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What Makes these Books so Late

October 11, 2017

I’ve had a stack of books on my desk since…I don’t know when. They’ve gathered dust for long enough and I’m now banishing them to our finished basement, where the walls are lined with shelves, or to my box for trading in at the “half price books” store in Columbus.

These books have something in common, and that is they did not interest me enough to write about at the time I read them. This doesn’t mean they’re mediocre books, necessarily, but that they were recommended or given to me because of a specific occasion, like the one about the Isabella Gardner art museum, where I visited last spring, or the Diana Wynne Jones title, which someone thought might be a book in which necromancy never pays, but I ended up disagreeing (no one was brought back from the dead or tried communicating from beyond—it’s time travel, not necromancy).

Here are the books I’m putting aside:

The Art Forger, B.A. Shapiro (about the Isabella Gardner art museum)
The Time of the Ghost, Diana Wynne Jones (a time travel story with spirits)
Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murakami (mostly for 20-somethings; Walker recommended it)
The Wild Party, Joseph Moncure March (amusing and told in verse, set in the 1920’s)
The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas (topical fiction, a black teen boy is shot by a cop)
The Boy on the Bridge, M.R. Carey (sequel to The Girl With All the Gifts, not as good)
The Book of Joan, Lidia Yuknavitch (lots of hype for this one; I found it dull)
The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets, Eva Rice (very British, set right after WWII)
The Gap of Time, Jeanette Winterson (her version of The Winter’s Tale, a contrived updating of an already implausible story)
Red Joan, Jennie Rooney (spy novel told from the end of the spy’s life)

Too late; didn’t write.

I usually don’t write about re-reading, either. For me, at least, there’s something about capturing first impressions–and preserving them–that makes blogging worth the time.

What makes it worth your time, writing about books?

19 Comments leave one →
  1. October 11, 2017 3:15 pm

    Oh, I’m glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t write about everything she reads.

    Sometimes (rarely) I just don’t feel like I have anything original to say about a particular book. Sometimes I just want some quick entertainment and don’t want to have to take notes (usually a mystery or thriller of some sort) so I don’t blog about it. Sometimes I read a book and it really enchants me or enlightens me and I just have to write about it in the hopes that someone somewhere will perhaps give it a second glance and give it a try. I usually write about books for the same reason I read them (mostly:) to connect.

    • October 11, 2017 10:28 pm

      Surely most people who write about books don’t write about everything they read? The proportions would be way off, it seems to me. I need to read at least three times as much as I write.
      That hope that someone will read a book because of what we write about it is a driving force, I agree.

  2. October 11, 2017 3:22 pm

    The only one of these I’ve read is Norwegian Wood – I know what you mean…

    • October 11, 2017 10:29 pm

      I like reading some of the books my kids read, even now.
      Late this afternoon I got my copy of John Green’s new book, and Walker and I agreed on a 10 pm deadline, so I had to read it in two hours (I handed it over at 9:30).

  3. October 11, 2017 3:45 pm

    I don’t write about re-reads either. I actually do quite a lot of re-reading, usually when I’m travelling and not in a position to make notes as I go. I think the only time I’ve blogged about a second reading is when it’s been for a book group discussion and something that has been said has made me either rethink my opinion or confirmed me in it.

    I loved the Diana Wynn Jones, but then I wasn’t looking for a necromancy connection.

    • October 11, 2017 10:33 pm

      I enjoyed reading the Diana Wynne Jones but didn’t have much to say about it, especially weeks after the fact. Some of these are books I read when I couldn’t walk around the house much.
      Most of my rereading happens on the weekend and before bed. I go looking for something and have to reread something else, or want something familiar before going to sleep.

  4. October 11, 2017 4:16 pm

    Yeah, if I didn’t write about a book when I first read it, I probably won’t blog about it unless an issue pops up in the news that makes the book relevant. Great post!

    • October 11, 2017 10:35 pm

      …makes it relevant–yes, that’s part of it. Ideas from these books aren’t still circulating in my brain; I’m not making connections from them to anything else that I read or hear about.

  5. October 11, 2017 4:38 pm

    I think I’m marking time when I write, and I mean that positively – my blog is a report to my later self about what I’m thinking about. I like having a map of what I’m interested it.

    In another sense, perhaps, I’m stepping out of time. The end of the month comes, I sit down and write. My health and that of my loved ones, the state of the world, the state of my bank account, all take a back seat for a few hours.

    • October 11, 2017 10:36 pm

      A report to my later self is a lovely way of thinking about it. That’s a version of the “commonplace book” idea, which is how a lot of book blogs (including this one) started.

  6. October 11, 2017 9:45 pm

    It was me who mentioned Time of the Ghost. There’s a point when the narrator THINKS she’s dead, but you’re right, it’s not technically necromancy. Sorry!

    • October 11, 2017 10:24 pm

      Oh, I’m glad I read the book, though. It’s never a waste of time reading Diana Wynne Jones! But I often don’t have much to say about books for younger readers.

  7. October 12, 2017 4:52 am

    If I don’t write about it within two weeks, I will have totally forgotten any details, so it’s off to other shelves or other places in my case as well!

    • October 13, 2017 2:11 pm

      My deadline is more like 4-5 months, because I have dog-eared pages in the books on my desk and like to mull things over for a long time.

  8. October 13, 2017 2:09 am

    What makes it worth my time writing about books? Hmm, good question. Firstly, I write about every book I read, including re-reads, because the main reason I write about what I read is to capture what I thought about it – and for me that’s as relevant for a re-read as for anything else. Every time I read Austen, for example, something different tends to pop out, either because I’m in a different phase of my life, or a different phase in my reading life meaning I’m looking at different things in writing.

    So, the very main reason is to capture my thoughts, so I can read them again later when the book might have faded a little! The other thing that makes it worth my time is the conversations that can happen as a result of my writing about a book. I love that – particularly if a real conversation ensues because others have read the book too or something I’ve said captures their attention.

    • October 13, 2017 2:15 pm

      Wow. I can’t imagine writing about every book I read, although I agree that every time I re-read a book, I have different thoughts about it.
      I think read-alongs, so popular with book bloggers, are an attempt to guarantee the “real conversation” that we sometimes get spontaneously because writing about books produces an “it’s a small world” effect.

      • October 13, 2017 6:22 pm

        Yes, I’m sure read. abngs are great for conversation. I just never seem to feel I can commit. From 1996 to around 2010 I was an active member of internet bookgroups. The conversations we had there were among the best i’ve ever had . I learnt so much from them, and made finds here and overseas who remain so today.

        You probably read more books than I do- perhaps because you don’t spend hours writing about them!!

  9. October 16, 2017 12:15 am

    I might put a few sentences or two or three on Goodreads for books I don’t blog about. I think the ones that make it to my blog are the ones that stay with me after I get to the last page.

    • October 16, 2017 8:14 am

      That’s a good way to manage it. I like Goodreads for the quotations from books, but don’t contribute.

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