Monday, 11 June 2012

Books On Hold

I've mentioned quite a few times that I'm one of those readers who can't commit to just one book at a time.  I always have a few on the go - usually four or five that I'm reading in earnest, as it were - but there is also a second batch of books which I have started, and intend to finish, but somehow drift into the background of my reading.  Sometimes I started and the book got sidelined somehow, dropping from those four or five into the hinterland of will-finish-one-day; sometimes they're books which, from the outset, I intended only to dip into now and then.  I thought you might like to see a list of the books I have on the go, not including the four titles I've started in the past week or so.

I was a little surprised at quite how many there were, I have to confess.  Here are all eleven of the books I have started, will finish one day... but haven't touched for quite a while.  With each picture I've included a quick mention of where the book came from, why it got sidelined, and how far I've got...


The Memoirs of a Midget - Walter de la Mare
Pages Read: 64/378

I started this because I thought it might be useful for my thesis.  It turned out to be neither very useful nor very engaging... but I think I'll finish it one day.  Especially since it turns out my housemate Rachel is distantly related to the author.


A Reader on Reading - Alberto Manguel
Pages Read: 92/291

The Library at Night - Alberto Manguel
Pages Read: 94/328

These Manguel books were always intended to be dip-in books for me - I have them on hand when I'm writing my thesis, as it seems a more productive distraction than browsing Facebook.


Gentleman Prefer Blondes - Anita Loos
Pages Read: 48/156

I bought this after seeing it mentioned in the Provincial Lady books, but stalled a couple of years ago - I will finish it one day (maybe even today, thinking about it) but I can't remember thinking it very amusing.


The Kingdom of Infinite Space - Raymond Tallis
Pages Read: 52/291

Not my normal read, you'll agree - a non-fiction book about the head - but I did find it fascinating when I started it last summer.  But I think I'll have to read it in small doses.



The Eye of the World - Robert Jordan
Pages Read: 590/782

Colin lent me this about three years ago, and I read 550 pages in one weekend (a good way to make yourself read something is to take nothing else on a trip to Paris) but since then I haven't been super-keen to get back to it.  Colin got so bored of waiting that he bought a new copy, and gave me this one.


Told By An Idiot - Rose Macaulay
Pages Read: 30/315

This was actually the first Rose Macaulay novel I bought, but I still haven't read it - I started at Christmas, but somehow got sidetracked.  I think I'll have to start it again next time, as I don't remember anything from those thirty pages...


The Man Who Unleashed The Birds: Frank Baker and His Circle - Paul Newman
Pages Read: 82/239

Paul Newman kindly sent me a review copy of this book about Miss Hargreaves-author Frank Baker, which I'm enjoying - but somehow it went back on the shelf for a bit.  Its time will come!


The Novel in the Viola - Natasha Solomons
Pages Read: 254/391

I loved Solomons' first novel, Mr. Rosenblum's List, but I didn't have the same urge to whip through this one... but one day I will finish this one.


The Snow Child - Eowyn Ivey
Pages Read: 112/404

I was really excited about this novel, and did enjoy the first hundred or so pages a lot - but I wasn't in the right mood for it after a while, and... well, you're getting familiar with this story now!


The Finkler Question - Howard Jacobson
Pages Read: 251/370

This is the only one on the list that I might well not finish.  It was for book group, and I didn't get to the end in time for the meeting... I'm finding it very boring indeed.  One day I might make myself plough through those final 120 pages, but it doesn't feel worth it.

EDITED TO ADD:


I forgot about The Chateau - William Maxwell!
Pages Read: 138/402

I bought up loads of Maxwell novels when I read They Came Like Swallows, and somehow stalled on this one... bringing my total up to TWELVE neglected books.  And four that I'm reading more actively.  So... SIXTEEN books on the go - argh!


Well, there you are!  Have you read any of these?
I'd be intrigued to see how many I've finished this time next year... and, if nothing else, this little investigation has helped me locate all sorts of bookmarks I thought I'd lost.

