If there is anyway in the world I can get to the Reader's Retreat, I would be over the moon. Since I've already started the New Year out with a bang, by zipping through 5 books in 7 days, I think it sounds like the perfect retreat for me! Three of the books were fantastic, and I highly recommend them: Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier who, frankly, never disappoints; March by Geraldine Brooks, and Chalice by Robin McKinley. I have book group next week but for the life of me I can't bring myself to start reading the book that was picked: Out by Natsuo Kirino. I'm just not in the mood for "dark, violent murder and crime." I don't like it when I don't read the book for book group, because I LOVE our book group and we always have such great discussions. It's only happened a couple of times, and in at least one of those instances, I did actually get around to reading the book later. But at least twice I haven't regretted my decision not to read the chosen book and I suspect this will be one of those times as well. Life is too short to read books I don't have any interest in.
Are there books you won't read? Why? Do they tend to fall within a particular genre or just have subjects that you abhor? I tend away from mysteries and crime novels, the first because you can only read them once and the second because, like horror movies, I just don't need most of that stuff in my head. I don't like books about horrible things happening to people either, especially children. Even so, a good book can be about any of these things and I may end up reading it regardless and thinking it's a great read, while still loathing the subject matter. The Lovely Bones was one of those, for example.
My mom doesn't read fiction anymore because she can't put it down when she does. She says she reads to relax and fiction just makes her obsessed with the need to find out what happens, so she has gone over to reading non-fiction exclusively. For me, the obsession with what happens is just exactly why I LOVE fiction. Even when I read in bed, before lights out, reading never ever puts me to sleep. I have to consciously put the book down, stop myself from "one more chapter" and turn out the light. Sometimes long after my eyes are blurred and my arms hurts from holding the book under the light and I know how much I will regret the late hour when the alarm jolts me from sleep in the few hours I have left myself for slumber. Non-fiction doesn't have at all the same draw, and while I read some non-fiction, it's definitely only a fraction of the whole for me.
I think most of the time, my reading interests vary pretty widely, but my choices do tend to fall in some obvious categories: historical fiction, linguistics, speculative fiction, time travel stories, travel essays, natural sciences. I read a wide range of novels, and tend toward science fiction and fantasy, but am pretty particular about the KIND I choose, without being able to easily articulate what the difference is for me. I just know it when I see it. If I find an author I like, I get my hands on everything they've ever written as soon as I can and wait agitatedly for their next publication. It's kind of the same with my favorite blogs, actually...only blogs don't make you wait so long. And because I wait for paperback before buying, that stretch of time can be real torture. KNOWING a book that I want desperately to read is available, just not in the right format or at the right price: O! It burns. I know, I know, there are libraries but it's not as easy as that, here in Sweden. Besides, even with the burning, it's always sweet anticipation. The wait is almost always worth it, at least.
I think good books should not only make you a) want to read them again and b) want to read or, in the case of March and Chalice re-read other things the author has written but also, if possible, make you want to find out more about something you discovered within the pages of the book. Since I closed Remarkable Creatures I've been reading up on the early dinosaur hunters and scouring Wikipedia for info on Mary Anning and Google images for the creatures she discovered, some of which is merely reminders of information already buried in the depths of my skull. What have you discovered in a book lately that you are interested in learning more about?
A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted. You should live several lives while reading it.—William Styron
Happy Hopping Full of Popping Birthday Wishes to helloheather!
*Title from a quote by Gilbert Highet