par with Hannibal Lecter.

The last book that I finished was ‘The Twin’, by Gerbrand Bakker, also chosen by Armen for our book group. I won’t talk about it as we haven’t discussed it yet, and somehow I don’t think that’s the done thing! It was the kind of book that puts one in a sombre, contemplative sort of mood. I can’t wait to discuss it.

 

So, I suppose it hasn’t exactly been a complete reading drought, but when I went to my shelves the last time to choose my next book, I didn’t feel exactly enthusiastic. Perhaps this is because I still have a stack of books from when I was blogging or perhaps it’s because I keep thinking I should read my piled-high work emails on my commute instead of taking a more vicarious pleasure in reading a novel.

One thing that I will say is that it has been therapeutic writing all of this down, and perhaps one of you kind people might suggest a book that might deliver the reading rush that I am looking for?

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Latest Incomings

Now before you all baulk at how many books have arrived you might want to pop and see an explanation of how such a backlog developed, there could actually be more that have simply vanished. The latter part of that sentence doesn’t bear thinking about. So here are what delights (though I took out quite a few cricket and celeb books – again see above post for my thoughts on those) have arrived in the last month, I have even organised them into two groups for you…

The Hardbacks and larger books…

  • Dom Casmurro – Machado De Assis (printed specially from OUP for my Reading for Brazil thing, too kind)
  • By Midnight – Mia James (a young adult book set in Highgate Cemetery)
  • Stories to Get You Through the Night – Various (have started this, its great so far)
  • The Invisible Bridge – Julie Orringer (not heard of the author before have you?)
  • Dona Nicanora’s Hat Shop – Kirsten Dawkins (another kind send for Reading for Brazil)
  • God Says No – James Hannaham (hadn’t heard of this but sounds very, very me am itching to start this one)
  • Ilustrado – Miguel Syjuco (I know nothing about this but adore the cover)
  • The Lost Books of the Odyssey – Zachary Mason (they also sent me a copy for my Mum who is a classicist which was very kind)
  • Repeat Today With Tears – Anne Peile (most annoyed this was delayed as wanted to go to the launch but as hadn’t read it didn’t feel I could)
  • The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas – Machado De Assis (another book printed specially from OUP – again too kind)
  • Beatrice and Virgil – Yann Martel (I loved The Life of Pi but am going to try not to compare them when I read this one)
  • The Radleys – Matt Haig (Vampires as next door neighbours sounds fun, mind you might hold out on this one a while before I get vampired out)
  • Tony & Susan – Austin M. Wright (a book I would never have known was being republished – or had indeed been published – after many years, which has a book within a book sent to a woman from her ex-husband, sounds intriguing. We read the book as Susan does.)
  • Grace Williams Says It Loud – Emma Henderson (a tale of love and the life after of two people in a Mental Institute, an interesting debut)
  • Inheritance – Nicholas Shakespeare (have never read him but always liked the idea of doing so)

And onto the Paperbacks…

  • Cousin Phyllis and Other Stories – Elizabeth Gaskell (I have never read Gaskell and so want to and short stories might be a nice way in)
  • Dear Mr. Bigelow – Frances Woodford (I think this will be an unsolicited joy. Woodford and Bigelow never met but wrote to each other from 1949 to 1961. I cannot wait to read these letters.)
  • The Book of Fires – Jane Borodale (Too late to try and get done before The Orange First Novel Award but one I am looking forward to no less.)
  • Tender Morsels – Margo Lanagan (a modern fairytale receiving very mixed reviews around the blogosphere, wonder which camp I will be in – love it or loathe it?)
  • Jezebel  – Irene Nemirovsky (I am one of the few people who didn’t love Suite Francaise maybe a short novel with such a tempting title will do the trick?)
  • Ménage – Ewan Morrison (never heard of him but sounds like he has quite the cult following)
  • The Kindest Thing – Cath Staincliffe (another one I have never heard of but “a love story, a modern nightmare” sounds like it might be just up my street)
  • City of God – Paulo Lins (another book for Reading For Brazil that the publishers kindly sent)
  • The Lady in the Tower – Alison Weir (I am a little obsessed with Tudors and Anne Boleyn in particular, so this will be a great summer non-fiction read – I have a mate who works at Hever Castle, maybe I should read it there?)
  • Little Gods – Anna Richards (am super chuffed this one arrived as I saw it in Kew Bookshop and just wanted it from these words “an adventure, a black comedy, a fairy tale of sorts and a romance” that sounds my perfect book, let’s hope the blurb isn’t lying!)
  • Remarkable Creatures – Tracy Chevalier (love, love, loved ‘Falling Angels’ and this is Victorian again, ladies on the hunt for fossils doesn’t sound thrilling but I have been recommended it is by lots of people)
  • A Death in Brazil – Peter Robb (a historical study of Brazil looking at the country after slavery was abolished)
  • Henry VII: Wolfman – A. E. Moorat (as much as I am unsure about the Jane Austen zombie books this could be fun, and the next on ‘Queen Victoria; Demon Hunter’ I am going to beg for)
  • Troubles – J.G. Farrell (the Lost Man Booker winner which instantly made me want to read it and hoorah now I can)
  • The Scouring Angel – Benedict Gummer (another part of history that fascinates me is The Black Death and the plague years so this is perfect. Sounds like have some great long non-fiction for the summer months)
  • The Blind Side of the Heart – Julia Franck (I know nothing about this and, from the cover or the title, I am not sure how me it will be but is good to give new things a whirl)
  • Stone’s Fall – Iain Pears (I didn’t like ‘An Instance of the Fingerpost’ very much but have heard this is a cracker, has also been chosen for The TV Book Clubs summer reads)

So that’s all of them. Have you read any of these? Are they on your radar or your TBR? Have you read anything else by any of the authors? Which ones would you like to see me read first and hear about?

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