Good afternoon, fellow Bookworms!
The title of this blog comes courtesy of the late great Magnus Magnusson, the original presenter of Mastermind, which is Britain’s longest-running television quiz show if I am not mistaken. He would always say this if he’d started asking a question when the two minutes were up, and thus the contestant was entitled to have a chance to answer it if he or she knew the answer, or a chance to pass if they didn’t. However, in this instance, it relates to the fact that I have a significant number of partially-read books. Never mind Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which, incidentally, I HAVE read, this is Joanne D-J and the Half-Read Books!
Regular readers of my book blog will know that I’m a graduate, and that half my degree was in literature. I think it was this time, between 1991 and 1994, where I started having to read more than one book at any given time for different literature modules. I also had some factual reading to do for the history side of my degree, so I had a lot of books on the go. Thing is, I have never really readjusted to one book at a time even after graduating!
Until I was 18, I don’t think I did regularly read more than one book at once. I might have had other reading material, but my only usual rivals to any given book would have been pop music magazines. In my teens, I may have been reading the latest issue of Smash Hits, or Literally, the Pet Shop Boys fan club magazine, alongside Pride and Prejudice or Animal Farm, but there wasn’t really a clash of books during my childhood. But then, the autumn of 1991 came around, and I started my degree, and entered into a more polygamous phase with my reading material!
Readers of my recent blog entries will recall that I mentioned The Snowman, by Jo Nesbo, and how surprised I was by how far in to the book I had read prior to leaving it to one side. The same can be said of Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe, by Jenny Colgan, which I spotted in my wardrobe unit this afternoon, and noticed that the bookmark was some distance into the novel! This book weighs in at 456 pages, not including the recipes at the back, and, prior to leaving it to one side, I had reached page 162 of this book. A check on Goodreads determines that I have read 35% of this novel, so therefore I got just over a third of the way in prior to putting the book to one side.
As well as reading books from the start, ones I’ve not previously begun, I am trying to get some others finished off. It does surprise me that I got as far into the Nesbo and Colgan books as I did, as neither of those are my usual genres. I guess it’s the theme of snowmen in one and cakes in the other which convinced me to actually start those books! In terms of fresh reads, I am now on page 103 of Breakfast At Tiffany’s, so I have actually read the main story and have just the three short stories to read. I am two thirds of the way through that one as an entire book.
There is actually NOTHING to say you HAVE to finish a book, though. If you are not enjoying it, and you don’t actually have to read it for the purposes of your education, then find the courage to leave it and choose another book which might be more to your liking. As the other members of my book club have suggested, try to get around 70 to 100 pages read, depending on how long the book is in general. If it does not float your boat by then, there really is no need to continue with it when you could be spending that time reading something which really grabs you! Ignore anyone who insists you should always finish a book! You don’t need that sort of bossiness in your life!
If you DO have to read something for school or college and you’re not enjoying it, you have my sympathy there, as you can’t just toss it to one side when your grades or exam results depend on it. However, try getting a study guide to that book so that you know the main issues in it for your essays and exams, and also perhaps reward yourself for plodding through your set book by reading something else you DO enjoy at the end of each chapter of the one you don’t! It happens to us all, by the way, even bookworms such as myself. While I ended up finding Pride and Prejudice reasonably enjoyable, I admit it took me some time to get into it. Another I didn’t get in to, although it didn’t matter so much as it was not for my GCSEs, was The Gun by C. S. Forester. We had it as a class reader book in the 3rd year. Not my cup of tea back then as a 14 year old schoolgirl. I guess I could try it again these days, if I find a copy at a charity shop somewhere, and see if I like it more now.
I have written of how unnecessary it is to finish any given book if you’re not enjoying it, I have also, previously, written about how much I detest book snobs. Anyone whose attitude discourages others from reading is a bad thing, so anyone who gets snotty about adults reading Young Adult books, or who insists that everyone should only read the classics, can stick their opinions up their arses. There is another matter, though… We are supposedly in 2016, we are now on for 6th March, and yet some people still seem to be making a big deal over whether an author is male or female!
