Sunday 24 April 2016

Books, books and more books...

As I sit down with my steaming cup of tea on this chilly morning, I’m thinking about all the books I found at the big book sale yesterday.  They’re in a box on the floor to the left of my chair, and I’m excited about having a chance to go through them this afternoon and deciding where they should go.  If you’re like me, you have different bookshelves that hold different books.  On the main level, in the living room, I have my “good” bookshelf, the one that holds all the books I’m really proud to have, ones I’ve purchased over the years that either have personal historical value or would make good conversation starters, since these are located in a spot where anyone who visits would see them.  I have a small collection of Elizabeth George books in the small back room, on what is not even really a bookshelf, just an accent table whose shelf I’ve allocated as a bookholder.  Then there are the shelves in the rooms upstairs, the ones that hold books that are in more battered condition, often library discards, or books that are ones I’m less interested in, that I may get around to reading someday but they’re not really a priority.  My husband also has a bookshelf in the basement which I feel is being underutilized… hmmm, what in my box of books can be located down there?  Of course, all of these bookshelves except the basement one are full to overflowing, and there are piles of books on the floor and in cubbyholes, too, so I probably need to do some purging - thank goodness for the “free little libraries” that are popping up everywhere! Trying to decide where to put books and where I've got books located on shelves brings to mind that list at the beginning of Italo Calvino's If on a Winter's Night a Traveler, about different types of books. The list includes, but is not limited to:

Books you mean to read but there are others you must read first
Books you've been planning to read for ages
Books dealing with something you're working on at the moment
Books you want to own so they'll be handy just in case
Books you could put aside maybe to read this summer
Books you need to go with other books on your shelves
Books that everybody has read so it's as if you had read them, too
Books read long ago which it's now time to reread, and
Books you've pretended to read and now it's time to sit down and read them

(my newly acquired box of books contains at least one of each of these types of books, and more!)

I finished Quantum Night last week, and the real plot did indeed become clear, but I wasn’t really “wowed” by it.  It was an “ok” book, and I suspect that fans of Sawyer will not be disappointed, but it wasn’t one I would rave about to people I know.  It was clearly well-researched and well-written, but you know how sometimes you can finish a book and think, “that was awesome!” or “I learned so much” or “that book changed my life” - this wasn’t one of those books, at least for me. I’d probably give it 7/10.

And I read another rather disappointing book, a debut novel by Canadian writer Amy Stuart called Still Mine.  This novel, set in a small mining town in BC, tells the story of Clare O’Dey, a young woman who is on the run from her abusive husband and becomes involved in a covert search for a missing woman.  Shayna Fowles went missing from her home in Blackmore three weeks ago, and no one seems to be looking for her.  Along comes Clare, claiming to be a photographer, who digs into the town’s dirty secrets to find out what happened.  She meets resistance at every turn, but is also brought into the fold and becomes an integral part of the community almost immediately, becoming everyone’s confidante.  When things go from bad to worse, Clare must think fast and make decisions that will get her out alive but also save the other vulnerable members of the community from further harm.  This book, promoted with the tagline,  “The Girl on the Train meets The Silent Wife”, sounded really interesting to me, as I loved The Silent Wife and enjoy reading “taut psychological thrillers” (publisher’s description).  But I just didn’t identify with the main characters at all, nor did I find the storyline credible.  Still, it was a real page-turner, and I wanted to get to the end to finally find out what was going on in Clare’s life that made it necessary for her to disappear.  Clearly Stuart is a writer to watch out for, as the novel was written with real skill and talent.  The publisher is really trying to market this book, and it’s beautifully designed with a lovely cover and pages with mountains and trees at the beginning of each section, so they must have high hopes for it.  It reminded me of Andrew Pyper’s writing style (it’s not surprising that he is quoted on the cover praising the novel), but it also made me think of that 2001 film “Memento”, where the main character can’t retain new memories so he’s constantly trying to get through life, even as he tries to execute a complex strategy to find and kill the man who raped and murdered his wife.  Pyper’s writing style is similarly choppy and vague, and “Memento” also relies on an uncertain past to make the present more suspenseful.  I don’t want to discourage people from trying this book - it may be that I’m being too critical, and clearly everyone’s reading experiences are different.  After all, everyone is raving about The Girl on the Train and yet I couldn’t get into it.  It’s definitely a psychological thriller and a page-turner, so I’d give it a 7/10.  

And I also wanted to mention that Julie’s Reading Corner is 5 years old this weekend.  My first post was on April 21st, 2011.  Happy Birthday!!

Have a great day everyone!

Bye for now…

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