I have never considered myself a picky reader, exactly. As a kid I certainly wasn’t – growing up on a boat in parts of the world where both libraries and secondhand bookshops were pretty thin on the ground, I read anything and everything I could get my hands on. Which may have resulted in a few books that I really wasn’t ready for (I’m looking at you, The Mammoth Hunters. My very young (and evidently unsupervised) self took it from the shelves thinking there were going to be a lot more mammoths in it…). But it also meant that I found out for myself the sort of books that I really did love and read them to pieces.
I also, to my parents’ occasional despair, read all the time. I clearly remember my mum, exasperated, telling me to put the book down and actually look around as we sailed through some gorgeous passage … somewhere. I don’t remember. I do remember that I really wanted to go back to my book, because Bilbo was in the process of tricking the trolls. What’s a beautiful day sailing through the tropics compared to that?
Rather embarrassingly, I was reminded of this because my dad pulled some old photos out the other day. Among them were some beautiful shots of us sailing out of Tonga, bound for Fiji, when I was around eleven or so. All you can see is the top of my head and my knees as I huddled over my book and completely ignored everything else. Evidently I was already well set in my life path by that point.
All of this is to say that, back then, I read everywhere, all the time, and pretty much anything. These days, though … well, for a start, both my shelves at home and my e-reader are stuffed with books I will read one day, books I might read one day, books I think I should read one day, books I’ve tried to read and may go back to, and books that I think I’ll re-read and am hanging on to just in case. I will never, ever catch up with all this reading, and every time it comes to choosing the next book my problem is more having too much choice than not enough. So I have ended up getting picky. If a story isn’t working for me, I put it down. There are others that will suit me better.
Of course, this does at times lead to an irritatingly large amount of Did Not Finishes (which often end up in the Will Try Again pile, as I’m also a mood reader, so I figure I might like them on a different day), and also to me dithering a lot when I don’t know what I want to read. And half the time I can’t even say what I like or don’t like, because there are so many exceptions to the rules that they’re less rules and more ‘this is how I felt on Thursday of last week’. The upside, though, is that I’m ridiculously happy when I get a run of good books.
Which I have, recently. And I will natter about them below.
Watch on, lovely people – and my cuppa ratings are under the vid.
The Stranger Times, C.K. McDonnell. This is so much fun. SO MUCH. I loved every moment of this book. It does take time to get moving, but the lead-up, in which our ex-rich-wife, currently-jobless hero Hannah takes on the position of assistant editor at the titular Times, is so entertaining that it doesn’t matter. The paper reports on stories such as haunted toilets that dispense shortbread recipes, and has a monthly open house where anyone in Manchester with a strange tale to tell can come and tell it, much to Hannah’s despair (as she has to listen to them). However, it turns out that at least some of these weirder stories are true, and the paper’s strange team are soon caught up in actual investigative journalism with a hefty end-of-world paranormal twist. It’s a funny, entertaining romp, and I loved it. A large pot of very good tea and numerous chocolate Hobnobs, even if they are, according to one character, downright solicitous.
“Publication seeks desperate human being with capability to form sentences using the English language. No imbeciles, optimists or Simons need apply.”
The Star Kingdom Boxset (Shockwave, Ship of Ruin, and Hero Code), Lindsay Buroker. I’m immensely picky when it comes to sci-fi. Too much techy detail and I get bored (and confused). Too much world-building detail on alien species and galactic history – well, see previous sentence. Plus things often get a bit hero-y. This, however … lots of humour, snarky dialogue, fantastic, believable friendships between the very human characters, and a fun, fast-paced plot. I’ve loved every book, and will be buying the rest of the series. A decent planet-side coffee and a very large cake.
“Asger eyed him. “Should I be concerned about you, or do drugs always make you weird?”
“I’m afraid it’s not the drugs that make me weird.”
Artemis, Andy Weir. Another fun sci-fi romp. Our hero, Jazz, has spent most of her life in the moon habitat, and she’s not entirely a law-abiding citizen. Or a criminal, exactly. It’s a grey area. Which becomes less grey when she agrees to one massive heist that will set her up for life. Obviously, complications ensue. I found this an engaging read with enough science-y detail to be interesting but not enough to overwhelm. Jazz isn’t the most well-developed character, but she is fun, so overall it’s a decent cuppa for me (but made at Earth’s boiling temperature, not Moon’s).
“By the way, we also hate it when people . . . call Artemis “the city in space.” We’re not in space; we’re on the moon. I’m mean, technically, we’re in space, but so is London.”
Mrs Morris Meets Death, Tammie Painter. This is actually a short story, not a book, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I mean, it features a formidable woman of a certain age and a book-distracted Death. That’s basically Kim-catnip right there. It was a most fun read, and I’m looking forward to reading more of Tammie’s books.
“Mrs Morris was too busy to die.”
Now, over to you, lovely people – are you a picky reader, or do you read whatever takes your fancy at the time? DNF, or in it to the end? And what have you been reading this month? Any wonderful finds you’d like to add to my trembling TBR? Let me know below!
Read on, lovely people.