One Book, Two Book, Three Book, Four….and Five

I’m a little slow to join in with Simon’s latest meme ‘One book, Two Book, Three Book, Four and Five” but when I saw that he was running this wonderful and interactive post again I couldn’t resist getting involved.

So without further ado, here are my answers:

1.) The book I’m currently reading:

I’m currently reading Salem’s Lot by Stephen King and I hate to say it but wow am I struggling to get into this book. It probably doesn’t help that I’ve been in a total reading slump of late but still this book has proved hard work. I actually started reading it a month ago and just couldn’t get past the first chapter so I put it down and started it again. I’m still not very far into it but I hear it’s a slow burner and the pay off is worth it….fingers crossed.

 

2.) The last book I finished:

This was the wonderful Jane Eyre, a book that despite taking an age to get through was totally worth it and utterly charming throughout. It’s part of my Day Zero Challenge to read 10 literary classic and what a brilliant way to kick things off. Which classic should I read next?

3.) The next book I want to read:

I’m struggling with this one because like I said I have been in a reading slump. I feel therefore very uninspired by the books around me. That said I’ve just joined a new library at college and every time I walk past the literary section I feel like I’m walking through Aladdin’s cave. That said I think my next book will be The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo that I asked for and was given last Christmas and still haven’t read.

4.) The last book I bought:

I had to really think about this because I never by books, I usually wait till I’m at my favourite second-hand shop back home and go on a splurge. But the last time I parted with my cash it was to buy Annabel. Off course the book is only out in hard back so I grumbled a lot a the till but O it was so worth it so I mustn’t complain.

5.) The last book I was given:

A very kind friend of mine recently sent me The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan. I have actually read this book before but a long time ago and I adore McEwan so I’m happy this book has found its way to me for a much need, and in my case unprecedented re read. I remember being quite disturbed but I also found it incredibly thrilling. Hope I enjoy it as much the second time round.

So there my answers, what about everyone else? If you do decide to join in then remember to leave your link on Simon’s Site, and thanks to Simon for the brilliant meme.

October; A Reading Slump

I feel I should really start this blog with a big apology because October was an extremely quiet one at I hug my Books. I’m normally a huge book geek and like to cram in as many books as I can each month, I love sharing my thoughts with you all even more.

And yet the month of October was for me a huge reading slump. I’m sure we all have these moments, you pick up a book, try to get into it and yet the words just jumble into a blur and the power of the narrative just passes you by. Well that’s how October was for me and after trying to force myself to get into several different books I just decided to take a little reading break.

There’s nothing worse than forcing yourself to get into something you usually love, it just makes you resent it and reading should never in my opinion be like that. That said I took my sweet time and slowly read the rest of Jane Eyre and I also read a fair chunk of Salem’s Lot by Stephen King which is the book up for analysis at my next book group. I think I underestimated the time a book of such a size would take, it’s huge! It’s always hard reading a book your obliged to read when your really not in the reading mood but thankfully my reading funk seems to be slowly lifting so hopefully I will devour the rest of the book this month in my usual reading style.

 So as I said sadly I have few books to talk to you all about in this post, so I thought I would pose the question instead ‘do you get into reading flunks where you just can’t get into anything? If so what do you do to get yourself out of it or do you just let it ride? And what hobby to you pick up to fill the reading void’?

I usually try to read a book that is light years away from my usual stuff when in a reading flunk; the idea being I’m a little bored of reading the same stuff over and over and it’s a great opportunity to push my boundaries. Sadly there were no books that could captivate my attention this month. So I’ve thrown myself into some knitting and a lot of winter cooking, pies and stews, mm. I’ve also being snowed under with work and studying; maybe I’m just too worn out to read?

But what about everyone else? How do you tackle reading slumps? Hopefully October was a far more productive reading month for you all, What did you read? Perhaps your choices may help inspire me this month? Did anyone divulge in some scary Halloween reading?

 I haven’t made any plans for November, I did that in October and didn’t get too far. Instead I’m going simply by what grabs my attention when I reach for the bookshelf. I think instinct will be my reading guide in November. Off course finishing Salem’s Lot is first on the agenda. I hope I can get more into it. So what is everyone else reading this month? Anything planned or will you just be going with the flow? Whatever your plans Happy Reading as always.

Booking Through Thursday – Perfume; The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind

I’m a little late but when I saw last weeks Booking Through Thursday question my attention was instantly grabbed. I couldn’t resist getting involved in the question;

What’s the oddest book you’ve ever read? Did you like it? Hate it? Did it make you think?

Straight away Perfume; The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind came to my mind. A story about an abysmal young man with an extraordinary and almost animal like sense of smell who fuses his talents with revolting violence when he sets out to create a scent that is the epitome of purity by murdering 13 virgin girls. I told you it was odd.

