Monday, January 04, 2016

I read for enjoyment, not self-improvement

I’ve just finished reading a really good novel – Amy and Isabelle, by Elizabeth Strout – and I’m trying to decide what to read next. Shall I try one more time to conquer Franzen’s The Corrections? I have tried twice, and I enjoyed what I read, but he tends to go on and on, and I get discouraged.

Hepworths are known for being dogged, but I don’t feel the need to exercise that doggedness in the reading of a novel. I’m not at school now, I don’t have exams to pass, and if I get fed up, I jack it in. Do you always finish reading a book, once you’ve started it? If so, why? 

There are some books I mean to go back to – such as Franzen’s. And then there are those which I have tried twice and given up on. Take, for example, We are all completely beside ourselves. I can say here without fear of damaging the author’s sales ( as the book is already a bestseller and this is a one-horse-town blog ) that I tried once and gave up on it because I didn’t like the narrator’s voice. Then I went back and tried again, because everyone was saying how good it was, and I got to the middle and got bored. Yes. Bored. So that was that.

Ah, just remembered, I have Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend waiting on the shelf. That's next.


  1. Anonymous8:37 pm

    I have enjoyed many of your recommendations - so thanks for sharing.

    Apart from the joys of Elena Ferrante (why delay?), I have recently discovered Lydia Davis (The End of the Story) though I'm not sure there's a single laugh to be had therein! Hugely impressive writer though.

    I stuck with Corrections because I enjoyed Freedom so much: that one still had a lengthy dull bit, towards the end, but I forgave it for the recognisable (and ultimately uplifting) theme.

    And nowadays I give myself permission to quit any book that is too much like hard work!

  2. And I will look forward to hear what you make of the Elena Ferrante because it is one of the many books I avoided because I was irritated/ put off by the amount of hype and publicity. I am a Luddite where reading is concerned anyway....I do not look for some amazing clever new way of writing and shaping a novel...just ask for it to be well written, well thought through. BUT of course there are always exceptions.! I am shamed by the size of my tbr pile so am trying to address that although I make no promises ...

    Here's to a happy new year's reading....

  3. Hi Marmee, I am usually put off by hype in exactly the same way, but I read that Ferrante is an old fashioned writer so I thought I would give her a go. Plus, the paperback edition is lovely, and the print is BIG! I have another Haruf to read but the print is small, as was the print in the Amy and Isabelle. Oh dear, I am getting old....
    Wondering what is in your tbr pile...

    Hi Anonymous,
    I will check out Lydia Davis - thanks for the recommendation. If it's out and out misery like Stoner, I shan't be reading it, however.

  4. Hello again, Anonymous, I just checked out Lydia Davis, and it doesn't sound like my kind of thing at all. But I will download a sample and make sure.

  5. oh my...a lot on the tbr pile! Too much! Two R C Sherriff books, William Maxwell's The Chateau, a heap of the Richmal Crompton books that have recently been reprinted. Recently read The Care and Management of Lies by Jacqueline Winspear and so liked it that I got two of her Maisie Dobbs tales to try. And I have been working my way through C P Snow's Strangers and Brothers series and The Light and the Dark is waiting now...gosh I so so enjoy C P Snow! Not on the tbr but lurking in the background is the latest book by Catherine Fox...really enjoyed Angels and Men. On the tbr is also some Elizabeth Taylor books..I have often wondered if you know the book : Eye of my heart? It is a collection of thoughts on and experiences of grandmotherhood collated by Barbara Graham. I bought it when I became a grandmother and found it so so hard to express what I felt....have read it a few times since.

  6. Blimey Marmee, what a huge pile!
    You read an awful lot more than I do.
    I will look up some of the ones you've mentioned. Thanks for sharing.