52 Weeks: 52 Books – April

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It’s election day, so after three days of politically oriented blogging (one, two, three), I shall stop wittering on about political nerdery issues and refocus on the important stuff in life: Books. Please stick around and read on. Assuming you’ve already voted. If not, go do that first. I’m now four months into my 52 Weeks: 52 Books challenge, and here’s what I read during April.

Book 13: CJ Samson – Lamentation

Book 14: Alexander McCall Smith – The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

Book 15: Alice Peterson – By My Side

And I’m currently stalled on Zadie Smith’s The Autograph Man, which is bad, because to stay on target I really should have finished another book by now. All of this month’s books had strengths and weaknesses for me. My favourite was Lamentation. I’m a big CJ Sansom fan, and I particularly like the Shardlake series, to which this is the most recent addition. My only qualm here was that it’s a bit overlong. It’s still a very good book, but a slightly more aggressive edit in the first two thirds wouldn’t have done it any harm at all.

I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I’d never read any of the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency books until this month. I’m not really sure how I managed that. There are at least 78000 of them, so I’m not at all clear how they managed to pass me by. This one, the first in the series, was exactly as I’d imagined it would be. Gentle, soothing, beautifully written, the book equivalent of slipping into a nice warm bath. Jolly good.

My main reflection for this month though, comes not from the books I read, but from the book I’m stalled on. Again, I’m realising just how much I like story. The Autograph Man is beautifully written, but I’m just gasping for something to happen that propels things forward. I suspect it’s going to be one of those books about how ultimately nothing and nobody ever changes, which is perfectly fine as a philosophical viewpoint, but just a little bit dull as a reader. I don’t think that’s always the case. I think you can go lighter on plot if you have amazing characters – I think some of Zadie Smith’s other work probably demonstrates that – but in this one I’m not finding the main character particularly engaging, so I’m really missing having a riveting plot to drag me along. I suspect that’s partly to do with where my brain is in writing terms. I’m in the first third of writing my next book, so my brain is holding all the potential characters and stories for that book, and I’ve also read my next book for editing again, and read a complete manuscript for a critique client this month. With all of that in my brain I think I do need to books I’m reading to really grab me by the scruff of the neck. So my current quandary is whether to ditch The Autograph Man or whether to plough on. Normally I only ditch a book if I get to page 100 and I’m not feeling it. I’m past page 100 with this one, but it’s slow going. Is it better to read on or to admit defeat? I’m undecided.

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8 thoughts on “52 Weeks: 52 Books – April

    richardmollowenwriter said:
    May 7, 2015 at 8:20 am

    Drop it I say. It may well come back to you.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 1 person

    poroshanko said:
    May 7, 2015 at 9:17 am

    Reading, it is like the easiest thing to do, yet still the hardest thing for me to carry on.

    Like

    poroshanko said:
    May 7, 2015 at 9:17 am

    Reblogged this on poroshanko and commented:
    Reading, it is like the easiest thing to do, yet still the hardest thing for me to carry on.

    Like

    Sally Jenkins said:
    May 7, 2015 at 9:38 am

    I too only discovered the Ladies’ Detective Agency very recently and your phrase ‘the book equivalent of slipping into a nice warm bath’ sums it up wonderfully. A book to read when you simply want to relax and be soothed – I can see why they’re so popular.

    Liked by 1 person

    Rosamond Maynard said:
    May 8, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    How can you not have read “The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency” till now? Where have you been? While you’re on with A. Mc Smith, try the 44 Scotland Street series. Bertie is the best character ever written!

    Liked by 1 person

      Alison May responded:
      May 8, 2015 at 7:37 pm

      Ooh – I read the 1st 44 Scotland Street book when it first came out I think, but never got onto the others. I remember really liking it so I’m not sure why I haven’t read more. I’ll add them to the 52 Books list.

      Like

    52 Weeks: 52 Books – May « Alison May said:
    June 5, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    […] I really am supposed to have stuff to say, but I talked about The Autograph Man quite a lot in my April review, and the only bit of the Adele Parks’ novel I have proper thoughts about is the ending. […]

    Like

    crimeworm said:
    June 6, 2015 at 12:48 am

    My favourite AMS series is the Sunday Philosophy Club, set in Edinburgh. They just make you feel that all is well with the world. Which it isn’t, but it’s a lovely reassuring read while it lasts, an AMS.

    Like

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