Booking Through Thursday – A book Rut

I recently made a great new blogging discovery courtesy of one The Book Jotter’s latest posts and link to the blog Booking through Thursday.

Maybe you’ve already discovered this blog and are a regular viewer? if not check it out. Its great fun and very thought-provoking.

Each Thursday they post a new question, for example last week the question was;

Do you ever feel like you’re in a reading rut? That you don’t read enough variety? That you need to branch out, spread your literary wings and explore other styles?

And they ask people to either leave a response in the comments section, or for fellow bloggers to post their own thoughts on their blog. So that’s what I’m doing, albeit a little late as I have been away this past week.

So inspired by this, here are my thought on getting into a reading rut and needing to try new things.

Having read since I was tiny and having always loved and devoured books I’ve had my fair share of reading ruts. As I now firmly know my literary tastes, and the genres I like, I often fall into the habit of sticking to one or two syles and excluding myself from other great works of fiction.

It’s all well and good knowing what I like when I’m on a reading mission, chomping through books at a ridiculous speed.  But every now and then I get myself in a reading funk where no matter if I’m reading a book that I would usually devour and adore, I just can’t get into the book. I indeed need to spread my literary wings and explore other styles.

This has happened with several books and when I ‘ve gone back to read them another time I’ve loved them like I knew I eventually would.

So this for me is a reading rut, when I need to read something else, something totally different to the usual genres I chose. I need to mix up my reading habits, have a break from my repetitive selections. This is all in order to go back to the styles I usually read so perhaps it’s a little ironic really?

But it certainly highlights to me that I don’t have enough variety in my reading life and that I do occasionally need to branch out.

When in a rut I’ll usually chose a style of book that I normally shy away from, like a crime thriller or auto biography, and if I’m really stuck a chic lit book. I’ll also always try to read something completely different to anything I’ve tried before in order to get out of my self-imposed rut. And I usually enjoy trying new books and styles so why I always go back to my fail safes without keeping up the variety I’ll never know.

This is how I discovered the wonderful No time for Goodbye by Linwood Barcaly and loved it, so reading ruts aren’t always bad things.

So in answer I definitely get in a reading rut, but like I said it’s usually my own fault.

Actually you kind readers might be able to help me, I’ve been feeling like I’ve been in a reading rut recently, more because I’ve just been reading nothing but books by female authors. This isn’t intentional and certainly not a good thing,I need that type of variety at leat. So can anyone tell me of some great books that I must read by male authors? Any suggestions would be very welcome.

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18 thoughts on “Booking Through Thursday – A book Rut

  1. First of all – my advice for any reading rut is don’t read another novel, whichever genre or subject – short stories are the answer!! Brilliant collections of short stories include:
    Wayward Girls and Wicked Women, edited by Angela Carter
    Where I’m calling from by Raymond Carver
    Dubliners James Joyce
    Collected Stories by Flannery O’Connor
    Collected stories by DH Lawrence.
    But short stories are also really easy to get hold of online Clare Wigfall ‘The Numbers’ is free online and good. As for men – I’ve just read the Curious incident of a dog in the night time by Mark Haddon and I love William Boyd especially Brazzaville Beach. If you’re looking for something a bit different anything by Guy de Maupassant, Raymond Chandler, Sebastian Faulkes, PG Wodehouse, Primo Levi, V. Nabokov, J. Steinbeck and Rider Haggard!!!
    Oh and have you read Perfume by Patrick Suskind? Very good.

  2. Hi Dave,

    I feel I’m becoming very indebted to you for all your wonderful suggestions. Thanks for some more great recommendations. You know what, in all the time I’ve been reading like a complete book worm I’ve never really considered short stories as a good relief from a book rut! And that’s silly really because I quite like them. I like Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories, and I also loved Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach which I think is fair to class as a short story?!

    I like Carver so will give his short stories ago, and also the Wayward Girls and Wicked Women sounds good so I’ll have a look into that. I’ll definitely check out Clare Wigfall as well.

    I have read The Curious incident of the Dog in the Night Time and loved that. I liked his second novel A Spot of Bother as well, but not quite as much. Have you read it? I’ll check out William Boyd as I haven’t read or heard too much about him, we seem to have similar taste though so I’m sure I will like him. All of the others sound appealing too, wow I’m spoilt for choice|

    I have read Perfume, it was so dark but also very unique and like nothing I’ve read before. Do you know Harrods actually started a range of perfumes based on the scents in the book? like the smell of a virgin…very weird but interesting!

