Not that I expect anybody but me to read this but hello and welcome to anyone who is!
I’m Louise, and in this blog I’ll be attempting to review each and every book I read this year. I don’t claim that I’ll be any good at it – I’ve not studied English Literature since school. I do, however, love reading and enjoy discussing books and find that there is almost nothing more frustrating than being asked a question about something I’ve read a long time ago and not being able to say anything about it.
After several terrible conversations over the holidays with my sister where I totally failed to articulate why I liked/disliked certain books, and several much more rewarding conversations on books I’d read more recently or had left more marked impressions on me, I decided to start this blog. I’m hoping that putting time aside specifically for thinking over a book and getting those thoughts down on paper (or rather screen) will help me articulate them better to myself and prevent me from shouting ‘I just didn’t like it, ok?’ when someone keeps pressing me as to why I hate some wildly popular novel.
Although my main intent in writing this blog is to properly form my own opinions before moving onto my next book instead of just churning my way through them, if anyone is reading this and wants to disagree or discuss anything I end up writing I’d really welcome that. As I said, I do love a bit of literary discussion and am always interested to hear dissenting opinions and listen to interpretations that had never occurred to me before. You may even change my mind about something.
I aim to update this blog after I finish each book but I am not setting myself a strict timetable for reading some books may take no time to read, others may take ages, sometimes I may find myself far too busy with uni work to read at all, so updates will likely be at random intervals. Occasionally I might also throw in a review of a TV/Film adaptation or audiobook if the mood takes me.
Now, despite having read a lot of interesting books in 2011 that I would love to discuss I am not going to review these books – too much time has passed since I actually read them for me to feel comfortable doing so, I will doubtless get some details wrong. The time I do have to read I want to be spending on new books. I will however put up a few of my key questions from 2011’s reading for anyone because I think there are several worthy of discussion if people are interested.
Jane Austen: I read all of her completed novels over the summer so sadly unless I do a reread at some point will not be reviewing any of these
- Which is your favourite Jane Austen book and why? (I’m undecided. Northanger Abbey was really different and I definitely enjoyed all of them but I think I’m going to have to be really boring and go with Pride and Prejudice)
- Is Fanny Price a likable character? (I can’t be the only one who finds her insufferable, can I?)
- Does the Emma Thompson film do a better job of reconciling you to Marianne’s ‘happy ending’ in Sense and Sensibility than the book did? (I really think it does, how much that’s to do with my old-man-crush on Alan Rickman I’m not sure, but I found the way her ending was dealt with in the book very uncomfortable.)
The Three Musketeers, Alexandre Dumas:
- Was Milady de Winter’s fate truly deserved? (Another ending that left me very very uncomfortable.)
- Can a modern reader find Athos admirable, or even likable? (I certainly couldn’t and found him more of a monster than the villains of the book)
- How do you ensure that you find the best possible translation? What makes a decent translation? Is finding an ‘uncensored’ translation that doesn’t hack away bits more important than finding the most ‘readable’?
The Millennium Trilogy, Stieg Larseon: I found this very readable but had some very serious issues with certain aspects
- Can we really lap up Lisbeth Sandler and Mikael Blomkvist’s extremely unethical journalism without question while at the same time being outraged by News of the World?
- Why could no character validly disagree with Blomkvist without later turning out to be violent, a rapist, or both?
- Did anyone care at all for Blomkvist’s love life? Is it really important that he shags every attractive female character? Seems like wish fulfilment.
- Do we need an English Language remake of a film so soon after an internationally successful version in the original language? Is it aimed at the people who saw the first or those that didn’t go because it was foreign?
- Am I taking a page-turner too seriously?
- In historical fiction does a purely fictional character influencing a real person or event break or enhance your suspension of disbelief? (I think this is definitely a personal preference thing. I certainly found my sense of immersion completely shattered in the otherwise fairly enjoyable Star of the Sea by Joseph O’Connor when a character gave Dickens the idea and plot of Oliver Twist in an aside that really had nothing to do with anything in the main story and found myself having trouble getting back into the book after that.)
- Short stories or novels? Which do you enjoy more and why? What short story authors would you recommend?
- Is it ok to send a book straight to a charity shop without finishing or should you give it a second chance? (I read two books this year I found really hard to get into, The Sunday Morning Philosophy Club was so awful it went straight to the British Heart Foundation but the second, Visitation by Jenny Erpenbeck, I found myself absolutely loving once I gave myself a month off and started afresh.)
- Is it better to read a book before the TV/film adaptation or to read the book afterwards? (I’ve always tried to follow the ‘book first’ pattern but after really enjoying HBO’s Game of Thrones I find myself owning all the paperback books in the series but wanting to wait until after the relevant TV season has aired for maximum enjoyment of both TV and novel)
Ok…so that was a lot more issues than I planned on raising, especially when I don’t have a readership yet, but there you go. Hopefully it’ll give you an idea of the sort of things I’ll be picking up on and the sorts of books I’ll be reading – though I like to think I’m pretty varied in my tastes.
First few reviews should be up in the next few days – Aesop’s Fables, Hans Christian Anderson’s Fairy Tales, and volume 16 of Fables (comic book). Expect Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift sometime after that, only just started it.