The story begins in 18th century France when Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, born to poverty, enters into the world with a gruesome and vividly depicted birth. Instantly people seem to either take an aversion to Grenouille or completely fail to ignore him. One lady describes her revulsion to the baby who instead of smelling like a normal baby has no smell at all.

From birth Grenouille is an outcast, shunned or isolated from society he lives on the fringes of life developing into one of the strangest characters I have encountered in a work of fiction.

Greouille, with his own keen sense of smell comes to realize that he is in fact himself born without a sense. His own personal identity is hindered and he feels an even greater outcast from society, almost as though he does not fully exist.

When he goes to work with Master perfumer Baldini, a once successful and affluent business man, his flare for smells enable Grenouille to help renew Baldini’s flailing business.

Grenouille discovers that his strength of smell is such that he can seek out smells from miles away that others would not detect and he can pick out the most complex and hidden notes from any scent.

He creates his own perfume that once worn instantly makes people notice him. He discovers that whilst once people passed him as though he did not exist, now they suddenly notice him. In short Grenouille understand that he can hold a great and insurmountable power through his skilled manipulation of smells and scent.

But Grenouille also discovers that he does not like the new-found attention he has earned and wishes to once again disappear.

The novel follows Grenouille on his remote and strange life, becoming intimately acquainted with the thoughts and motivations of a serial killer. When he realizes his desire to create the perfect scent of a virgin and goes on a murder spree killing local virgins he creates panic amongst the local towns people who soon realize that the killer is targeting pure, innocent girls.

PLOT SPOILER…

Grenouille eventually succeeds in creating his perfume which draws people to him and inspires immense feelings of love and reverence in the those around him. When they discover that he is responsible for the multitude of deaths he is sentenced to death. However on the day of his execution he wears the scent and subsequently people are so drawn to him that they profess love for him and are driven to have a mass orgy. I told you this book was a little different.

Grenouille, finally achieving a sense of identity realizes it’s fickleness and the reality that people only love a false sense of himself and he abandons the village where he is revered. Upon wearing the scent again in Paris his scent is so attractive that he is devoured and torn apart piece by piece by a group of people who are at once disgusted by their act but also left with a sense of blissful happiness.

But did I enjoy this book? Well despite this being one of the darkest and possibly most disturbing books that I’ve read to date, I actually loved it. I’ve read very mixed reviews of this book but I actually believe it is the perfect portrayal of how humanity can be driven by its most base human instincts and how universally even the most so-called civilised people can be reduced to mass hysteria when their own innate instincts are stirred.

It shows the depths of Grenouille’s isolation and the extremes that his keen sense of smell and desperation for identity will drive him.

The novel is off course extreme and Suskind’s means of telling his story is extravagant and unlike anything I’ve read before. But the story is daring, it is bold, Suskind is unafraid of creating repugnant characters and portraying a truly ugly side of human nature.

So this is by far the oddest book I have read but it greatly inspired me and left me wondering at just how far people can and will be inspired and motivated by their animal instincts.

So what is the oddest book you’ve read? And did you like or dislike it. I’d love to hear your thoughts and if you do decide to leave your own answer on your blog then remember to leave your link here and at Booking Through Thursday.

The Highs And Then The Lows

I’ve often wondered if I’m alone in experiencing the frustrations of extreme reading highs and lows. You may know what I mean but in case I’m making no sense let me explain.

 You start a book and the first 100 or so pages or a blur of reading frenzy. No sooner have you opened the first page when your desperate to reach the last, and yet you never want to put the book down so delectable is it to you. But then somewhere in the middle or towards the end your focus starts to wane, your interest lessens in intensity and no longer are you up into the earlier hours reading but instead you’re struggling to get through more than 10 pages.

It’s a curious and fairly regular recurring state of mind for me to find myself in, in fact it even happens with books I really like. I’ve just finished Annabel by Kathleen Winter, I loved this book as you will soon see from my imminent review, and yet towards the last 100 pages the book became slightly sluggish for me. It wasn’t Annabel that to me was accountable to blame. The book was incredible and in my opinion stayed in most parts superbly written to the end. And yet still I found my attention wandering. I felt impatient, keen to reach the end, my TBR list began to loom at me once more, demanding me to pay attention to a new story.

This feeling seems to be increasing which leads me to think it really isn’t the books at fault but just my own lack of patience and desperation to start something new. And yet there are books that start off fabulously and then quickly ascend into dreary apathy and boredom.

So do you experience reading highs and lows? And if you do is it because you too are keen to reach the end and start something new? Or is it a problem you have experienced with particular books where you find the writer accountable?

