2020 really hasn’t been the year that any of us suspected it would be. Do you remember back in January when we all had hope for the future? Little did we know that the future would entail being shut inside. Of course, as awful as the last 12 months have been, there were some upsides to the constant lockdowns and shielding. In 2019, I set myself a fairly modest reading target of 50. I assumed that I would beat it but not by much. In 2019, I beat my target of 50 by 9. I had no reason to believe that I would do much better but I was secretly aiming to get through 2 books a week. Still, I decided to give myself a realistic target and not feel like I was pushing myself too far. So, the question was, did I manage to keep the momentum going this year and smash my goal?
As is so often the case for my second book review of the week, I’m reviewing a short book because I needed to finish something quickly. It’s not necessarily a bad strategy as there are some really good short books out there but it still feels like a bad reason for picking something up. Although, I don’t think I’d ever regret picking up a Neil Gaiman. Well, I didn’t like The Ocean at the End of the Lane when I read it but I suspect I missed something there. After all, the majority of people rave about that book. I keep meaning to give it a reread but I’m still wary. But that’s beside point. This time, I went back to a classic Neil Gaiman story. One that feels so Gaiman. There’s Norse mythology, an odd (literally) protagonist, and Chris Riddell illustrations. I decided to listen to the audiobook at the same time because I needed the comfort of his narration.
I’m an avid listener of Adam Buxton’s podcast and I have been eagerly awaiting the release of his new book. He’s been banging on about how hard it’s been to write for ages, so I was worried that we’d have another George RR Martin on our hands. But he did it. The book was finished and it started appearing on book sites. Obviously, I’ve preordered a signed hardback of the book for when it’s released in August but, thankfully, Adam Buxton is a really nice man. He decided to produce the audiobook version himself so we all had something to listen to in quarantine. I used my Audible credit to preorder the audiobook and waited for its release. It took me a while to get through it because I started it on a bit of a whim. I couldn’t sleep one night and decided the only thing that would calm me down was listening to something. Then I had to finish the other books that I was reading before I carried on. But I got there eventually and, thanks to a bit of desperate listening this week, I finished it in time to review.
What would you pick as your last meal on Earth? It’s a difficult question. You might think you’d want to treat yourself to the fanciest or most expensive meal you could. However, it’s more than likely that people would pick something nostalgic or comforting. The kind of stodgy meals that take you back to your childhood and make you feel good about the world. Or maybe you’d just go wild and pick the least healthy meal you can think of. After all, it doesn’t really matter anymore, does it? What would I pick? Something carby and cheesy no doubt. Possibly that thing where you melt a wheel of cheese; add bacon, garlic, and whatever else; and then dunk a load of pasta into it. All served with a fresh salad and super garlicky garlic bread. I’d feel like shit afterwards but, as I’ve already said, it doesn’t really matter that much.
I’m never one to turn down a cheap deal on an audiobook. Especially one that I can finish in under 2 hours. It always helps to have a few super short books on hand just in case I need to get a review out in time. I’m not doing awfully well with my current book so I definitely needed something to fill this post. Thankfully, Audible had me covered with their half-price sale. I bought a few bargains and pre-ordered Adam Buxton’s upcoming book. I never really count audiobooks in my book buying ban but I probably should. I never buy them at full price but I guess it should be included in my book haul. But that’s beside the point right now. I listened to this book before I went to bed yesterday. I kind of regretted it because it’s never a good idea to come face-to-face with mortality just before you turn the light out. Still, I’d wanted to read it for a long time and being able to do so while lying back and doing nothing was even better.
Even though I’ve gone off J.K. Rowling a bit in recent years, I still appreciate the impact that she had on my life. The Harry Potter books were a big part of me becoming the reader that I am today. I guess it’s no stretch to say that they were a big part of the person I am today. Yes, I’ve grown up to realise that Rowling isn’t the great writer that I thought she once was. Yes, it bugs me that she keeps going back and altering her work for stupid reasons. Yes, I think she was massively wide of the mark when it comes to diversity. Yes, some of her personal views and opinions are just wrong. But she’s also done a lot for a lot of people. Her first two Harry Potter spin-off books were released to raise money for Comic Relief. Her latest charitable release came in the form of an Audible audiobook. The third book in the wider Potterverse is being read by stars like Jude Law, Evanna Lynch, Warwick Davies, and Jason Isaacs to raise money for the Lumos Foundation. Of course, I ended up getting it for free as an Audible member, so I’m not sure how that works. Still, I knew I had to check it out.
How do you decide what to read? I’m normally a compulsive reader or a mood reader. I’ll pick up whichever book feels right at the time. I’ve tried TBR jars where I randomly pick a book out but I always ended up going back in until I got something I secretly wanted. I also tell myself that I’m going to pick seasonal reads. By which I mean, pick appropriate reads for certain months of the year. You know, reading LGBTQ+ books during Pride month or scary books in October. I never quite manage it though. I guess you could say my method for picking books is pretty similar to Marie Kondo’s method for decluttering. I pick one up and work out if it brings me joy. It means that not all of my reads are hits but it’s mostly fine. However, this weekend I had a different reason for picking my weekly audiobook: Instagram. I had a bag of literal chocolate buttons and I wanted an excuse to post a photo of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Probably not my best reason but there are probably worse ones out there.
I don’t really remember buying this audiobook on Audible but I think it was one of the Daily Deals that sounded good. Or at least sounded like something that would be interesting. And I admit that it makes me something of a hypocrite. How many times have I declared that I’m finished giving psychological thrillers another chance? Possibly thousands. Yet, I continually get sucked in by them. I’m a mug who always ends up annoyed that she’s just finished another stupid book. So, I went into this never expecting it to be good but to be something that would be an easy listen. To be fair, it was a pretty easy read. I didn’t do a great deal of reading last weekend so I wasn’t sure that I’d finish this in time. But I managed it. I regretted it horribly but I managed it.
As I’ve said countless times already this week, I didn’t get a lot of reading done over Oscars week. I just couldn’t find the time between writing so many posts and watching so many films. Yet, I’ve been determined to continue writing 2 book reviews a week. For one thing, it pushes me to read more and, for another, it gives the blog a better balance between films and reading. In order to catch up, I listened to 2 more audiobooks this weekend. The first was The Child which I reviewed on Monday. The second was a dramatisation of Winnie The Pooh. I was all set to post a review of it today but, instead, I wanted to talk about something that’s been bugging me recently. I was out with some friends last week (none of them are big readers) when I mentioned how many books I’d read last year. They were impressed, which is how you can tell they’re not overly bookish people. Compared to most of you buys I’m an amateur! But, they’re encouragement was quickly displaced with disbelief when I mentioned how useful audiobooks had been in helping me get there. Apparently, it doesn’t count. I know they were joking but, in the bookish world, this attitude still exists. And I’m not here for it.
I don’t know about you but I’m exhausted. Last week’s Oscar week was a lot and I definitely don’t think I’ll be blogging that much again for a while. I posted 12 times in the last 7 days. I’m not sure if I even managed that during my 30 Books for My 30th series. I guess I could check but I really can’t be bothered. So, I’m just going to say that it’s a Motherbooker record. But, the reverse of that is that I haven’t had a good amount of time for reading. I’ve been madly watching films and madly writing about them. Plus, I’ve actually done stuff this weekend. It’s terribly inconvenient for my schedule. Also, the reason why I attempted to write my review of I Lost My Body after I’d got home from a beer festival on Friday. It actually worked quite well but I was very repetitive. So, yeah, reading hasn’t been high on the agenda. Meaning I’m getting behind again and am still relying on audiobooks to get my numbers up. Starting with this one.