Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover

Reading Life: 6th July 2015

A photograph of flowers

When I spoke of my reading slump last Wednesday, what I really meant was a reading block. I had no desire to read – I just wanted to play music. It was weird; it wasn’t that I didn’t want to read, it was that I just couldn’t. I couldn’t focus and there was little point. Strangely I got through The Tiger’s Wife during a harder part of that time and made it; I’m not really sure what happened. Now the desire is coming back and I’m glad.

I’ve read few epistolary novels; in fact I can only remember two, Jane Austen’s Lady Susan and a phone conversation novella from my teenage years. Something told me I didn’t enjoy them much but as you know, I loved The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society. Whether it’s a feature of novels told in letters or just part and parcel of Shaffer’s work I don’t know, but the personality, the sheer vitality, in it is something else. I’m inclined to seek out others – do you have any recommendations?

Anna Karenina is on a sort of hold. I paused whilst reading the Obreht – I’m not sure I’d have finished it already if I hadn’t. (I do see why Obreht won the Orange Prize but so far prefer the Henderson.) I’m not going to repeat history now I’ve found the Tolstoy translation that works for me. Yes Levin bores me, but Anna is just so alluring. The way Tolstoy writes Anna… he almost compels you to fall in love with her too; it’s like he’s pushing you to be in awe of her.

To my reviews I’ve added the era (decade) of each book as a genre tag, in hopes it’ll remind me to read more older books. If it also helps others identify books then that’s a bonus, but I must admit selfishness this time. Adding Suite Française under 2000s was difficult and difficult, too, was the confirmation that I have indeed read many more books from this current decade than any other. My second avid reader ‘stage’ may have begun in 2009, but I really need to read more classics.

I’ve started The Late Monsieur Gallet and at the moment my views are mixed. I’m loving the simplicity of the text but feel it’s lacking. The seemingly irrelevant detailing was expected (older work, written in a time when people had longer attention spans) but it’s difficult to get through. I expect part of the issue is the translator and, whilst understandable given how many of them there are, the numerous translators employed to work on the series may take some getting used to. I do like that Simenon throws you straight into the case and doesn’t beat around the bush.

Have I noted I’ve Among Others on my list? I’m looking forward to it.

Which decade have you read the most books from? Have you ever found the need to seek a different translation?



July 6, 2015, 8:29 am

I’ve had that before, it used to accompany times of anxiety, but now it just sneaks up on me from anywhere. I’m glad you’re coming out the other end of it.

Thus far I’ve been lucky and not needed to seek alternative translations, but I’ve mostly read modern translated fiction. I’ve definitely heard people say to me that they have a favourite Tolstoy translator, which can change a story entirely.

I’ve not paid attention to the decade I read most of, but now you’ve got me intrigued.

Tracy Terry

July 7, 2015, 3:08 pm

Am I the only one not to have enjoyed The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society?

Glad to hear your desire to read has returned.

Jenny @ Reading the End

July 7, 2015, 9:07 pm

I loooove epistolary novels. Two old-time-y ones where you kinda have to look past the eugenics ideology but other than that they are super charming, are Daddy-Long-Legs and Dear Enemy, by Jean Webster. I believe Penguin has an edition of both books together — they have charming illustrations that go with the letters too!

Also, Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer’s Sorcery and Cecelia. What a lovable book. There are two sequels that were written something like twenty years after the original, and they are — fine, I guess. I like the first book way more.


July 20, 2015, 2:09 pm

Alice: A bit of anxiety was involved here, so it’s kind of good to hear about your experience – at the time I was confused. I’m out of it now, more in a mini slump than a block. Yes; I’ve been wary of that. If it changes the story then that just has to happen, though so far it’s more of an enhancement. Checking up on decades is both useful and a reminder – it’s not depressing if it doesn’t align with your hopes, more a ‘right then, better change that’ situation.

Tracy: I can’t say I’ve read many reviews so I don’t know, but I’d love to know why you didn’t enjoy it – the other side of the opinion is always interesting to hear.

Jenny: You have me thinking ‘Villette, Villette’ on that looking past it thought! I’ll have to look your recommendations up. Sequels after that long are surely going to suffer from it.



Comments closed