QUESTIONS for the AVID READER (2024) Part I

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QUESTIONS for the AVID READER (2024) Part I

1rocketjk
Editado: Dez 26, 2023, 10:44 am


University of Salamanca
The Biblioteca General Histórica (Historical Library) is the oldest library at the University of Salamanca and is home to a selection of books and manuscripts that live up to the library’s name. Some, including the Liber Canticorum of Queen Doña Sancha and the Book of Good Love by the Archpriest of Hita, go as far back as the 11th and 13th centuries. Compared to its impressive collection of books, the library is relatively new, built in the 16th century within the upper cloister of the Escuelas Mayores.

Source: https://www.architecturaldigest.com/gallery/stunning-university-libraries-slides...

Welcome to 2024! I'm honored to have been asked to help facilitate this year's Questions for the Avid Reader thread. Please do send along topic suggestions. Also, I'm hoping I'll be forgiven if I come up with topics that have been considered within recent months, such that everybody's answers have posted. If I do that, just let me know, and I'll try to come up with an alternative. Finally, I'm figuring I will be able to manage a new topic every two weeks or so, unless suggestions come streaming in and/or my imagination becomes more fertile, topic-wise than I'm anticipating at this point.

Well, now . . . I thought I'd jump the gun a little and get us going for '24. I think there was a somewhat similar question for 2023 at the end of 2022, but I'll beg your indulgence and go with the obvious to put the thread in motion for the new year:

QUESTION 1: ANNUAL NEW YEAR READING TRADITIONS AND/OR YEARLY READING PLANS

1) Do you have any sort of tradition for how you begin your reading calendar year? A specific author, or kind of book or anything of the like?

2) Do you have any particular reading goals for 2024? Maybe you've taken on a particular challenge to fulfill or number goal to reach. Anything like that on the menu for this year?

3) In general, do you like having your reading planned out in advance for a year (or any other period of time), or do you prefer to take your reading selections as they come? Either way, is there any particular reason(s) why?

2SassyLassy
Dez 26, 2023, 3:48 pm

>1 rocketjk: Not an answer yet, but a welcome to leading this thread. Lovely opening image, and I'm looking forward to your questions.

I'll be back in 2024 with an answer.

3kjuliff
Dez 26, 2023, 3:56 pm

>1 rocketjk: Q1 - I don’t have any plan at all. I will read any new novel by a favorite author, and will try. To get through the Booker nominations, but that’s it.
Q2 - I am an Australian American and have mostly been reading American, Irish and English novels. I intend to read more Australian novels this year,
Q3 I never know what I will read next.

4WelshBookworm
Editado: Dez 26, 2023, 5:35 pm

1. I don't think I have any particular tradition, other than wanting to start a new read on New Year's Day rather than something unfinished that I'm carrying over. It may also be something relatively short so that my first "read" book is new. Then I can get on with finishing up my leftovers.

2. I always have lofty goals. You can see my thread for the specifics, but in general this year (meaning 2024) I have picked 60 books for my overall goal.

3. I like having my lists planned out a year ahead, but then I use those to decide what I want to read each month. Sometimes it changes mid-month. There are always some book club books, or challenge specific to the month. Otherwise, I read whatever I am in the mood to read.

5jjmcgaffey
Dez 27, 2023, 12:43 am

No lists, no traditions. Not even any goals this year, I'm tired of not hitting them. I _want_ to read more of the physical books in my house so that I can get same _out_ of my house (no, can't get rid of them without reading, what if they're wonderful? I might not find them again!). But I'm not going to set any rules, just read what comes to hand and _try_ to review them and list them on my thread in CR (failed at that this year, too). The point is to enjoy my reading; anything else (like more room in my house) is a bonus.

6dianeham
Dez 27, 2023, 2:27 am

I think I might start reading a book for each year I’ve been alive starting with 1950

7kjuliff
Dez 27, 2023, 6:14 am

>6 dianeham: What book will you read for 1950?

8avaland
Editado: Dez 27, 2023, 12:00 pm

QUESTION 1: TRADITIONS AND PLANS

Regarding both traditions and plans... We (the Duke and I) happily have none of either. We are free-range readers.

>5 jjmcgaffey: Jennifer, we let go of about 100 books from our shelves recently. The 'Friends of the Library' took them for their spring book sale.

