Friday, 16 May 2008

On Books (and Beauty)

I have read lots of books lately which is a Good Thing - always makes me feel virtuous to put a dent in the towering TBR pile before buying a load more. (There are some books in the TBR pile that have been there a LONG time, too. I am starting to think I will never get round to reading On Beauty, for example, there always seems to be something else more appealing that begs to be picked up instead. And anyway, it looks too much like hard work. And I'll probaby end up feeling a right thicko because I don't get all the clever references and blah-di-blah. I don't want a book to give me an inferiority complex!)

I'm currently reading something (I won't say what) which is turning out to be a slow one, if you know what I mean. Clever and literary and beautifully written but... Well, it's just not a page-turner you can romp through, put it that way. Not one you can flop onto the sofa with and discover you've gobbled through 50 pages in the time it's taken you to sink a single glass of wine, chortling and ooh-ing at the juicy bits. Hmmm. Luckily, for some light relief, I'm also reading Wicked Whispers by Jessica Callan, which is the perfect counterpoint - a real guilty pleasure of a book, full of gossip and showbiz indiscretions. I'm telling myself it's research because one of my main characters in Novel 3 is a showbiz reporter for a tabloid but we all know that I'm just an old gossip at heart...

So tell me... what's the veteran in your To-Be-Read pile that you bought with such good intentions but which, for one reason or another, has remained resolutely unread since the day of purchase? Go on, fess up, you're amongst friends here. Oh yes, and should I make an effort and pick up On Beauty next?

PS Ran for half an hour with Lovely Partner along the river this morning. Lovely and cool, lots of leggy cow parsley in the hedgerows, ducks on the water, barely saw another person. Checked out my favourite new site and discovered we'd run 4km. Result!

20 comments:

Calistro said...

Oooh I know the feeling. I used to CONSUME literary novels but these days....well....a huge part of me can't be arsed and would rather be entertained than intellectually challenged. Apparently women tend to read more commercial fiction after having children but I don't even have that excuse!

Languishing on my to be read pile is "Anna Karenina" by Tolstoy. It's supposed to be excellent but it's just so huge!

Lucy Diamond said...

Ahh, Anna Karenina is on mine too. One of these days, I might have to accept that I won't actually get around to reading the damn thing and start using it as a doorstop instead!

Kate.Kingsley said...

There are so many "classic" novels languishing in my TBR pile, its really quite embarrassing. especially for someone who progressed as far as an MA in Eng Lit! {hangs head in shame...}

"What was loved" is the literary doodah currently in my TBR pile ~ or rather my "started it three times but keep picking up something more accessible" pile. Wonderfully written, but its just not doing it for me. Ho hum, I am a philistine!

JJ said...

On Beauty is on my list too. But I refuse to be intimidated by literary references - if I don't get them I don't realise how stupid I am.

My mood totally dictates my reading so I pick literary when I feel like it and low brow when I want bubble gum for the brain. But even when I'm reading bubble gum I want it well written, with engaging and believable characters.

B said...

I hated White Teeth, so I'm not bothering with any more Zadie Smith. Is that awful?

One Hundred Years of Solitude. The Great Gatsby. The Bell Jar. The Remains of the Day. Most of Jane Austen. My excuse is that I find it hard to read intelligent stuff when I'm writing, but it's not a GREAT excuse.

I kinda feel better for confessing all that :)

bcfreviews said...

I have lots of books that I *thought* I really wanted.. but has sat on my shelf ever since!

That fact hasn't been helped by the fact that I'm getting books sent to me for review.. and they are taking (obviously) priority.

However, even when I do get to choose from my own selection, the ones I tend to leave are the HUGE ones.. I just feel that they're going to take too much time, when I have so many waiting for me.

Lucy Diamond said...

Kate K - don't worry about it, I don't even know what 'What Was Loved' is... (hangs head even lower in shame). Where's my dunce hat when I need it?

JJ - good for you, refusing to be intimidated by the literati. I shall adopt that attitude immediately!

b - not awful at all. I enjoyed White Teeth although (ssshhh) I didn't think it was as amazing as all the hype would suggest. I tried to read One Hundred Years of Solitude but my God, just could not persevere past 50 pages or so. Bloody awful!

