A God In Ruins – Kate Atkinson

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” – Confucius

I’ve often thought that I have the attention span of a goldfish but usually, when it comes to books, I stay focused on just the one book. I’ve never been that reader with a stack of books at the side of the bed, dipping in and out of several at a time. I would get confused and usually I am too intrigued by one story to drift off to something else. Unless it’s a poor book, where I then cease to read altogether (and you’ve heard me on that topic before [link to post about not reading anything]). So I found myself in the unusual situation a few months back (all the way back in June, in fact), having just started reading A God In Ruins, where a colleague recommended a good book on something topical at work (the book was Black Swan, about the events which are ruled out as unlikely to happen – if they are considered at all – but which nonetheless happen). Continue reading “A God In Ruins – Kate Atkinson”

The Girl You Left Behind – Jojo Moyes

“Chastity: I know you can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed? Bianca: I think you can in Europe” – 10 Things I Hate About You

It’s exciting to find a writer that you just get along with.  Their prose flows, you quickly engage with their characters, you slip into their imaginary worlds like you are slipping into a warm bath, and you lap up their books one after another. I have read three of Jojo Moyes’ books, becoming gripped by her breakthrough novel Me Before You, which has now been made into a film. It had me gripped from the first scenes in the Buttered Bun. I read Silver Bay in pretty much one sitting. Next it was the turn of The Girl You Left Behind. Having just discarded (permanently – it really was that bad) a book set across two time periods of the Second World War and the present day, I was a little alarmed to note that the next book I selected from my shelf was also similarly contrived. I wonder if both authors attended a creative writing class where the suggested topic was “Echoes from the past”. Continue reading “The Girl You Left Behind – Jojo Moyes”

Human Traces – Sebastian Faulks

“Every day, my daddy told me the same thing. ‘Once a task is just begun, never leave it till it’s done. Be the labour great or small, do it well or not at all’.” – Quincy Jones

So it turns out that I am a Finisher (there will be more on this in a future post). I derive satisfaction from getting things done, ticking things off my list, persevering. With books it has always been the same. I can perhaps count on the fingers of one hand the books I have started and not finished. Stephen King’s It (too scary), Martin Amis’s Yellow Dog (too dull), Camilla Macpherson’s Pictures at an Exhibition (too annoying, the characters that is), Erich Kästner’s Lottie and Lisa (too long, I was about 8 when I tried and my attention span too short – I have since bought an old copy and finished reading it so perhaps this shouldn’t be in the list). Continue reading “Human Traces – Sebastian Faulks”

The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion

“I don’t know about doing a sequel. I think you can retroactively damage a product by adding to it.” – Simon Pegg

I got very excited a few weeks ago. A girl at work has set up an office book group. I love a good book group but a book group of colleagues? I wondered if professionalism will get in the way of freedom of discussion. But I quickly put such thoughts aside and jumped in with two feet. The selected book was The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, a book I had seen on the tables in book shops but about which I had otherwise heard little. Amazon Prime delivered it the next day allowing me to launch right into it. Continue reading “The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion”

I Capture The Castle – Dodie Smith

“When I read a book, I put in all the imagination I can, so that it is almost like writing the book as well as reading it – or rather, it is like living it” – Cassandra Mortmain in I Capture The Castle

The quote of the title is from I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith. For years I thought the book might be about a game of chess, or perhaps a battle. But now that I have actually read it, I understand what it is. For the last couple of weeks I have lived in that castle, walked its crumbling towers, been chilled in it draughts, and have even swum in its inky moat. Like Cassandra, whose journals I have been reading, I have recreated in my own head the castle that she has sought to capture through her writing. Continue reading “I Capture The Castle – Dodie Smith”

Shotgun Lovesongs – Nickolas Butler

“Never lend books, for no one ever returns them; the only books I have in my library are books that other folks have lent me.” ― Anatole France

A friend of mine set herself the challenge of reading two books a week this year. Having a small child, this was a brave thing to attempt and, to give her her dues, she made an excellent start. She sought recommendations from friends and, when she visited me late last year, she plundered my bookshelves to make up her reading list for the first few weeks and months. That’s an exaggeration: we discovered our reading tastes were so similar that she had a limited number from which to choose. But she found a few and packed them into her overstuffed cabin baggage. A couple of months ago she was back in the UK and diligently returned my books having enjoyed them very much. Along with them, she lent to me two of her favourite books from her challenge so far. Continue reading “Shotgun Lovesongs – Nickolas Butler”

Tully – Paullinna Simons

“Life is so constructed, that the event does not, cannot, will not, match the expectation.” Charlotte Bronte

Book recommendations are perhaps the epitome of subjectivity.  Depending on who is doing the recommending, I reserve my judgment (or sometimes ignore the recommendation completely!).  But when someone holds a book out as being their all time favourite book, couldn’t put it down, re-read it and give it away as gifts level of good, you have to give it a chance, right? Continue reading “Tully – Paullinna Simons”

Crash – JG Ballard

“Perhaps the most distubing book you will ever read”

Well, there is another rather sick piece of fiction that I have read previously (The Fermata) but I think this one edges it.  JG Ballard’s Crash was a bizarre adventure into the world of car crash fetishism. Not only are the characters themselves described in great detail but also the cars, in particularly crashed ones, become the objects of desire.  Thankfully a short book which I ultimately approached with an “I’ve started so I’ll finish” mentality. Not one for me. Come to think of it, I’m not even sure what possessed me to order it from Amazon’s second hand book shop… Continue reading “Crash – JG Ballard”

The Lollipop Shoes – Joanne Harris

“When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.” Desiderius Erasmus

I can identify with this quote rather too well.  I can’t say that I’m on the breadline but I do tend to think about buying books, or indeed I go ahead and buy them, before I think about buying other things.

Which is how I have accumulated so many books, just waiting for me to dive in and explore them.  My reading pattern is certainly cyclical and I go through phases of devouring them and phases where my brain won’t settle and is too distracted to do much other than skim a magazine or scan the internet (often Pinterest or Facebook).  At the moment, I am happily riding a wave of book-reading fervour. Continue reading “The Lollipop Shoes – Joanne Harris”

The Plan

I’d love to take off for a year with all the books which are sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be read. I have in excess of 100 books gathering dust, paper yellowing and covers fading. I’d love to find a place in the sun, by the sea and on the west coast of whichever patch of land I can find and I wouldn’t come back until I’ve read them all.

This Suitcase Full of Books plan is not the only thing that I want. The essence of it is that I want freedom. I don’t want to be tied to being anywhere or doing anything at any time. So although I’d like to spend a year reading all the books I’ve always wanted to read, I also want to do a whole load more things.

But for now, I’ll just start reading wherever and whenever I can and make a dent in that buckling shelf.