At Christmas we all get books as presents. I, for one, feel almost an obligation to read them all whether I like them or not. Or that was what I felt in the past. Nowadays I think life is much too short and there are too many other books out there for me to persevere with a novel which, although highly rated by the critics, does not interest me enough to keep turning the pages. This is no reflection on the author, I hasten to add. It is solely about taste in reading.
I do not like depressing books of terrible childhoods, nor do I like gruesome murder stories. In fiction, I like mysteries and spy stories and some adventure stories. I read biographies rather than autobiographies (which tend to be prejudiced naturally enough).
What am I reading this minute? I am nearly finished Road Rage by Ruth Rendell written in 1997 about a proposed bypass and a group of people who want to save the woods it will impinge on. Still very topical today. She is one of my favourite authors although here and there she has disappointed me. Overall though, her earlier novels especially, are brilliant. There is an "everyday-ness" about the way she writes, and her command of language is excellent. Inspector Wexford appears as a very human police officer. I am enjoying every minute of this novel.
Next on my list is Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, originally called The Taliban Shuffle, by Kim Barker, a rookie reporter sent to Afghanistan. I bought this one myself, having read a review of it. I have not seen the film.
As for books I have put aside after a couple of attempts at reading them, well I won't name them here but the saying "don't judge a book by the cover" is more apt than we are inclined to think. By "cover" in this case I mean all that hype by other authors and critics from some of the Press on the back cover.
One of the novels given to me as a present had won a prize for its "feisty, glowing prose". I'm afraid I couldn't discover this aspect of the story which was as dreary and depressing as could be. So I closed it after struggling through three chapters or more and skimming through a few pages in the middle. As I said, life is too short....
We are nearly halfway through the working week, so enjoy whatever you are doing, it's not long until Friday!