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Monthly Archives: December 2012

Starting with an apology

As anyone who has ever tried to buy me a book will tell you: I am a bit of a nightmare to choose for.

choices

You see, I don’t like books that are too weird, involve too much fantasy, or are too long. I like complicated plot lines, but I don’t like impossibly complicated plot lines that make me feel confused and stupid and angry with the author (yes, I am talking about you Will Self). I quite like to learn a lesson, but only if I think it is a good lesson.  And no, I can’t really define what ‘good’ means.  I like to read books that have won things, but before too many people have told me how wonderful they are, because otherwise inevitably my hopes will be up and then I will be disappointed. I like a bit of romance, as long as it’s not too trite, or it can be trite, if I am in the right mood.  But I can’t predict the mood I will be in, nor can I guarantee that it will stay that way for the entire course of a novel.  I like history, but only if it is accurate, and ideally references something I already know a little about.  But not too much or that would be boring. I like funny books.  But I don’t find most books funny.  So it’s probably best not to try.  My favourite book last year was about gardens in Malaysia.  And I am not interested in gardens, and don’t know anything about Malaysia.  And it was pretty long.

Basically, as many of the men reading this will have ascertained by now.  I am a woman.

This is a very long and meandering intro to tell you that I feel for my friends. I really do. Because however much I am trying to bite my tongue before reading their suggested books (please note, no such promises after) they know I am judging their choices.  I know they know, because a lot of them have already told me.  And they know me well enough that there is no point in me denying it.  So instead, I am going to do what the extremely highbrow novel ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ taught me: “acknowledge it and move on…”

 

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PROJECT TWO: 2013: The Year of Suggestions

Okay folks: time to get ahead of the game. 2013 will shortly be upon us and everyone will be blogging and tweeting and texting and even talking (God forbid) about their New Year’s Resolutions.  And most of them will not be punctuating it correctly either – the horror.

Firstly, I want to let you know that clearly, right now, I can’t Blog the Long List.  Well, okay, I could blog Long List…. I am sure there are plenty out there.  But for me, the Long List will always be the Man Booker.  And I may well blog this again later this year.  But I am kind of attached to this title.  So I am keeping it. And I don’t want another word said about it.

I am also strangely attached to blogging about books.  When I first began the Long List project, the blogging was kind of a side effect, mostly useful to keep me focused.  But then – as I have blogged previously – I realised that blogging made me read books and think about them differently.  For the last few months, since the project ended, I have missed that.  I have had to use my over-zealous judging nature on people, and it turns out they don’t like that all that much.

The other thing I have realised, in retrospect, is that I got a little distracted from the purpose of my blog.  It was great getting followers from all over the world.  But that wasn’t the point.  The point had been to expand my reading horizons and think about books in a different way.  I was supposed to become a better person.  Best crack on with that then.

To this end, I am naming 2013 The Year of Suggestions.

raising hand

I commit to only reading books, during the whole of 2013, which have been suggested to me by others.  Any others, from anywhere, whether I have met them or not.

To get this underway, I asked fifteen of my friends for one suggestion and committed to reading each as long as a) they were fictional and b) I hadn’t already read them.  My friends are a mixed bunch, but each terribly literary, which should make this an interesting starting point.  So far I have:

  • ‘Tomas’ – by James Palumbo (suggested by Alex Roussel) 
  • ‘Forbidden Love’ – by Norma Khouri (suggested by Helen Harper)
  • ‘Confederacy of Dunces’ – by John Kennedy Toole (suggested by Ben Samuel)
  • ‘The Colour of Milk’ – by Nell Lawrence (suggested by Jo Samuel)
  • ‘Lucky Jim’ – by Kingsley Amis (suggested by Ralph Scott)
  • ‘Giants in the Earth’ – by Ole Rølvåg (suggested by Betsy Reed)
  • ‘Life of Pi’ – by Yann Martel (suggested by Elle Perry)

So not all the way there, but enough to get started.  Further suggestions always welcome!

A footnote: I think it is good to start with books suggested by friends.  Though I risk alienating them by being rude, obtuse and judgmental  I risk this on a day-to-day basis and most of the guys above have stuck around for quite some time.  However, if in the course of 2013 I do say anything unnecessarily horrible about a favoured book, feel free to berate me.  I will take it on the chin.