Blogging 101 kept banging on about coming up with a recurring feature for your blog and I kept thinking, well I’ll never do that, all the good ideas are already taken.
And then I actually came up with what I thought was quite a good idea all on my own (which may or may not be original) – a monthly review of the books I read.
Although I’ve tried writing book reviews before and it just doesn’t come naturally to me. I can say whether I enjoyed it or not and whether I’d recommend it but I can’t actually come up with insightful things to say about books that are worth reading. So this is more of a diary style account of my reading for the past month and my overall thoughts of each book, rather than a review.
Twelve book this month, I’m very impressed with that. For March a lot of the books I’ll be reading can already be found on my reading list if you fancy a look. Of course, I’m sure I’ll end up reading plenty of books that aren’t on there.
1. A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
Took two weeks, read mostly before going to sleep and in the bath.
I found this a proper slog to get through. I know this is blasphemous for a British person to say but I just don’t think I get Charles Dickens. I’ve read two of his books now so I think I can say I gave it a good shot and can give up. Thank goodness.
2. Saturday – Ian McEwan
Took four days, read before going to sleep.
I didn’t expect to like this much knowing that the whole book took place on one day so I expected lots of long passages of description and not a whole lot happening. But I’d enjoyed Sweet Tooth and Atonement so I was inclined to try more Ian McEwan. And I was actually really pleasantly surprised. I was really attached to the characters by the end and was happy to find so much plot for one day, without it being ridiculous.
3. On Chesil Beach – Ian McEwan
Two days, read on my lunch break.
I also really enjoyed this. It read more like a short story than a novel, hence why it was such a quick read. I felt more pity for the characters than attachment but was still keen to know what would happen to them. Although the end seemed to focus a lot on Edward when the rest of the book had been half and half which felt odd to me.
4. Amsterdam – Ian McEwan
Three days, also on my lunch break.
I did not like this and do not understand how it won the Booker Prize.
5. The Casual Vacancy – JK Rowling
Five days, read at lunch, before going to bed and, once I was really addicted, instead of watching TV in the evenings.
I picked this up knowing very little about it but wanting to read it on the strength of the author. Well it’s no Harry Potter but I’m glad I read it. It was a little hard going at the beginning and a lot of the characters felt rather stereotyped but I found the ending satisfactory whilst still being realistic and sticking to the rather miserable overtones of the whole book.
6. The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins
Read in one day, mostly at the kitchen table while my mum made a roast dinner.
I hadn’t been expecting to get to read this book for months as I was insistent not to buy it full price, certainly not hardback full price. But literally the day after I mentioned to my dad that I’d quite like to read it he came across it in a second hand book shop for £3.50 in practically new condition. And I’m very glad I didn’t pay full price as I didn’t get £12.99’s worth out of it. I’d finished it 24 hours after I first had it in my hand. Although that wasn’t so much because I was truly gripped as because I didn’t have much else to do that day. But I was a little concerned that the ending would disappoint and fortunately that wasn’t to case. So all in all, very glad I read it.
7. Looking for Alaska – John Green
Read in one day, mostly while at work (oops) and then finished when I got home.
This wasn’t my first time reading this but I’ll still include it on this list because, well, why not? I didn’t intend to reread this but I was stuck at work with absolutely nothing to do, just waiting for the post to come, and I started reading this on my phone as a good book to just dip into for half an hour. And ended up racing home to finish it. It always makes me want to start looking up people’s last words but then I pick up another book instead and it never happens.
8. The Fault in our Stars – John Green
Read in three days in my lunch hour.
What started as me just ‘dipping into’ Looking for Alaska ended up with me on a John Green binge. I’d read The Fault in our Stars before as well but been meaning to reread it as I didn’t think I’d really got it the first time. I expected it to be amazing, far better than Looking for Alaska, seen as it was the one that got all the hype and turned in to a film and all. But after rereading both I still prefer Looking for Alaska. I think The Fault in our Stars was a bit too predictable as a love story. But saying that, I also didn’t quite understand when Hazel went from wanting to keep Augustus as arms length to jumping in to bed with him. Oh well, on to the next one.
9. Paper Towns – John Green
Read in two days late in to the night when I really should have been sleeping and then I did the unthinkable and actually woke up early to finish it!
This book is basically just ‘Looking for Margo’ but in a more literal sense than ‘Looking for Alaska.’ If you’re interested in a more indepth review then Jumbleskine has one here which I agree with wholeheartedly. I hadn’t read this before and I’d probably put it third of the three books – apart from the journey to New York. Those few chapters I found absolutely laughing out loud, rolling around on the bed hilarious. And I’m seriously considering starting the whole book all over again now just so I can read that bit again.
10. The Hobbit – J R R Tolkein
Took two weeks, off and on, whenever I could face it.
Yeah, it was ok, I guess. I don’t think I really like Tolkein too much. His stories and style of writing have felt quite outdated to me. So I think I’ll stick with George R R Martin for my fantasy fixes in the future.
11. Solar – Ian McEwan
Read in five days, mostly at lunch and then finished off on a celebratory lie-in.
The ending of this book was so abrupt that I stared at the next blank page, mouth agog for a few seconds and then stormed downstairs to declare to my parents ‘I am very disappointed in Ian McEwan.’ But then the more I thought about it the more I came round to the ending. Or at least understood what he was trying to do. The point wasn’t the minutia of Michael Beard’s life, just his capacity to love. Still my least favourite McEwan so far though.
12. Emma – Jane Austen
Listened to the audiobook over a week, while cooking, walking to work, showering, instead of music.
I’m only including this so I have an even twelve images for the header. I really want to like this book because Jane Austen herself was very fond of Emma and I do like it… but not a lot. I think of all Austen’s novels this one has dated the most; the way the characters act and think and the beliefs held in the book, like Mr Knightley thinking that Harriet isn’t suitable as Emma’s friend because she’s not high born enough. The great thing about Jane Austen is how ahead of their time she made her characters which Emma falls short on.