As I said in my review last Monday, I always like doing what I can to help writers promote their work. A couple of weeks ago, I was approached by a couple of poets via Instagram offering me the chance to read their latest poetry collections. As someone who is always trying to read more contemporary poetry, I readily agreed. This Sunday, after having a small issue with Amazon, I sat down to read The Daylight Plays Tricks on Us by Julieanne Hoffmann. I hadn’t planned to finish it in one go but that’s exactly what happened.
One of the best thing about being a book blogger is that you often get the chance to read things you would normally have missed. Has Samiksha Tulika Ransom not messaged me on Instagram, then I might not have known this anthology existed. When I checked out the anthology, it sounded like exactly the kind of thing that I should be reading. I know I say it every time I review poetry but I don’t read enough poetry. Even though I studied the Romantic poets at university, I am still a little intimidated by poetry. I have much respect for anyone who writes it. I wouldn’t have confidence in myself. And if I did, I’d definitely never try and deal with such important themes.
In December 2019, I listened to an episode of Mark Kermode’s podcast where he was talking to Lesley Manville and Edgar Wright. I’ll admit, I was mostly listening because of Edgar Wright but I’ll never be upset to hear from Lesley Manville. She’s an amazing actor and generally just seems wonderful. She was talking about the release of her new film and it sounded amazing. Terribly sad, obviously, but amazing. In her interview, Mandville told Mark Kermode that the film embraced the humour within the story and brought the humanity to the fore. I never got around to watching it when it came out but I was always interested in seeing it. It’s probably not the most uplifting thing to be watching during the Coronavirus pandemic but Lesley Manville promised that it wouldn’t be all doom and gloom. I feel like I can trust her.
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.
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 wasn’t sure that I was going to finish this book in time to write something tonight. It was super down to the wire. I men I only finished it an hour ago. Not because it wasn’t an enjoyable book but because I’ve been rubbish recently. Plus, my sister brought my niece round on Monday and it really cut down on my reading time. Plus, the usual laziness and binge-watching that prevents me from getting stuff done. But at least this brings up my total for books read this month. I needed to get one more in before August ended. It’s not been a great one in terms of page numbers. Can I blame the weather? Or the fact that I’ve been busy at work? Doubtful but that’s not going to stop me. Instead, let’s just rejoice in the fact that I’m managed to finish something and can actually get this review written.
One of my best friends works for Vintage books so she is constantly offering to pick up cheap books for me. I know I know. I’m making it sound like a bad thing when it’s not. The only problem is that I never remember to ask her. I buy the book myself and then have to put up her with telling me she could have got it for me. So, when I heard about Ian McEwan’s latest book dealing with AI, I knew this was one of the times I should take her up on it. I was a massive fan of Ian McEwan as a teenager but I’ve lost my way over the last few years. Basically, everything after On Chesil Beach has remained unread on my shelf. And I’ve been okay with that. Sweet Tooth and Solar I wasn’t that interested in but I did really want to read The Children Act and Nutshell. Honestly, I did. I just never got round to it. But this one sounded interesting. An alternate reality 1980s where AI technology exists. Part of me was worried, though. AI has become a bit of a thing in literature recently and I wasn’t sure that McEwan was the best to add to the conversation. But, I couldn’t let my friend down again.
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.