If you’ve read my blog or followed me on Instagram for a little while at this point then you’ll probably know that I have a bit of a long history with the Man Booker nominees. I always get really excited when the longlist is released and desperately get my hands on loads of the books. Not only do I rarely get round to reading them but, inevitably, my favourites never end up on the shortlist. Maybe it’s my fault? Maybe I’m so cursed that any nominated book that I enjoy reading or like the sound of will never win the prize? My last read is one of those books. From the first time I heard about The Dinner Guest I was intrgiued. Telling the story of the author’s grandfather who was murderd before she was born, it sounded like nothing I’d ever read before. So, I bought it almost immediately and promptly left it on my shelves for ages. But, as I’m trying to make my through my unread books this year, I finally picked it up. It’s a pretty short book at only around 140 ages so I expected to have this done in a matter of days but, being me, I only finished it last night. And it’s safe to say I got a little emotional towards the end. But that’s been a fairly common theme this week. Let’s not talk about how many tears I shed watching the Gilette advert…
There was a point when I didn’t think I would finish this book for today’s post. I was well on track until I got horribly distracted by a podcast I listen to. A friend from work and I are obsessed with the My Dad Wrote A Porno podcast and love discussing it. I’d been saving series 4 for a bit to give me a break after series 3 but, the other day, she announced she’s finished book 4. So, naturally, I have to catch up with her and I may have listened to that instead of Stephen Fry one night this week. It was enjoyably listening to this book as an audiobook but I’m not convinced it’s the greatest way to do it. For one thing, I fell asleep in the middle of several chapters and had to go back the next day. For another, it took me way less time to read a chapter than it took Stephen to narrate it. I’ve never considered how much longer saying something out loud is compared to reading it in your head but it must have a major impact on the time you spend with a book. But this feels like a topic for another time. It’s late and I have to get this review finished.
Do you have any reading resolutions for the year? I know a lot of people like to challenge themselves by setting a reading target for the year. This isn’t something that I tend to do because I don’t want to go down the road of seeing reading as being competitive. If that were to happen, I worry my life would become less about the book and more about the numbers. I want to be able to read at my own speed and not feel guilty. However, as I’m trying to be an active Goodreads member this year as well, I have set myself the modest target of reading 30 books this year. Last year I read 34, which is including a massive slump towards the middle of the year and a fairly shitty December. So, hopefully, I’ll make my target. At the very least I’m off to a good start as I finished my first read of the year yesterday. I may have started it in December but it counts to this year. Thank you very much Goodreads.
Let’s look back to the end of 2017 when I foolishly decided that I would reread Murder on the Orient Express before I watched Kenneth Branagh’s film adaptation. Unfortunately, I started reading Autumn by Ali Smith and it took me all fucking month to get through it. So, I decided that this was the year when I would finally do it. And, today, nearly a whole month later, I closed the final page. I should just realise that December isn’t my reading month but, if I start doing that, I’d then have to admit that no month is my reading month. It’s why I can’t ever set myself a reading challenge unless it’s read 1 book. But, let’s not get too bogged down with 2019. We’re still in 2018 and, unless I miraculously gain the ability to read super quickly, this will be the last book I finish this year. So, let’s make this review a good ‘un.
I’ve been so bad a reading this month that I thought I’d never finish this collection of short stories. There were so many times that I fell asleep with the page open and had to leave story in the middle. It’s just been a stressful few weeks recently and I’ve been feeling it. I’ve managed to get a few days off this week which has been perfect. I got things done I needed to, had some time to relax, and got a quick break before the madness of Christmas. That’s always a fun time to be working in a kitchen. At least I don’t have to come face-to-face with any customers. Apparently, they’ve already started being quite difficult and short-tempered. It’s the reason I don’t like making a fuss when I’m eating out. I’ve seen what the people I work with have to go through and, when things have gone wrong, been on the receiving end of their annoyance. Be nice to your waiter/waitress. But I feel like I’m getting off topic. Long, rambling story short, I finished this book today on my day off. So let’s do this.
