Posted by: Corri van de Stege | April 1, 2007

Books and lists

The meme seems to be catching on, quite a large number of  blogs refer to the book meme, each with their own slightly amended lists.  The other week I found one that made me doubt my own taste and interest as I had only read very few of the books listed.  Now I’ve come across one that seems to list my kind of books and so I feel ok again, that list is here.   Won’t bore you with my own favourites: they do change from time to time as I come across new (so far unread) books.  However, quite an interesting comment by Kathryn Hughes in the Guardian last week on reading a novel that is not really grabbing you.  Compared with mediocre non-fiction, which at least can teach you something, a novel that is only so-so makes you feel that you have been wasting time ‘as if your life is being stolen’ – there is nothing more dreary than reading mediocre fiction.  I totally agree and that’s why I don’t bother finishing a book I really cannot get into.  That’s probably different if you earn a living by commenting on books in whatever media. 

That’s my contribution for this weekend I’m afraid: the weather has changed and we suddenly find ourselves in this promising spring land: the garden needs a bit of care and pampering and it’s a good excuse not to do any work whatsoever this weekend.  Luckily the server at work is down this Saturday AND Sunday because of ‘essential maintenance’, which I quite welcome: no e-mails or attachments to plough through before Monday, just so that you’re ready up on whatever the calamity was last Friday.  I have happily scoured the newspapers, picked up one of the novels that was shortlisted for the Booker (Jed Rubenfeld: The interpretation of murder) which looks really promising .   Enough has been said about that glorious event itself, the Richard and Judy show as it is now referred to.  The lists of books put forward for the different categories are always interesting though and some gems, even though they  don’t win, will keep me busy for a while to come.  But again, I marvel at the number of people that write and manage to get published, absolutely amazing when you think about it.  Coming back to Kathryn Hughes (one of the judges of this particular festival)  however, ‘… so many of the novels we rejected displayed a paticular poverty of imagination in which the writer’s autobiography, barely transformed or even disguised, became the basis for a rather plodding novel.  Hence the many entrants who had chosen to write about bad marriages, lost babies, an careers going nowhere.  Gray calls it the rural teacher syndrome…’.   Well, it does make you swallow and think again – they’re right of course, there is nothing worse than reading mediocre stuff about other people’s mediocre lives.    As a blogger you think of course that you do have something different to tell or talk about, even if you don’t presume to be writing a novel, merely sharpening your pencil! 


  1. Just to say that I’m sharing my reading time between Bill Bryson’s “A short history of nearly everything” (a rough scientifical analysis) and something so different as is Ken Follett’s “The Pillars of the Earth”. Follett forgot on this occasion his usual thrillers for something touching slightly, fictionally, the history of Britain.

    I find both very interesting readings.

  2. Good to hear that. I loved ‘A short history of nearly everything’ and will pick up ‘the Pillars of the Earth’! Always appreciate a recommendation. Too little time to read everything…

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