9markon
Dez 27, 2023, 1:57 pm

>1 rocketjk: Thanks for starting us out!

QUESTION 1: ANNUAL NEW YEAR READING TRADITIONS AND/OR YEARLY READING PLANS

1) Do you have any sort of tradition for how you begin your reading calendar year? A specific author, or kind of book or anything of the like?


No. I just keep reading.

2) Do you have any particular reading goals for 2024? Maybe you've taken on a particular challenge to fulfill or number goal to reach. Anything like that on the menu for this year?

I am a free range reader, who has lists of things I want to read. (My TBR on LT is a bit under 1,000 titles, so I spent time recently culling a list of things from 2023 that I haven't read yet.) My first one will be Soil: a black mother's garden by Camille T. Dungy, which fits the theme of natural history/climate change/environmental reading I'm consciously adding this year. (Check out The Greenhouse if you're interested in this theme.)

My other goal for this year is to try to keep my library borrowing down to 5 books or less. (Pauses for everyone to ROFL.) I work in a library, and it is easy for me to get up to 25-30 books checked out, and of course I can't read them all. This year I worked at keeping library checkouts under 10 items, and made it occasionally. I'm ending the year with only 9 items, and I have four I hope to return before I leave town Friday!

3) In general, do you like having your reading planned out in advance for a year (or any other period of time), or do you prefer to take your reading selections as they come? Either way, is there any particular reason(s) why?

I do very little planning, mostly because once I'm supposed to read X next, I rebel. I occasionally participate in a group read online, but I've found the discussions spotty.

11labfs39
Dez 28, 2023, 9:10 am

>9 markon: At first I thought you meant 5 books ALL YEAR and almost fell off the couch. Of course, you meant five books at a time. :-)

12Willoyd
Editado: Dez 28, 2023, 11:38 am

1) Do you have any sort of tradition for how you begin your reading calendar year? A specific author, or kind of book or anything of the like?
No, none, although, like >4 WelshBookworm: I like to start the year off with a clean slate, and all the previous year's books finished by New Year's Eve.

2) Do you have any particular reading goals for 2024? Maybe you've taken on a particular challenge to fulfill or number goal to reach. Anything like that on the menu for this year?
Not really - I found I was never achieving them. But I do want to concentrate on a few areas of my reading:
- Reading The World project (and reading more novels in translation)
- Tour of the USA project
- continue with Zola's Rougon-Macquart sequence
- continue reading Charles Dickens novels in chronological order (just reached Barnaby Rudge)
- reduce my TBR list (but not by too much - see below!)
- include more 'big' books (what I describe as 'doorstoppers', generally 600 pages +). Especially non-fiction, where I've got a substantial backlog. I've found that in recent years, especially since lockdown, my reading has tended to focus on shorter books. Don't know whether it's a lockdown reaction or something else, but I used to love big books. Now I sometimes struggle to settle to them. (I used to average over 300 pages per book, currently it's down to 250).

3) In general, do you like having your reading planned out in advance for a year (or any other period of time), or do you prefer to take your reading selections as they come? Either way, is there any particular reason(s) why?
Hate planning ahead (at least for reading!). Even with my 2 book groups, I like the fact that neither thinks much beyond the next couple of books. I read a lot in response to other things going on in my life, what somebody has recommended, what appeals on the spur of the moment, or what something I've read leads to. It's why I like having a good sized library of unread books!

13shadrach_anki
Dez 29, 2023, 12:01 am

Q1: ANNUAL NEW YEAR READING TRADITIONS AND/OR YEARLY READING PLANS

1) Do you have any sort of tradition for how you begin your reading calendar year? A specific author, or kind of book or anything of the like?
Well, for the past six years my first read (or at least finish) of the year has been a graphic novel/manga of some sort, but I'm not sure I would really classify that as a tradition. It's more that I like finishing something early on in the year, and manga/graphic novels tend to be quick reads. And I will admit that part of that desire to finish something quickly is so my reading spreadsheets will stop throwing "you're trying to divide by zero" errors.

2) Do you have any particular reading goals for 2024? Maybe you've taken on a particular challenge to fulfill or number goal to reach. Anything like that on the menu for this year?
I always set some numerical reading goals, mostly out of habit, but they do provide a very general framework to hang my reading on. There are also several reading challenges/buddy reads that I am looking at for 2024. I enjoy reading with other people, but I have found I am prone to overscheduling myself, so I try to treat any reading challenges or buddy reads as guidelines more than anything else. More generally, I want to focus my reading on books that I already own, and I want to be sure to make time to read at least a little every day.

