Thursday, 10 January 2008

Coffee break: Books, books, books......

Morning! (or evening, if you've popped over here on Thursday night ~ I won't be around on Friday morning so thought I'd best get this here beforehand). Pour yourself a cup of something reviving, and grab yourself a biscuit, if your resolutions don’t forbid it.

Ah, resolutions. Although I prefer to think of them as goals, things to try to do more of (writing, exercising, saving money) and things to aim to do less of (procrastinating, eating, spending).

I spent much of the festive break sorting through those boxes of stuff that you kid yourself are packed full of items that you absolutely need (you just don’t need to ever unpack them, or look at them, or use them in any way shape or form, from one year to the next) and therefore they cannot be thrown away. I have discovered that ~ lo & behold ~ the vast majority of them can be thrown away, as they are neither useful nor beautiful. Some of these boxes of utter tat have moved house with me THREE TIMES, unopened (I know ~ I do at least have the good grace to be ashamed). Unfortunately I can’t just sling each one into the bin without checking the contents first, as for every twenty pieces of total crap, there is one item of sentimental or family value, nestling in amongst the detritus.

But this hoarding of pointless possessions isn’t the most shameful aspect of all of this. No, I have been shocked to discover that I have in my possession a vast number of books belonging to other people. Not totally my fault, I hasten to add ~ when you have a reputation as a compulsive reader people kindly offer to share their latest favourite read, whether you want it or not. Hence the fact that I have in my possession something by Richard North Patterson (who I have never heard of, although Wikipedia advises me that he writes courtroom thrillers) and a copy of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. I have no desire to read either of these books, or indeed the thirty or so others I didn’t acquire through choice. Yet they’re taking up precious space in my house. I can’t get rid of them as they’re not mine to dispose of, but I'm embarrassed to hand them back, unread. What to do?

So, from now on, it is my goal to politely and firmly say no when someone presses something that “you simply must read” into my hands.

Secondly I have resolved to buy no more books until I have read all of the unread books in the house. I have made this resolution at least ten times a year for as long as I can remember, and my failure to keep it is the main reason why there is currently so little space in the house. (Incidentally I have failed to achieve this goal on five occasions already this year....) .

Over to you ~ what are your reading and book related goals for 2008, and how are they bearing up so far?




26 comments:

Fiona said...

Oh do read Captain Corelli's Mandolin and then tell me about it so I can write that one off my list too.

I have just started A174 - Start Writing Fiction - OU, so my reading will probably be confined to whatever the course books are.

KeVin K. said...

I have resolved to read 12 books for fun in 2008. I read all the time, but it's either real world research to learn the average air speed of an unladen orangutan or market research to see what a given market is buying. I don't remember the last time I read a book just to enjoy the experience of reading a book.

JJ said...

Great question, Kate. G'morning all. I will always read and this year I have distinct aims:

I will continue to read for book club because I love being made to read something I would NEVER have picked up myself. There are gems to be discovered.

I will continue to work my way through my to be read pile. I refuse to stop adding to this pile, it's my only financial sin (apart from handbags ...) and it's cheaper than therapy.

My to be read pile consists of contemporary work and classics. My plans are to read for pleasure but also to read as a writer. I may re-read to do this too. I'm currently reading The Millstone by Margaret Drabble.

I will still read the how to books. I think I may be addicted. The current one is 'Story' by Robert McKee.

Looking forward to checking out everyone else's plans.

Jjx

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

I loved Captain Corelli's Mandolin. If I feel the need to pretend I've read a book, e.g. because someone has given it to me, I usually find that reading the first few pages and the last few pages gives me enough information to be able to sound knowledgeable about it. (Don't tell anyone, though;-)) I don't have reading goals for this year, I read several books a week so I don't feel the need. Book related goals are all about writing, i.e. find an agent for book 1 and finish the first draft (at least) of book 2, and they're bearing up fine so far.

liz fenwick said...

