Elmore Leonard said: I have a character in one of my books tell how she used to write historical romances ''full of rape and adverbs.''

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Two Unexpected Pleasures

Although I have stuck ‘librarian’ on my profile I don’t physically work in libraries any longer, although I do work for them. As a result, the amount of time I spend there has dropped quite significantly, not least because I now prefer to buy my books. Last week, however, I found myself in a number of libraries for extended periods of time and discovered two excellent novels whilst browsing the shelves.

This is noteworthy because:

  1. I can’t remember the last time I came across a book like this. (It’s so old fashioned!) These days, I visit my favourite blogs/ review sites and pick up recommendations from reviewers I trust. I just don’t have the time to read books that merely sound promising - see monstrous and growing TBR pile. I need a little more insurance.
  2. I don’t visit libraries much, as mentioned, and since I tend to bulk buy online, I don’t really visit bookshops either. Thus, the simple pleasure of browsing rows and rows of bookshelves at my leisure has been lost to me. And it is a pleasure. I found some of my favourite reads completely by chance - the innocuous, clothbound I Capture the Castle, Regency Buck (my first Heyer), Little Women, Jo Goodman's My Reckless Heart etc

Anyway, browsing through the shelves last week I found
Indiscretion by Jude Morgan, a book I immediately began to read and finished the same evening. And then a few days later, Bareback by Kit Whitfield. I haven’t read this yet, but the first chapter was incredible.

All of which may sound very mundane, but it brought home the sad truth of my reading habits and how stale the whole process has become. Perhaps my ever-growing tbr pile, and my inability to confront it, has something to do with the lack of spontaneity and risk involved in my choices.

Reviews to follow.

5 comments:

RfP said...

Ah, the browse!

I found Indiscretion a few months ago, also by browsing.

I adore browsing through libraries and brick-and-mortar bookstores. Online shopping just doesn't replace the experience. Browsing is still the most reliable way to find books I'll really enjoy, too, as I can read whatever excerpts I like.

My intuition says the same thing--that online purchasing may contribute to enormous-but-unappealing TBR piles. I think part of it's due to the online buying process--the lack of engagement with the physical book and the ease of buying in bulk. Once the pile reaches a certain size, the bulk is itself off-putting, so adding "fresh" books to it only makes it worse. I also like the immediate reward of spotting a book, trying a few pages, and taking it home to read that evening. It keeps up my excitement about the book.

However, I have friends whose enormous TBR piles are entirely from browsing local bookstores!

Meriam said...

It's got to the point where I won't even look at it (The Pile). I'm buying and reading new books. Most recently, Kresely Cole's Immortals series. Surprisingly good fun.

RfP said...

I won't even look at it (The Pile)

That always intrigues me. I recently went through the pile on my bedside table, hoping to eliminate a few books that I simply wasn't getting to. But once I picked them up, I was drawn to them all over again. At least my taste is consistent, I guess--it's not as if I take a book home, then wonder what attracted me to it.

I read a Kresley Cole last year. As I recall, it might have been similar to Tate Hallaway or Katie MacAlister? Supernatural comedy/romance?

Meriam said...

I read a Kresley Cole last year. As I recall, it might have been similar to Tate Hallaway or Katie MacAlister? Supernatural comedy/romance?

Although I haven't read Hallaway or MacAlister, I think you're right: supernatural romance/comedies. I've tried my best to stay away from this genre (can't stand the "Undead" series and my tolerance for Sookie Stackhouse is slim at best), but I quite liked the breezy style of this series. I think Cole has really nailed the merger of twenty-something modern day life with age-old Vampires/ Valkyries/ etc... It's like watching Grey's Anatomy but with supernaturals. Very entertaining. (GA is my dirty secret).

RfP said...

can't stand the "Undead" series and my tolerance for Sookie Stackhouse is slim at best), but I quite liked the breezy style of this series.

I'm leery too--that kind of humor treads a fine line. For me, the Undeads are saccharine in a way I associate with some irritating chick lit. I started a Sookie and thought it was going the same way so I put it down.

Even when I like these comedies, sometimes I seem to enjoy them only in small quantities. As I recall, I enjoyed the first Kresley Cole, but after two books I was getting tired of the Valkyries.

Ditto Katie MacAlister, though there's something in her writing--or the irreverent heroine--that still grabs me. But for me, her books have hit mid-series doldrums: each book ends with the situation sorta the same. I've stopped reading them until the overall plot/relationship moves forward. I really enjoyed the first one though, and I like that they're partly set in Hungary.