3) In general, do you like having your reading planned out in advance for a year (or any other period of time), or do you prefer to take your reading selections as they come? Either way, is there any particular reason(s) why?
I have great admiration for those people who plan out their reading in advance, for I am not one of them. Yes, I am in book groups/buddy reads, which means that some of my reading is scheduled, but for the most part I am reading whatever comes my way when I feel like it. Honestly, I'm not entirely sure how I pick what I am going to read next. Whatever the process is does work, but it feels like a black box. Part of that may be the fact that I have always been a parallel reader (I cannot remember the last time I was not in the middle of reading at least half a dozen books) so the question "what should I read next?" rarely crosses my conscious mind. I can usually point to any given book that I'm reading/have read and tell you why I picked it at the time I did, but the greater shape of my reading remains a mystery lurking in my subconscious.

14rocketjk
Dez 29, 2023, 9:12 am

Guess I might as well give my own answers for Question 1!

1) Do you have any sort of tradition for how you begin your reading calendar year? A specific author, or kind of book or anything of the like?

I have two. First, I am reading through all of Isaac B. Singer's novels in order of their publishing, two per year. The first book I read in each calendar year and also the first book at the beginning of July are Singer novels. I'm up to Singer's 1967 novel, The Manor, which will be the first book I begin come January.

Second, my wife and I have a tradition that when each calendar year begins, we give each other the book that we enjoyed best from the preceding year. She has given me The Vaster Wilds by Lauren Groff, and I will be giving her Ghost Season by Satin Abbas.

2) Do you have any particular reading goals for 2024? Maybe you've taken on a particular challenge to fulfill or number goal to reach. Anything like that on the menu for this year?

I also try to read at least 50 books in each calendar year. I keep a thread on the 50-Book Challenge group on which I post the same reviews I post here on my CR thread, but on which I also include a numbered list of books read, so I can easily keep count. When I first joined LT back in 2008, the 50-Book Challenge group used to attract some nice conversations among its members, but over the years it devolved into a place where people mostly just post the title and author of the books they're reading, virtually without comment. That's one reason I was so happy to find Club Read a few years back.

3) In general, do you like having your reading planned out in advance for a year (or any other period of time), or do you prefer to take your reading selections as they come? Either way, is there any particular reason(s) why?

The only planning I do is the reading rotation I enjoy, but this is process specific rather than book specific. I rotate among these three categories:

1) I read a book from my "short" tbr list of books I've purchased meaning to read sooner rather than later, series I'm in the middle of, and books I receive as gifts. Right now, that "short" list, including books of all the series I'm in the midst of, is at about 85 books! Some short list!

2) I read a book from the general population of my overall collection: somewhere around 2,500 books.

3) I go out and buy a book to read.

So I just cycle through those three categories.

15dianeham
Dez 29, 2023, 10:23 am

>14 rocketjk: How many books did you take with you to ny?

16rocketjk
Dez 29, 2023, 12:05 pm

>15 dianeham: Basically, I brought (actually, sent) most of the books that were on my "between book" lists at the time. Brought along in the car for the drive were the book I was reading when we left, and, I think, the book I meant to read after that. Since I've been here, anything chosen from my own collection (mostly via a perusal of my online LT library) and/or short TBR list has been a library borrow. I've even resorted to buying second copies of books sitting on my shelf in California once or twice. Of course, I've purchased a couple dozen books since we've been here.

17dianeham
Dez 29, 2023, 3:13 pm

>16 rocketjk: I never went to the NYPL when I lived there. I was a full time student (In my mid-30s) at NYU so I used the Bobst library a lot.

18cindydavid4
Dez 29, 2023, 10:33 pm


1) Do you have any sort of tradition for how you begin your reading calendar year? A specific author, or kind of book or anything of the like?

no, I do pick January books from the various challenges I am on, but nothing in a traditional way

2) Do you have any particular reading goals for 2024? Maybe you've taken on a particular challenge to fulfill or number goal to reach. Anything like that on the menu for this year?

