Words and books

I’m blaming Stephen Fry.

I tried, I really did try and read his autobiography but it just didn’t flow for me. As wonderful a wordsmith as he is, it just didn’t read well, the flow and cadence was wrong and I found myself slowing down to read things in his voice. Whilst I like Stephen Fry, taking him to bed every night got a bit taxing.

So I gave up. I stopped. I admitted defeat and stopped reading which isn’t something I’ve done before.

Actually that’s a lie, I’ve given up a several books after faltering in the first few pages but that’s different. That’s like taking the first bite of a meal before realising it’s not what you wanted, or isn’t sitting kindly on the palate, and so you call over the chef (cook, wife, whatever), send the meal back and ask for something else.

No, this was different and it took me a while to realise that, although I’d read over half of the damn thing, I just wasn’t enjoying it.

That got me thinking about things I do enjoy, things I don’t enjoy, and which things I would have to change in my life to get more of the former and less of the latter.

And before my mother pitches up, yes I know life includes things you don’t enjoy but need to do but gosh darnit I’m all grown up now and if I can’t sway things more in the favour of enjoyableness then… well… that’s just not fair! Or some other slightly more reasoned argument that I can’t quite think of at this time of the morning.

With that in mind, one of my New Year resolutions (and I’m very aware of such things, setting yourself up for failure and all that) is to read more. Like my resolutions of last year, I’ve written it (and two others) on a piece of paper and wedged it in the frame of the mirror I use everyday, so I have a constant reminder of such things.

I am now reading, and enjoying, Empress Orchid. A tale of the last Empress of China, a story with characters, intrigue, passion and no small amount of gorgeous imagery. It’s nice to find myself enjoying the act of reading again, and perhaps I’ve dwelt too long on “professional” books in the past couple of years. I need to make more time for the novel.

Which means my rather quiet Goodreads account should start seeing a few more regular updates. It also tells me I have 34 books in my ‘to-read’ pile but don’t let that stop you recommending me more.

5 comments

  1. I loved both those books 🙂 I can’t wait til Stephen’s finished his follow-up to Moab, I won’t lend it to you this time though 😉

  2. I’ve read a couple of Fry’s books and I’ve come to the conclusion that he’s just not a very interesting writer. His fiction (namely ‘Making History’) was especially slow and clichéd.

    I never managed to finish Moab either… it was a total snore-fest.

  3. Here comes mother pitching.. the state of doing more of what we enjoy and less of what we don’t etc. is called retirement – you’ve got a way to go yet, but believe me it’s worth it,just a pity there aren’t enough hours in the day now (or enough hours when I’m not snoozing on the couch….!)

  4. I always used to plough on to the end of a book no matter what, as a matter of principle that was drummed into me since before I could read.

    Recently though I have relaxed that a little. Life is too short and there are too many good books to waste time reading bad or unenjoyable ones. If I find myself stuck with something I don’t enjoy I may skim the rest of it and, just occasionally, cast it aside.

    As for Empress Orchid, I presume you know Anchee Min wrote a sequel, The Last Empress. I thought both were very good at capturing the atmosphere and political intrigue of the setting.

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