I had to Google the Booker Prize shortlist that saw Graeme Macrae Burnet’s novel His Bloody Project competing for the prize. It was way back in 2016, which is crazy. It feels as though I only read that a couple of years ago. I definitely wanted Burnet to win but that’s mostly because it was the only one that I’d read. That doesn’t mean it didn’t deserve it. His Bloody Project was an absolute masterpiece in the way that it blended fact and fiction. I knew that this was a writer that I wanted to read in the future. So, I ordered a copy of his next book as soon as it was possible. I knew that it was going to be something big. But could it possibly be as good as his last book?
This was the first of my September pre-orders to turn up and I started it as soon as possible. I’ve only read a few of the A Series of Unfortunate Events books but I really wanted to read this one. It just sounded like a lot of fun, which I guess is weird to say about a book about a murder. That murder being Lemony Snicket who has been sold as real person for years. However, I was sure that it would be quite a ride and an easy way to start me off in my mega September read.
I don’t often read much non-fiction because I’m not very good at it. It just takes me too long to get through and I get stressed about it. It also tends to have chapters that are too long for me to finish before I fall asleep and finishing mid-chapter really bugs me. However, I do have plenty of non-fiction books on my shelf that need reading. So, I’m trying to ease myself gently with shorter and more digestible reads. The fact that this is also a U title for my August Spell the Month Challenge is just an added bonus. It took me longer than I expected to read this but it was a quick one. I didn’t finish it in time for Friday’s post but we got there for Monday.
For most of my childhood, my family spent our Summer holidays in Scotland. This means we weren’t exactly expecting sun and beach days. Don’t get me wrong, we did actually have plenty of great days where we could just relax by seas all day. However, we were always sure to pack for rain and wind. So, I have a deep personal connection to the premise of this book. We might not have been in log cabins but rather a static caravan. If anything, I’d say it would probably be colder and has the added benefit of there being absolutely not space. You can imagine just how sick of each other we got after 1/2 weeks. All of this comes together to explain why I was so keen to give this a chance. It also helped that it was a short book with an S title. The perfect thing to read for my August Spell the Month Challenge.
I try not to pay too much attention to literary prizes. It’s mostly because I like to decide what I read based on my own parameters. I don’t agree with lists that offer you a list of books that everyone should read. Who is to say which books everyone should read? Wo has the same taste as everyone else? It all goes back to the canon and who decided which books were deemed appropriate. I won’t go into it all again but I’m not the kind of person who automatically picks up an author because they’ve won a prize. However, I was super excited to get my hands on Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel since winning the Nobel Prize in Literature. There was an awful lot of pressure on him to create something great and it did concern me that he was writing about AI. After all, we’ve seen literary fiction writers crash and burn when they attempted science fiction. Although, at least Ishiguro has previous.
In order to complete my Spell the Month Challenge for February, I knew that I’d have to find a book title that started with Y. After reading Yes Please last month, I wasn’t sure that I’d have anything already on my shelves. So. I ended up buying something to fit the bill. Unfortunately there aren’t an awful lot of inspiring books beginning with Y. Or at least not that I was able to get in time. I’ve for a bit of time before I’ll need my next one, so I’ll have to do some proper research. For this month, my Y pick was I book I randomly found on Amazon. It sounded interesting enough and, most importantly, was quick. Meaning that, even if it ended up being terrible, I wouldn’t have to push on through a really long novel.
Yesterday was National Poetry Day. I always consider myself a big poetry fan but, if I’m honest, I don’t read a lot of it these days. I have too many novels that need reading. Although I do try. After Rupi Kaur and Amanda Lovelace were all over Bookstagram a few years ago, I decided it was worth giving them a try. After all, everyone I saw was talking about how life-changing they were. I read them. I didn’t get it. Anyone who read my ramble about poetry last year will remember, I got quite angry about them. I don’t get it. It’s not poetry. It’s formating. But, that’s not the point. I want to reconnect with poetry by celebrating some of my favourite poems. I’ll be honest, as a lover of all things Romantic, most of these will probably be pretty obvious but there’s got to a reason we’re still talking about them after all these years, right?
When I was younger, I was a huge Ian McEwan fan. I first read Enduring Love and I adored it. He had such a way about his writing that I wanted to read everything else I could get my hands on. His short stories were creative and experimental. His novels got to the heart of their characters. He was a massive influence on me. On Chesil Beach was the last of his novels that I bought, though. It wasn’t that I hated it… well I did but only because of how awkward and real it was. It was such a fantastically written book but such a horrible reading experience! I just think I overdosed on him. So, when Sweet Tooth came out and it sounded so meh I just thought “maybe not”. But I’ve always wanted to go back. I own copies of both Solar and The Nutshell but I never got round to reading them. I decided that I had to make a point of reading this short story though. First published in The New Yorker in 2016, My Purple Scented Novel was released as a booklet in 2018 in honour of 70th birthday. And it just felt like something I needed to read. I owed it to McEwan and I owed it to my younger self. Of course, I do have a tendency to be melodramatic. It was probably more that it just sounded really interesting.
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.
For the first time in a really long time I haven’t got a new book to review. So, for the first time in a really long time I haven’t got any inspiration for my Wednesday post. It definitely doesn’t help that my current read is so bloody uninspiring. I don’t really know what possessed me to start reading To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, especially as I didn’t even like the film that much. I guess I thought it would be an easy read but I just can’t get into it. It’s fallen into so many awful YA traps and I genuinely hate reading parts of it. There is something about an adult writer trying to write the voice of a 16 year old that never quite works. I know that there is no way that I could write a convincing 16 year old yet, still, YA writers keep trying. It got super bad when she used the word “beotch” twice in quick succession. This was a book that was only written a few years ago. Who was still using the word “beotch”? It’s ridiculous. I’ve spent so much of this novel cringing. Which is why I’m being so bad at reading right now. I just don’t want to pick up this book.