Monday, 4 October 2010

Blogging About Books

I used to post a lot of book reviews on this site but one time a colleague of mine said he checked my site every day but if there was a book review posted he would just skip it and come back the next day. I thought maybe I couldn’t write book reviews. So I stopped. Writers have fragile egos. Even this writer.

What I failed to grasp was that this man actually just didn’t enjoy reading. This seemed like a bizarre and foreign concept to a girl/woman who read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance at the age of 14 and basically has never been frightened by a piece of literature since. But now I think maybe he just didn’t really care what I, or anyone else had to say, had to say about a book, any book.

There was another totally self serving reason for writing book reviews on the blog. I forget what I read. Maybe that makes me a bad reader. But I read a lot. I'm a member of two book groups. One group sometimes almost manages to get the members to read 1 book but the other group has many members reading both books. Yeah, you read that correctly. I am a member of a book group that identifies 2 books per month. On a bad month, I can only manage 2 books/month. But on a good month and with some good novels, I devour 5 or 6 novels. But that’s a lot of books to be reading and keeping track of.

For years I didn’t read The Lovely Bones by Ablice Sebold because I thought I had already read it. I didn’t read The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingslover because I thought it was by the same author who wrote Clan of the Cave Bear and I had read that years ago on my mother’s recommendation. Despite my mother (and many others) loving it, I hated it. Not having a reference as to what I had read already meant that it took me years to read both these books which I know realize was a loss, particularly The Poisonwood Bible which simply put is epic and beautiful.  Watch for my review coming soon!

I also forget which book is which. People will start talking about books I know I’ve read and I just get a blank look on my face. I can’t remember the characters and have only a vague inkling what is was about. It takes a few moments but usually I am able to piece together enough fragments from my memory to recall a skeletal outline of the plot and form an opinion about whether I liked it or not. But please do not ask me what the names of the characters were. And most definitely avoid any deep discussion of their development or motivations.

This frustrates the heck out of me. I get immersed in great books and they have the power to change my life. I forget to eat. I forget I have to do the school pickup. Often I want to forget to go to work. One author, Lionel Shriver, has written 2 books which still have a profound influence on my thinking, We Need to Talk about Kevin and The Post Birthday World. Everything else she has written is rubbish, especially her latest, So Much for That (watch out for that review too!). But those 2 books, which are entirely different from each other, have had an elemental effect on me and my thinking. But I can’t tell you the characters names and if I were to describe them to you today, I would probably even mess up the plot arch.

There is only one book which remains fresh in my mind perpetually and that is The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. This is primarily due to the fact that I have read and reread this book about 8 times. I cry every time I read it and don’t think I will ever forget it. It fundamentally changed my feelings towards the people of Afghanistan and the war the west is waging against them. If you haven’t read it, you should. Now, before you read anything else.

The point of all this is that I am notifying you my loyal readers and fans that I am going to return to publishing my book reviews on this blog. Not because I don’t care about what my readers think but mostly because this is my blog and I can do what I want to. If you don’t like the book reviews, skip reading that day. But come back tomorrow. Even I rarely manage to read more than 1 book in 2 days.

1 comment:

Clare said...

Always loved your book reviews, keep them coming!