Tag Archives: reading

Bout of Books – Wrap Up

So I’m a whole week late with this post but good things come to those who wait right?! Also I was like a social butterfly last week, dancing from engagement to engagement – there were bridesmaid dresses to be bought, emigrations to be toasted and softball matches to be won which left precious little time for blogging. But enough of all that here’s my progress for days 6-8.

Day 6 (Friday): I needed a new tube book for Friday and I chose Mr Mercedes by the incomparable Stephen King. I had made myself a promise to ration King’s books but with IT also sitting on my bookshelf it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen any time soon! Unfortunately, due to yet another social engagement, I was only able to do any reading on my morning commute so I only got through 43 pages on Friday.

Day 7 (Saturday): Saturday was an absolutely glorious day so I took Mr Mercedes to a local park and lay on the grass in the bright sunshine to read about some dark goings on. I was there for several hours, got my first sunburn of the year (note to self, buy suncream) and COMPLETED Mr Mercedes (363 pages). It was different to any of King’s books that I’ve read before as there was no supernatural element at all, it was a straightforward detective novel but with King’s effortless storytelling and guy-next-door characters.

 

Mr Mercedes goes to the park

Mr Mercedes goes to the park

On Saturday night my childhood dreams came true when I went to see S CLUB 7 at the O2 in London. It was like the biggest and bestest S Club karaoke you can imagine and I loved every second of it (but didn’t get any more reading done).

Day 8 (Sunday): Sunday was another beautiful day so I returned to my favourite local park this time with Alias Grace for company. Alas the warm sun on my back coupled with the excitement of the previous day and the fact that I’m still not really loving Grace meant that I didn’t get much further than 33 pages before I fell asleep! After that laziness won out and I was done with my very first read-a-thon.

Alias Grace on the water

Alias Grace on the water

Which gives my totals for the week:

100 Days to Victory: 189 pages COMPLETED

Alias Grace: 263 pages

Mr Mercedes: 405 pages COMPLETED

Total: 857 pages

And so, while my main goal, which was to finish Alias Grace, goes uncompleted, I am significantly further along than I had been and there’s only 140 pages left to go. But not only that, I’ve found that I’m actually enjoying Grace much more than I had been which was one of the secondary goals of my read-a-thon.

I said right back at the start that I don’t feel like I’ve really been enjoying reading lately and that I’ve been struggling to find something I can get my teeth into but I think that Bout of Books has helped me get over that for which I am incredibly grateful!

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Day 5: Bout of Books

I wasn’t sure I’d have an entry for Thursday as I was supposed to be playing in a softball match but alas the beautiful May weather we’d been having all week took a sudden change for the rainier and the match was cancelled.

So instead I headed home to set up shop with 100 Days to Victory in place of Alias Grace. While 100 Days is officially my tube book, it had got to a point where I was too close to the end to stop (plus I accidentally read a few pages ahead and had to know how what I read came about). And a couple of hours later….BOOK COMPLETED.

It was a very bittersweet ending, 100 Days is a factual account of 100 keys days in the First World War and it was a fascinating though emotional read. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in finding out more about WWI, especially those who are less interested in detailed military descriptions but want to get an overview of the war with an emphasis on real human stories.

100 Days to Victory on a grey day

100 Days to Victory on a grey day

Page count:

100 Days to Victory: 84

Day 4: Bout of Books

This was much more like it. Having learned from Tuesday’s mistake that my housemates don’t understand serious book time I migrated upstairs to my bedroom and my favourite end-of-the-bed, leaning-against-the-bookcase position. I like to squeeze into a corner where I can feel all squirreled away and removed from the world.

Alias Grace squirreled away

Alias Grace squirreled away

Oh and that’s Barney my long time reading buddy.

And it worked. I made serious inroads with Grace and I’m really getting into the swing of it now, I feel like we’re getting to the mete of the matter and I’m actually quite keen to find out how Grace wound up where she is.

Not only that but it was a good day on the tube as well, I got the codeword over and done with pretty quickly meaning that I got a good amount of 100 Days to Victory read on both journeys bringing me to the close of 1917 with only 85 pages to go.

With any luck to go I’ll get both of these books finished this week!

100 Days to Victory: 40 pages

Alias Grace: 92 pages

Day 3: Bout of Books

I failed 😦 I got home and what with me being all alone in the house and it being a bit cooler out I decided to set up as follows for some indoor time with Grace and another plate of curry (ooohh added naan bread):

Alias Grace dines in

Alias Grace dines in

But then disaster struck in the form of one housemate after another traipsing in and apparently not understanding the concept of wanting to read in an evening albeit in a communal area of the house. So sadly my tally for the day (I forgot to do this yesterday) is a rather pitiful:

100 Days to Victory (this is my current tube book): 25 pages

Alias Grace: 8 pages!!

