Happy New Year! It's so wonderful to see the sun this morning, after so many days of rain.
I finished Bel Canto long before I expected, as it became less intense and much easier to read as the style, content and character interactions changed. But I don't want to discuss it much today, as it is our book discussion group selection and so I will discuss it more fully after the discussion on Friday. I will mention that I recommended it to a friend for whom I thought it would be perfect, and she said she has already read it and loved it. She said she read other novels by Patchett, but none gave her such enjoyment as this one.
I have a list of all the book I read, and as I was writing down this last title in my list, I went back to see how many books I've read this year: 42. I have also listened to 14 audiobooks, for a total of 56 books for 2011. That means I've been on track this year, in that I aim to read about one book each week. I recognize that some books take longer than a week, and some are so short (or so compelling!) that they can be read in just a few days. I figure that I can listen to one audiobook in a month, depending again on length and what I am doing that provides the opportunity to listen. The number of books read also depends on how much time is spent in a "book rut"; that is, how much valuable reading time is spent trying to find a book to read that will "grab you" and hold your interest enough to stick with it and finish it. I will use these past few days as an example. I finished Bel Canto on Monday afternoon. It's now Wednesday morning and I am still without a good book to read, so by the time I find a book and read enough to decide this is a book I will stick with, I will have lost almost 2 days, and that's only if I find a book right now that suits my needs. What if I don't find anything until tomorrow afternoon? That's then 3 days wasted! I could have read an entire really compelling novel in 3 days! I hate wasting valuable reading time, which is probably why I reread books so often. They are available, usually right on my bookshelf at home, I know I have enjoyed them before so chances are I will enjoy them again, and if something else comes in at the library that I have reserved, I can put it back on the shelf without guilt because I own it and I've already read it at least once. Who knew that so much thought goes into book selection and reading choices?!
Getting back to my list, I noticed that the first book I finished reading in 2011 was We Need To Talk About Kevin, the Orange Prize winning title by Lionel Shriver. I thought, "Well, that was a good book and I haven't read it for a year, it's on my bookshelf right over there, maybe I'll reread it in preparation for seeing the movie that should be coming out soon (I hope)." So I started it, but, since I know how it ends, this rereading is so depressing that I think I have to put it down. If you recall, in this novel, the main character, Eva, is exploring, through letters to her estranged husband Franklin, what she believes is her role in the upbringing of their son Kevin, a boy who, shortly before his 16th birthday, murders a group of fellow high school students and a teacher. I'm not giving anything away here, it says this on the back cover of the book. What is interesting is Eva's story. How much did her attitude and behaviour as a mother influence the actions of her son? Is she somehow to blame? This novel is brilliant, well-written, thought-provoking and heartbreaking, but I think I need something a little "lighter" to start off 2012. Maybe I can get back to that Elizabeth George novel, the next in the Inspector Lynley series, the one that I commented on in a previous post as seeming out-of-order because it appears to go back in time to the very beginning of the relationships between Lynley, Helen, and Simon, before Simon marries and Lynley falls in love with Helen. Or maybe I need to read something by an author I've never read before. I went out into the library stacks yesterday on my lunch hour and pulled three books by authors I've never read which sounded interesting, but I decided against them after reading reviews. Well, I still have one of them, a novel by Patricia Highsmith, sitting on my desk at work. I've never read anything of hers, but she is supposedly a great contemporary crime novelist. I watched the film "The Talented Mr. Ripley", which was based on one of her novels. I thought the film was just OK, but the book might be more interesting. That is not the one I have checked out, but maybe I will put that one on hold and give it a try. Or maybe I should read something by Franz Kafka, not because his works are uplifting or "light", but because over the past few days I've come across several references to his works, not something that happens very often. I don't know if I've ever read anything of his, or whether I have any of his novels on my personal bookshelves, but I can have a look and see. I have a copy of Kafka's Soup by Mark Crick, which is a little book written in the form of a cookbook in which the author imitates different famous authors' writing styles to describe each recipe. It is brilliant! I love how convincing he is as he writes in the styles of authors as diverse as Harold Pinter and Virginia Woolf, Geoffrey Chaucer and Jane Austen. It's too small to keep me busy reading for more than a few hours, but I must take a look at it again just for fun.
Ah well, I must end my post now and get ready for work. Happy reading in 2012!
Bye for now!