Reading

Moving away from the travel snippets for today. Life can’t always be holidays and exploration, not on my salary anyway! There have to be other joys to keep us entertained and without doubt my favourite past time for a quiet day at home is to pick up a book and lose myself in it pages. In reality, reading is something I do every day. Without fail. Sometimes for many hours on end. Voracious reader would be an apt description if ever there was one. I am a devourer of words. 

So what do I think makes for a good read? Personally, I love fiction. I’ve never really been able to get into non-fiction – I find them dry and bland, they just don’t spark my imagine. And part of the joy of reading, for me, is being mentally transported into some other world. I want to be able to visualise the world within the pages, conjure up the characters faces and get caught up in following their journey. Good character development is so important. There’s nothing worse than a story where the central character is one you can’t feel a connection to. You need to be invested in them, for better or worse, in order to care about the outcome. And that outcome has got to get there along a decent and engaging plot line. I have read so many books where the pace is slow and not much seems to be happening, you start to pin your hopes on a dramatic and unexpected twist that will make your persistence pay off, and then … it just ends! Like the author ran out of steam and gave up. I don’t mean to be overly critical, I recognise someone put a lot of effort into that piece of writing, but sometimes I end up feeling like I just lost a few hours of my life for naught. I love a novel that leaves me wanting more at the end. You know the feeling right? You finish that last sentence, put the book down and you just can’t let go of the story. It’s gone right through you, you’ve become so wrapped up in the characters and their plight that you feel the loss and absence of them once the book is over. Now, that’s a good read!

I can’t write about reading without mentioning the debate all us avid readers have – paper books or electronic books. It’s a tough choice. I like both, for vastly different reasons. I don’t think there’s any way to beat the feeling of a paper book – the texture of the pages, the beautiful covers, the smell of the paper. There’s something so authentic about curling up on the couch with an actual printed book. I’m equally fond of hardback and paperback, although some of those really big hardbacks with more than 1000 pages can put a strain on the wrists! And I will confess, I do judge a book by its cover. Walking through a bookstore in town earlier this week, surrounding by thousands of books, I only picked up the ones with a cover that was visually appealing to me. Most had a blurb on the back which didn’t spark any interest but some did & I add them to my wishlist to read. It really illustrated to me the importance of the cover – how many interesting books might I have overlooked because the cover was unappealing or off-putting? And then there’s the electronic books. I do own a Kindle, and despite my love of printed books, it’s the Kindle that I read on most often. Why? It’s simple. It’s convenient and instant. I churn through books pretty quickly, sometimes only taking a day to read one. If I have nothing else waiting on the shelves, it’s just so easy to download a new one to the Kindle and start all over again! There’s no getting in the car and driving to the nearest shopping centre (or mall if you prefer) to browse and buy. And there’s the price. It’s so much cheaper to buy an e-book than a printed one, and if you read a lot that’s something to consider. But a Kindle does lack the warmth and doesn’t give you the same pleasurable feeling as holding a book.

I had always planned to do some book reviews on my blog but for some reason I never really got started on them. In fact I’ve only done the one so far! It was on a series of books written by Australian author Owen Baillie, my review was based on the first three novels in a proposed nine book series. Book four has just been released in the last week actually and I’m right in the middle of it as we speak! I was also fortunate enough to be able to interview Owen about the trials and tribulations of being an author and, perhaps I’m totally biased, but it’s one of my favourite blog posts as it was great to get a look behind the books and see how the author’s mind works. Here’s the link if you’re interested in having a read: Author Interview – Owen Baillie

One challenge I do take part in every year is the Goodreads Reading Challenge. There’s not much to it – just set yourself and goal for the number of books you’d like to read in a year and go for it! I’ve hit my target for the last two years and am already halfway to this years goal. I guess it’s fortunate that I’m not too fussy about what type of fiction I read. I love historical fiction, thrillers, horror, action. Not a huge fan of romance, contemporary or scifi/fantasy but I’ll occasionally pick one up. Now, if you are a reader and are looking for some suggestions … here’s a few of my favourites (links are to the Goodreads blurbs on each). If you aren’t an avid reader – wow, well done on persisting with this post right to the end!!

Some all time favourites:

THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH – Ken Follett

SEVEN ANCIENT WONDERS – Matthew Reilly

THE PASSAGE – Justin Cronin

WOOL – Hugh Howey

THE CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR – Jean M Auel

Some of top choices during the last 12 months (they weren’t necessarily published recently, just based on when I got around to them!):

CONGO DAWN – Katherine Scholes

THIN AIR – Michelle Paver

THE NORTH WATER – Ian McGuire

THE QUICK – Lauren Owen

THE LAKE HOUSE – Kate Morton

A MAN CALLED OVE – Fredrik Backman

So … tell me. Are you a reader? Do you have a preference for printed or electronic books? Fiction or Non-Fiction? Genre? Have you read any of the above or would you like to leave a few suggestion for books I might like to read next? 

