You all know that I’ve been less than faithful about blogging regularly – and it should be clear that I am reading all the freakin’ time, even though I’m rarely blogging about it. So maybe today’s embarrassment will come as no surprise to all two of you, but it was quite a slap in the face for me.
I looked at the list of books On The Shelf and discovered that I have read all of them, every single one. Some of them months ago. One of them, twice already! Shameful and slacker-like and thoroughly unacceptable for a girl who says she wants to be writing more.
So, in the interest of kicking my own ass and maybe building better habits, I am going to write about at least one of those on-the-shelf books every day until I’ve written about all of them. Then try to get through the list of one/two/three dozen books I’ve read in addition to these (it’s been a slow month or two).
Today’s Book: The Children’s Book by A. S. Byatt
This book was a first for me in a couple of ways. It was my first A.S. Byatt book (Booker-prize-winning author of 10+ books), and my very first (paid!) book review subject for BookBrowse.com. You can read some of that review at the link above (though you need a subscription to read all of it).
Thankfully, I liked the book. But I didn’t love the book. It got rave reviews in lots of places, and I certainly am not here to rebut those claims – the book is fabulously written and really held my interest for most of it. I was just let-down by the ending. And not so much what happened at the end, but the quality of the writing at the end. And maybe I was expecting too much or missing what she was trying to do, but I don’t think so.
Most of the book focuses on the inner lives of several children in England, the generation that grew up to fight in WWI. And I loved all of it. Then the kids grow up… and suddenly we see a lot less about what’s going on inside them, more plot-driven stuff instead. So – in my mind – what could have been an incredible book became just a good book from that point on. It’s likely that most people wouldn’t be bothered by that at all – and many would see it as a step in the right direction. To each his own, I like to see what makes people tick.
For each book I review, I also have to do a write-up on something in the book that I found interesting, or wanted to know more about as a result of reading the book. And, since one of the main characters is a potter’s apprentice, doing ‘pottery as art’, I did a side-bar on the Studio Pottery movement of the time (the book is full of great historical references to all kinds of cool stuff).
I was completely stressed out about it. I wasn’t too worried about the review itself (I’ve been writing about books and getting As for quite some time), but everything about the side-bar worried me. Was it interesting to anyone else? Is my research thorough enough? I can’t find anything to say, are pictures good? What if they hate it and don’t ask me back for another review?
Turns out, pictures are good, my research was fine, and the side-bar is not intended to be a torture device. Both Davina and Lucia (the brains and wits behind BookBrowse.com) are very nice people who don’t wield nasty red pens or detention slips. And they did indeed ask me back (I’m starting my fifth book for them as soon as I finish this). I relax a little bit more each time the dreaded side-bar question comes up. Maybe someday I’ll consider myself a journalist.