Below is what I’d say for my confession at the next Bookaholic Anonymous meeting:
After last month’s book rut which put me in a constant irritable mood, lately I’ve found joy again (!) I was drifting between 4 different books and found them all boring. It’s a terrible feeling, trying to finish off a book only because I’ve started on it. Somehow it feels like a shame to leave it hanging there – an unfinished business, and forever wondering that if you’d persisted, what would the ending be like? Also, call me shallow, but doesn’t it feel good to be able to make claims such as “I’ve read that book, I’m allowed to have an opinion on it”, or “I hate the movie. The book is waaay better.”? (Even when you secretly think the movie isn’t too bad, putting on that smug look is just too tempting!)
The funny thing is, I don’t do this struggling business with movies. If a film bores me I’d simply turn it off, take the DVD out, end of story. Somehow i feel books deserve better than that. Oh well. Looks like I’d better learn to let things go when it no longer works. Hmm…
Anyway so here are two of the culprits that were giving me so much grief last month:
~ Atonement [Ian McEwan]
After 3 attempts at trying to get past page 100, since I bought the thing 4 years ago, I finally finished it. Phew! I know it’s supposed to be a good book. What with the movie and all. But the plot just didn’t do it for me. The first half was sooo slow it’d given The Tortoise a run for its money. Then the last half, where all the actions happened, was rushed, squashed, and under-explored. The only praise I have is McEwan’s writing – the way he constructed these descriptions of people, of emotions, of sceneries. Especially the sceneries.
~ Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West [Gregory Maguire]
Because the musical is out. Plus i was really impressed with the look of it, where the edge of all the pages is a garish, fluorescent green. So I bought this book at LAX airport last December, when waiting to board the flight to SF.
I’ve never been a fan of fantasy books, except for Harry Potter. They require too much effort, attention, and umm, commitment. So this one is another challenge. I got through the first half ok, but now also stuck in the middle, with no motivation to get to the end. Maybe I’ll just save up to watch the musical then.
And here are the life-savers that deserve a medal for fishing me out from the previous agonising book-swamp:
~ “The Secret History” [Donna Tartt]
My lovely friend E. gave me this Donna Tartt’s first book before she went back to the Netherlands. Despite her insisting that it was an extremely good book, I approached it with caution, “thanks” to my bad experience with this author’s other book, “The Little Friend”. But what did I know, 2 pages into the thing and holy macaroni! I was hooked. Staying up late at night flipping pages, poring over it first thing in the morning before work, wishing I didn’t have to work so I could stay at home to “gobble” it. You know, all the usual symptoms.
This one is sooo much more fascinating than her other book. Which, in a way, confirms my theory that an author’s first book is almost always better than their later ones. So chilling and mesmerising it gave me goosebumps every time. (Although, admittedly, along with some headache due to all the references on Ancient Greek literature, about which I’m totally clueless. And needless to say, frantic googling and wiki-ing ensued.) Not many books can make you hate the characters in one chapter, and feel for them in the next. Not many books can make you question your moral standards, make you confused about what’s right and wrong, make you want to scream “Oh no no no they really can’t do that!” (murder their friend, in this case), but then found it perversely satisfying when they did exactly that anyway. It’s that powerful, I tell yah! And most importantly, not many books can make you want to read them again!
I love you, E.! 🙂
~ A Spot of Bother [Mark Haddon]
Just as gripping as his other one, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time”. Not only that its plot is wonderfully spell-binding, this book is also full of fantastic one-liners and interesting ideas, some rip-roaringly funny, some quietly haunting. A must read. I don’t know if it’s a common characteristic, but in my (limited) experience, many English writers possess this care-free, yet witty, charm. They’ll be saying something entirely obvious, something perfectly commonsense, but it makes you stop in your track and ponder, and wonder, and think.
I’m now on Alexander McCall Smith’s “The Right Attitude to Rain”. Another one in the Isabel Dalhousie series. And do I need to start on another raving session about Mr. McCall Smith’s writing? Okaay, you guys can stop frantically shaking your heads now before they snap off your necks and hit the floor bouncing. I won’t. 🙂
Alrighty, I can keep on rambling till the cows come home. But I’ve gotta go & get some work done because my daaarlings, you know what’s good? I’m going to catch “Priscilla the Lavender Bus” TODAY! THIS ARVO! IN 6 HOURS! YEEE HAAA!!!
~”…but it was difficult… to behave correctly when one’s heart was a cold stone within one.”~ [Alexander McCall Smith]