Thoughts and other Miscellany

Thoughts on back-dated reviews, holiday reading

One more day before I start posting sensible, you know, review-related material. (Or maybe two, as BTT is tomorrow) I have read some books and now I have written some words about them. But first, some thoughts.

When I come to review something I read a month ago (even though I haven’t read much in that time apart from technical treatises on the application of IAS 19 in order to account for defined benefit pension schemes), I often cannot remember the names of any but the main characters. In some cases, I struggle to remember even that. Does this mean:

a)      The characters are not memorable anyway (possibly: I have much less trouble naming characters from The Love Verb, where I felt the characters were strong, easily distinguished and generally well-set, as opposed to The Horse Whisperer, where only the two main characters do anything at all – and even then I want to call Tom Robert, because Robert Redford was the actor in the film).

b)      The characters are not often referred to by their names (book to refute this: A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian. There is no end of telephone conversation and dialogue in which the characters address each other by name frequently)

c)       I’m bad with names (possibly, but I don’t think so).

Anyone else find this? The Physicist and I talk about memory and the different strengths that different people’s memories have, so this might just be an expression of my own memory strengths. But as I most remember “plain text” (if you can write it, I can remember it, but I have no hope of telling you how many chapels there are in Westminster Cathedral despite the fact I go there regularly – I just don’t have that spatial recollection), I would have thought that names would stick with me. Any thoughts?

What should I read next? I’ve got a few days holiday with The Physicist; that is, I have gone up to his other home, to sit and drink tea and read books and generally mooch about a lovely northern town, while he sits in a room at the university and thinks about his thesis. I may even buy some books at the Wednesday market (I have been very successful there in the past!) Here are the books I have brought with me:

Storm Front by Jim Butcher – finished on the train on the way up. To be reviewed shortly.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel – obviously a must read, not just for my slowly-getting-off-the-ground Booker challenge. Slightly scary in size, must be read by 18th of August or surrendered to the library.

Charity Girl by Georgette Heyer – borrowed from the library for The No Longer Resident Cousin (TNLRC), who did not have time to read it before she set off on her European jaunt. TNLRC (TNLRC) and Mini-me rave about Georgette Heyer, so I thought I’d have to try her out.

Flowers for Mrs Harris by Paul Gallico – its slimness is very appealing. It also comes highly recommended by Simon of SIAB and by TNLRC.

A Visit by the Goon Squad  (do I even need to say who wrote it?) – obviously a must read. I’m a few chapters in and not really enjoying it, so not quite sure what to make of it.

Emotionally Weird by Kate Atkinson – I loved When Will There Be Good News and with my appetite for her plotting heightened by the recent BBC Case Histories series featuring the deliciously Scottish, rugged, steely-blue-eyed *swoon* Jason Isaacs, I have to read more of hers.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer – yes, I know, I’ve been “reading this” for ages.

Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson – review copy which I must get to before the publishing date!

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks – recommended everywhere, including by last month’s visitor C (hello C! I haven’t made more choc chip biscuits yet)

Slam by Nick Hornby – I have a mostly hate-hate relationship with Hornby. Why do I force myself to read all of his work? I keep waiting for him to redeem himself.

When God Was A Rabbit – a copy I won not all that long ago. Looks really really good.

The Survivor by Sean Slater – a fairly brutal-looking police procedural to get through and get off the shelf.

Or my Open University Italian course materials?


10 thoughts on “Thoughts on back-dated reviews, holiday reading”

  1. I have seven books waiting to be reviewed, or thereabouts, so I wondered how you were going to set about it, only to discover that you too forget the characters’ names… No magic wand then!

    Oh well. I find that I tend to remember specific quotes, which I then cannot find in the text or, worse, I do find them and then they mean something quite different to my original interpretation. I think on this occasion some of my reviews may lapse.

    Anyway, happy reading. What a lot you have to choose from! I had a copy of the Geraldine Brooks for a book group discussion, and refused to read it… but historical hasn’t appealed to me for a long time. Nick Hornby’s Polysyllabic Spree is interesting, but I do know what you mean about him generally.

    I loved Georgette Heyer in my youth and was recently told off for ‘underestimating’ her. So I will be interested to see what you think!

    1. Nope, no magic wand. Re quotes – that’s why I love the Kindle. I don’t tend to remember the quotes though, so a paper book is much easier to leaf through for 5 minutes to be reminded of plot and general impressions.
      You are the second person to say that Polysyllabic Spree is quite different, so I will have to try it out.

  2. I have to review immediately, before I read the next book, or it is useless. I’m a bit tense just now as I read 5 books last week on holiday (internet free) so am frantically trying to quarry time to write them up before I forget absolutely everything about them. I find it much worse for books I’ve read on Kindle – lack of cues?
    Is the OU Italian course suitable for a 16 year old who wants to do Italian GCSE?

    1. Sorry to hear that reviewing is making you tense. I find that my overall impression is less strong for books I’ve read on the Kindle, but the ability to mark passages as I go through is a huge bonus of reading on the Kindle.

      OU Italian course – the course I’m doing (L195) is for complete beginners and I have been pretty happy with it. I think you’d be good to do GSCE at the end of it, as it covers the perfect and imperfect tenses. However, it’s all based on the Routledge textbook, which you can buy much more cheaply than you can buy a course from the OU – so if you just want to do GSCE I’d buy the textbook. I’m working towards an OU Modern Languages degree. If you want to chat more about this, drop me an email and I’ll be happy to go through it in more detail!

    1. Me too. Exactly. I’ve read How To Be Good (4/10), High Fidelity (2/10) and About A Boy (7/10), but I keep trying more of his because I feel like I should have Read Him. I don’t know.

  3. Strangely I find waiting at least a week or so after finishing a book before writing my reviews really helps distill my thoughts and feelings about the entire work. But, if I don’t mark quotes, either with post-its in paper or on the Kindle, I have no hope of finding the exact spot I was after…

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