This post makes up part of my contribution to the April 2017 A-Z Challenge

For a list and links to my other challenge posts click here

For those interesting in revisiting my 2016 challenge post for R, here’s the link: Snapshot – RAMSES II AND ABU SIMBEL

2017 Badge

 

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54 thoughts on “Reading”

  1. Your list is not dissimilar to my own, with the exception that I love biographies (non fiction). Learning about how people think and move through the world, through their lives, is always fulfilling to me. But not autobiographies, I find those boring. Too much me, me, me. Good biographies are also just so well written, usually. Anyway, I have one book you might enjoy, just finished it – The Light Between Oceans, set on a lighthouse island off the western coast of Australia. Beautifully written, interesting concept and just an all round good read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That book is on my wishlist actually! It sounded interesting but I hadn’t as yet come across anyone who had read it themselves. So your feedback is most appreciated, thank you! I will definitely buy it now.
      I can understand the fascination with learning about how people move through the world. I have a Masters in History and a Bachelors in Psychology, so between the two there’s a lot of looking at how people interact with the world around them and the impact it and events have on them. As I was just saying to another reader though, I think all those years of study kind of made me crave the “make-believe” lightness of fiction. It may reverse again in time though πŸ™‚

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  2. I would love to read more, but don’t seem to find the time. Or, I have my priorities wrong. πŸ™‚ I seem to lean towards non-fiction books these days (about the writing craft and similar memoirs than the one I am hoping to construct), since I feel less guilty reading those as opposed to fiction books “just” for enjoyment. I know, reading is always beneficial, and I truly should do something about my priorities, because I do enjoy a good book!

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    1. I don’t think you’re alone in that, Liesbet. I hear many people saying that they love to read but life is so busy nowadays that just can’t find the time, unless it has a useful purpose. I prioritise books over TV now, I find my brain is more engaged and active when I’m reading and that’s surely got to be a good thing πŸ™‚

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      1. That’s the way to do it. We don’t even have TV and haven’t had one in over a decade. Some of the house sits do come with one, but most only offer Netflix or nothing.

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  3. I used to call myself a reader but sadly, these days I find it hard to read anything more than a page at a time. Like you, I also used to think non-fiction was boring and staid, but having grown older, I find that I prefer non-fiction especially biographies. Some lives are even more fascinating to read about than make believe tales.
    Unfortunately finding good authors is difficult because everyone claims to be a writer these days. I haven’t read any of the books you’ve mentioned. I would suggest some Indian authors. Perhaps you could start out with Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni who writes about Indian women re-locating to the US… ( and it’s pure fiction?)

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    1. I have read a couple of Indian authors, granted not many but a few over the years. I shall have a look at the one you’ve suggested. I’d probably be more interested in books by Indian authors that are set in India though rather than the US. You’ve given me a good starting point, so thank you!
      I think my dislike of non-fiction started 20 years ago when I was at university. I read so many text books on history and psychology, and while many offered interesting insights into the stories of individuals, after so many years of reading those heavier books, I found myself craving the lightness of “make-believe” πŸ™‚

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      1. I’m pretty sure it will go full circle eventually. Because of the degrees I did, most of the non-fiction I was reading at the time was about war and genocide, or mental illness.

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    1. Art and photography are pretty good distractions from books though! And your photos are lovely so the focus on that craft is paying off πŸ™‚
      Thanks so much for that list of authors. I don’t think I’ve read any of them so you may just have opened up a whole new range of reading material for me! Always a good thing – so thank you πŸ™‚

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  4. Wonderful read about reading Kim! πŸ™‚ Books have always been my best friend. In college, I would sit up all night and read books, fiction being my favourite genre. Me and my book, lost in our own world. Though now I don’t read as much, I definitely can’t put a good book down. I genuinely prefer the print book. My kindle which was lying idle for quite a while, has been flicked by my daughter who puts it to good use πŸ™‚

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  5. SNAP! I love reading, I wish I could do it more but pesky things like work and other such life nonsense gets in the way. Also more of a fiction that non fiction person, and I think my favourite genre would be a difficult toss is between crime and fantasy. Fantasy books really feed my imagination especially is the world building is good 😊

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    1. Pesky life getting in the way! I’ve been venturing into crime a bit more. I used to love Karen Slaughter’s books but I recently discovered Tana French and her Dublin Murder Squad series which I’m really enjoying! πŸ™‚

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  6. “You finish that last sentence, put the book down and you just can’t let go of the story. It’s gone right through you, you’ve become so wrapped up in the characters and their plight that you feel the loss and absence of them once the book is over.”

