Good afternoon, Bookworms,
Apologies for the total lack of blog for about three years now, but I really have been struggling with reader’s block and still trying to get my reading mojo back again, which hasn’t really happened. What has prompted me to write a book blog once again is the latest reading material chosen by my book club. As always, I give these things a go, but I am finding the book really odd, and, as it is autobiographical, I cannot relate to the author, I just think she’s a truly stupid woman! The book in question is By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept by Elizabeth Smart. It has a great cover, I’ll give it that, and I have been to Grand Central Station, indeed caught a train from there to Philadelphia in 2003 when I was in the States for United’s pre-season tour! The book is a mere 134 pages long, but even that length seems too long when you consider how much she waffles on and on and on in what I feel is a rather self-pitying manner!
All the blurb on the front and back of the book makes out it’s a “masterpiece” and “a classic work of poetic prose”, but I’m going to have to disagree quite strongly! Basically, Ms Smart does not live up to her name any more than Dennis Wise lived up to his in the 1994 FA Cup Final (when he bet Eric Cantona £100 that he’d miss his first penalty)! She fell in love with a poet simply because of his words, and actually wastes money to bring him and his wife over to the USA. Does she seriously think that was going to make him leave his missus for her?! She needs to face up to the fact he’s spoken for and she is wasting her time when she should have gone and found herself a fella who WASN’T spoken for! Sure, it’s disappointing to find out that someone you fancy is spoken for, but that’s life, dear! You just have to find an available person who has as many of the same qualities as you saw in someone you admire but can’t have! But Not-Very-Smart doesn’t do this. She hangs around the poet and his missus, and she even had kids with him! So, I can’t be doing with this woman, I think she was bloody stupid and have even pencilled in comments to that effect in my copy of the book – I’d not written anything in a book for years, not since my student days, probably, but the author of this book was doing my head in so much that I felt compelled!
It’s split into 10 “parts”, although why she couldn’t just call them chapters, I don’t know! Normally, you’d only have a book in several parts if it’s a really long book, and you’d still have chapters as well. Often, if the plot has moved on in time, that might justify splitting the novel into parts, but when the book is short, what is the point? So far, I have read three “parts” and am not sure whether to bother pursuing it any further. Is it going to get any better? If I read the remaining seven chapters, er sorry, parts, am I going to change my mind and stop thinking she’s a stupid cow? Or am I going to end up thinking she’s even more of one?! Perhaps I should leave it for now and maybe come back to it just before my book club next meets on 30th June, see if a break from reading it makes it any better when I resume. Maybe I should see if the similarly titled By The River Piedra I Sat Down And Wept is any better – that’s one of Paulo Coelho’s novels, and I have previously read and enjoyed a couple of his books, so I probably have a better chance with that one!
I could also resume The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, which I AM enjoying! The principle character is a grumpy old guy who runs Island Books, and a two-year-old girl, Maya, is left in his shop one day. He has no idea how to look after her at first, but ends up adopting her. As well as one or two novels invented for the purpose of the story, most of the books he references are actual titles, including The Book Thief, although I must take issue with Mr Fikry’s customer who complains about Death being the narrator – as the shopkeeper points out, that’s one of the things which truly makes that novel so special!
I have managed to read SOME books in the past three years, so the reader’s block has not been a constant problem. I have read The Fault In Our Stars by John Green, and Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple, which I enjoyed, and also loved Tracy Chevalier’s novel, Girl With A Pearl Earring, based on the famous painting by Johannes Vermeer. I actually managed to find that one for free at the Barton Arms while out for a meal – they have books there, which you can either buy and make a donation to St Ann’s Hospice, or you can bring in a book of your own and swap for free, so, having been before and knowing the score, took two or three books with me when out for a meal there about a year ago, some that I’d partially-read for book club, but which hadn’t floated my boat, and, lo and behold, the Chevalier novel was there – it was a sign, I felt, as I’d felt the Call of the Book for that particular novel, knew it was a few years old and I’d seen it in charity shops previously, so I figured I could get it cheaply as a second-hand book, and I actually ended up getting it for nowt! Epic Win!
One of the best, and funniest, books I’ve read in the past three years was another I discovered for free, and one which is a souvenir of a fantastic holiday as I found it at the El Dorado Seaside Suites when I was on holiday in Mexico in 2013 as part of the celebrations for my 40th birthday earlier that year! The book is Attention All Shipping by Charlie Connelly and it is a journey around the Shipping Forecast, taking Connelly around the UK and overseas to various continental outposts as he travels the Shipping Forecast, aiming to do it within a year of setting off. Utterly brilliant! One of my favourite bits comes towards the end and concerns puffins on the Faroe Islands. I won’t spoil your surprise, but he has a way with words and I laughed my arse off reading it! The book seems to be readily available quite cheaply at charity shops round here, so your chances of getting hold of a copy fairly cheaply in Greater Manchester and helping a good cause at the same time, are pretty high! Read it – it’s bloody brilliant!
What I think I might do is return to Mr Fikry and his bookshop and finish that, then I can perhaps see what my Book Jar selects for me after that! I have a couple of those Douwe Egberts jars on my windowsill, so I have recently cut up some paper into pieces, written book titles on them, folded them up, and put them in one of these coffee jars. Therefore, when I am stuck and can’t decide what to read next, I can let the book jar help out in this respect!
It’s probably time I got back to my book and left you all to get on with whatever you’re reading at the moment! Hope you’re enjoying whatever it is you’re reading and that you can relate to the characters or author rather more than I can with my current book club choice! That might be going to a charity shop when I’m done with it. I’ll have to remember to rub out my pencilled comments, though. Or maybe not. Leave them in and let others read my honest opinion on the silly woman. She’s been frank with us, possibly too much so, so I shall be frank, too!
Until next time, bookworms, Happy Reading!
Books mentioned in this blog entry…
- By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept – Elizabeth Smart
- By The River Piedra I Sat Down & Wept – Paulo Coelho
- The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry – Gabrielle Zevin
- The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
- The Fault In Our Stars – John Green
- Where’d You Go, Bernadette? – Maria Semple
- Girl With A Pearl Earring – Tracy Chevalier
- Attention All Shipping: A Journey Around The Shipping Forecast – Charlie Connelly