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.
As children we’re so often told that one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. It’s a quaint little adage that I completely agree with when talking about people but not when talking about actual books. As any bookish person will tell you, you can very often tell whether or not you’ll like a book based on the cover art. I buy the majority of my books based on chance encounters in book shops. The typical romantic-comedy meet cute kind of thing. I walk into a bookshop, come face to face with something beautiful, everything gets a bit blurry, strings start playing in the background, I read the synopsis, we’re a perfect match, and we end up going home together. It’s a tale as old as time. And exactly what happened with the last book that I read. It was just your everyday lunchtime book shop browse and I fell in love. With a simple white cover with a black illustration. It was creepy. It was gorgeous. I had to pick it up. As soon as I read the word Frankenstein on the back I was doomed. I’d never read anything by Marcus Sedgwick but, if this cover told me anything, I knew this was going to be for me.
As I started typing this last night I’d literally just finished watching the second season of the Netflix original show 13 Reasons Why. The first series was based on the popular YA novel by Jay Asher. It showed us the aftermath of a teenage girls suicide and the discover of thirteen tapes she recorded before she died. On them, Hannah outlined all of the reasons she had for killing herself and demanded that they be passed between all of the people mentioned on the tapes. I wasn’t a fan of the first season but mostly because i thought it was just badly made. It was way too long and self-indulgent. On top of that, I think it failed to do what it was trying to. The message it was trying to tell got lost because it was too quick to make entertainment out of sexual assault and suicide. There were far too many depictions of rape on-screen especially considering the audience it was targeted for. It seemed more interested in making headlines than in actually helping people. But mostly it was just boring and bad. Everything was dragged out way too long. What it did have was a complete story. We had reached the end of Hannah’s story
Anyone out there who is a fan of Harry Potter, so most of the reading population of planet Earth, will know that today marks the fictional anniversary of the fictional Battle of Hogwarts. On this day of fictional commemoration, the real author J K Rowling takes to Twitter to apologise to her fans for killing one of their favourite characters. This year she said sorry to her social media followers for the death of fan favourite Dobby, Harry Potter’s faithful House Elf-friend. In the past, she has made similar public apologies for killing characters such as Severus Snape, Remus Lupin, and Fred Weasley. And, as I sit here desperately wanting to go to bed but needing to write something for today’s post, I can’t but wonder why the fuck she bothers. I mean if it bothers her that much why kill them in the first place? It’s just more of her pathetic pandering to her fans to ensure that the Harry Potter gravy train she’s riding for the rest of her life never stops. And, really, every year I lose a little more respect for her as a writer.