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Reading Life: 25th March 2016

A photograph of branch on a tree in the sunshine

The slump has gone; I’m now in that mood colloquially known as ‘read all the books’ and trying my best not to succumb to the notion that I make up for lost time because it could easily lead to another slump. My enthusiasm for blogging has also returned with a force; I knew 2 weeks at Christmas wasn’t enough and that I was heading for burnout. I managed to keep blogging throughout the time but if it happens again I think I’ll just take a break.

A couple of weekends ago I finally finished The Spring Of Kasper Meier and read Sarah Ladipo Manyika’s Like A Mule Bringing Ice Cream To The Sun. The latter is a book in the same vein as Elizabeth Is Missing – it’s about a 75-year-old Nigerian woman who is starting to loose her independence. It’s also a book about books; I’m looking forward to sharing an extract with you when I review it.

After finishing the Manyika I tried to read City Of Wisdom And Blood, the second book in a series that begun with The Brethren – a book overwhelmed by bosoms. You’ll remember I spoke highly of the opening line of the second book and I was excited to get back to the series; now the characters are away from home I expected less lust and more of the good historical fiction. But no, within the first ten pages were four references and as the saying goes, I just can’t even. I will be giving it another go but not just yet; I might have to make it a long-term read.

Putting it down, I knew I wasn’t ready to return to Tender Is The Night or Cranford (Helen’s description of ‘frothy’ is correct on that second one, it is so and I’m craving studies) so I decided I’d have a read of the first pages of the books I want to read soon. Thinking I’d start with A Little Life I opened it… and that was it, Yanagihara had me hooked by the end of the first half-page. I’d been wanting to leave the book until later due to its length but I have to read it now. Already I can see why it’s been nominated for so many awards. I’m guessing it’s 600-odd pages but refraining from actually checking.

This said, in regards to the Gaskell, I have gone back to it, and Helen’s apt description has made me think of the contrast between it and North And South. I think it’s interesting how Gaskell’s work could be read by different people owing to its variety. Whereas Jane Austen, for example, deals with the same sort of atmosphere in every book, and it’s more a case of whether you like the characters and plot each time, with Gaskell you get totally different worlds. Speaking of what I’ve read so far, you’ve a book about personal religious changes and the industrial revolution with its social studies and economics, and you’ve a book that’s rather like a soap opera in the way there are lots of mini stories and episodes and nothing is particularly noteworthy. I’m assuming that Gaskell’s other works may, at least one of them, fall somewhere in between the two as they are quite far apart on the scale but either way I am liking the difference.

One of my reading goals this year is to even out the ratio of male to female authors, as well as read more Asian fiction – pre-blogging my balance was better and I read much more diversely. I don’t know why it changed but I didn’t like it and I also don’t like it because diversity is a major factor in my musical and film interests. Already I’m doing well, better than I’d planned, in fact, which I believe has likely helped keep me on track since the slump went away.

To talk of writing about books, I’ve returned to Rebecca – I’m writing about themes again. I’ve two posts completed, a sort of round up post in mind, and one other one in pre-production so to speak. (I’ll not post them one after another.) I’m also looking at Margaret Forster’s biography though I know it’s a bit romanticised – have you read it? I’d like some opinions. I’m finding I can’t get enough of the author’s most famous work and whilst I’d love to return to The House On The Strand which I started and then forgot to keep reading, the nameless heroine is too alluring a character to leave. With all the comparisons to Jane Eyre I kind of want to do a mash-up post, blending the Du Maurier, Brontë, and the Samantha Sotto I loved a few years ago (whose hero I see as a mix of Max De Winter and Mr Rochester, so it’d be a post about a book that’s about a book that’s about a book).

How’s your reading life?


Tanya Patrice

March 25, 2016, 3:38 am

I’m trying to balance male / female authors as well. I read predominantly women authors while some have the opposite issue. Definitely mood reading as well too.


March 25, 2016, 5:33 pm

Yay, for being out of your reading slump! I recently finished children’s classic Five Children and It by E Nesbit and hope to start Cranford as my next classic.

Jenny @ Reading the End

March 27, 2016, 5:27 pm

My reading life is okay! Still jumping among a whole bunch of different books and trying to find The One, but I am confident that I will get there. I am knocking out a few books that I’ve been intending to read for a while — the first in YS Lee’s Victorian lady spy agency series, plus a Mary Robinette Kowal book — and that always feels nice.

REBECCAAAAAAA! (I love that book so much.)


April 4, 2016, 11:26 am

Tanya: I was surprised to find I read far more women, it took reading articles about people reading more men to notice it, though it’s definitely no less an issue. Mood can come into it when topics are more divided.

Jessica: I’ve only experience of the TV adaptation of the sequel (I think it was the sequel – I’m guessing you know the one), but it’s enough to say good choice ;)

Jenny: I like your use of The One; perfect. Yay for reading those for-a-while books.



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