Book Thoughts

Boy, sometimes Monday hits you hard! I’m feeling rather shell-shocked right now. This is the busiest part of the semester for me, with tons of paper drafts I need to read and comment on and classes to prepare for and meetings to attend and little annoying tasks that come out of nowhere and take forever to accomplish. Plus I want to ride and blog and read, and do all the usual stuff. And I really hate being busy. I don’t thrive on being busy, as some people (amazingly) do.

Anyway, that explanation accounts for my rambling thoughts this evening. So, I’ve begun listening to P.D. James’s The Murder Room, and, oh, what fun it is! Perhaps I should make a habit of listening to mysteries in the car … for some reason mysteries go well with being all on my own in the small space of a car. So far, and I’m not very far into the book, James’s writing is wonderful — smart, literate, entertaining. And there’s something about hearing an actual voice narrating the story that works so well; the reader’s voice is quiet and intimate and also a bit somber, as befits a murder mystery novel. I understand the main character, Adam Dalgliesh, is also in some other of her works, so perhaps I’ll have to seek those out.

I need more light, fun books to read. I’m feeling rather bogged down with Nightwood and The Recess, although I’m almost through with Nightwood, which will free up some time for other things. But, as often happens, the things on my shelves seem too serious. I’m so ambitious when I buy or mooch books, and I forget to think about the times when I’ll need something lighter. Shall I use this as an excuse to go to the bookstore? Or perhaps I can raid Hobgoblin’s shelves for some more mysteries; he’s got lots of Dorothy Sayers’s books and Ellis Peters and at least one Amanda Cross mystery. Perhaps I should throw aside all other reading plans for a while and reading nothing but mysteries until I feel better?

I wish I had another Georgette Heyer novel on hand; that would do quite well too …

My problem is that in the moment when I pick up some difficult book, I’m feeling optimistic and energetic and ambitious. But that feeling rarely lasts during these busy times of the year, and then I feel stuck in the middle of something I don’t have the energy for. If I do this a couple of times, then I’m stuck in the middle of a bunch of things I don’t have energy for. And as I don’t like to set books aside for too long, I generally keep going with what I’m in the middle of. I should just face up to the fact, perhaps, that the slower times of the year are better for ambitious reading, and the busier parts are not, and that’s okay. I don’t have to be reading difficult things all year round after all.

10 Comments

Filed under Books, Reading

10 responses to “Book Thoughts

  1. I hate being frantically busy too, and the only way I can get through it is to ensure I get some lovely comfort reading time every day. Nothing difficult, thank you. P. D. James or Georgette Heyer are just perfect. I think that if your brain has been humming all day, it requires the equivalent of a gentle massage from reading!

  2. I don’t consider myself a mystery reader but when I do read a mystery I so love P.D. James! Dalgliesh is in a number of her books. I like him very much. I got to see James read once a number of years ago and I was so impressed with her. She is personable and witty and down to earth and re-reads all of Jane Austen every year.

  3. I really like mysteries. They can be very literary and challenging–but in a different way from other challenging sorts of books. They are great for times like these when you want something good, but not overly difficult. I am working on PD James’ Devices and Desires–at least it is one of the books I want to finish by the end of the year. I look forward to hearing how you get on with the Murder Room–I think I have a copy of it somewhere.

  4. Mysteries are my go-to books for when I want comfort reads. I’ve only read one PD James and one Sayers but would definitely read more. Have not tried Amanda Cross though so that’s one to look for!

  5. I definitely turn to mysteries when I need fun, quick reads. I’ve been having fun with the Sally Lockhart YA series of mysteries by Philip Pullman–they hit the spot when my brain just wants to sit back a bit and enjoy a book rather than analyze the death out of it (no pun intended). I’ve only read one Amanda Cross book, but I highly recommend Sayers (and Christie of course).

  6. Litlove — you are so right! I like the idea of reading as a gentle massage.

    Stefanie — oh, how fun to see her read! I’m sure she is a fabulous and charming person. I’m glad to hear you like Dalgliesh so much — I’ll make sure to read/listen to more in that series.

    Danielle — I’m so glad to have discovered her! I’ll look forward to hearing what you think of your book. So far, mine continues to be great.

    Iliana — I haven’t read Cross yet either, but I think she should be fun — they are academic mysteries, which I like. You could see Joanne Dobson as writing in her tradition (you’ve read her, right?)

    Sarah — I’ve read one or two Sayers and liked them a lot. Perhaps I should check out the Sally Lockhart books when the mood strikes!

  7. musingsfromthesofa

    I turned to Heyer over the weekend and read ‘Cotillion’ – the perfect light read. But Sayers is one of my other (sadly overused) fallbacks.

  8. BBC Radio are wonderful at mysteries. Most times they have at least one they’re serialising and I always try to arrange that any travelling I have to do is timed to coincide with the broadcast. The trouble is that I then have to sit in car-park and wait until the episode finishes which sometimes causes complete strangers to knock on the window and ask if I’m all right. This is even worse if there happens to be an element of humour involved and I’m sat in the car apparently laughing at nothing. Mind you, people don’t tend to knock on the window then. They give me a very wide berth.

  9. I’m reading the perfect ‘break’ book at the moment – ‘Affinity’ by Sarah Waters. Have you read any of her novels? My favourites are her Victorian pastiche, particularly ‘Fingersmith’. They’re just perfect for relaxing during busy times. :-)

    I also sympathise with your impulse to start heavy, ‘important’ novels – it seems such a good and thrilling idea at the time. I have to admit that I feel a little that way with ‘Don Quixote’. I was so enthusiastic back in May but now its November, and I only have 140 pages to go, and it seems like a 1000.

  10. Becky — I must hunt down more Heyer books; Book Mooch seems to be out …

    Ann — oh, dear, I’m not sure I want to know what people must think of me if see me laughing and crying and talking to myself in the car …

    Victoria — no, I haven’t read Waters yet, although it sounds like I should. And yes, if only I weren’t so changeable! But those last pages of DQ are really wonderful …

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