Day 1: Bout of Books

And we’re off, my first read-a-thon is under way! I’m not actually sure how much reading I’ll be able to get done as this week has turned out to be a relatively busy one socially speaking and a few days ago my housemate brought home a ridiculous puzzle which seems to have the ability to steal entire hours of my life. So staying away from the puzzle and finding time to read around social engagements are my two main challenges for the week.

But aside from those challenges, the main reasons I’m doing this are two-fold:

1. My blog fell victim to the torment of thesis writing over the last year and a bit so I’m hoping that writing something every day will get me back in the habit and remind me how much I love vomiting my thoughts onto a virtual page and give me back the blogging spark.

2. Much as I hate to admit it I’m in a bit of a book-haze at the moment. I can’t seem to find anything I really enjoy and instead I’m forcing myself to plough on through however much I’m not really enjoying it. With any luck  a good bit of book chat will help me find that missing je ne sais quoi and really enjoy reading again.

Which brings me rather seamlessly to today’s challenge: a bookish survey!

Question 1: How do you organise your bookshelves? I really, really wish I could answer this; there’s a part of me that is screaming out for organising by theme and alphabetically but alas they’re just shoved on there any which way. One day I’ll get round to doing it properly. One day…

Question 2: What is one of your favourite books that’s not in one of your favourite genres? This is hard because I don’t really do genres – there are books I like and books I don’t. But I’m going to go for Katherine by Anya Seton which has to be the only time I’ve really enjoyed a historical novel.

Question 3: What is the last 5 star book you read? According to Goodreads the last book I gave 5 stars was Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks which seems fair as it was epic and gave me a new interest in WWI to the extent that I’m now reading a non-fiction book about the war.

Question 4: What book are you most excited to read during the read-a-thon? Currently my only goal is to finish Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood which I have been reading for an age. I’m pretty excited about that.

Question 5: What book do you recommend the most? I am the Messenger, Markus Zusak. This book is all kinds of perfect.

That’s all for today folks!

Bout of Books

Last month I signed up for Dewey’s Read-a-Thon but sadly that didn’t work out because it coincided with the London Marathon. Now although I’d love to say I was running the Marathon that would in fact be a lie. I was however volunteering as a ‘finish line walker’ meeting the brave souls who ran the course for Anthony Nolan and taking them to the after-race party (main features – massage and lots of bottled water). That meant I was at the race all day with no time for reading 😦

But in the interests of flexing my reading muscle and hopefully getting this blog back on track (it’s been a bit barren recently hasn’t it?) I’ve now signed up for Bout of Books, a week long read-a-thon starting on Monday which will hopefully help me improve my currently waaaay behind schedule annual target of books read as well as get me back in the habit of blogging. And it’s probably for the best because let’s face it, I really need my beauty sleep these days!

Bout of BooksThe Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 11th and runs through Sunday, May 17th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 13 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

 

On Perseverance

I’m one of those people who hates not finishing a book. Or anything actually (witness the four-year long fight with a thesis which has recently ended), I view the determination to always finish what I started as one of my best qualities but is it always such a good thing?

I’ve just finished reading Wicked by Gregory Maguire which according to my Spreadsheet took me 199 days to get through (a tiny part of me was annoyed that if I’d taken just one more day it would have been a lovely round 200) but did I get anything out of it? No, not really, that’s why it took me 199 days to finish. Having seen and not really enjoyed the stage show I wasn’t expecting much from the book but it was even worse than I anticipated – 406 pages of interesting premise overshadowed by dreary political machinations among almost universally unlikeable characters and with little direction in terms of plot. Yet I couldn’t stop reading. The book would sit, untouched, on my bedside table for large stretches at a time but I’d keep coming back now and then to chip away at the remaining page count until finally I was done.

I think I kept expecting better things, I kept thinking ‘once we’re past all the political stuff there’ll be some action’. ‘Once Dorothy arrives, it’ll all kick off’. ‘SOMETHING HAS TO HAPPEN SOMETIME RIGHT??’ And I have to admit that towards the end the pace did pick up a little bit and there were sections where I was actually interested in the goings-on it’s just that they were relatively few and far between.

So did finishing it give me a sense of achievement? Was I glad that I saw it through to the end? Not really. I suppose I felt a small sense of success but looking back now I can’t see what would have been so bad about quitting along the way. I know other readers feel like this; allowing yourself to stop reading something you don’t enjoy was on lots of new year’s resolution lists  so I can’t help but wonder why we do it to ourselves.

Maybe it’s so that we get that sense of ‘closure’ that comes from completing an arduous task or maybe it’s so that we can feel justified in our opinion that that is a bad book. I think that part of the problem for me is a ‘what if’ sensation. As in ‘what if I stop reading but the next chapter is really good?’ kind of thing. That and I love being able to have a good moan!

Anyone else out there got any thoughts? Do you stop reading if you don’t enjoy a book or do you force your way through? Why? Are there any books that have got too much for you and you’ve had to give up?