I’m a reader. Always have been. After becoming a mother, the time I had available in which to read shrank immensely, but I stuck at it, fitting in 5 minutes here and there. Finishing a book took longer than it used to, but I kept at it. Without a book on my bedside table or in my handbag, I feel incomplete. I even went as far as to set myself a reading challenge in the years running up to my turning 40.
So far this year I have started a lot of books. Oddly for me, I haven’t finished many of them. It seems, for me, to be the year of books that failed to grip me. I’m talking good books here. Renowned authors, celebrated titles. Several just didn’t do it for me.
Milkman by Anna Burns
Fair play to Anna Burns for winning the 2018 Man Booker Prize. The book is certainly original and intriguing. The idea for the style of storytelling – no one in the book has a name – is novel. On the other hand, it makes for difficult reading. I found I could only read it when I felt concentrated. My mind drifted easily from the words at times and I found myself having to re-read passages. Keeping track of what is happening with all these nameless characters as well as one was hard. The first 100 pages were easy enough to get through but try as I might after that, I could not read more than five pages at a time. With about a third of the book still to read and having spent weeks and weeks at it, I put it down and abandoned it in favour of another.
The Shipping News by Annie Proulx
My second Annie Proulx book to read, The Shipping News is a slow mover. At times I enjoyed the plodding pace while at other times I wondered why I was bothering to stick with it. The odd names – Quoyle, for example, or Wavey – irritated me. It seemed too contrived. Nearing the end, I left it. I plan to go back to it, but not till I have had a few sucesses with other books. As I write this, I am on my 4th consecutive very good book, but I’ll save those for another post.
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
I don’t. I didn’t get that far. I was less than 50 pages in when I dropped Maya Angelou’s classic. I think I was the problem rather than the book. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind so I have put it aside for another time when I can appreciate it more.
The books aren’t bad. They just aren’t what I needed at the time. Whether it was the writing style, the story line or the progression, somehow they just didnt suit me. Of the three, Milkman
was the most innovative, the one that had me eager to go the distance, for the challenge, as Mike McCormack’s Solar Bones
did. I reckoned if I could read that, I could read Milkman
. But no. I stopped. The Shipping News
was the one that was the easiest read, slow going but pleasant enough in an odd kind of way. 3/4 way through I have in and shelved it. I didn’t care what happened to any of the characters. I didn’t like them. I didn’t see things they way they did. There was no point. Or was there? Like I say, I might go back to it yet. The one that disappointed me most was I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.
It is a modern classic. A must read. An inspiration, they say. For me the right book, the wrong time? I hope so. I want to read it. It needs a fresh start. On holiday maybe. Fresh air, no worries and a good book. That should work.