Wednesday, January 22, 2014

So many books

I cleaned out my bookshelves in the spirit of purging and making space for the new. I was surprised at how hard it was to surrender shelf space, it was like parting with memories. So I tried to find them all good homes by sending emails to friends and listing the available (and free!) titles. In the end I only found takers for three. The rest were donated to Goodwill.

I seem to be on a bit of a lit binge this month, reading and reading but not really satisfying my appetite.

The last few weeks I've been keeping myself entertained in the evenings with my nose in  The Luminaries.  Well crafted. A great historic mystery with compelling characters. I'm halfway through the massive tome but may need to start over... this demands a close read and I find my mind keeps wandering elsewhere. I'm so tired at the end of the day I am actually nodding off and dosing while reading, so I'm not sure if in my dream state I've added in a few extra elements. This is likely just not the right time to read this Giller/Man Booker prize winner, so to be fair I am setting it aside for now.

April may be the cruelest month according to T.S. Eliot, but in my mind January/February compete for top honours. Which may explain my nonfiction choices.  A Brief History of Anxiety (Yours and Mine) by fellow Torontonian Patricia Pearson and Willpower, Rediscovering our Greatest Human Strength were both available for download from the Toronto Public Library, so I didn't even need to venture out to my local library. I am reading them right off the laptop, sitting at the table, lightly skimming.

Good thing I've also previously read my other two book club selections, so I knew it wasn't just January blues colouring my opinion.

I read The Night Circus last August to get ahead of my reading list. There was a lot to enjoy about the story but I didn't wholeheartedly love it. One of the most visual stories I've read in a long time. A bit too long, too meandering. I was in the minority, though, as the other readers loved the descriptions and unfolding of the tale.

It seems I was also in the minority with Suite Francaise, at the BPYC Book Club. Everyone was talking about how lyrical and insightful the writing was, and then Annika pointedly asked me what I thought about the book. Instead of answering directly, I asked a question instead, "If you didn't know the back-story of this novel, would you think it was as good?" In truth, I found this to be the makings of a beautiful book, and had Irene Nemirovsky had a chance to finish it, instead of dying in a concentration camp, it could have been a masterpiece. But the sad thing is, she didn't have a chance to finish it and although it has incredible fragments, it doesn't hang together as a work of literature. In my opinion, the story about the story is far more compelling. 

Both of the Night Circus and Suite Francaise are being made into films, and I'm interested in seeing how they make the transition from page to screen. That will make for some interesting follow-up discussions with my book buddies.

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