Book Hangover

Penguin orange book spines

Good afternoon, fellow Bookworms!

I am still “recovering” from the epic that is A Little Life, having read it in time for the meeting last Thursday – I had thought it was Friday, but it wasn’t. At least I found out in time and finished the book, which now leaves me with the old bookworm question of what the hell do I read next?! I think it’s fair to say that this is a big problem when you have finished a particular series of books, but it can also be true for those of us who have just finished one big, long, chunky book!

I don’t think my next one is going to be my book club book, I think we’re back to the bad old days of me not being into whatever we’re reading, which, in this instance, is Deep Water, by Patricia Highsmith. I think there’s a few issues here…

  1. I have just finished reading a rather large, and quite emotionally-taxing at times, work of fiction from which I am still having a Book Hangover!
  2. At our book club meeting, I was one of those who wanted to read King of the World, a biography of Muhammad Ali.
  3. Much as many other readers love them, I guess I am just not into crime novels or thrillers. I don’t know why, but they’re not my go-to genre. As I said, for many, it is their favourite kind of book, but I’ve always been different.
  4. Several other books in my room are giving me the eye!

I did finish one book off last night, getting yet another finished book onto my Goodreads Challenge, but then again, that was non-fiction. It was The Rules of the Game, by Pierluigi Collina, the former referee, and a very interesting and informative read for a footy fan like myself!

I tried to read the Highsmith an hour or so ago, just thought “chill out and try to read some, see if it floats your boat, Joanne. It might manage to hold your interest.”

But it didn’t, and other books here in my room were saying “Yoo hoo! Over here! Read me instead!” The book club next meets on 4th July, but whether I’m even going to have read much of Deep Water by then is highly debatable. It faces far too much competition from the vast hoards of reading matter here in my room. Plus, as I said, I’m having a Book Hangover from A Little Life, so perhaps my best bets are non-fiction books or perhaps some YA. I don’t think Patricia Highsmith is going to do it for me as I recover from Hanya Yanagihara’s epic novel!

Not even a tedious 0-0 draw in the European Championships can entice me into the wrong book! I will read while watching footy on the telly if I’m waiting for the boring tossers to score a goal or two, lol, but England v Slovakia last night just saw me getting some of Collina’s autobiography read. If I’m watching footy, I might as well read about footy! It’s up to the players to distract me from my book. I guess I should have watched Wales vs Russia instead, a game which Wales won 3-0 to top our group and send the Russians packing back home to Moscow.

I’ve just found an interesting book on the landing, on our bookshelves near the bathroom. There’s Only Two David Beckhams, by John O’Farrell, could be my Footy Book now that I’ve finished the Collina. Or I could carry on with Fergie’s book, Leading, which I could do with getting on with. I could also do with getting on with Martin Meijer’s biography of Louis van Gaal. Still annoyed at United for not having a parade after we won the FA Cup last month, and for getting rid of LvG so quickly. They should have let Louis enjoy that weekend after having won us the cup, before parting company with him and appointing that egotistical knobhead, Jose Mourinho!

Talking of footy, Northern Ireland v Germany just kicked off as I type this!

Oh well, I’ll give the Highsmith book around 50 pages if I can. If it still doesn’t float my boat, it probably won’t.

Anyway, onto other book-related matters, and something I’ve touched on previously… the publishing world and its stupid, unnecessary and rather outdated fixations! By this, I mean the idea that, because I’m a female reader, I will want books written by women and in which the main characters are women. I would love to meet these idiots and reassure them that, in the nicest possible way, I really couldn’t give a shit! Look I’ve just read A Little Life, for crying out loud! Written by a woman, as if that even matters, which it doesn’t to me, but the four main characters are all blokes, as are most of the other significant characters in that book, and I loved it! I really am not arsed in the slightest, so there is no need to worry about pointless crap like that!

I’ve been reading books since I first learned to read, which I had managed before I started school. I have NEVER given a shit about the gender of the author, or of the characters. In fact, it probably hasn’t even occurred to me to even take much notice. If a book appeals to me, it’s because its plot or its subject matter appeals to me. The gender of the author is an irrelevance, as is the gender of the main protagonist in the story if I’m reading fiction!

This is 2016, so, as I’ve said before, isn’t it time publishers stopped pushing stuff on us just because the author matches our gender, colour or sexual orientation? It’s not news that there are plenty of female, coloured and/or LGBT authors out there in this day and age, you know?! Maybe it is news in some parts of the world, but certainly not here in the UK. And just because a reader is from one of those groups, does not mean that he or she will be restricting themselves to books by authors who are the same as them. Yes, they may read and enjoy a lot by those kinds of authors, but it’s not nice to be pigeonholed!

(Particularly if you feel you are completely unrepresented in fiction because you’re a knowledgeable female football fan. In fact, unrepresented full stop. Don’t even start me on adverts – advertising agency staff must have attended their most “recent” match back in the bloody 1950s, as they only ever seem to see us lasses as football widows or clueless bimbos! Only the Carlsberg “flatmates” advert has ever portrayed a female as a footy fan! I certainly can’t think of any other adverts which have acknowledged our existence!)

If there are any areas not really covered as yet, perhaps authors with various disabilities or health conditions might be a feature, and major characters in novels having a variety of difficulties of this nature might be the way to go, particularly the highlighting of the frustrations suffered by people with “invisible” disabilities. In terms of main characters with disabilities, A Little Life gives us Jude, arguably the central character, a man with a huge amount of difficulties, physical and mental, on account of the horrendous abuse he had suffered. I promise you no further spoilers on that matter! Just read it!

It is a difficult area, though, not only because, as humans, there are so many things that can go wrong with us, or that we can have wrong with us from the moment we’re born in some instances, so how can you represent such a wide range of conditions in fiction, even without considering the other problematic issue of realistic representation of people with such conditions. Some will applaud a given novel for its portrayal of a character, while others will be up in arms about that very same character and will say “We’re not all like that!” – Then again, even without bringing health issues or disabilities into it, there are too many assumptions being made in fiction, particularly by those who are responsible for publishing and marketing it!

Anyway, rant over, and back to books again. I could always make a start on S, by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst, a book I discovered recently at Chapter One in town. Well, when I say a “book”, it is more of a literary project! Book doesn’t really do it justice! I will return to this matter in a forthcoming blog, but I think the idea is this… you have this book, which is supposedly a library book from a college or university library in the States, and it’s been “written in” by a couple of students who are communicating back and forth because they are studying the rather mysterious author of that book. There are loads of things inside this book, newspaper cuttings, letters, postcards, etc… So, I think there will need to be some strategy for “reading” this thing! Probably involving post-it notes and files on computer to keep track of stuff!

As I said, there will be more about this S malarkey at some point in the near future, but for now, I think I’ve probably waffled on more than long enough. It’s half time, Germany are winning 1-0, but Northern Ireland have had their chances, and I’m off to publish this so that I can watch the second half! Until I type again, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry:

  • A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
  • Deep Water – Patricia Highsmith
  • King of the World – David Remnick
  • The Rules of the Game – Pierluigi Collina
  • There’s Only Two David Beckhams – John O’Farrell
  • Leading – Sir Alex Ferguson
  • Louis van Gaal – Martin Meijer
  • S – J. J. Abrams and Doug Dorst
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Filed under Autobiography/Biography, Books, Football, Literary Issues, My Bookworm History, Rants, Reader's Block

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