Saturday, April 10, 2010

Is 100 books possible?

A few months ago I decide to really challenge myself and try and focus my reading list into some sort of order by doing the 10-10-10 reading challenge. The point of it is to read 10 books in 10 different categories in the year 2010. (Well, actually, the real version of it is by October 10, 2010 but there is no way that is going to happen.)

I picked my categories out and wanted to read one book from each category before writing about it. That so did not happen. I discovered that one of the reasons I hadn't read so many "classics" is that frankly the majority don't appeal to me. Scandalous I know for a librarian to say something like that. But it is true. So I changed one of my categories thinking that would help, but it really hasn't. In a bit of a panic I allowed myself to count the books I had read prior to deciding to undertake the challenge in an attempt to bolster my confidence. After all, I had read a fair number of books before deciding to try for 100 books in a year and by golly they should count. However, I'm still only at 13. That's right, four months into the year, when I should have read close to 25 books, I am at 13. Ahem.

The reasons behind this sluggish pace are multiple. I have rediscovered other hobbies that take up some of my reading time. I have just gotten engaged and am planning a wedding. I work full time and do try and clean my house (no matter what my parents say on that subject). And finally, I've never been good at forced reading. I really do try and adhere to the rule that if, after 50 pages, the book hasn't grabbed me, I stop. It is possible that I miss out on some ultimately good books, but I'm okay with that. Unfortunately, my stubborn streak comes into play more than I would like. Despite the fact that I picked out the books myself I seem to have developed this attitude that "oh, I'm supposed to read these books" and therefore, I am disinclined to read the. Le sigh. I face a similar problem with diet. If I tell myself I am going to improve my eating habits so that I will look and feel good on my wedding I immediately want pizza and fried chicken. Does anyone else struggle with this sort of contrariness? If so, please send along any advice you've found works for you.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Musing about authors

I find that it is very difficult when you have fallen in love with a particular set of works by an author (typically a series) to branch out to their other works. You run the problem of the other books either being derivative (such as Metro Girl by Janet Evanovich), or being radically different from what you fell in love with (such as anything by Rita Mae Brown that was not co-authored by Sneaky Pie Brown). I can only think of one adult author who have found this type of transition with, and that is Christopher Moore. (Children's authors are another matter, there are a loads of them where I managed this such as Elizabeth Enright, Beverly Cleary, and Richard Peck just to name a few).
I bring this up because I just read Deanna Raybourn's latest book The Dead Travel Fast, and while I liked it, I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as I enjoy her Lady Julia Grey series. This really surprised me since I love Ms. Raybourn's blog which covers a huge range of topics. However, I think it is more that I don't truly enjoy Gothic novels. I like elements of them, but generally find that even the best ones tend to be over the top and many of the characters a tad absurd.
That being said, I did enjoy TDTF. I read it in one day and was left with the simultaneous reaction of "what?!!! and "but of course!!!" This reaction is the hallmark of a good mystery novel to me and she really hit the mark. However, I don't think I can give it a complete and caveat free endorsement. If you aren't a big fan of Gothic novels you might want to look elsewhere. Other than that, but especially if you LOVE Gothic novels, give it a whirl.