Monday, 1 May 2017

A frustrating reading year

2017, so far, has been a hit and miss reading experience - with the emphasis on the miss. While I've read a couple of books that have been five-star reads (such as Annie's Ghosts by Steve Luxenberg), I have read several that have been a bit, for wont of a better word, meh. 

I think the problem has been that I have changed how I choose which books to read. My usual approach is to read books on ad hoc basis - in other words, I pick up books that I fancy reading at that particular time. However, this year, I've adopted a more prescriptive approach; I've read books because they were part of a project I was doing or because they were on my "to read" list. For example, I read Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair because it was part of my All things Jane Eyre project. To be fair, I found the book entertaining but it didn't exactly set my world on fire (as evidence by my review). Had I not decided to attempt the aforementioned project, I don't think I would have read the book at all (well, I certainty wouldn't have bought it; I might have got it from the library if I had happened to see it there).

Equally, the only reason I read The Architect's Apprentice by Elif Shafak was because it had been on my to read list for a good year. Admittedly, I did give the book four stars but, as I explain in my review, I found completing the book a chore if I'm honest. That brings me to another reason for thinking that 2017 is not shaping up to be a good reading year - I have spent too long reading books that I should have accepted that I wasn't enjoying sooner.

Having built up a rather large "DNF" - aka didn't finish - pile over the years, I was determined to DNF fewer books this year (see My New Year Reading Resolution). This has resulted in me continuing to read books that I wasn't enjoying or trying to finish books I had DNF'ed on numerous occasions beforehand. I've been trying to read The Emperor of All Maladies: A biography of cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee for years now and was determined to get to the end of it this year; alas, although I managed to get roughly halfway this time, I gave up again. I am just going to have to accept that while I do find the topic interesting, I am not so interested in cancer that I want to read 571 pages (it's certainly a lengthy tome) about it. Plus, as a medical editor, reading the book did smack a little of a busman's holiday.

Going forward, I am will be reverting to my usual approach of choosing books to read based on my mood at the time. Also, I am going to be quicker to abandon a book. I do think it's a waste - having spent money on it  - to DNF a book but I think it's equally a waste to read a book that you're not enjoying (that time could be spent reading a book you do enjoy!).

Ultimately, I thinking reading is an element of luck - some years, it's an embarrassment of riches when it comes to good books; others seems like the Sahara desert. Therefore while I hope that I have a few more "hits" in the next eight months, I'll be alright if I don't. You gotta take the rough with the smooth as they say (who's they? Any why are they such an authority of life?)