I’ll be especially grateful from now on

“When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” G.K. Chesterton

I have always been a reader. Someone for whom reading is not just something to do when there’s nothing else but an activity deliberately chosen, squeezed into even the busiest days, accompanying me on even the most exotic holidays. Someone for whom picking up a book and becoming lost in another place or time is as natural as getting dressed in the morning. So being unable to read for several weeks had a distinctly unpleasant feel to it.

It’s not that I suddenly went blind (for if I did there would be my audio book collection) but rather that I allowed myself to become out of sorts with reading when I failed to enjoy (or even finish) a book from a favourite author (no more about that here, you can read about my grumpiness over here if you have a masochistic streak). In the wake of that I simply found myself unable to get my usual relaxation, escape or comfort from picking up a book (or turning on my iPod). And while I’m sure my reading withdrawal wasn’t quite as extreme as the experience of someone undergoing physical withdrawal from alcohol or another drug to which they are addicted it was noticeable to me and to those around me (causing a greater than usual crankiness on my part).

Last Friday I forced myself to start a new book by a new to me author by promising myself an end-of-week glass of wine only if I read for 30 minutes first. I’m not sure if it was the promise of a drink or the passing of time or the moon being back in the right quadrant for my particular biorhythms but it worked. I am, once again, a reader. And I am newly grateful for the return of my old friend.

The book I chose turned out to be an excellent new novel from Wendy James. It’s called THE MISTAKE and I’ve reviewed it at my other blog because Wendy is an Australian author. It’s a ripper read and I highly recommend it to all.

I’ve been on a bit of a kick since then, finishing the second book in Shamini Flint’s marvellous series featuring Inspector Singh of the Singapore police. In A BALI CONSPIRACY MOST FOUL the Inspector is sent to Bali in the wake of the 2002 bombings there which killed 38 local people and 164 of the tourists who have flocked to the island for years. The Inspector feels a bit superfluous as he doesn’t have any experience investigating terrorist activities but he becomes useful when one of the people originally thought to have died in the bombings is shown to have been killed before the bombs went off. Singh investigates this murder with the help of a brash Australian cop who has also been seconded. The book has just the right mix of gentle humour and sensitivity to set a fictional murder mystery against the backdrop of the all-too-real events and it is a great read.

My current print book is Peter May’s THE BLACKHOUSE which I have been itching to read since I saw this review at Petrona. I am a sucker for the remote island setting. I’m also back into audio books and listening to Anne Holt’s FEAR NOT which is one of the titles eligible for this year’s International Dagger for translated fiction. I have become a bit addicted to having translated books read to me as the narrators get all the people and place names right (which I am sure I never do).

I’m about a third of the way into both of these and thoroughly gripped. Just like in the good old days. In fact so thoroughly gripped that I’m going to wrap this up and go read. Very, very gratefully.

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19 Responses to I’ll be especially grateful from now on

  1. Maxine says:

    So glad you have got over your “slump”, Bernadette, and in a big way by the looks of it! I’m going to track down The Mistake over here as a result of your review, & hope you enjoy the books by Peter May and Anne Holt as much as I did. I thought Fear Not has some fascinating discussion about “hate crime” in a section that is sort of hived off from the main plot. Thanks, also for the review of the Shamini Flint book, I read and enjoyed the first one of these but have not gone back to the series. I wonder if one can omit the intervening books and go straight to this one?

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    • This is actually the second book in the Inspector Singh series Maxine so you could read it in order 🙂 I found it particularly poignant as the Bali bombings had such an impact here – 88 Australians killed and everyone here goes to Bali at some stage in their lives so it’s almost like it happened here. You read so many books about the aftermath of the terrorism in America but, sadly, it goes on all over the world and it is interesting to see this perspective covered.

      I am enjoying the Anne Holt book though not sure how I feel about the notion of hate crimes…as if someone is any more dead because of the motivation of the killer. I have some sneaking suspicion it is a modern invention meant to make us all feel better about ourselves and how thoroughly politically correct we all are. or maybe I am just a cynic. But I am enjoying that aspect of the book as well as the main plot too.

