I’m a voracious reader but not a fan of book clubs; I prefer to only read what I truly enjoy and not analyze the bejeezus out of it. Reminds me too much of all those painful high school English classes with Mr. Crowther asking “what did the author mean?”. Good grief! Who but the author really knows what he or she meant. I’m just in it for the fun of reading. I have an extensive spreadsheet summarizing books I want to readâ€”recommendations picked up from friends, The New York Times or The Globe and Mail reviews, magazine reviews and other sources. My detailed ‘To read’ chart includes?
- the title of the recommended book
- author’s name
- a few words describing what the book is about
- who or where the recommendation came from
- the date when I actually read the book
- its rating on a scale of 1-10.
I have to keep track because as soon as I finish a book and move on to the next one, I’m challenged to remember what I just read (which explains why when I was in high school in the olden days, memorizing reams of material for exams was not my fortÃ©). Does this level of tracking sound a bit excessive? There are so many books I have to cover in the short time I have left on this earth and I’m not about to waste time on something that doesn’t totally engage me and lift me up.
Reading is a cheap and effective way to vicariously travel to foreign countries, experience other cultures, eavesdrop on conversations between fascinating people, engage in a plot for the downfall of a corrupt individual or organization, fall in and out of love, learn about strange events or just simply learn something new, all in the comfort of my LaZgirl. As I said in an earlier blog, the best investment I never made was my library card. What a deal.
Like most bibliophiles, I love the feel, texture and even the smell of a lovely hard-copy old-fashioned linen-covered book, but I’m also a huge fan of e-reading. I’ve gone through many iterations of e-readers and settled on the iPad mini as being my favourite digital reading device. While I’m sitting in Five Guys scarfing down forbidden french fries and Diet Coke, I can hide my face in whatever book I’m currently engrossed in. And nothing beats several books downloaded onto an e-reader for convenience when traveling.
What I like and don’t like
Historical fiction is my favourite genre but I also like:
- autobiographies and biographies
- books by and about strong women
- humour (who doesn’t love David Sedaris?)
- classical Russian literature including Tolstoy, Chekov and Dostoyevsky (go figure??)
- some of the current best-sellers.
- I’m a big fan of Canadian and British female writers.
With all those options, I don’t have time for what I don’t absolutely love. If I start a book and don’t love it within the first couple of chapters, then it gets tossed. This means that many books that were commercially popular or acclaimed by the literary big-wigs did not pass muster. So, when I publish a book review on BOOMERBROADcast, you can be sure it’s a book I enjoyed. There are many books I’ve attempted (sometimes multiple times) to read without success and had to abandon for various reasons:
- Anything by Ayn Rand. Really?
- Alice Munro is a Canadian literary goddess. But I find her books boring and tedious. Sorry. Guess I’m just not smart enough.
- Rachel Cusk also leaves me cold. I’ve tried her Transit Trilogy books three times now, without success.
- I’m ambivalent about Margaret Atwood. I enjoyed her early writing and Alias Grace, but couldn’t get into her dystopian trips. Although I didn’t enjoy The Handmaid’s Tale when I first read it thirty years ago, I love the television series.
- The Fifty Shades of Gray series did not make the cut. After the first few pages, I found the writing almost laughable. For those who did enjoy them, more power to youâ€”you’re reading and enjoying yourself which is always a good thing.
- Surrealism and sci-fi aren’t my thing so I couldn’t get past the first few pages of Harry Potter, anything by Tolkien, or the Twilight series. I’m obviously in the minority about Harry Potter but I did try and as soon as we landed on Track 13Â½, that was it for me. Moved on.
- I’ve tried reading Zadie Smith without luck. After about fifty pages of NW I gave up but I may give her another try.
- I’m very circumspect about anything recommended by Oprah as most of the books she recommends are just plain depressing. When she made a big fuss several years ago about The Secret by Rhonda Byrne I thought I’d give it a whirl because it was about positive thinking. Who couldn’t benefit from a bit of that? Most of the material was copped from other writers and mentors and I felt ripped off. Waste of time. Hated it.
Reading and writing are my two favourite activities, or more accurately, lack of activity. I’ll pick up greasy magazines in the waiting room while I’m getting my oil changed; I’m a magazine junkie. When I enter a bookstore or library I can feel my heartbeat accelerate as I’m confronted with all the marvels on those beautiful shelves. Cereal boxes, picture books, airline safety brochuresâ€”put it in front of me and I’ll give it a go. There’s nothing I enjoy more than being engrossed in a good book for hours at a stretchâ€”one of the benefits of being retired.
My personal taste in reading is purely subjective, whittled down after years of trial and error. My friend Alice loves mysteries and fortunately the public library seems to have an endless supply so she’s all set for years to come. Valerie can’t resist a good self-help book and my father, at the age of 92 has just discovered Danielle Steele on his retirement home bookshelves and is enjoying her books. Most of my girlfriends enjoy the same kind of books I do so we trade books and titles constantly. Everyone has their own individual preference in reading material and if you enjoy the same kind of books I do, you probably enjoy my regular reviews. At least I hope you do. I’d love to hear suggestions from readers of BOOMERBROADcast in the “Comments” about books you’ve enjoyed. We’re probably on the same page so let’s share the wealth.
Your spreadsheet and organization sounds very scientific to me Lynda!!!
I understand where you’re coming from but unfortunately I’m a confirmed right-brainer. I created my chart on WORD as I’ve never been able to master or even understand Excel. My spreadsheet is the product of a scattered old brain not a scientific one. Thanks anyway for the vote of support.
Right now I am in a deep dive of all books about Eleanor Roosevelt’s life. I do tend to lean toward historical biographies and autobiographies to gain a better understanding of what makes the powerful, the affluent, the influential tick and what drives them. I try to emulate the good, understand and learn from the bad, and detour completely from the ugly. My commute to and from work is about 1 1/2 to 2 hours long each way so I use that time to listen to audiobooks. It makes the hours behind the wheel less stressful and more productive. When… Read more »
Thanks so much for your well thought-out comments. I read a great book about Eleanor Roosevelt and if you haven’t already read it, I highly recommend Loving Eleanor by Susan Wittig Albert. Here’s the link to a review I did about it: https://boomerbroadcast.net/2018/03/28/backroom-affairs-are-old-news-at-the-white-house/
Appreciate your recommendations and will add M.C. Beaton and Jennifer Chiaverini to my list as well as I am Pilgrim. Hope you stay tuned to Boomerbroadcast.