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Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Too Many Books! Not Much Time Left!

This morning I was eating breakfast (cranberry and orange bread with crunchy peanut butter, if you're interested) and became aware that the bread (even though I'd bought it yesterday) wasn't particularly fresh. In fact, I didn't even like the taste much either. Rather than wade my way through it, I put it in the bin. Life's too short to eat something that isn't hitting the spot. It occurred to me that it's the same with reading.

The older I get, the more discerning I get about what I read for pleasure. I think that one of the reasons for this is that I'm all too aware of time running out. There are so many damn fine books in the world, that it is impossible to read them all. I have hundreds of books on my shelves that I haven't yet got round to reading (yet I still continue to buy more) and, as one of my Facebook friends said in a recent post, ploughing through a book you're not enjoying for the sake of feeling you have to finish it, is a waste of time; time that could be spent reading something wonderful. Other friends swear by the Page 50 Test. In other words, if you're not enjoying the book fifty pages in, then cast it aside, because it's unlikely to get any better. However, I have been known to abandon a few books fifty pages before the end!

I admit I feel a little guilty about casting books aside without having read them cover to cover, but I do give away the books I've finished with,  either to the secondhand bookshop at the National Trust property where I volunteer, or I give them to friends and relatives. It's not as though I throw them in the bin or (heaven forbid) set fire to them.

I've struggled to find books I'm passionate about recently (maybe this is a sign of getting older!). I get a lot of freebies from publishers as well as goody bags from literary festivals and I have to say it's unusual to find a real gem amongst them. Having said that, All The Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker (one of at least a dozen freebies from Harrogate Crime) was an amazing reading experience. Why? The characters, sense of place and wonderful writing made it stand out from the crowd. For once a crime novel that didn't rely exclusively on plot!

I'm currently reading Shirley by Charlotte Bronte (inspired by a recent visit to the Bronte Parsonage in Howarth). Boy, could that woman write! It's an old battered hardback copy, a New York edition, in fact, that belonged to my late mother, who was incidentally called Shirley. You even learn a bit of history, too. Can't be bad.

In other news, I had a busy day yesterday, beginning with a bike ride in torrential rain. Tuesday is my National Trust volunteering day and, although we had fewer visitors than in recent weeks, it was an enjoyable day and I got a great short story idea from a young couple.

Another bike ride today, but I managed to avoid the rain showers. I also tackled some much-needed housework!

And yes, I did manage to enter The Writers' Forum Short Story Competition on Monday.


  1. I totally agree with you. I will never give up on reading and buying books. I am so pleased I read English Lit at uni. I think I've read the best of the 'old stuff' already but will enjoy a re-read. Yes, I have always loved Shirley for all the history about the Luddites and those eager curates! Villette is a harder read but is also a fascinating fictional take on Charlotte's time abroad and her emotional melt-down. These days I mainly read for recreation and that tends to be crime fiction - not too gritty but not too cosy either. My favorite crime novelist at present is Mari Hannah. (Also Anne Cleeves, Jo Ellis and Ellie Griffiths. All female writers I see!) My local charity shop has been very pleased with me lately as I've had to discard novels I will never read. It's manly time and my rubbish eyesight these days!

  2. Totally agree about not reading something you're not enjoying. I think lots of us as we get (a bit) older are feeling the same. And we'd be better off binning the food we're not enjoying too! At least we can pass the books on to someone else who might like them, the food perhaps can be composted!

  3. It's funny, isn't it. Nobody bats an eyelid if we switch off half way through a boring film. For some reason, it's different with books.