I loved for example Before I Go To Sleep from the very first page and was hooked from the word one. However towards the novels end all of the high praise I had been singing for this book began to fade. Had I made a mistake in claiming this to be one of the best books in 2011 I wondered. The ending to me was hasty and rushed giving me a huge feeling of coming down from a big reading high.

So it would seem there are two different types of reading highs and lows. There are the one’s that for all I know, only myself in my impatience experience. And then there are those which we get from books that start with huge potential and then summit into poor writing, bad endings and stylistic flaws. Some writers just don’t seem to be able to maintain the perfection with which they execute the beginning of their stories and then carry it through to the end. Does anyone else find this frustrating?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, do you have highs and lows? If so which type? Which writers have you found suffer from these writing highs and lows? And which books if any have had this effect of great excitement followed by extreme disappointment for you?

Challenge 54 – Answers On the back of a postcard please

You might remember a recent post were I talked a little about the Day Zero challenge that I am taking part in. I have 1001 days to complete 101 tasks. Many of the tasks are of course book related and most are at the moment a work in progress.

But challenge number 54 is a little more special because it requires the help of you lovely readers. My challenge is to read the first 10 books nominated to me by the visitors to this blog.

So far though I have sadly only had two nominations. Although they both look like wonderful reads so I can’t complain too much.

Dave from Manchester’s Artistic Son recommended Finger Smith by Sarah Walters which is one of his favourite books and one he has been trying to get me to read for ages. I’m very happy with the nomination as it’s one I’ve wanted to read for a while.

Manchester Meanders selected Iain Banks Complicity, again everyone has been insisting I read this one and I know I should haves got round to it sooner. I’m sure I will love this book too and I’m always saying I need more books written by males so this ticks plenty of boxes.

But I’m still 8 down! So please do get in touch and tell me which book you would like me to read. Perhaps it’s a book you love and think I will like but one that I haven’t read? Or perhaps it’s one I haven’t even heard of and you want to introduce me to it? Maybe you would like to see my thoughts on a certain book or just make me read something I probably wouldn’t go for?

Whatever the motivation it really doesn’t matter because this is a challenge and I will say yes to anything. Keep those nominations coming and happy reading as always.

Booking Through Thursday – Replay

It’s been a while since I joined in with the wonderful Booking Through Thursday and their weekly Meme so when I saw this weeks post titled Replay I couldn’t resist getting involved.

The topic this week is;

Have you ever finished a book and loved it so much you went right back and started re-reading it again?

Now this is a concept on which I have strong feelings, not because I am a serial re reader, actually far from it. But because I have never been able to re read a book straight after reading it. In fact I would be hard pressed to find a book I would want to read again even a year later.

That isn’t to say I chastise anyone who does, quite on the contrary I admire people who can and do re-read books, but I’ll be honest I rarely even consider re reading a book  and hadn’t though of doing so until I saw this post on BTT.

What about you? Can you re read a book straight after finishing it? Do you like to? Or do you prefer to re read a book after a lengthy time has passed?

I know I’m not the only one who struggles with re-reading books and I’m not entirely sure where the problem for me lies. All I do know is that whenever I pick up a previously read book (no matter how much I loved it the first time round) I can never get back into it.

Perhaps its because I am impatient and my TBR list is so high, the thought of reading old books just seems so time-consuming that I can’t bring myself to it. In the back of my mind I can permanently see a list of other appealing and un reads books vying for my attention, the demand is too much to really soak up an old read.

I have always felt a pang of jealousy though when a fellow reader expressed the comfort they received from re reading again and again a classic favourite. Perhaps I jut need to try harder?

The last book I read and really adored was The Girls by Lori Lansen, and even though I finished it in the airport and only had a collection of short stories to keep me going I favoured those because for me the book was far too fresh in mind. To start the book again so soon would be to re read words, phrases and ideas that I had only just devoured, my attention would never be strong enough for that.

All of that said I have managed to re-read the His Dark Material Trilogy by Philip Pullman but for me these books contain so much magic and so many characters and other worlds that a re read only allows me to re discover events and details previously missed. And I don’t think I could ever re read them straight after putting them down.

I can re-read a short story, although I’ve never tried re reading it again straight after reading it but I’ll now give that a go. Off course short stories are not so consuming and therefore I am not plagued by the other books on my TBR that this rereading is preventing me from enjoying.

There is though one book that I can and will read and read and that is Disaster With The Fiend…but that is a children’s book and therefore not the greatest of challenges. I’ve never re read it again after just finishing it but I’m also going to give that a go, and who know’s I might just like it.

I adore this book because it transports me back to my childhood where I would read it with my Grandfather at the kitchen table. If, for me any book is worthy of an immediate re read then this is the one.