    That totally got me. That’s the reason I like reading series more than stand-alone novels, because they last longer. The last I read was the Divergent series. And I actually went into a depression after I finished it. I won’t tell why, ‘coz I don’t want to spoil it for you in case you haven’t read it.

    I love fiction too. Haven’t yet decided between paper books and ebooks.

    Glad to connect with you during this AtoZ, Kim. Do visit mine sometime.
    Happy blogging!
    Chicky @ http://www.mysteriouskaddu.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by & commenting, Chicky. I’m pretty much the same as you – I really like finding a good series so I can drag the enjoyment out just that bit longer. I haven’t read the Divergent series actually. I’ve seen the first movie but I’d prefer to read the books first. Thanks for the suggestion πŸ™‚

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    1. A series as in on TV? I hadn’t heard that. Wow – that could either be awesome (like The Walking Dead) or a total flop. I’ll have to keep an eye out for that – thank you. Meanwhile, enjoy the books πŸ™‚

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  7. I have one of the very first “Nooks” that came out, and I’m not even sure where it is now. But I know some books are only available as an e-book, so I do need to get with the program, electronically. I think I’ll always prefer paper books, though!

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    1. Paper is just so much nicer, Ann. I agree. But you’re right, I’ve noticed more books releasing just as e-books. I’ve also noticed differences in their availability depending on what country you live in. I was late to get a Kindle but I have to admit it has been useful, I probably read more because of it too.

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  8. I’m like you in that I like both but find it so easy to read with the kindle and it’s great for travelling as you can take hundreds of books with you and not have it effect your luggage allowance. My favourite Aussie author is Richard Flannagan – love his books.

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    1. The ease of travelling with it is a big plus. I remember the days of packing actual printed books and they’re just too bulky. I’ve not read any of Richard Flannagan’s work – I’ll have to see what’s on offer. Thanks, Pamela!

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  9. I smiled when you hit the Owen Baillie review – the zombie writer you mentioned earlier, right? I will have to look him up. I’m doing the GoodReads Challenge for the third year in a row. I’m behind due to AtoZing and life but I hope to rally this summer!

    As for ebook v print – I read both. I read on the elliptical at the gym sometimes and ebooks are easier for that. Basically, I will read what I want in whatever format I find it!

    And lastly, mostly fiction – but I also enjoy political books given my work, so I read a number of those.

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    1. Haha! Yep, that’s the same author πŸ˜„
      I really enjoy the Goodreads challenge. I only just made it the first year and then I nearly doubled my target in my second year. So far this year I’m on target, maybe a little ahead. Just need to keep it up!
      Ebooks are amazing for the gym. I just need to keep my head steady so I can read them! But your approach to books is similar to mine … I’ll take ’em as I find ’em πŸ˜†
      Political books! I’ve never read one. I understand it’s work related but that’s still an interesting genre.

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      1. I like the Goodreads challenge – and Goodreads generally – for helping me find other stuff I’d like to read. For example, I have a vampire “thing” – lots of people on Goodreads to suggest stuff in that genre!

        As for ebooks at the gym – no way I could do it running, but elliptical can keep me pretty steady πŸ˜‰

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  10. Really loved this post, because I love books. Though, recently, I’ve turned to be a reader who’s stopped reading. πŸ™‚ I love reading fiction too and try to dabble with authors from different countries and backgrounds. I think it fits perfectly with travel and also understanding people and cultures. πŸ™‚

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  11. Always surprises me how many book-lovers are in the blogosphere because it’s very different from my real life 😊 I used to read historical fiction a lot so was nice to see Ken Follett on your list. But in the recent years I seem to take to fantasy. I agree though, characters are so important and I see that the recurring element in my reviews is that “I really like the plot but the characters are flat” – it’s hard to achieve it seems!

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  12. I love a meaty book with plenty of character development. When I worked downtown, I had a long commute every day so I always carried a book. My lawyers had a running joke about the size of “tomes” but it really helped pass the time. I don’t get to read much anymore but I’m looking forward to summer and my back porch where I hope to spend some quality time with some books! πŸ™‚

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  13. I was a reader once. Probably about 50 books a year. Now … probably 5 books if I’m lucky.
    I didn’t think I’d like the e-book, but it does have many advantages

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    1. Is that because you’re moving towards a writing focus instead, do you think?
      Pillars of the Earth is incredible. As was the sequel World Without End. I believe the final book in the trilogy is due out next month?

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      1. Oh, is it? Brilliant. My son just finished reading World Without End a few months ago which I recommended to him. I was pretty impressed that he got through it.

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