I wanted to write up one of the many books I’ve been reading, rather than just do a brief overview of a few books, but I came up against a bit of a problem. Not just that I’m a bit stuck with how to write at the moment, but because none of the books I’ve read seemed to say anything to me (sorry, I don’t mean to be an arsehole). I think I’ve lost my reading mojo. I fear I’ve fallen out of love with reading.
In years gone by, some of the books I’ve read have resonated and stuck with me and recently, apart from ones by Celeste Ng and Sally Rooney, (who I think are two of the best storytellers in modern day writing), none have. I haven’t finished a book and mourned finishing it for ages. Often these days, I’m relived that I’ve finished it. That’s wrong!
I miss novels like Stones From The River or Cutting For Stone (that’s a weird thing, all the stones), huge great epic stories about far flung places and people doing exceptional things. Even books like We Need To Talk About Kevin, which admittedly isn’t about exceptional people doing exceptional things, but is an exploration in one of the most intense relationships there is, between a mother and son, still resonates. Any Donna Tartt novel, or the Elena Ferrante series – someone’s life told in the most intricate detail but always with interest. Authors like AS Byatt, Any Tan and Margaret Atwood – we don’t have new writers of their ilk at the moment.
Instead I seem to have read every variation of a child going missing or some weird mystery about a historic disappearance, or a woman living with a man with narcissistic disorder – all good books (in fact, How Do You Like Me Now, by Holly Bourne, is a really good, funny, relevant read, along the same lines of Everything I Know About Love, in case you’re interested) but it seems to me that publishers want to always stay with a theme and when they can see that books about child disappearances are selling, those are the only books they’re prepared to publish.
I’m clearly making sweeping generalisations about the current state of the literary world and am basically hoping to provoke people into telling me I’m an idiot and overwhelm me with brilliant book suggestions but I don’t want to waste my time on books which don’t leave me with something. I don’t have that much time. I need to spend it well.
Audio books (namely Audible although other spoken word entertainers are available) are bloody useful aren’t they? I listen to a book when walking, driving, gym-ing, hanging up the washing, cooking dinner (although I have to refrain from getting annoyed with my family when they want to talk to me at that point, it doesn’t seem particularly fair) – in fact I can be doing most things other than work, whilst still listening to a book.
Through Audible I listened to the latest Robert Galbraith Strike story (JK Rowland writing under her pseudonym just in case you didn’t know, although I’m sure you did) which are a really great series of detective stories – set in London in the modern day, with a wonderfully flawed ex-army, sexy, grumpy, middle aged man as the detective.
Now I seem to be wasting my time listening to Lily Allen tell her story in My Thoughts Exactly, which although I’m not particularly interested in, is quite compelling – she has a good story to tell and she’s clever with the way she tells it. Lined up for future listens are The Tattooist Of Auschwitz and Transcription but after that I’m open to ideas.
Have I told you about Blinkist? I think I have, so I won’t go on about it, but for anyone who wants to learn more about factual stuff, it’s seriously good. You have to pay for it, but it’s not a huge amount and I think it’s worth it. If only I could remember everything I’ve listened to.
Anyway. I’ve ranted enough. It wasn’t meant to be so, but I’ve been frustrated by this for ages now and this seemed like a good a platform as any to vent.
I’m really hoping that the next novel I pick up will be something that I’m completely engrossed by and I can eat all these words that I’ve just spouted.
As an aside, books that I’ve read recently which I’ve enjoyed but haven’t been inspired to talk about are Snap by Belinda Bauer and A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (that was our book club book, which I don’t think we ever discussed did we book clubbers?) But they’re not sweeping epics and that is what I want in my life.
I’m tempted to re-read a few of the ones I’ve mentioned, or maybe Midnight’s Children, which I think is probably up there as one of the all time great sweeping epics.
Whatever happens, I want to feel the way I used to feel about reading – I bloody well want my reading mojo back. Can anyone help?