My Reading week – Wednesday

I didn’t buy any books today. I didn’t finish any either but I am quite proud of myself for my restraint. If you read my blogs from the past two days you will note that this is not always the case.

My commute was accompanied again by the audiobook of Atlas Shrugged. See the previous two blogs in this series for my ongoing relationship with this story. I am still engaged despite the length of the book and my disagreement with the political views that the writer makes a fundamental part of this novel. We got to an important plot twist today and I am looking forward to seeing where the author goes with this – even though she seems to take a very long time to get there.

This evening I read a chapter or two of White King by Leanda De Lisle. It is a biography of King Charles I. I have had this on my to-be-read pile for some time but was encouraged to read it when the political situation in the UK became a struggle between government and parliament. It reminded me of Charles I’s battle with his parliament because he thought that he was not answerable to them. I don’t know enough Stuart history so I am reading this to fill in some gaps – hopefully the current political situation will not end up with executions and Civil War. I am reading it in small chunks so I expect it to take some time although the book is very readable.

I started A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan. I have no idea how this book arrived on my shelves but obviously a past me thought that it would be worth reading. It is a fictional history of a family of witches through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I have only read the first fifty pages or so but I am thinking that I may have problems with this book. The author has obviously done a lot of research and understands about marginal communities and the role of women in witchcraft trials in Celtic communities in the past. Sadly it shows too much and, given what I also know about the same things, I am beginning to work out where this book is going and what will happen. I am also pretty sure that burnings for witchcraft weren’t still happening in Britain and France in the 1830s although I may be mistaken. I will give it some more time but it is not engaging me yet and I think it may be too predictable.

Today I made the decision to abandon Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak. I have been reading this book on and off for a couple of months and I am stuck because I don’t really want to continue. The publishers gave me a free electronic copy via NetGalley but even though I didn’t pay for the book I just couldn’t carry on reading it. I wasn’t a huge fan of his better known book The Book Thief and I think that this book is written the same way. The narrative is not straightforward and I dislike the omniscient narrator who plays games with the reader. If you like the first book you will probably enjoy this one.

I don’t often fail to finish a book but I am trying to do it more rather than wade through lots of pages I am not enjoying. A recent example was 84K by Claire North. This is a dystopian novel about a future UK where everything has a value and corporate entities run everything. The idea is sound but the book, so far, is amazingly grim and dreary. It would be too much of an effort to continue and I really want something more upbeat – I am not adverse to a bleak or depressing book but this is just unrelenting and I am 25% of the way through without having any idea what is going on or any inclination to find out. I like dystopian fiction but another book I failed to finish lately was The Circle by Dave Eggers which was about a future America where everyone wanted to know everyone else’s business and your life was lived very publically with no secrets. I got the point quite early but the author kept hammering it home and didn’t give me a good plot or engaging characters to keep my interest (I read a book by Ben Elton called Blind Faith that covered much the same ground but which was much shorter and a lot more compelling).

I probably abandon one book in ten that I start or even fewer but the key for me is that I must be totally engaged. I have to care about what is happening and be immersed in the author’s world. It is very much a matter of opinion as to which books achieve this and many books I have disliked have been very popular with other readers but I suppose that we all have our own likes and dislikes.

I read/listened for about three hours today which is less than on the two previous days although I may get some reading in now before bed. It doesn’t seem, when you read the above, that today has been very positive but I have moved on from one book that I didn’t enjoy and allowed myself to consider abandoning another. I am not unhappy with my reading day.

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