Thursday, 3 September 2015

September reading

August has been a slow(er than usual) month for reading. Did you read as much as you wanted to? I am fairly time efficient in my daily doings but being back at work and important WIP's (more on that another time) did mean sacrificing reading time.

I enjoyed my August choice, 'Station Eleven' by Emily St. John Mandel. This post apocalyptic story is interesting in that art, theatre, takes centre stage. This is rather unusual in the post apocalyptic literature I have read. It is a nice thought that there might be individuals trying to keep cultural heritage alive. I am not sure how to summarise the book. The story starts in the present time, at the onset of a flu pandemic that sweeps the globe and leaves few survivors. Two of the main protagonists are Hollywood actor Arthur Leander (who dies at the very beginning of the book) and Kirsten, a child actor in the Shakespeare play during which Leander dies of a heart attack. In the future time, Kirsten is a member of a travelling theatre, performing Shakespeare for the scattered communities around the Great Lakes. The story jumps forth and back in time and it becomes clear that many of the characters are linked by their past. I am directing your to the Goodreads blurb for a more concise summary.

For my terrestrial book group, I read 'Head for the edge, keep walking' by Kate Tough. I'd probably enjoy Jill's story if I was exposed to it in smallish doses, maybe as sequential blog posts. But as a book, it didn't work for me. Briefly, Jill's life is falling apart when her nine year relationship breaks down. What follows is an account of the falling apart and getting it back together, with a health scare sprinkled in for good measure. The Goodreads blurb says that 'average 'chic fiction' this ain't!'. But that's exactly what it is. Mind you there is no doubt much worse in this genre!The story is set in Glasgow, which I liked. There is a good Glaswegian sense of humour permeating the book, which I also liked. Our book group's literate supreme chose this book because she met the author in a writer's retreat. I wonder what she thought of it? I'll find out soon. Whilst I didn't particular enjoy the book, I didn't feel that I wasted my precious reading time.

This is exactly the feeling I had after putting down 'Surfacing' by Margaret Atwood. As you all know, I do absolutely love Margaret Atwood and it pains me to say that this book was just a shimmering mirage of some of her other great novels. My understanding of the story was just out of reach. At points I thought I'd get there but didn't. Set in the wilderness of Canada in the late 1960s (I think) we meet a young woman in search of her missing father. She finds herself immersed in fragmented memories of her past instead and eventually looses herself. The writing is good and the protagonists are three dimensional and believable (but not particularly likeable). I did wonder at the time of reading if 'Cat's eye' (a later novel) sprung from the same original idea that also lead to 'Surfacing'. There was one short section othat was an exact replicate of a section in 'Cat's Eye' but it was much more developed in the later novel. I felt a bit cheated actually

To console myself with something lighthearted (but not chic lit) I chose a second science fiction book, 'Departure' by A.G. Riddle. I like to loose myself in the future sometimes. At the beginning of the story we meet Harper and Nick who are travelling (separately) from New York to London. As the flight approaches London, the plane crashes somewhere in the English countryside. As the survivors struggle to stay alive, it becomes clear that something is not as it should be. For starters, the expected rescue operation never happens. You'll have to read it yourself, I don't want to give any spoilers! It is fun, with a bit of love weaved in, and there is also plenty of food for thought, the 'what if' kind of thought.

In July, I started listening to 'My little friend' by Donna Tartt. I kinda liked 'Goldfinch' (although it was a bit longwinded) and thought I might like another book by this author. I don't, not this one anyway. In fact, I find it so tedious that I am officially abandoning it. The plot develops so so slowly that I am about 10 hours into the audio and still I am bored. I hate giving up on books but life is too short to listen to a story I simply don't enjoy. Do you give up on books you don't love? How long do you persevere?

I have started reading 'History of the rain' by Niall Williams. I was going to wait and see what Doris over at Inspired Follies thought of the book before starting but the book beckoned to me and I gave in. 

I am joining Laura's at A Circle of Pine Trees. The Year in Books 2015 is a great way to keep up with all sorts of literature. Have you checked it out recently?

What are you reading this month? Do tell! 