    • Indebted pah – It’s interesting to see we read differently, your English Lit background (have I got that right?) and my Creative Writing background, maybe my reading list is more practical and inspiring and your reading list is more contemporary and cerebral? I remember loving Perfume and I didn’t know about the range would have been fun to smell, and I didn’t know about Haddon’s second book. I think you’ll love Carver’s stories – Rider Haggards adventure stories might also be a real break from the norm aswell. Nice thing about all this older stuff is you can get it from your local library, if it hasn’t closed yet! I read about five pages of Chesil Beach, I dislike McEwan somewhat for his novel Saturday which was pants.

  3. Great to see you have joined the fun with this meme, it is a good one just to pop into now and again. I am not a fan of blogs just full of meme posts.

    I agree with David re short stories, have a go at Alan Bennett – A Common Reader, a short story and one about books! What more could you want. Or some Jeeves and Wooster curtsey of PG Wodehouse.

    As for male authors, it never occurs to me that I am reading a book by a woman or a man, having made me think though, try Simon Beckett or Brian McGilloway.

    Hope this helps! Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  4. Hi Dave, yeah my degree is in English Lit so perhaps I do sometimes read books from quite an analytical perspective. I’ve tried to shake that of in the years since I graduated though and just enjoy the books that I’m reading.
    I’m not sure how good the perfumes would smell, there was some weird ones in there. They’d definitely be interesting though, and quite expensive if I remember rightly.

    I never think to go to the library and I really should, I like to keep my books after I read them so always hate giving them back. I might pay a visit this weekend though and seek out some Carver.
    I haven’t read Saturday but I loved Chesil beach, Atonement and Enduring Love, do you think you would try any of his books again?

    • I’ll try McEwan in the future perhaps, if you’re championing him. Your biological make up isn’t different if you’re a virgin or if you ain’t so I doubt there’s anything in those scents personally. 😉 Get in your library btw just think of it as an extention of your bookshelf, because you kind of do still have the books if you ever want to read them again. Oh and I’m bound to send you to short stories, ’cause that’s what I write, and it’s nice to sit down and read something beginning to end and carry the feeling and thoughts of that one thing round with you all day, it’s more intense a reading experience (and much easier a writing experience) There’s loads of short Story resources online – (if I haven’t sent you enough) google The Fly, by Katherine Mansfield, Why don’t you dance by Carver, and Lady with a dog by Checkov, they’re all online. x

  5. Yeah thanks for introducing me to it Jo, I hadn’t seen it till I stumbled across it on your blog : )

    O I’ve been meaning to try Alan Bennett so I’ll seek out his short stories. I’ve read some of your thoughts on Jeeves and Wooster too so will keep my eyes peeled.

    Thanks for the male suggestions too. I used to read a much more varied selection of writers including plenty of male writers, for some reason though I’ve been exclusively picking up female writers.
    Perhaps it’s something to do with the Orange Prize for fiction and all of the wonderful books that brought into the mix this year?…Ian Mcwan should get me out of that rut.

  6. I can’t remember the last time I was stuck in a reading rut. I’ll read more or less anything if it’s put in front of me (eventually, anyway). I tend to share a lot of books with family (3 generations), friends (male & female) and colleagues and it seems every one of them loves a different genre so I tend to read the lot. Add on any Classic or reasonably priced book or short story that catches my eye on Amazon or Smashwords and you get the picture. The only genre I steer well clear of is chic lit, but I even make exceptions for that occasionally.

    As for recommending male authors: We’ve already discussed Iain Banks, athough he can be hit and miss. I’ve always enjoyed Bill Bryson’s books for their depth and detail. I didn’t really rate McEwan’s, but perhaps I just wasn’t in the mood for his style at the time. To be honest I don’t tend to notice whether an author is male or female, so I’ll need to think more about that one. I’ve noticed I have loads of books by male authors on my TBR and wish lists, but until I read them I can’t recommend them.

    I love the Booking Through Thursday site! Perhaps you’d consider making their questions a regular discussion feature on your blog? I’d rather discuss it here with other regular contributors / book club peeps than with anonymous strangers. Is anyone with me on that?