Great topic KateK. I too have tried to say I will buy no more books until I read that I already owe but haven't read but.....I have given up. I adore books and it is a compulsion. I try to read widely but many times fail. JJ's right that book club help this.....may need to find one here in Dubai.

Maybe I should just say to myself I will read a book a week......then again maybe not :-)

Lane said...

Morning all and thanks Kate!

My tbr pile is a toppling tower. In fact it's several toppling towers. I also have a Waterstone's voucher burning a whole in my wallet and my lovely local library holds frequent sales (10p a book) so the towers will continue to grow.

No goals. I just read them as they come. At the moment it's a volume of Carol Shields short stories.

Captain Corelli's Mandolin is great btw!

SpiralSkies said...

Mmm, books are even better than biccies!

I'm quite good - I tend not to hoard so am always justified in buying new books. I'd like to read some 'weightier' books, proper literature. I do tend to read a lot and the books I do read aren't trashy but still...

Maybe I'll read Captain Corelli's Mandolin.

I have given up on resolutions altogether. Lie down more; eat more cake. Yes, those can be adapted nicely to accommodate some decent reading. Hurrah.

Lazy Perfectionista said...

Captain Corelli is pretty good, but nowhere near Louis de Berniere's Latin American trilogy ('The War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts', 'Senor Vivo and the Coca Lord' and 'The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman') - they're FABULOUS!

I have a similar reading resolution (don't buy books until TBR pile considerably smaller), but have an Amazon gift voucher burning a hole in my bag. I see a resolution going down the tubes at some point over the weekend...

NoviceNovelist said...

Great topic KK. I'm currectly reading The Ghost by Robert Harris which I'm loving though I only have about 30 pages left to go but I keep going to bed too late to finish it!!! First reading goal of 08 go to bed early tonight to read!! That will be my goal for the year. I have slightly cured my adiction to how to write books and this year will only buy a handpicked few - first one - well 2 actually which I am waiting to arrive from Amazon are both on editing the completed novel. That'll be my lot for a few months...it really be...

Rowan Coleman said...

hello everyone, I know when someone tells you to read a book or see a film because it is so wonderful it can put you off a bit BUT Captain Correli's mandolin is great although the first 20 pages take a while to get going. I remember sitting on a crowded london bus with tears steaming down my face as I read it....Anyway I am finishing reading Daughter of Fire by Barbara Erskine, I love a bit of time travelling, paranormal historical romance and Erskine and Diana Gabaldon are my favs in this niche genre! After that no more books to read for me until Easter hols, too much writing to do! Resolutions none but I am running a half marathon in March, see my blog for more (but not much more) detail.

Juliette M said...

I dont have plans to read anything in 2008 - I just pick stuff up as I go. Ooh no, lies - I plan to read SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT, a children's book, but it looks amazing. Go google it immediately.

So far this year I have read (that I havent read before):

J. L Carrell's 'The Shakespeare Secret' - dreadful, and a complete Da Vinci code rip-off...

Laurell K Hamilton's 'The Harlequin' (Anita Blake series) - a welcome return to her more 'hardboiled' style of PI works, like Anita Blake series 1-6, althought there is still too much pointless sex in it. Also, LKH's 'A Lick Of Frost', Merry Gentry series no 5. Again too much sex and not enough plot. I may be biased as she killed my favourite character off this time...

Marian Keyes 'Watermelon' - hilarious and touching

Against my better judgement, the 'Shopaholic' series by Sophie Kinsella. I didnt want to like these novels about a girl who cant stop spending. But I did. Look beyond the sad, superficial shopaholic veneer and Becky is actually a likeable character.

Currently halfway through Phil Rickman's 'The Fabric of Sin' a Merrily Watkins Diocesan exorcist novel. PR is a genius and his books are always a treat.

Sorry about the waffle, books do make me go and a bit...

ChrisH said...