I havent been reading as much non fiction as I used to so I am starting in the non fiction challenge; really like the upcoming topics and think this is goind to increase the number I read, but expand the types of books and topice from what I usually read

3) In general, do you like having your reading planned out in advance for a year (or any other period of time), or do you prefer to take your reading selections as they come? Either way, is there any particular reason(s) why?

for challenges like RTT and RG, since I have the themes already,I choose books to fit that theme. But its on a month by month basis. thats as much planning I care to do I dont like getting stuck and bogged down with planning, all to often I ignore the plans anyway!

19thorold
Dez 30, 2023, 9:43 am

Q1:
1. Traditions?
Not really. I’m often at my parents’ for Christmas and New Year, so I tend to raid their library a bit, which sometimes means re-reads from long ago. And I usually try to read at least some of any books that turn up in the Christmas stocking before the holidays are over. This year my travel was shifted forward a bit and I’m home and hosting over New Year, which probably means less holiday reading time.
2. Goals?
A lot of other things going on in my life, so I’m not setting any serious goals this year. My goal is to enjoy what I read!
3. Planning?
I often have a general idea of books I’d like to read in the next few months, or topics I’d like to cover — typically including the Reading Globally quarterly themes — but I very rarely stick to these for long. There are always interesting unexpected books that come along, or unexpected questions I want to research.

20lisapeet
Dez 30, 2023, 3:56 pm

QUESTION 1: ANNUAL NEW YEAR READING TRADITIONS AND/OR YEARLY READING PLANS
Traditions/Goals/Planning: Nope, nope, and nope. I want to read more books that have been languishing on my physical and e shelves, but I reserve the right to follow whatever whims move me. I'm a member of a great virtual book group and will always read whatever we have on deck, and I often have required reading for work—not a bad thing, as it gets me out of my comfort zone, sometimes in a really good way).

Though I kinda like >4 WelshBookworm:'s idea of starting off with a fresh book even though I have something else in progress. Maybe I'll grab something short and start it on 1/1, seeing as I'm closing in on the end of The Golden Notebook, which is long and dense, and wouldn't mind a little palate cleanser.

21rachbxl
Jan 1, 7:23 am

QUESTION 1
No, no and no ;-) I am totally free-range in my reading and find that plans of any kind don’t work for me - I immediately want to read anything but what I’m “supposed” to be reading. For this year I have a few vague ideas of what I’d like to achieve, but I’m keeping them vague on purpose.

22AlisonY
Jan 1, 8:13 am

Non-planner here too. I did plan out my reading the very first year I joined LT, and I really enjoyed the challenge of getting through those titles and significantly upping my reading rate. But I was in a different place work-wise and had more time on my hands.

These days I prefer / need to go with where my reading mood take me. If I've got a lot on, I might prefer to just dip in and out of a NF book or two where I can read short excerpts at bedtime. Lately I seem to go through periods of losing my fiction reading mojo, which usually coincides with times of feeling overwhelmed with work and life things I need to do.

For 2024, my reading goal is simply to keep at it - to enjoy my fictional titles and to learn something from the non-fiction.

23labfs39
Jan 1, 10:30 am

1. Traditions? No, although it was nice starting this year with a fresh slate. Well, except for an audiobook that I may have to DNF and switch to paper (Apeirogon).

2. Goals? Unlike the last couple of years, I have not committed to any yearly or quarterly theme reads. I'm returning to unfettered reading. I'm curious how it will effect my overall reading.

3. Plans? To read what I like and log it if it happens to fall into one of my ongoing buckets: global books/books in translation, books about the Holocaust, and Nobel Laureates. The exception is my real life book club, but I usually don't know what those titles will be until the month before.

24WelshBookworm
Jan 1, 12:11 pm

I always have PLANS. But I have no problem completely ditching them if the mood strikes me to read something just because it came across my path that day, or my mood isn't compatible with my plans. So plans get changed frequently!

25SassyLassy
Jan 1, 4:18 pm

>1 rocketjk: QUESTION 1: ANNUAL NEW YEAR READING TRADITIONS AND/OR YEARLY READING PLANS

1) Do you have any sort of tradition for how you begin your reading calendar year? A specific author, or kind of book or anything of the like?