Seriously… WHO BLOODY CARES?!
If you are not reading books because the author is a certain gender, then you are missing out either way. Doesn’t matter which way. Men and women are equally capable of writing brilliant books. They’re also both equally capable of writing less-inspired works of so-called literature! What TRULY matters is that you’re enjoying a good book! It does NOT matter if the author is a man, a woman, or a purple, three-headed alien from the planet Zog, whose gender fluctuates and is dependent on the weather! My consideration when I pick up a book and consider whether I want to read it is this…
What does it say on the back? What’s the blurb?
If it sounds like the kind of book I’d like, I will buy it and I will read it. The gender of the author is a complete bloody irrelevance in my life! Yes, I’m a feminist, I want all sexist pricks to rot in Hell, or at least bugger off back to the Dark Ages in a time machine and stay there, and I believe I have the right to be blokey and to go to football matches and know my stuff when it comes to footy and music… but where does it say I have to be really arsed about the gender of those who write the books I enjoy?! I really, genuinely, couldn’t give a flying shit! I love books by men and I love books by women. If they write stuff which floats my boat, which makes me laugh, which grips me, which makes me want to read on and not put the book down until I’ve finished it, that’s all I actually care about!
And I DO love quite a lot of books written by my fellow females, for the record! Obviously, there’s the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling, and there are the Adrian Mole books by the late great Sue Townsend – the first two of those in particular, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4, and The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole, are amongst my all-time favourites and my copies of those books have been sellotaped together countless times! Some of my other favourite books from more recent times have included Burial Rites, by Hannah Kent, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin, and Girl With a Pearl Earring, by Tracy Chevalier
If I am “avoiding” any books, it will probably be due to genres or due to subject matters which do not appeal to me. For instance, I’m not really in to crime fiction, popular though it is with many other bookworms, and despite being about halfway through that Jo Nesbo book, and I really don’t fancy horror novels at all, either, as I don’t appreciate having the living shit scared out of me! This is probably why I have yet to read a Stephen King novel, as I thought they were ALL horror stories! My sister had read a fair few Stephen King books when she was a teenager, and those WERE amongst the scary ones! I remember her having loads of them lined up along one of her bookshelves in her bedroom! She’s said she wouldn’t read them now! Far too scary, and she doesn’t want nightmares!
Turns out, they’re not all horror, there are a good 30 or so books which do not come under that genre, even if that’s what he’s particularly famous for! A week or so ago, I did a Google search for “Stephen King books which are not horror” and near the top of the list was a Goodreads list of 31 books by Stephen King which had NOT been classified as horror, and The Green Mile was at the top of that list.
Before I wrap this up for now, I have an update on Breakfast At Tiffany’s. I’ve read the first of the short stories after the main novella, so I am now 79% of the way through that book! Another finished book on the horizon, then, and thus one out of the handbag in the next day or so! Also, the book which inspired my niece’s World Book Day costume choice at school was Oi Frog! by Kes Gray and Jim Field. This is why she’d wanted to go as a frog initially, but there was also a cat in the story, so our Ellie was able to convince her daughter to go as a cat and take a toy frog with her!
Thus, with the mystery of Charlotte’s World Book Day choice solved, that brings us to the end of another blogging session for the time being! Until the next blog entry, take care, and Happy Reading!
Joanne x x x
Books mentioned in this blog entry:
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – J. K. Rowling
- Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
- Animal Farm – George Orwell
- The Snowman – Jo Nesbo
- Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe – Jenny Colgan
- Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Truman Capote
- The Gun – C. S. Forester
- The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 – Sue Townsend
- The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole – Sue Townsend
- Burial Rites – Hannah Kent
- The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry – Gabrielle Zevin
- Girl With a Pearl Earring – Tracy Chevalier
- The Green Mile – Stephen King
- Oi Frog! – Kes Gray & Jim Field