Cannot love Capt. Corelli because of the ending which I think is quite wrong. Have just finished 'Kite Runner' which was imo completely overrated. Now about to read 'Half of a Yellow Sun'. Hmm, sound v grumpy today - that would be because I'm rewriting the rewrite at the moment because I looked at it after Christmas and decided it stank. Bah!¬At this rate I'll start Novel#2 in March.

CC Devine said...

I am under strict orders not to purchase any more books until I've reduced the size of my present book pile. Always so hard to resist the urge to buy more though...

This year I'd like to read (& re-read) some of the classics having spent the past year mostly reading chick lit in name of getting to grips with the type of novel I'm writing myself.

Helen said...

My book reading is disctated somewhat by what Trashionista sends me to review. I've just reviewed Sea Fever by Sarah Mason and given it my first full marks. If you like your blockbusters this is one for you!

Other than that my aims are to read as widely as I can and to reread particular books on strong inspirational women for reasons that will become clearer next week.

UN PEU LOUFOQUE said...

" appro po Captain Correlies mandolin "I read it and enjoyed it tremendously, albiet it was a long time ago so my taste may have changes also loved Louis de Berniere's Latin American trilogy read at same time.

Planned reading include all I can get on the history of ceramic decoration in 19th and 20th century Europe adn get hold of some old tile catalogues ( its my other life, Im a tile artist so I can pass my indulgence off as research I hope!)

Writing aims plan to continue with polishign up my novel, having finsihed first draft last year and find it a publisher or at the least an agent.

I ahv just read Fall on your knees a saga ( not my usual fodder) by Anne Marie umm sorry forget name but it was veyr good actaully and am now reading her next novel which is very different plus. A couple of terry pratchetts at the same time.

Lucy Diamond said...

Must guiltily put up my hand to a huge tbr pile too - somehow or other I never get round to reading the 'worthier' ones like Zadie Smith...ahem. I am terrible for buying books, I can't go into a bookshop and NOT buy something.
Currently reading The Xmas Factor by Annie Sanders which is great, very funny.
Book-related goals...hmm. I'd like to get a deal for Novel 3 (and 4) and a couple of new children's series. If that isn't too greedy!

sheepish said...

Hi everyone, excellent topic. I read voraciously and always buy a stack of books when I go back to England. I object to having to pay quite high postage charges by Amazon to France so also rely on friends bringing books over aswell.
All this means that I don't usually have a big tbr pile, but at the moment I have Purple Hibiscus waiting, I loved Half of a Yellow sun so am trying another of her novels, she is a very powerful writer and for me a first read by an African writer.
I also enjoyed Captain Corelli's Mandolin, you do have to persevere for the first 20/30 pages but it's well worth it. And don't be put off if you didn't enjoy the film which I thought was very poor. Can also recommend his Latin American Trilogy. I also have the Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman waiting. I don't have specific goals just to keep reading as many new books and rereading others.

B.E. Sanderson said...

Excellent topic, Kate. I could talk about books all day. =o)

Since I run an online used bookstore here in the states, I have more books than I'll ever know what to do with, and many of them are on my TBR list. (It's a real bummer when someone buys a book I was planning on reading, but those are the breaks.)

My non-sale books to be read include a couple Lynsay Sands that have been sitting next to my computer for a week, and Isaac Asimov's Foundation. Next week I'll be near a real bookstore, so I'll be picking up a few things I want to read, like Lynn Viehl's latest Darkyn novel, and Wendy Robert's Remains of the Dead.

Kate said...

I've got so many books I want to read this year. After moving house we got rid of lots of books, but I'm doing a week work experience at a publishing company and I'm lapping up the free books as much as I can!!!

I'm reading Confessor, the last book in the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. I hate reading the last book in a series. Its so disheartening to think that there are no more to come.

Leatherdykeuk said...

My 'to read' pile is full of books either by the people here, Susan Hill's Recs or practical books like Jitsu pressure points. I did resolve to read more this year, though I'll set no figures on it.