33 comments:

  1. Wow. It would drive me mad to have that many books on the go. I rarely can manage more than three at a time. And I can't stand having books I'm sort of reading that sit on the back burner. If I'm not actively reading it anymore I have to consider it abandoned. If I ever read it again, I have to start fresh.

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    1. I think I'd go crazy if I were actively reading 16 books, but somehow I can keep them in my mind, just, if they're on the backburner...

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  2. I'm surprised you did not like The Finkler Question. It reminds me very much of Marianne Robinson's novels, though, not quite as good I thought. Still, that's a pretty high bar by which to measure, so all in all I liked it.
    Linda C

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    1. Do you mean Marilynne Robinson? I couldn't find a reference to novels by Marianne Robinson. I love Marilynne Robinson's work but I can't say I see any similarity to "The Finkler Question." In fact, I bogged down half way through Finkler, found it boring, and decided not to continue with it.

      I guess I'm signing this Anonymous because I don't really know how to select a profile from the list below, but my name is Mary.

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    2. I must confess that I can't see the similarities between Finkler and Marilynne Robinson, but I'm glad you enjoyed Finkler! I never really thought I would (I tend not to enjoy Booker winners) so at least I wasn't left disappointed!

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  3. My TBR pile started on the bedside cupboard and then spilt over to the tallboy. The hairdryer rests precariously on top of one of the piles and each time I use it I promise to reduce the heaps - for health and safety reasons, if nothing else. The trouble is - I have now reached that point in life when I can no longer remember why a book is there - have I read it? Am I about to read it? Am I re-reading it? Do I remember anything about it? The box which holds notes on what I am reading doesn't help as I lack the discipline to record efficiently - should have developed the habit when I was younger. The worst problem is remembering which books I own and which have been lent to me - a good opportunity to ask all who have lent me a book to ask for its return. Oh dear! (but at least you have the sense to pencil your name in yours Simon!)
    But in case you think that all my reading is this haphazard, it certainly isn't - I also have several heaps (dotted about the house) of books I have read, awaiting return to library, friends or bookshelves. Now, where did I leave that duster?

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    1. Ha! Yes, my pencilling isn't intended to accuse others of would-be thievery, but it is quite effective nonetheless...

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  4. I usually have a few on the go but eleven seems quite a lot. The only one of these I have read is The Novel in the Viola and I didn't think all that much of it. Not awful just not great. Your mother sounds like a woman after my own heart except I haven't got a box of reading notes and have to rely on my memory which is not always such a great idea.

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    1. Harriet - guess who inveigled me into creating a box of notes - another example of the triumph of hope over experience!

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    2. How funny - I absolutely loved The Novel in the Viola! I've just finished Mr Rosenblum's List and though it wasn't bad, it definitely didn't engage me or move in the same way...

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    3. How strange! I'm definitely with Harriet on this one. I wanted to love, I thought I would... but no. I'd also read Eva Ibbotson's A Countess Below Stairs (or similar title) shortly before starting Novel in the Viola, and they are incredibly similar. That didn't help.

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  5. Gosh - two is enough for me, occasionally three. I adored the Snow Child,and really enjoyed The Novel in the Viola, although it was a bit cosy and predictable.

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    1. I was surprised by how many people read Snow Child - it seemed so perfect for me and me alone! And yet I've still not finished it...

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  6. I'm like you, Simon. I'll bet that I have you beat with the number of books in progress I have around the house. I'm a mood reader and I'm also easily distracted. I'm always eager to get on to the next book, a little like 'the grass is always greener'. I've become more disciplined, though, about giving up on a book if it doesn't grab me in the first 50 pages.

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    1. Ah, the first person who doesn't think I'm crazy! Glad not to be alone on this one ;) I love starting reading books, like you, and I'm too impatient to wait til I've finished the previous one.

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  7. 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes' is a book I love, hope you give it another go soon. I used to read like this and if I went through my shelves would find dozens of half read books. It got to a point where I had to take myself in hand and stick to one book at a time. Not perhaps practical for someone in your walk of life though...

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    1. I read a couple of pages this morning and liked it a lot more than I'd remembered - maybe I'll cut my losses and go back to the beginning.

