Friday, 30 October 2015

30-day Writing Challenge - Day 8

A book you love and one you didn't

I don't think you realise how difficult this one is for me.  Yes, I realise it is meant to be a writing challenge but I think I would rather discuss who I'd kill and why then answer this question.  I love books.  No no no no - you don't understand.  I love them.  I like to have them around me doing their bookishness and I like to smell them when no-one is looking.  As a teenager I'd spend my weekend afternoons loitering within the stacks obsessively reading spines and deciding who I would liberate that particular day.  I used to borrow the full 12 at a time - usually great big thick fantasy novels that weighed a ton and were often a nightmare to carry home but that didn't matter because I'd start reading one of them and get drawn into another world.

I have only read 39 books so far this year.  I have just had no spare time.  Thirteen of those were a re-read of the excellent Wheel of Time series (and yes I know there are 14 in total, I hadn't read the last one before) and I have just begun to re-read the Discworld novels from the beginning because quite frankly - why wouldn't you?  So is a book I love one that I constantly go back to and re-read?  I think I have read The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan at least ten times if not more.  It feels like pulling on that comfy old sweater and just snuggling down.  If I pluck books off the top of my head right now this instance that I loved reading then I have enjoyed Ben Aaronovitch's Peter Grant novels immensely and The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss was superb.  Anything by Robin Hobb is always excellent, naturally I am a Sir TP devotee and for heaven's sake I am reading The Hobbit with my 2 year old at bedtime.

You might be thinking, hang on a minute - how can you love books if all you read is one particular genre but it's not as bad as you might think.  I belong to a mainstream book club who doesn't solely read sci fi and fantasy and this is good for expanding my literary horizons as it forces me to try something new.   Admittedly I sometimes don't like what we read but The Magic of Tidying changed my life, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson scared me witless and I Am The Messenger was excellent.  To give you a little perspective -  on my Goodreads Account I have read 641 books and that is only the ones I remember as this website didn't exist when I was a wee young thing.  My want-to-read list is over 1600 and that is only the books I know about - who knows what other wonders are out there waiting to be devoured.  And before you leap upon your high horse no I am not neglecting the classics.  I had read Shakespeare, Dickens and Austen before I started secondary school as well as having already run through the Sherlock Holmes novels, Thackeray and others of that ilk.

My reading experience is one of sheer wonder and joy.  I am not aware of the words upon the page. Reading for me is not a case of moving my gaze across sentences, completing and turning paper. There is no conscious effort in the reading part.  It simple becomes the story in my mind.  It's a completely visual experience with sound, smell and sometimes even taste.  It is also something I can switch on and off quickly so I can walk along the street and read, cook dinner and read, sit amongst others watching TV and read.  I do not forget my place and I am once more with the characters as soon as I pick the book up.  For that reason I tend not to read horror.  The imagination overdrive is just too strong and then I can't sleep for days and we all know what happens to Mummies with toddlers who get no sleep!

And so to a book I didn't love with my profound apologies to all those that I do and haven't yet mentioned.  I don't want to kiss and tell.  Yes of course there have been books that I haven't enjoyed but then who I am to say what all books should be like?  There will always be something that isn't to my taste and that is a good thing.  Variety broadens the mind.  The best book club meetings are those when some of us loved it, some of us hated it and some of us haven't read it yet but did you see that documentary last night about a completely unrelated topic?  There are many different standards of writing which change as you chop about your genres.  There are those authors that are held up to others as beacons of brilliance but (and I can't believe I am about to say this) if Tolkien tried to get published today he probably wouldn't have a hope in hell because oh my goodness his sentences are exceedingly long winded and tangential aren't they just?

I think reading is all about how it makes you feel.  If a book elicits a response from you then the author has done their job.   It doesn't matter if that response is negative or positive.  But if you are really going to push me on a book that I didn't love - that I read recently - then I shall have to say Mr Grey.  I apologise.  In my defence I have since read six books of exceedingly better standard, word count and literary content so forgive me but allow me to continue to read in wild abandon.

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