So what about everyone else? Please do let me know your feelings on Replaying books and your experiences of doing so.

Don’t forget to leave your comments at BBT too or even better re post this question with your own answers on your blog.

Day Zero…My Reading Challenges and why I need your help!

You may or may not have heard of a project entitled Day Zero, it’s all really very simple you pick a list of 101 challenges that you wish to complete and you have 1001 days to do it in. The reason for having quite a long time to do all of these challenges is that it should hopefully, make it more manageable to complete the tasks.

For more detailed information on this challenge you can check out there http://dayzeroproject.com/ which explains the whole concept a lot more eloquently, but in summary having taken on this ultimate challenge I have chosen now for myself 101 challenges that I have just about 1001 days to complete them.

You can check out my full list on the site, however I wont be boring you with all of the challenges, just the book related ones naturally.

And here they are;

2. Publish 100 posts on my blog – So far I have reached 45 since starting the blog in March, quite a respectable number…I hope. So I feel that 100 should be feasible. I would like to complete this challenge by the New Year, so I had better get reading.

16. Read Ten Literary Classics – I decided to take up this challenge because despite reading a wealth of classics at university it seems like many life times ago that I picked up a true classic. I haven’t started making my list yet, I’m actually very open to suggestions if anyone could help. Are there any classic’s that you would strongly recommend? Something I just have to read? I’d love some ideas. So far the only one on there is Little Women which I’ve always meant to read and yet some how never got round to.

17. Read my height in books – This might sound like a silly challenge but I’m actually very curious to see how easily I can do this. Starting from yesterday I will make a note of the height of any books I read and hopefully in not too long I will have reached my own height 5.4. If I do manage to do it then there will definitely be some photo’s going up…but how long will a challenge like this take me? I’m not that tall and I read a lot but I can be quite a slow reader. One thing is for sure it will definitely give me a sense of how much I do and don’t read. If you were to do this challenge how long do you think it would take you?

51. Read a book written by someone I disagree with – At first when this suggestion came up I skimmed past it, but then I go to thinking that maybe I miss out on a whole world of amazing books because I judge the book by the author? How many wonderful reads might I already have missed out on and therefore robbed myself of the joy of reading. So with that in mind I need to do some research and look into some writers that I have up in till now failed to empathise with. Maybe a biography of a famous person I always disagreed with? I wonder if I will change my mind.

52. Read Pride and Prejudice – I know, I know it’s a true classic, why have I not read it yet? I ask myself the same questions and yet I just never got round to it. I even studied this whole time period at university and yet never fancied this book. I always fancied edgy contemporary styles but now I find my tastes changing and with it the feeling that I must read this book.

53. Host Ten Book Group (not including the ones I did prior to this list) – I’ve really been enjoying book group and found it a great way to meet people, read books I normally wouldn’t read, and off course talk about my favorite topic…BOOKS! So this is another little challenge that I would love to see completed. Last week we had our third meet where we will discuss Before I Go To Sleep but off course it will count as the first one in this challenge.

54. Ask all readers of my blog to recommend a book. Read first 10 recommendations – This challenge, like number 16 is slightly more interactive in that it involves the lovely readers of my blog. I’m asking all of you to recommend a book for me and the first 10 that I haven’t read will go on to my list to be read in order to complete this challenge. Again I’m hoping this will broaden my reading horizons and give me a chance to find out which books you’ve read, loved and now can’t wait to pass on. So please do pass on your ideas and I will diligently begin reading.

80. Attend at leat three literary events – This may seem a bit vague but it’s quite simple, I love books so I really must participate in more events that revolve around them. I recently attended Bookmarked which is hosted by Simon from Savidge Reads, the evening centred around authors S J Watson and Sarah Winman and was a wonderful and interesting night, So more of this please. I need idea’s for at least 3 more events, I will definitely be looking to attend another Bookmarked event but need more idea’s. Anyone in the Manchester area with any idea’s then please do share.

90. Blog at least one a week for a year – Again this may seem like a silly challenge but it’s amazing how much we allow to go to the waste from a lack of motivation. To that end I have decided to make a personal vow with myself that from yesterday when my list commenced that I will blog at least once a week for a whole year. Obviously I hope to achieve more but this way I have the constant motivation to keep up with a hobby that I have really grown to love.

So that’s all of my challenges, what do you think? Could you be tempted to take part in this yourself? Do let me know if you decide to and off course I can’t wait to hear all of your recommendations. Don’t forget that thanks to these challenges I will read anything that you throw my way so be daring, chose whatever you please just let me know what books I simply must read on my new 1001 day challenge.

Also do let me know if you ever chose book challenges for yourself? Perhaps you have a minimum amount of books you read each week, month, year or maybe you have a different challenge. I’d love to hear them.