Sunday, April 28, 2013

Book Speed-Dating Report

Last Sunday, I took a picture of all the books I had on hand from the first/earliest page of my GoodReads To-Read list.  I pledged to speed-date all of them before May 1 and report back.  I sat and read 30-50 pages of each one* and I'm ready to delete a few from my to-read list!

First of all, the date that surprised me the most - The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing.  I have had a copy of this for at least four years, probably longer, and kept not even trying it because of its heft.  The 50 pages went quickly and I actually hated to stop reading - the female characters are strong and pass the Bechdel Test (I know that's a film concept, but it stuck out enough to me even in a novel to make note of it).  They talk to each other in a similar way to how I talk to my friends.  I immediately told a few of them to find a copy so we could read it together.  This book is definitely the equivalent to a girls night out, at least so far.  And when a man comes along, there isn't any moving over or backing down.  Consider this retort, which has a lot of retaliation embedded in it:
"Or perhaps what it is you don't like is that I do know what I want, have always been prepared to experiment, never pretend to myself the second rate is more than it is, and know when to refuse. Hmmmm?"  
Haha, this will be a fun read.  I will definitely be calling this one back.

Other good dates included Matrimony by Joshua Henkin, which looks to be an easy read; Loving Frank by Nancy Horan, and Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks.  Oliver Sacks is like the lonely guy who hasn't had anyone to talk to for a while, but has a lot of trivia to entertain his dates with, and hey, I'll bite.  Loving Frank is a compelling mixture of historical figure and fictional memoir that is easy to read.  I feel like I'll finish it feeling I learned something about Frank Lloyd Wright while simultaneously questioning everything I've learned, and that it will make me want to read even more about him.

I did have a few books I will not be calling back.  I feel the need to say that this is not exactly a judgment on the book, but that it is not a match for me.  Some reader out there will be much happier with it, and I release it back into the dating *cough* reading pool. 

My only other qualm is that the majority of what I'm rejecting is all books of short stories, and perhaps I'm just not in the mood for short stories.  Maybe I will be someday! Maybe I should hold on to - NO.  The entire point is to clean out the list.  So the books I'm rejecting completely are only three out of the fourteen.  Not the best odds if my only goal was to delete a book from the list, but not too shabby when you consider their careful consideration.  Those books include The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits by Emma Donoghue - this is the second book I've tried from Donoghue's earlier period, and it just goes soundly under the category of "not my thing."  The time period feels too forced to me, and I don't like lengthy descriptions of ribbons.  The subject matter of the first story didn't settle very well with me either, so it was an easy one to put aside.  I'm also rejecting Mothers and Sons by Colm Toibin because I didn't connect with it, and Rabbit, Run by John Updike because I KNOW THIS IS A CLASSIC BUT I JUST CAN'T MAKE MYSELF READ IT.  Feel free to try to talk me down.  This is the second time I've tried this book, basically I told him to go home and shower and get a haircut, and tried a trade paperback as an upgrade from my previous mass market paperback.  It didn't help. I can't stand the main character, ugh.

The rest of the books from the previous pile, I'm going to keep reading.*  I might postpone Children of God for a bit because it was too intense for where I am at the moment.

*Okay one book I cancelled the date with.  I have read the first few pages before, I remember a tennis match, but I just wasn't in the right frame of mind to see him again so soon.  So his mother continues to guilt trip me when he sees me at the laundromat.  "We're perfect for each other," she insists. 

Maybe someday.


  1. This is such a smart idea! I have a bunch of books that I want to try but it's often hard to decide which to start with. Perhaps I'll sample each of them and then make my move...

    1. Let me know how it goes! I'm going to go update my list and remove some things, so that's some success I suppose!

  2. Wow, that's an excelennt idea. I'll try that when I'm through with one of the books I'm currently reading. "The Golden Notebook" has benn on my list for a while. It's good to hear you liked the beginning.

    1. I really did enjoy it; I want to get some friends to read it with me before I keep going (it seemed like that kind of book).


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