It hardly warrants complaining about but sometimes the sight of my TBR shelves sends me into a tailspin. Which one of the 150-odd books will I read next? I literally dither about in indecision some days (and no we won’t discuss the fact I now have a new eReader on which to cleverly hide TBR books).
When I saw a package from Book Depository on my doorstep as I arrived home tonight I decided I’d read its contents and not force myself to decide which book to select from the shelves. I rarely do this (it normally doesn’t feel ‘right’ to read a book that hasn’t done a fair stint on the sidelines) but it’s only my silly rule not a national law (yet).
I am chuffed the package contained Nigel McCrery’s Tooth and Claw. I can still remember in vivid detail the opening to Still Waters, the first book of McCrery’s that I read nearly two years ago. It created an image that has stayed with me to this day (and made me look askance at every little old lady with gardening shears I have since encountered) (which makes the fact I have taken on the role of creating a local community garden something of a psychological torture let me tell you). The rest of the book was darned good too, offering a great story with a quite powerful commentary about how we treat the people who live differently to ‘the norm’ or on the fringes of society. I rated it 4.5 out of 5 and still recommend it to friends.
I have no clue what this follow-up novel is about. I pre-ordered it as soon as I saw it was by McCrery and featured the same protagonist as the other book (a detective with a neurological condition that means most noises he hears triggers a taste in his mouth which might be bearable when the noise is the telephone and the taste is ice-cream but would undoubtedly be madness-inducing if the sound of your child’s laughter induced the taste of vomit).
Will this one give me nightmares too?
Realising it is due to go back to the library in a couple of days, tonight I started The Mystery Man by Bateman (who seems to have lost his first name in the past couple of years).
And now I have a problem.
If I am to finish the book in time to return it by the due date I’ll have to read it while out of the house (on the bus, having my morning coffee, on my lunch break etc). But if I read it while I’m out of the house I might be in trouble.
The book is funny. Not “I’ve smiled a couple of times and chuckled once” funny or “my, isn’t that a wry observation I see before me” funny but “I’m only on page 27 and am already giggling like a granny who’s been at the liquor cabinet all day” funny.
It’s permissible to laugh like a drunken granny in the privacy of one’s own home but on the bus or at the coffee shop it’s a different story. People purse their lips, roll their eyes and practice their disapproving looks. Which I won’t mind because I’ll be laughing at the funny book.
But when I’ve finished the book and revert back to non-giggling commuting and coffee drinking regular passengers and fellow latte addicts will remember that I was the giggling crazy person. And they’ll still purse their lips, roll their eyes and practice their disapproving looks (which I assume they’ll get better and better at). And I’ll probably mind it a lot more when I’m not laughing at the funny book.
Who knew reading could be such a dangerous hobby?
I’ll admit I wasn’t brimming with excitement at the prospect of reading the 15th installment of Elizabeth George’s Inspector Lynley mysteries. Partly this is due to my own disappointment at the previous book (that wasn’t really in the series at all but did relate to a character) and partly this is because reviews by people’s whose opinions tend to coincide with mine haven’t been glowing (see Maxine’s review from earlier this year). But mostly it’s because the damned thing is enormous.
I chose to listen to it rather than read the print version (I’m desperate for audio books and I’m too cheap to buy as many as I need so make do with what’s at the library) but it’s 23 hours and 15 minutes long! I have to assume she was paid by the word. I also have to assume she’s too ‘big’ to warrant an editor these days. I don’t know what else would account for the kind of wandering down rabbit holes and meandering off on tangents that have, so far, filled the book (I’m somewhere in the middle of CD13). No first time author would get away with this.
There’s not a whole lot of story to date and I’m not nearly as interested in the sex lives of a bunch of dreary Cornwall residents as George seems to be (seriously the woman’s obsessed). There have been some decent moments but the book doesn’t have nearly the punch (nor the brevity) of the excellent earlier books in the series like For the sake of Elena and Deception on his Mind. All the regular minor characters are missing (even good old Havers took until CD 11 to make her presence felt) and their replacements haven’t grabbed me much. The DCI investigating the case, Bea Hannaford shows potential but it’s a toss up whether I find out how she finishes up or pour superglue into my own ears to make it all stop.
I’ve got two books on the go at the moment and coincidentally am experiencing the same problem with both: they’re too long although neither is a bad book.
I’m about half way through Michael Connelly’s The Lincoln Lawyer which runs to 12 CDs (just over 14 hours). It follows the plight of Mickey Haller, a 40-something defence lawyer in Los Angeles. There’s a big case where Mickey is defending a rich person who’s been accused of assaulting a woman and there are a lot of other cases along the way. I’m quite engaged by Mickey and the big case has just gotten to a crucial point which I am very curious to see resolved. But, and it’s a big but, the thing is dragging like a wet weekend. I can’t believe the amount of detail included (long descriptions of meals eaten and every item of clothing someone is wearing etc).
I’m about a third of the way through the print version of Stephen Booth’s Blood on the Tongue. This one weighs in at 632 pages. The third in a series featuring DC Ben Cooper and DS Diane Fry who operate in England’s Peak District. A Canadian woman wants the local war-time crash of her grandfather’s plane to be re-investigated 57 years after the incident occurred and an unidentified man has been found in the snow. Both cases are at least mildly interesting and Ben Cooper is a character who has the potential to be someone I would like. But, and again it’s a big but, this one is dragging even more slowly. I’m at page 184 and I’d only need the fingers of one hand to count the important plot developments. But I can tell you what everyone’s wearing and describe in some detail the shops in the high street of the local town.
It’s not a length issue precisely, I recently listened to Child 44 which was also 14+hours long and I loved it so much I’d have been happy for it to go on longer. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed both the Stieg Larsson books that have been translated to English so far and they were nearly as long as Booth’s. It’s more an issue of the lack of a red pen during the editing process.
Normally I don’t have a problem stopping a book if I’m not enjoying it but in both these cases I’m quite interested in the stories.
I’m just not sure I’m interested enough to slog through the minutiae both have incorporated, especially with so many titles giving me come hither looks from my TBR shelves.