I listened to a book review recently, the title and the author were mentioned at the beginning it was one I was sure I had read, but as I listened I became less and less sure it didn't sound like the same book at all. It was the same with an adaptation, also on the radio, of a book I read in the 80s so my memory is faded and I was a very different person then. I now want to reread both these books to see how I view them now.
I studied English at A Level* the class sizes were very small (around ten pupils) there was no where to hide and I dreaded being asked any questions. I just didn't get the analysis that was going on around me. I couldn't tell you then or now why I favour one book over another any more than I can with music. I have often pondered this, I read books to enjoy them not to tear them apart and look for meaning. But listening to that recent review has bought home to me something that I have often thought, that when we read we do so through ourselves, through our personal experiences. So how we are and how we think has a bearing on what we make of a book and its narrative.
I am not usually one for choosing a book by its cover. When I was a teenager I tried reading many books by a publisher who were redefining publishing at the time, and still do to this day. A series of books with distinctive covers. I can't remember why I decided to read any of them, but I suspect it had something to do with them being 'a book to be seen reading', even if, as it was in my case, you don't understand a word of them. I am sure like everyone I am guilty of choosing books by the covers, sometimes they are good. I recently pulled a book off the library shelves simply because it stood out. It was a good find. A remarkable book. The character descriptions were wonderful, the descriptions of place were so detailed, I was drawn in to the story and felt as if I was a watching the narrative going on me. A book I did not want to end. I am so glad that the publisher has reissued other books by this author, I am going to seek them out. A lucky find in this case.
I read chapter books to my children. I choose carefully. I have a big age gap and I want it to appeal to them both. Cameron is more than capable of reading each of them to himself, but having a book read to you is different. Knowing how difficult it can be to find a book you want to read I never know how my choices with be received. I found a secondhand copy of book by an author I have read as an adult, I had no idea that he had written for children too. I have read two, by this author, to them now, both of them thought provoking to adults and children alike. I love how when you read and discuss a book with children they raise issues that you have never considered, these books raised more discussions than most we have read and enjoyed together.
I go through phases of struggling to find books I really want to read. I am a mono reader, if that is such a word, I need to focus on one book at a time. When I am dipping in an out of several different books at once, I know I am in a struggling phase. I am doing that at the moment. A story that I am enjoying but am not drawn into, I am an observer and not wanting to engage. Perhaps that engagement is what makes a book a good one for me. The writing however is sharp and descriptive, but the books I mentioned at the beginning are tempting me, given how precious my reading time is I may not make it to the end.
So what make a good book for you, do you know?
*A Levels are exams that are taken in England and Wales at the end of your school career, usually around the age of eighteen having studied for them for the previous two years. It is usual to study three, sometimes four subjects.
Thank you to all of you who commented on my last post, it was wonderful to read what inspires each of you to blog. A huge variety of reasons, which is what makes blogging such a great platform for sharing.