Saturday, 4 June 2016

Hello! Help Requested for a Jaded Reader - by Rosalie Warren

First of all, just to say how pleased I am to be back on the Authors Electric team. I was a regular contributor for about a year when Authors Electric first began, but chose to leave when life became demanding and my writing hit a slump. I’m pleased to say that things are back on track, pretty much (though see below) – and it’s great to be here again.

My first post is from Ros-the-Reader rather than Ros-the-Writer – and a somewhat jaded reader at that. For what may be the first time in my life (and that amounts to about fifty-seven years of mostly high-density reading), I can’t find anything I really want to read – anything that grabs me in the gut and won’t let go. Sure enough, I’m finding books that are okay… both new ones and ones I’ve read before. My usual tastes are literary fiction, comic fiction, crime and science fiction, plus literary biographies and popular science (cosmology, psychology, genetics, neuroscience, etc). There’s plenty of all this stuff about, but nothing that excites me to the core and, most importantly, makes me want to start scribbling something of my own.

Because when my reading runs into a rut, I’ve discovered, my writing quickly follows. It’s not that I want to be inspired in a ‘I could do that’, copy-catting kind of way. Much more often, I’ll read a fascinating treatise on the nature of consciousness or a book about mental health and find myself writing sci-fi (that’s pretty much how Lena’s Nest was born, though my former research interests also came into play). Or I’ll read a brilliant YA novel and find an unrelated (apparently) new character in her seventies appearing in my head, ready to star in a new tale for adults. It’s very mysterious and I’ve never really thought about it before… it just happens. Until it doesn’t!

The problem could be that I’ve been doing a lot (even for me) of reading recently and I’ve simply run out of good stuff. I remember my mother – an avid reader of detective novels throughout her adult life – who got through two books a day at her peak. The local library couldn’t keep up with her. This was well before the days of online bookselling and there was no bookshop in the town – not that she could have afforded to feed her habit by book buying. (Incidentally, Mum would have been horrified by the recent closure of so many libraries. I’m glad to say that the one she used in Pontefract was still open the last time I checked, though who knows for how long?)

Anyway, just lately I’ve been getting through books at almost at the rate Mum used to. I’ve had several weeks of health concerns and medical tests that have stopped me being as active as usual (thankfully all seems to be well). So perhaps I’ve just drained the well of the kind of books I like and will have to wait for the writers to catch up.

Maybe. Or am I missing something – possibly quite a lot? Please, fellow readers and writers, broaden my horizons, my remit, anything except my waistline – no cookery books involving chocolate! – and let me know what books are currently exciting you. They can be books you’ve written yourself – no undue modesty needed here. They don’t have to be the genres I’ve mentioned or for any particular age. I seem to read like a set of nested wooden dolls… each layer of me enjoys books suited to its own size/age, right down to babies’ picture books.

I’ve read a lot, so newish is good, though I have no objection to being reminded of works I’ve already read or somehow missed.

Thanks in advance! I’m looking forward to having my reading – and possibly even my writing – revitalised.

Best wishes,
Ros

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20 comments:

Bill Kirton said...

Welcome back, Ros. I recently had the same experience on a train journey. I clicked on a 'worthy' book by a reputable author on my iPad, started reading and just couldn't get engaged so clicked on another one with the same result. It seemed I'd lost the ability to escape into the fiction so I took refuge in Sudoku. It's happened before and rescue usually comes in the shape of something that makes me laugh. The most recent example was John Niven's The Second Coming. I'd be happy to send you a copy of The Sparrow Conundrum to see whether that would do the trick.

Chris Longmuir said...

I'm an avid reader as well and I know what you mean, Ros, and I see Bill does as well. His Sparrow Conundrum is hilarious, and I loved the cross-dressing character with the moustache. I see you like crime fiction, and there's a wee group of us on here who are crime writers. Myself, Valerie Laws, Debbie Bennett, and the lovely Bill Kirton, of course. He writes crime procedurals as well as humour. Oh, and not forgetting Wendy Jones who has a gun-running police inspector running amok in Dundee armed to the teeth. I write both contemporary and historical crime and if you pop over to my website to see if there's a book that might grab you, I'd happily send you a complimentary copy.

Chris Longmuir said...

Should have said ebook copy :)

Dennis Hamley said...

At the risk of being accused of inordinate self-promotion, may I suggest four books of mine you might like? They are 'Spirit of the Place' ('a marvellous story' says Philip Pullman), 'Out of the Mouths of Babes' if you like rants about the class system, and, if you're not fed up with the two World Wars, 'Ellen's People'(WW1) and its WW2 sequel 'Divided Loyalties.' Just saying!
All on Kindle. I don't know how to gift them but I'll send them as PDFs if you're interested. I'm a pretty habitual reader as well and know the disappointment when I realise a book isn't the page-turner I expected. I've NEVER found that in anything AEs write, so that's one up to us.

Rosalie Warren said...

Thank you Bill, Chris and Dennis for the welcome, the suggestions and the very kind offers of complimentary copies of your books. I know how much sales mean to authors so I am going to decline these offers with grateful thanks and order these books for myself, either later today or tomorrow! Thanks again - my literary glands are already salivating at the prospect...