Usually I start with a quick mystery sort of book, just to get that all important first book done, rather than waiting a week or two to finish a War and Peace kind of book, and thinking I'll never catch up.
This year, however, I'm partially moving away from that. Reading baswood's good reading list for 2023, I realized with horror that I had not read any Wilkie Collins that year, for the first time in years. So, my first book this year will be The Dead Alive, which still involves crime, but with that unmistakeable Collins flavour.

2) Do you have any particular reading goals for 2024?

I would like to read fewer "filler" books that aren't really that filling, and are lazy reading. I will still read some, but I'd like to get back to my former reading patterns.

3) In general, do you like having your reading planned out in advance for a year (or any other period of time), or do you prefer to take your reading selections as they come? Either way, is there any particular reason(s) why?

This is a partial yes, partial no answer. For themes such as Reading Globally, or reading Nobel authors, I like to plan a few months in advance, just to ensure that I have some books that fit (kind of crazy given my TBR, but there it is).
Other things, like my RL book club, are kind of "take it as it comes". Even though the year's list is known, those books feel more impromptu to me.
Then there is the "bright shiny objects" category", where titles from other people's reviews pop up and magically appear in my house.

26dchaikin
Jan 1, 5:38 pm

traditions - I like to start the year fresh and begin books related to my main annual theme early on Jan 1. And I switch over to the new CR group on Jan 1.

goals - many. Read two hours a day. Read (and enjoy!) Canterbury Tales and other medieval stuff. Read (and enjoy!) a lot of William Faulkner. I want to get to know him. Read the Booker prize longlist. Read more books than I acquire.

plans pursue my themes (see goals) and keep them enjoyable.

27WelshBookworm
Jan 3, 12:15 am

Well, it seems after influencing several people to pick up something new on New Year's Day, I failed to do that this year. To be fair, I had just started a new audiobook on Dec. 31. It's not short either! But I ended up going to my sister's house, so the only reading I did was in the car. Too tired to read anything else when I got home.

28avidmom
Jan 3, 1:31 pm

QUESTION 1: ANNUAL NEW YEAR READING TRADITIONS AND/OR YEARLY READING PLANS

1) Do you have any sort of tradition for how you begin your reading calendar year? A specific author, or kind of book or anything of the like?

I seem to continuously grab a book on January 1 (or thereabouts) over the last few years but I don't really have a tradition per se. While I do set "reading intentions" at the beginning of the year (read the classics I haven't yet, read more globally, etc.), I usually settle on a "let's see what happens" attitude.

2) Do you have any particular reading goals for 2024? Maybe you've taken on a particular challenge to fulfill or number goal to reach. Anything like that on the menu for this year?

Last year's reading drought (just couldn't pay attention long enough to really get through anything of substance), has led me to just be happy to be reading anything. So, while I'm not holding myself to any goals, I do want to read some things I have been meaning to read and haven't yet. I also have a list of old favorites I want to reread.

3) In general, do you like having your reading planned out in advance for a year (or any other period of time), or do you prefer to take your reading selections as they come? Either way, is there any particular reason(s) why?

As a general rule, I like to take my reading selections as they come. Sometimes I am in the mood (or need!) fluffy, fun stuff. And then there are those times I have enough mental bandwidth to tackle something more substantial. Of course, there are exceptions to that rule. I did enjoy those times in my life where I was part of a class, book club, or LT group where the focus was on one author/book or genre. As much as I love reading for just the sake of reading, I do also enjoy the deeper dives into a particular work/author/genre.

29baswood
Jan 3, 4:36 pm

Well the short answer to this is; that for the last five years I have carefully planned my reading each year, because I love making lists and it solves the problem of "what should I read next" If I had nothing planned I think the problem of what to read next would send me into a reading slump.

30rocketjk
Jan 7, 12:07 pm

QUESTION 2

Note: Because I jumped the gun a bit and posted 2024's first question while we were still mucking about in 2023, SassyLassy's excellent final question on the 2023 thread got mostly overlooked. But it is a wonderful, thought-provoking question, I think. So SassyLassy and I agreed that we would transport the question over the time boundary and transplant it here. I'm looking forward to digging into this topic myself. Cheers!

Looking Back

Year end questions about reading often focus on the particular books read: what was your favourite and so on.

However, this year, looking back, what did you learn about your reading? Were there new areas to embrace, old ones to leave behind?

Did you find you put too much pressure on yourself to achieve a particular goal, or do you need that pressure?