Graeme K Talboys said...

Resolutions? Blimey. Er... finish work in progress. Start and finish volume two. And write something on my grumbooks blog on every book I read this year. Which may help to reduce the t.b.r. pile (although I suspect the books are now breeding and will produce interesting hybrids). I recently finished reading 'Death and the Penguin' by Andrey Kurkov and loved it.

Debs said...

This is a great topic Kate. I also have a couple of hip high tbr piles and need to have at least three books waiting to be read as I'm finishing the present one (so sad). I'm re-reading some early Jilly Coopers at the moment and also Robert McKee's Story, as I need all the help I can get.

I've picked up a few useful tips from reading everyone's comments, such as I should go to bed earlier instead of watching garbage that I'm not really interested in on tv and then I'll have more time to read. Favorite shopping (handbags come a close second) is in bookshops and now that my local CoOp is selling books my food bill has increased dramatically.

Cathy said...

I'm a real book buying addict, though I do get many of them from charity shops. My TBR piles are huge!

Since I started writing seriously I have picked up so many recommendations from blogs and fellow writing students and have discovered independent publishers which I would probably never otherwise have heard of. I have read a lot of short story collections, which I never did before.

I read over a number of genres...literary, womens literature and crime in particular, though of course none of these are mutually exclusive!

CTaylor said...

Sorry I'm late! My immediate book-reading plan, in the light of Nice Mr Agent's comments, is to read lots of chicklit and analyse their 'page turning qualities'. I picked up the following today:

Marshmallows for Breakfast - Dorothy Koomson
West End Girls - Jenny Colgan
Can You Keep a Secret? - Sophie Kinsella

I'm also midway through Carole Matthews "The Chocolate Lovers Club". Oh and I'm also reading "What I Was" by Meg Rosoff which I bought after I read and loved "How I Live Now".

I've also got an enormous pile of unread novels beside my bed including Maggie O'Farrell's last book (Esme... something) and various Margaret Atwood books.

My aim for this year is to read MORE. Last year I was so tied up with writing I didn't read nearly enough.

L-Plate Author said...

My reading taste has changed so much over the years. In my teens, I devoured every Stephen King and Dean Koontz book I could lay my hands on. Then I got into all the chick lit era and became a chick lit whore. Just recently though, someone gave me a Martina Cole book and I was hooked. The total opposite to what I thought it would be and the total opposite to what I usually like. I’ve read a couple more since and even though her last two books didn’t get rave reviews (I haven’t read them yet), the earlier ones I really enjoyed.

Now, I have lots of blogs, and a few books, to catch up with from you novel racers too. Like juliette m, I loved the Shopaholic series but I just can’t get into the last one, although I thought the first scene about the scan was hilarious!

I too am reading The Chocolate Lovers Book by Carol Matthews, which I have already read and really enjoyed. I read it so quick that I’m reading it again now. I also have Closer by Martina Cole waiting in the wings. The trouble with being a writer though is I have to analyse every page….not something I do intentionally but it takes a good book now to get me lost so that I don’t do it automatically.

My writing goals? Same old, same old. Get book two accepted for publication, revisit book one and rewrite and write a complete draft of book three. Seems strange to think this time last year, I was waiting with baited breath while my agent worked to get book one to the publishers, then bam. Still onwards and upwards.

K.Imaginelli said...

My students actually offered/threatened to give me weekly reading quizzes so I'd finish Atonement and Pillars of the Earth. (Which rated high on their list of favorite books)

I'm a lit prof and I'm continually frustrated by how little time I have for reading fun stuff. Last year I managed to read 17 books for myself and this year I'm pushing that number up to 25.

The only problem is that by the time I get to the books I bought, months have gone by and I'm eager to read some new gem I've come across on bookslut.com or bn.com.

That said, I better go dust off my copy of Atonement. ;)