Catherine Czerkawska said...

Whenever I feel a bit jaded - and it occasionally happens - I go back to some old favourites. I've just reread Jane Austen's novels, followed by Vanity Fair (had forgotten just how good it is!) and the Brontes. Now it's Pickwick Papers. There's something about these big books that you can really get your teeth into - and it seems to give me a better perspective on my own writing too. Also Barbara Pym and E F Benson - all of Miss Pym's books and Benson's wonderful, acid, hilarious Lucia novels. I reread those every few years, still love them - and still find the time to read new novels. My big beef with some contemporary novels is that I will find something I love, then read the next novel only to find that it is pretty much exactly the same. The thing I enjoyed was the writing style, the voice, the themes. But if the writer has been persuaded to rewrite exactly the same novel all over again, I'm not going to bother. One other recommendation - still one of the best novels I have ever read - if you haven't read it, is Jane Harris's amazing Gillespie and I.

Bill Kirton said...

Typically, Catherine hasn't highlighted any of her own novels but every single one I've read so far has been terrific. Try The Physic Garden or any of them - rich, textured, elegant and more. And I second Dennis's comment about the books of AEs. I've never yet been disappointed.

Catherine Czerkawska said...

Thank-you, Bill!

Rosalie Warren said...

Thank you, Catherine (and Bill again). I love Barbara Pym but have not read E. F. Benson's Mapp and Lucia - will try them. Am also embarrassed to admit to never having read Vanity Fair. It's on the list :-) Have read Catherine's 'The Physic Garden' and loved it.

Chris Longmuir said...

I agree with you all. I love Catherine's books, and considering I normally read a diet of crime and suspense, that's saying a lot for Catherine's writing. I must try yours, Ros, although I'll have to wait until I get out of revision and rewriting hell first. Who said that writing was easy?

Rosalie Warren said...

Wishing you well with the revision and rewrites, Chris. Nope, far from easy, though I'm sure your hard work will prove to be worthwhile.

Kathleen Jones said...

Welcome back Ros! Try anything by an AE author - they're all top notch! I've been feeling like you, but things seem to be picking up at the moment. I have the new Maggie O'Farrell on m y table and haven't dipped in yet, but anticipating a good read.

Dennis Hamley said...

Rosalie, that would be marvellous if you were to buy them. Though I'm always ready to prime the pump with free copies - ometimes it's a case of 'better read than bought'. I was thinking of the teeming list of book recommendations I could make, but I'll content myself with two, one fiction, one non-fiction, which I have returned to over and over again because they never stop revealing new secrets and have both been incredible helps to me in my own writing. The novel is Antonia Byatt's 'Possession'and the non-fiction is Barbara Tuchman's absolutely incredible 'A Distant Mirror: the calamitous fourteenth century.' I expect you've read both, but if you haven't, here are two real gaps for you to fill! And welcome back to AE. 'Charity's Child' is a brilliant, unforgettable book.

Lydia Bennet said...

I love and regularly re-read all of Barbara Pym's novels and the EF benson Lucia novels, starting with Queen Lucia. I recently re-read all of Ngaio Marsh's 'golden age' crime fiction, she is an amazing writer. Thanks to Chris Longmuir, whose crime fiction I'd also recommend unreservedly, for the mention! Catherine Czerkawska, always a supportive member of AE like Chris, has written a wide variety of books, I'd recommend starting with The Physic Garden which is both excellent and unusual. But I often find these days I download a book which is being raved about and find it dull and packed with flavourless padding. I don't waste time wading through these any more.

Lydia Bennet said...

If you want new books, The Rosie Project and sequel are brilliant and funny. As is A Man Called Ove. And the Hundred Year old man who jumped out of a window. Some very quirky and eccentric novels about these days I'm glad to say!

Rosalie Warren said...

Thanks, Kathleen. I'm looking forward to the Maggie O'Farrell too. And thanks, Dennis. I love 'Possession' and it's time I read it again. Have not read 'A Distant Mirror' - will definitely read it. And thanks for your very kind comment about 'Charity's Child'.

Enid Richemont said...

A few odd ones from me. I read, and enjoyed, two Y/A novels that came out almost at the same time - Kathryn Evans's MORE OF ME, and Frances Hardinge's THE LIE TREE. Also: MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN, by Ransom Riggs. I've already mentioned Leslie Wilson's MALEFICE in a previous blog - it's impressive, and also Kathleen Jones's THE SUN'S COMPANION, which takes you atmospherically through the Second World War - she's an amazing writer.
Embarrassingly, a few highly-lauded novels which I was given as presents I simply can't get on with.

Rosalie Warren said...

Thank you, Lydia and Enid. Sorry, I somehow missed your posts yesterday. I have now ordered a good selection of the books recommended to me so far and look forward to some happy reading hours.

madwippitt said...

Welcome back .... :-) have just finished the really entertaining The Murdstone Trilogy recommended by someone else ... and a favourite bit of brain candy when I'm feeling a bit jaded are the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovitch :-)

Rosalie Warren said...

Thanks, Madwippitt :-)