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      • Maxine says:

        That’s good, I will put it on the list. Yes, I remember those hideous bombings though of course the UK is not as “close” to Bali as Australia/Australians.

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  2. Beth2 says:

    Welcome back Bernadette! So pleased for you that you’ve returned from the wilderness. I hope your TBR pile has all you require and that you’ve a good supply of wine/coffee/chocolate to accompany it. Salut!

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  3. Jose Ignacio says:

    I’m glad to see you back on full track Bernadette. Thank you for remind me that I’ve still have some Shamini Flint’s books to read.

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  4. Bernadette – I’m so very glad you got over your slump. I think lots of people have times like that in their lives. Since reading is such a part of who you are, it’s no wonder you didn’t feel yourself when you weren’t doing it – that part of you was missing.
     
    Thanks for sharing your impressions of the books you’ve been reading. I like Shamini Flint’s work quite a lot so I’m glad you mentioned it. I’ve already added the Wendy James to my TBR list, too; it sounds like such a great read and is, from what I understand, an unflinching look at what happens when the “court of public opinion” weighs in on a case.
     
    I’ll be eager to read more of your excellent reviews as you dive back into the reading pool :-).

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  5. Kathy D. says:

    Glad you’re out of your slump and found books that you like. I will put the Wendy James on my TBR Mount Kilimanjaro. I like Shamini Flint’s inspector and will look for this one. Peter May’s and Anne Holt’s are on my list, too. Oh, here, spring is starting and it’s time to take time off with books and tell friends I’m busy (reading).And will look for the reviews.

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  6. Barbara says:

    Welcome back to the world of readers. I’m not sure if I could stay away from books for so long, no matter how disgruntled I got. I need my reading fix every day without fail or no one can stand to be around me. Speaking of disgruntled, I wonder if you can be gruntled?

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  7. I am so relieved to hear a couple of good books have brought you back into the fold!

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  8. Bill Selnes says:

    Bernadette: I am glad you are back to your book enthusiastic self. I cannot say I have had a reading slump. I have bogged down in books. While an unreasonable attitude I still have some feeling I should finish a book even if it is not reading well.

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  9. KerrieS says:

    Must’ve been the wine or the moon that did it! Whatever, glad to hear your mojo has returned.

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  10. JoV says:

    I didn’t know you had a reading slump in the first place Bernadette. I am glad you are over it now. We all get burn out sometimes. I’m putting the Inspector Singh’s series in my bag right this instant. I was at the Bali bomb site 2 years after that the incident. It was very sad.

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  11. sue says:

    Sad to say, I didn’t like the Peter May book as much as I expected. Stunning reviews and I can see why; nonetheless I was disappointed. It was a tad predictable for my taste and even my husband who always finishes books (when I fall by the wayside) did not complete this book.

    I am so glad you have regained your joy in reading. Your reviews are always excellent.

    A recent Lifeline booksale resulted in me purchasing mainly biographies and short stories, because I had read most of the detective/crime fiction on sale (amazing how many copies of the dragon tattoo were there).

    I can’t resist a quote from Somerset Maugham, “To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.” I do agree.

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  12. Keishon says:

    I’m always late to the party but oh well, first I’m glad you’re over your reading slump, Bernadette. Second, I’m curious about the Flint books (making a note on that) and your opinion on the Peter May book because like Sue’s husband, I have set it aside because the flipping back and forth in time for me isn’t working 😦 Hope all is well.

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  13. Kinga says:

    Ha. Your slump were relatively short. I had an almost complete reading break between the age of 16-21. I have absolutely no idea why because I was an extreme bookworm before and fell straight back into it when I recovered.

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  14. Kathy D. says:

    I am in a reading slump, am trying to read All Cry Chaos by Leonard Rosen. It’s interesting and has humor and a likeable protagonist. But it’s taking forever to read it. Oh, well, may just put it aside and try something else.

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    • I think putting a book aside is the only option sometimes Kathy – sometimes several books. Wishing you much luck in a speedy slump recovery – I appreciate how it can affect you when you are without the comfort of reading if it something you normally take for granted.

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