"There is no robber worse than a bad book"
While I agree wholeheartedly with this sentiment I feel personally that a bad film is a more annoying thief.
A bad book will usually be abandoned before I get to page 100. This is my personal rule following an attempt to read Captain Corelli's Mandolin over 11 years ago*, I was struggling with it when a colleague told me that to give it to page 100 as then it would make sense. I kept going and loved the book, but since then it's been my personal rule and if a book isn't 'calling to me' by page 100 I will abandon it, heartlessly casting it aside.
For me a good book is a book that demands me to read further, lying there on the table or the worktop calling me to open it up and bring the characters back to life and I will squeeze it into whatever time I have available for it - while eating cereal at breakfast or stirring risotto for tea I can easily do both with a book in my hand (have yet to master ironing whilst reading) To me, reading is like breathing or eating - essential to my well being, so a book that I actively avoid is not good for me and I find myself glaring at it every time I see it in the corner of my eye, lurking.
Bookgroup has been responsible for the majority of the books that I eventually abandon, I'm currently trying** to read "The Elegance of the Hedgehog", a translation (which I usually don't like, but this is well translated) set in Paris about a precocious child and an intellectual concierge. I love the idea and the characters but nothing is happening so I'm currently debating whether it's worth reading another 220 pages, what if nothing carries on happening? My bookgroup friends blame the translation for losing the spirit, but I'm not sure maybe it's just too pretentious for moi?
Another bookgroup bomb was "Vanilla Beans and Brodo" we all loved the idea of the book, life in Italy and wine, how could that go wrong? Very easily and quickly, I'm not sure I made it to the second chapter, but in my defense most of bookgroup felt the same.
Then there was "The Monk who sold his Ferrari", far too cerebral for me, as Simon pointed out, maybe the book that came before - "The Monk who bought his Ferrari" would have been more interesting. Unfortunately that was never a book.
There have been many misses on our bookgroup list, in fact so many that we really need to consider our method of choosing a book***:
- Three cups of tea, Greg Mortenson (never attempted, I was put off by the negative hype about the author)
- Jump, Jilly Cooper. She used to be relied upon for the quality of her bonkbusters but this was a damp squib, I read a fair way into it before getting bored by the OAP main character.
- The sweetness a the bottom of the pie, Alan Bradley. I made it to the end, but by the skin of my teeth.
- Prep, Curtis Sittenfeld. I found this irritating, but I finished it, so proud!
- The year of living biblically, A J Jacobs. IMHO - bilge.
- White mischief, James Fox. I had such high hopes, I really wanted to enjoy it but had to give up.
- Catch 22, Joseph Heller. A book I had wanted to read for years and was so disappointed, just couldn't get into it.
- Eat,pray, love, Elizabeth Gilbert. More bilge. Actually read to the end, hoping it would improve. Truly cannot believe the publishers got her to write a sequel and I have no wish to see the film.
I set out on this blog to write about thieving films and got sidetracked by the dreadful books I have cast aside, I guess that's a blog for another day!
* I know it was at least that long ago because I was still at work having not had child number 2.
** I'm on page 98 - its days are literally numbered.
*** We tend to operate a 'whoever shouts the loudest/what book was the last to be mentioned policy', we used to have a list of books we wanted to read, maybe we should re-instigate that.