This week hasn’t been a great week of reading, or blogging, or reading of blogs for me. I have been particularly busy at work which has given me far less time than I’d normally spend on these activities but that’s only part of the explanation. I’ve also been struggling with expectations.
I started out the week tackling Barbara Vine’s The Minotaur for an upcoming discussion at 4 Mystery Addicts. You’ll see from my review that I was underwhelmed. I didn’t know anything about the book itself but I did have an expectation that someone of Ruth Rendell’s experience and skill wouldn’t make such clumsy writing mistakes as the ones which littered this book (Vine is a pseudonym of Rendell’s).
I then picked Alex Barclay’s Blood Runs Cold off Mount TBR. I’d heard the book discussed late last year on the BBC Books Podcast and the reviewers made is sound so interesting that I immediately ordered myself a copy. I’m not sure now what the reviewers found so engaging but the book hasn’t exactly kept me up at night. It’s not awful, it’s just not very memorable. I had no trouble putting it down a third of the way through in favour of something else.
The something else is Stieg Larsson’s The Girl Who Played With Fire. Apart from the fact I want to read the book the reason I chose to do it right now was that I was finding it very difficult to avoid seeing reviews and discussions of it at the blogs and reading groups where I hang out online. The first book in this series was in my top ten books of last year so of course I had some expectations but I wanted to have as few as possible when I read the book. I didn’t want to know what anyone else thought: not the publishers (I hadn’t even read the blurb on the back of my copy), not fellow bloggers, not ‘professional’ reviewers. I wanted to make up my own mind with as few pre-conceived ideas as I could. For me there’s nothing quite so annoying as reading a book that doesn’t measure up to the expectations I have of it and these days it’s hard to come to a book with ‘fresh’ eyes and no expectations. But it’s the best way to read.
I’m about two-thirds of the way through The Girl Who Played With Fire so you’ll have to wait to find out how it measured up on the expectations scale. Luckily it’s a long weekend here in Australia so, with the housework sacrificed in favour of reading (again), I should finish it before heading back to work on Tuesday.