Writing about Reading


Nick Hornby signing books at Central Library, ...

Nick Hornby signing books at Central Library, Seattle, Washington. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I came home from the pub early last night (Tuesday night), I was home for 9pm. This seems to be the latest new habit for me, I am just so fickle…

Anyway, having no internet at home still and a pile of part read books I decided to try and get at least one finished. And I managed it successfully, just over 150 pages and ‘Keeping Mum’ by Kate Lawson was completed and I was still in bed for 11pm ūüôā

So, to write about reading seems¬†perfectly apt seeing as the next morning I am close to finishing Nick Hornby’s ‘The Complete Polysyllabic Spree’ which is a book about reading itself…

Basically the ‘spree’ is a collection of articles Nick wrote for a literary magazine¬†The¬†Believer¬†that acted as a series of diary entries chronicling his book purchases and reading habits over two years.

It has taken me a long time to read this book, a very long time considering it is under 300 pages long – the length of book I normally devour in around four hours straight.

BUT the reason it has taken me so long to read is actually because of how GOOD it is, not because it is bad, or a hard read. Quite the opposite in fact, it has been inspiring, funny and extremely interesting.

Many times is has made me stop and list books I want to read just because Nick has enjoyed them and they sound intriguing.

Other times it has made me stop reading to write, again because what I have read has spurred my own enthusiasm to write.

I hadn’t finished reading a book for¬†several¬†weeks until last night. The last book I read before that was ‘Switched’ by Amanda Hocking, a nice, easy read of the Young Adult supernatural fantasy genre about the Trylle¬†who happen to be trolls with a fancier name, lol. the first in a series that follows Wendy’s discovery that she is Trylle and was switched at birth to be raised by humans. She is in fact the¬†daughter¬†of the Queen of the Trylle of Forening and it is down to her to preserve the future of her homeland with the help of her powers and new friends. But, as expected things aren’t as easy or as simple as just¬†accepting¬†her new role as a princess. I did enjoy this book and as usual I am looking forward to reading the next in the series.

Reading a book like ‘Switched’ is like putting on a pair of comfortable slippers, it fits just right, the supernatural fantasy genre is¬†definitely¬†the genre of choice for me. My bookshelves are filled with the likes of Kelley Armstrong, Charlaine Harris and Kim Harrison (amongst¬†others) all writers of supernatural fantasies featuring vampires, werewolves,¬†fairies, elves and so on. Don’t get me wrong though I have a lot of other books not in this genre too, thrillers, crime, and classics, etc.

Is it any wonder then that the next book I decided to read was less captivating for me, being not a supernatural story?

I guess first off it didn’t help that I had mistakenly picked up a book by an author who, while not in my favourite genre, I had read and enjoyed her work before. The book I started reading was ‘Keeping Mum’ by Kate Lawson. The author I had mistakenly ¬†thought I was picking up was Kate Long, whose ‘Bad Mother’s Handbook’ I had found amusing and a¬†great¬†read¬†several¬†years ago.

Now, of course in addition to realising it was not the author I thought it was I had to contend with moving home and all that stuff at the same time. So, just as I started to read ‘Keeping Mum’ my life turned upside down, it just became easier to put it down for reading later…

It wasn’t capturing my interest enough to devour and the more I read the more I felt betrayed,¬†deceived¬†and lied to. The front cover has the tagline:

‘What do you do when Mum’s behaving badly…?’

and the blurb on the back cover starts with:

‘She stays out too late, drinks too much and has wild parties. And she’s your Mum…’

It goes on to describe how Cass’ mum and her toyboy move in with Cass, so you would be forgiven for expecting a ‘riotously¬†funny’ (quote from back cover) read about a mother/daughter relationship where the daughter is having to be the sensible one… OH NO! NOT AT ALL!! This is far from what you get. The mother/daughter living together line is a totally misleading notion.

The book is actually entirely about Cass getting caught up in the twisted affairs of her best friend (and while this is hinted at in the blurb you are led to believe this is the sideline rather than the main feature of the story). Anyway, to cut things short if the blurb had been more honest this book would have been an easier read as it is not that bad a story with at least one unexpected twist that I really didn’t see coming. But, when you are reading a book expecting one kind of story and get something totally different it makes it hard to remain¬†focused. I finally finished the book last night and would say if you like a bit of drama and romance in your fiction (chick-lit anybody?) hen give it a go – just ignore the blurb!! It isn’t bad, just don’t expect it to meet anything the cover suggests. Me, I don’t think I will read another Kate Lawson book, sorry, too chick-lit’y for me!

So, that brings us back to now, this morning (Wednesday), in an attempt to catch up with my reading (following last night’s success) upon waking I picked up Nick Hornby again. I read four sections (I wouldn’t call them chapters as it’s not structured that way) and what happened? I sat down to write again, this piece in fact, about reading. Writing about reading…

I guess at least I didn’t grow my ‘to buy’ list much again this time (okay fib, 2 books added to the list from the sections read), but I did enjoy his opinions on Ian McKewan’s ‘Saturday’ which I read a while ago (probably around the same time Nick wrote about it actually, 2005.

Okay, so I still have to finish Nick’s book now so I can get on to the other books I have started recently. Maybe I should try to stick to reading one book at a time?!!

Books read so far this year:

  • Five Rebels – Various authors, chapter sampler of 5 books (all of which I am going to purchase)
  • Valiant – Holly Black
  • The Future of Us –¬†Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler
  • SpellBound – Kelley Armstrong
  • Immortal Beloved – Cate Tiernan
  • Switched – Amanda Hocking
  • 1000 Things to do in Britain ‚Äď Time Out
  • Secrets to the Grave ‚Äď Tami Hoag
  • Divergent ‚Äď Veronica Roth
  • Hidden in Plain Sight ‚Äď Jennifer Eaton
  • The Hunger Games Trilogy (3 Books) – Suzanne Collins
  • Keeping Mum – Kate Lawson

Currently Reading:

  • The Complete Polysyllabic Spree – Nick Hornby
  • Daemon – Daniel Suarez
  • Catch 22 – Joesph Heller

Books bought this month:

  • Remember Me – Christopher Pike
  • How to do Everything – Dorling Kindersley
  • 52 Great British Weekends
  • Ready Made CV’s/Job Search letters
  • The Sherlock Holmes School of Self-Defence
  • The little Book of Big Ideas – Politics
  • The Little Book of Big Ideas – Economics
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