As always, thanks for stopping by. Cxx


  1. I liked Station 11 too, it will be on my top 10 books of the year. You're right, it's such a different view of an apocalyptic future, I'm also like you about The Goldfinch, I liked it, but it was WAY too long.
    I just finished Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce, not great, but quite enjoyable. Just finished Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner and I loved it.

  2. I know what you mean about giving up on a book but I'm getting better at it, usually deciding after a chapter or three whether or not to hoy it (couldn't stomach Elizabeth is Missing after a couple of pages and still regretting the time wasted going the distance with The Miniaturist). Beginning to think I must be really odd as I absolutely loved The Goldfinch, just couldn't put it down and didn't want it to end. Currently I'm in the throes of a Margaret Atwood marathon with another of Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce stories waiting at the top of the pile. Or maybe I'll try Julian Barnes' Arthur and George.

  3. History of the rain sounds interesting, as does 'Departure'. I've read quite a few books over the summer despite being really busy, but haven't touched my magazine pile yet - clearing the reading pile was the one thing I wanted to do before I go back to school - fail!

  4. I keep my reading until bedtime then its only for about half and hour then I am too tired to continue, I did manage to read Ring of Stones now half way through Hill Farm by the same author, I like post apocalyptic books will have to look for that one, have you read There Falls No Shadow by David Crossely a good post apocalyptic book :-)

  5. I definitely give up on books I don't enjoy. It makes me cross to struggle on with things I don't like. I'm still pressing on with The Shipping News (Annie Proulx) here. I put it to one side for a few days, but it has somehow got a hold of me so I shall finish it. Not much time for reading though, I wish there was more. I'm reading The Phantom Tollbooth (Norton Juster) to the children. That's going quite slowly as well, it's not been my favourite thing. "Through the Looking Glass" is next on their pile. CJ xx

    1. I loved The Phantom Tolbooth when I was young!

  6. Some of these sound very good. I'm going to search my library's catalog now and see if I get any of them. I have tried and tried to read books by Donna Tartt and I just couldn't get into them. I wanted to like them because I like the style and type of books she writes, do you know what I mean? One author I love, who writes books of this type, is Anne Marie MacDonald. One of her novels, The Way the Crow Flies, is one of my favorite books. It's the kind of book I thought I'd get with Tartt's books. I know you shouldn't compare books/authors that way, they all have their own style, but there are just certain types of books you come to prefer, I guess.

  7. I've done very little reading lately which is dissapointing but back on it now. I avoid chick lit too I find it tedious.
    I wrote on my blog once about giving up on books, life is just to short to waste time reading a book you do not enjoy! I do give it a good few chapters before I ditch it.
    Station eleven is on my ro read list too.

  8. Hey Christina,
    I need to do a catch up post for Year In Books. I am currently reading The Children Act by Ian McEwan and was hooked fron the get go.
    Leanne xx

  9. I agree too that life is too short to keep on reading a book I'm not enjoying. If I decide I'm not enjoying one, I try and go abit further just so as not to give up too easily! I'm enjoying reading "Wee Free Men" by Terry Pratchett to the middle child at the moment, she thinks my poor scots accent is amusing, luckily xx

  10. Yes, reading time is so scarce now that I can't justify wasting time on a book I don't like. However, I have sometimes plodded on and ended up loving the book in the end. X

  11. I hope you enjoy a good months reading in September. I have The Goldfinch in my book mountain, but I am rather nervous of what it will be like! xx

  12. I am warming to the sound of Station Eleven as I keep hearing good reviews, even though I don't usually enjoy post apocalyptic stories. I hate not finishing a book and I'm always optimistic that they will get better but the when I'm finished I regret the time spent reading them!

  13. I'm trying to read The New Road by Neil Munro. I'm just a few chapters in, and find the historical background and some of the language a bit challenging - not a relaxing read. But I am very determined to give it a real try because I'll feel disappointed in myself if I give up! With other books I think, This is not adding any value to my life, enough! The next book on my list is a collection of WWII essays (London War Notes) by Mollie Panter-Downes.

  14. Interesting reviews as always Christina. When I was younger, I used to force myself to finish a book even if I didn't enjoy it. Now I give it a fighting chance but if I am not enjoying it, I don't feel guilty setting it aside for the charity shop. Exceptions are book group books, which I think should be read if they are to be discussed, but if I am really struggling with a book group book, I do allow myself to 'skim read'! X


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