Posts Tagged ‘books about books’

27th January
2014
written by Steph
End Of Your Life Book Club

The End Of Your Life Book Club

I never expected that traveling would change my reading tastes. All my life I’ve been a devoted reader of fiction and not really much else, and that’s honestly suited me fine. Don’t believe me? Of the 300+ posts that I’ve written about books on this site, less than 10 of them feature non-fiction titles. I’m all for reading broadly and diversifying one’s tastes, but I clearly also know what works for me and don’t stray too far from my literary predilections very frequently. And yet, ever since we’ve been traveling, I’ve found I have the attention span of a gnat, which not only makes it difficult to coherently synthesize and discuss the books that I do read after the fact, but it’s made focusing on my reading material a lot more challenging too. Part of why I failed to read very much last year is because I frequently found my attention waning and shifting whenever I picked up a book, except in the rarest of occasions, and I found that most novels simply did not capture or engage me in any real way. I’d put down books for days at a time without picking them up again, only to find that when I did, the story had pretty much fallen completely out of my brain. I couldn’t just peck at books sporadically, and my memory didn’t seem to have the capacity to retain enough plot to allow me to follow any novel in a lucid manner, and so I’d abandon one book after the next as I hunted (mostly futiley) for things that I could focus on. During this time, I discovered that I often had an easier time with memoirs, as they tended to pull me into their stories quickly and I could dip in and out of them over the course of several weeks and their coherency never suffered despite my haphazard reading schedule. I’d hate to cast aspersions on the memoir genre as a whole having, admittedly, not read much from it, but I think in part, the writing in the average memoir tends to have a lower difficulty threshold, so the cognitive demands placed upon the reader are perhaps less and the barrier to reader engagement is reduced. Or maybe there’s something about the conversational approach that memoirs tend to take, so that you actually feel like the author is speaking directly to you, like a friend would, and you’re just sitting down to a (somewhat) one-sided conversation and can enjoy the ride. (more…)
25th July
2009
written by Steph

Worth owning for the drool-inducing cover alone?

Given my love of reading in real life, I’m often drawn to books that feature protagonists that also show some serious lit love.  One glance at the cover of The Secret of Lost Things and you know it’s gonna be a book about books.  When I found out it involved a young woman who winds up working in a used bookstore only to become embroiled in the hunt for a lost, unpublished manuscript by Herman Melville, I knew this was a book I had to read (despite not having read any Melville myself).  You all know that I love a mystery, and a literary mystery?  Even better! It turns out TSoLT both exceeded and fell short of my expectations.  Let me explain.  As soon as I bring back books from the used bookstore, the first thing I do is catalog them in my GoodReads library, because I love lists and am obsessive that way.  I always get a thrill when I pick up a book on a whim only to find it’s been generally rated quite highly by the rest of the book reading community.  When I entered in TSoLT, it had a relatively meager 3.06 rating, and the bulk of the first reviews I skimmed were generally very negative (we’re talking 1 star ratings… I almost never give books such a low score!).  So I had my hopes severely dashed that this would wind up being a good read and shunted it to the bottom of the pile.  Fast forward several months to a few days ago when I was looking for a book that would have an engaging plot but not necessarily challenge me.  I wanted something to capture my attention but not really require much effort on my part… so I figured I would give TSoLT a shot, because why not?  I picked it up and started to read and… I was completely swept away.  It was by no means a perfect book and yet parts of it really resonated with me, and I wound up finding it a really fun and effortless read; it was the kind of book where you read 30 pages without realizing it.  So in that sense, TSoLT exceeded my expectations and absolutely fit the brief for what I was looking for. (more…)