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  8. I'm impressed! The most I've ever had on the go at any one time is four, but more usually it's three. Even then, they get read at very different speeds! One of my three at the moment is Phillip Larkin's Letters To Monica. I've been reading it since December! It was a present for my 50th birthday - at this rate I'll still be reading it when I reach 60! As for The Finkler Question - I'm kind of glad to find someone else who thought it was dull - I didn't read as far as you did before I gave up on it!

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    1. I always have letters or diaires on the go, and they take me three or four months to read, in the background.

      And, oh, the Finkler Question was DULL.

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  9. You're very brave Simon - I have actually tried to give up having more than one book on the go at a time and discipline myself a bit. I found I was never finishing a book and I still have many, many half read books lying about that I'll just have to start again. So since joining LibraryThing I am now making myself read a book from start to end before I go onto another - and the various reading weeks and cententary celebrations are helping with this, and I'm actually reading through to the end and enjoying my books very much now!

    As for 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes', I read it years ago and loved it and laughed like a drain - I hope it growns on you!

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    1. Very disciplined of you, Karen! I definitely couldn't stick to one at a time - my attention span is far too short...

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  10. I don't think I can read one book at a time anymore; like Joan, I am easily distracted (I blame the internet:)). I usually have three to five books going at once, but I sort of read them in batches. I like to see which of the three or five "wins", ie which one I finish first. However, if I added up all those books where I have just read the first ten pages and then put them back on the shelf...that would raise the count to maybe around 20.

    I haven't read any of your 16, but I do have The Snow Child on my nightstand (and I haven't forgotten to also read The Love Child for comparison purposes as you recommended in a comment somewhere). I have heard good things about the Robert Jordan Wheel of Time books, but I haven't read it and am reluctant to commit to another never ending series (like Game of Thrones) just now.

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    1. What fun, to have races among them! I usually do have one or two which I rush through, and some others a little bit behind, then all these 11 lagging somewhere...

      I'm not loving Wheel of Time, but it was never going to be my cup of tea.

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  11. I'm always slightly envious of those, like you, who read more than one book at a time. Almost without exception I stick to just one. When I do read more than one, I end up reading one straight through, and then going back to the other one.

    (I did say almost - right now I'm reading George Eliot's Daniel Deronda, and because it's huge and takes considerable effort, I've also started The Debut, by Anita Brookner.)

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    1. I don't know how people just read one enormous Victorian novel at a time - I'd go mad!

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  12. I find I read a review of a book, get very excited about it then by the time I receive it from library and Book Depository, etc. I am no longer in the mood b/c I have read another review on something else. Have had to really stop that behaviour and stick with the book at hand. As I am not an overly critical reader I will generally enjoy most of the books I pick up but that might be due to good luck rather than good sense of choice. Not familiar with your list. But could get excited about a couple of them. Pam ;-)

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    1. Oh, yes, of course - I always impulse buy books that I MUST have immediately, and then don't get around to them for many months...

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  13. I think "Library @ Night" & "Reader on reading" do best as "dip ins", they don't seem to quite work if you plough through from beginning to end. My favourits anecdote from "Library @ Night" is the one about the man who was squashed to death by his TBR pile(s)not that there is *any* danger of that *ever* happening to us!!!!
    Keep meaning to read "Novel in the Viola" & "Snow Child" & then get swept off by other things.

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    1. They are dip-in books, aren't they? They work best that way. And a man was squashed by his books in Howards End, wasn't he? What a way to go!

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  14. Great post and such a nice list of books showed here.
    thanks to share this post Simon.
    I have read the "The Snow child" and its a nice book to read.

    book publishing

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  15. Always commenting way after the fact....

    Simon the reason you have never finished Told by an Idiot by Rose Macauley is because deep down you know you really should have read Towers of Trebizond by now. It is her smash hit and deservedly. You need to read it! Lucky I am on the other side of the world and cannot come and hammer on your door until you do...

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    1. Oh Merenia! Perhaps that is why... In my defence, I did start it before you told me how wonderful T of T was - but, in my prosecution, I still haven't read T of T...

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