I meant to start writing this review last night because I’ve got a busy couple of weeks ahead of me. Inevitably, I didn’t manage it as I got distracted and, if I’m not careful I’ll do it again tonight. It’s all because of this book as well. I have been a fan of Greek myths since I was a kid and got given a book about them. Before writing this post, I decided that it was vital to find the book online so I knew the name. I never did, which is a shame because I bloody loved that book. It presented the Greek myths in a child-friendly way that really played up the humour. Something that really helped distract from just how horny Zeus and everyone really were. It meant that I became interested in the myths rather than disturbed by them. With that kind of background then this book should have been right up my street. So, why has it taken me 7 years to read it? A very simple answer… the cover. The original cover (featuring a breastplate that looks more Roman in my mind) just looks tacky. I know I know. Never judge a book by its cover etc. But, come on, it’s awful. If Bloomsbury hadn’t released the beautiful Modern Classics edition then I might never have experienced this book at all. I owe them.
As I mentioned in one of my 30 Books for my 30th posts, I was incredibly excited about the release of this new Tracy Beaker book. I’ve loved Jacqueline Wilson since I was a young girl and would say that she definitely inspired me when I was growing up. The Story of Tracy Beaker was one of the first of her books that I read so the idea of revisiting the character now she was also an adult was exciting. This was going to be one of those literary events that bring together readers young and old. It would appeal to readers of the target age of Wilson’s books and the now grown-up readers who enjoyed her books as children. And it was a literary event that I knew that I couldn’t miss. I genuinely couldn’t wait to get started on this book. Although, kickoff was delayed somewhat thanks to Matt fucking Haig. But as soon as I opened that first page it was like going back in time. Back to a time when reading was constantly magical. When I only ever read books that were fun and I never felt guilty about how quickly I was getting through them. My Mum Tracy Beaker was a book I was only reading for myself. It didn’t matter how literary or worthwhile it was. It didn’t matter how great it was going to be. It was all about getting back to that childish love of reading that Jacqueline Wilson first helped to instil in me. It was a celebration of who I was, who I am now, and who I could be afterwards. It was a celebration of everything that Wilson did for me as a child. Basically, this book was kind of a big deal.
Emotionally, it’s been an up and down kind of day. I’ve gone from being tired, super stressed, happy, and then weepy. Every little thing has set me off today and, this evening, one simple email nearly destroyed me. I guess I just need a bit more sleep tonight. So, the plan is to finish this up and head to bed with a good book. There’s nothing that can’t be solved by that. But first we have to get down to business. October kind of got away from me this year. I had such plans to read plenty of horror books but, thanks to the dragging nature of Notes on a Nervous Planet, I ended up only starting one. To be fair to myself, it was one that I had been wanting to read for a while but it’s still kind of disappointing. Especially every time I walk past the pile of spooky books I’ve got still waiting for me to get started on. Both the pile and I know it’s not going to happen now but that doesn’t stop us pretending. I have such unhealthy relationships with the books on my shelves… actually, better make that floor.
I don’t read enough graphic novels but I do love them. To the extent that every time I read a great one I think to myself “I should read more graphic novels”. It was Sabrina that really got my heart pumping for a good graphic novel this year so when I was given the chance to read a new release from Pushkin Press. It is the prequel to Jakob Wegelius’ critically acclaimed The Murderer’s Ape. I hadn’t read The Murderer’s Ape but everything that I found out about it suggested that it would the kind of thing I loved. And the promise of a unique and rare graphic novel was something I couldn’t ignore. It arrived last Thursday and I immediately started reading it. I was done by Friday and I’ve already ordered Wegelius’ first book.
So how has your week been? What have you been reading?
You’ve caught me on a good day. I spent the afternoon with my family where we have a lovely Sunday lunch. There’s nothing to get you ready to face the week than a tasty roast dinner with the people you like most. And I think that extra hour in bed has inspired as I’m even contemplating an early night with a book. I mean I’m even writing this at a vaguely sensible time. What’s happened to me? Just wait til next week when I’m back to madly finishing typing at 11:30pm. It’s inevitable. But, for now, I can pretend I’m a new person. That somehow, in the last 7 days, I’ve experienced some sort of personal growth and am close to becoming a proper adult. Although, that does sound a bit dull if I’m honest.