BCFReviews - I know the feeling, hand hovering over the big fat novels and then a "Nah...", moving straight on to something that looks decidedly slimmer. Life is just too short, sometimes!

L-Plate Author said...

Actually this comment made me think. When I buy a book I always look to see how many pages it has. I like books around 400 pages. (And because one of my books is over 400 and one under I look at some to see how mine might look if it were ever published, sigh). But when I have a pile to read, I'll pick up the one with the least pages so that I can get in and out of it quickly and start the next. Interesting!

Good luck on the run, I start my epic journey on Sunday eek! xx

girl with the mask said...

Lucy Diamond I absolutley categorically insist that you go and pick up that Zadie Smith novel RIGHT NOW and sit in a comfy chair with it for at least an hour.

I struggled with her other stuff, but 'On Beauty' I loved. Her flawed characters create a superb illustration of everyday family life and the relationships the characters have with each other are those we all have in real life. In this book, I believe she really capures the spirit of the story and I AM NOT CLEVER but still totally get most of the 'intellectual references' and those I do not understand do not hamper my enjoyment of the novel.

And that is all I have to say about that. Go forth and read.

x

Lucy Diamond said...

L-Plate - good luck for tomorrow! Show that bloke a thing or two. And I must confess I am with you on the 'size matters' issue - books-wise, I mean!

Wow, Girl with a Mask - I will, you know. Well, not just now as I'm going to have my tea in a minute but...yes, okay, I will definitely read it next. You're on - any book that can rouse such a passionate defence must have something going for it! Cheers!

wordtryst said...

Just popped by to let you know that author/literary agent/writing coach Orna Ross will be stopping by my blog today and will answer (on Monday) any questions left in the comment trail. You're welcome to drop in!

Anna Karenina is also on my TBR list - has been for years. Gatsby I read, but I really have to brace myself to read Garcia Marquez and other worthwhile (I'm sure) tomes.

Fiona said...

'Admiral Nelson' has been collecting coffee stains since Christmas. My mother gave it to me because she knows I like history stuff. I do but only if it's very dumbed down with lots of gory pictures.

girl with the mask said...

C'mon on then, how far have you gotten in?

From a very bossy G.I.M x

Lucy Diamond said...

Thanks Wordtryst. Will try to pop over. I am starting to wonder who actually HAS read Anna Karenina - anyone??

Lol Fiona - yesss, bring on the gory pictures. I knew there was something missing in 'On Beauty'!

Ooh G.I.M, you are scaring me with your bossiness, I'm afraid I haven't picked it up yet but I will, I promise I will. Tell you what, seeing as everyone else around here is passing on Anna Karenina, maybe you could read it next and report back to us?! Just a thought... ;)

L-Plate Author said...

Lucy Diamond, check out my blog and look what an incentive you were! x

Lucy Diamond said...

L-Plate - you are bionic!! Well done!

girl with the mask said...

Deal.

Milla said...

Don't hate me but I have enjoyed just about everything which nobody else has. Particularly b's list. Oh dear. And is it worse to admit to just adoring War adn Peace?? I quite liked On Beauty - it's certainly very readable and not as long as White Teeth and without, I think (terrible memory) as many Silly Bits (and the only lit ref you need worry about is that the first line is very like that of Howards End, but then I adore Forster, too...) yours all literally loved up!

wontletlifedefineme said...

Erm... Finnegan's Wake by James Joyce... I'm a bit scared by it. I mean I have no problem with literature (I'm a literature student) but Finnegan's Wake... I still want to read it some day, but then again since I moved in with my boyfriend my TBR pile has become a TBR bookcase, and there are just too many other great books to read.

-Marjolein

Lucy Diamond said...

Girl With the Mask - blimey, I wasn't expecting you to say that! You are hardcore!!

Milla - oh, course I don't hate you...especially now I have actually started On Beauty and am ENJOYING it! I might be coming back to you for more recommendations yet...

Marjolein, god yes, James Joyce scares the bejesus out of me too. I read Ulysses as part of my degree - well, I say 'read' - I read some bits and cobbled an essay together out of them but I can't say there was much genuine literary appreciation going on there.