  7. Yeah, it might be worth giving McEwan another go, I’m going to try Solar soon so hopefully I’ll like it as much as his other books and will be able to post a positive review. That’s a great way to think of the library, I’ll try and employ that mentality.
    Short stories can be great in that sense. I loved the Yellow Wallpaper (have you read it?) the short story style makes it so easy to re read again and again which is definitely a bonus. It does feel a little more intense as well. I don’t write myself but was always told it was harder to write short stories as you really have to condense your idea, but you say you find it easier which I find interesting. I really like Mansfield, might try and find some of her short stories today.

    Hi Sam,

    Glad you liked the post, I’d definitely like to do this more, maybe once a fortnight, or once a month depending on the weekly question, if you notice any questions your really interested in then drop me an email and I’ll try and do a post if it’s something I have plenty of thoughts on. Wow sounds like you have very varied reading tastes, that’s great to see. I don’t really like chic lit either, unless I’m in a very big rut.

    I only noticed myself that I was sticking to female writers when I started this blog, do let me know if you discover similar habits, although it sound like you already have very varied reading choices. Reading anything good at the moment?

  8. I’ve actually got 6 books on the go at the moment. It wasn’t intentional. I just had different books to hand in different locations.

    I’ve finally started ‘Human Croquet’ by Kate Atkinson. ‘Purple Hibiscus’ is on the go, as is ‘Shatter (The Children of Man)’ which I foolishly mistook for ‘Children of Men’ by P. D. James.

    I’m also about to read a short story called Serial by Jack Kilborn and Blake Crouch. (I’ve only read the introduction so far). I know it’s going to be a horror so I don’t know if I’m going to ‘enjoy’ it as such, but the way they wrote it has me intrigued.

    Ok, so first of all here’s the description:

    “# 1: Don’t go hitchhiking, because the driver who picks you up could be certifiably crazy.
    # 2: Don’t pick up hitchhikers, because the traveller you pick up could be a raving nutcase.
    So what if, on some dark, isolated road, Crazy #1 offered a ride to Nutcase #2?”

    Subject matter aside, this is the bit that caught my attention – “Kilborn wrote the first part. Crouch wrote the second. And they wrote the third together over email in 100-word exchanges, not aware of each other’s opening section. All bets were off, and may the best psycho win.”

    If I understand that right it’s a literary version of a drawing game I played as a kid – Draw the head of an alien, fold the paper, pass it to the next kid, then they draw the shoulders, fold, pass, etc. I’ve not come across anything like this before.

  9. Wow 6 at once, hats off to you! I really struggle reading more than one book at a time, although it would help a lot more if I could.

    That book sounds amazing! I’m going to google it now and see what I can find out. It does sound quite dark as well though. If I manage to get a copy I’ll try and post a review too.

    I haven’t played the game, is it wrong that i quite want to do that as well : )
    I haven’t read human croquet but I have read Behind the Scenes at the musem and loved it! Have you read it?

  10. Human Croquet is my first book by Kate Atkinson, so no, not yet. You’re welcome to borrow it when I’m done. It’s another one from my Bookcrossing list.

    As for the drawing game – You so missed out! Lol. Grab some creative / imaginative friends and give it a go. 😉

    • That game always got rude when I played it, I mean 10 year old rude so not actually that rude but there was lots of giggles when it got down to the underwear area. And it might surprise you that on my CW MA I do the writing equivalent – I’ve done one this semester with two other people where we only saw the email before and not the one before that so only ever had half the story and we did 250 word segments. If they’ve wrote a story by this method though it’s a real achievement because it is a sluggish process – hard to explain – but I think you always try to qualify the scene you read just, so it’s always retrospective and very tough to move forward quickly. That’s my experience of it anyway. I’m in awe of six books, I have some academic books to read and one book of short stories before PH but then I’ll read that by itself a few days before, else I’ll be feeding back on all sorts of nonesense! Louise you should have started a social-networking site for arty types, that’s what this is turning into!

  11. Thanks for the link Sam, I’ll check it out today. I’d love to loan you a copy of Behind The Scene’s at the Museum but I don’t have a copy of it in Manchester. I hope you enjoy your first Kate Atkinson book, she’s a big favourite of mine.

    Sounds really complicated Dave, I’ve always thought short story writing would be hard going, this sounds like a whole other level. Do you enjoy reading these sorts of stories as well?

    Lol I know, it’s nice to see everyone inputting their thoughts though, I always enjoy the unpredictable direction our conversations go in after a post.

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