Did your reading inspire you to take any action in the real world, or change long held opinions?

Give it some thought, and let your fellow readers know.

31dchaikin
Jan 7, 12:40 pm

However, this year, looking back, what did you learn about your reading? Were there new areas to embrace, old ones to leave behind?

Hmm. What did l learn? Other than to embrace instead of fear Chaucer. I kind of bummed I don’t have a good answer. Perhaps I didn’t learn anything.

Did you find you put too much pressure on yourself to achieve a particular goal, or do you need that pressure?

My theme and my relationship to it worked really well. I cruised through my tbr list. I got into Chaucer and adjusted. I read the Richard Wright I wanted and was happy where i stopped. I’m grateful i picked up Invisible Man, because it was terrific. All of this has led me to be more ambitious in 2024, which is never a good thing. Anyway, whatever pressure i had last year worked as motivational and was not an obstacle.

Did your reading inspire you to take any action in the real world, or change long held opinions?

Come now. It only opens my mind to how similar we are through time, space and culture. And how complex we are. Long held opinions, whatever they are, have rested easy and unperturbed.

32thorold
Jan 7, 1:52 pm

Q2 Looking back:

— What did you learn about your reading?
I’ve been vaguely pondering this since SassyLassy posed it, and still haven’t come up with anything better than ‘The best laid (reading) plans … gang aft aglee’. Every line of reading I started got taken over by something else more pressing, leaving a stack of things I might have liked to read.

I did manage to overcome my prejudice against the Beats and — since I was going to San Francisco anyway — took the trouble to find out more about them and actually read a few of their works for the first time since adolescence. I also managed to read a few of those ‘Oh no, another boring Scandinavian has won the Nobel’ writers we all hate, and unsurprisingly found that at least some of them still have something to offer. Lucky Per, by the long-forgotten (outside Denmark) Henrik Pontoppidan, was a particular joy.

— Did you find you put too much pressure on yourself to achieve a particular goal?
No, I think I was reasonably gentle with myself, and allowed life to take priority over books where appropriate.

— Did your reading inspire you to take any action in the real world, or change long held opinions?
Not that I recall, except for purely literary opinions (cf. the first question). Actions I took in the real world did influence my reading, though. :-)

33cindydavid4
Editado: Jan 7, 10:47 pm

>31 dchaikin: Come now. It only opens my mind to how similar we are through time, space and culture. And how complex we are. Long held opinions, whatever they are, have rested easy and unperturbed.

Id say that is an execllent answer! Ill give my own later (something about a birthday dinner and I need to get dressed) Just let you know I appreciated it!

34WelshBookworm
Jan 7, 5:04 pm

>30 rocketjk:
Looking back, what did you learn about your reading? Were there new areas to embrace, old ones to leave behind?

I learned long ago, that left to my own devices I would probably read only based on very specific interests. Admittedly, I have quite a few interests, but as a public librarian I wanted to get out of my comfort zone a lot more. By joining book clubs, and by choosing books based on random themes (like titles that have the word "door" in them this year) I have read a lot of books that I never would have chosen otherwise.

I had a very good reading year in 2023 - the best ever actually. So I've learned what a huge difference it makes to eliminate stress from my life. Not that we can always do that. But honestly, 2022 was a year of complete upheaval and having to make some difficult decisions. It was a very good outcome eventually (I bought my own house!) but what a toll that all took on my reading!

Did you find you put too much pressure on yourself to achieve a particular goal, or do you need that pressure?

No, I don't impose too much pressure into my reading goals. It's supposed to be fun, after all. I do need to have goals. I have found that if I decide I want to finish a book within a certain time frame, I figure out how many pages/day I need to read and that helps me to stay focused. Especially with books that I have lost interest in, but still want to finish. I bought myself a (paper) calendar for 2024, just to keep track of daily reading goals. I need to read ~13 pages a day of Destiny of the Republic, for example, to get it read before my book club meets, but this isn't an imposition. It gives me great satisfaction to cross off the alloted pages on my calendar at the end of the day.

Did your reading inspire you to take any action in the real world, or change long held opinions?

This probably isn't what you meant, but I have become a little more willing to abandon books that aren't working for me. I still would like to get better at this.

On the other hand, over 50 years ago I read a review of Animal Liberation in a teen magazine, and it inspired me to become a vegetarian as soon as I left home for college. I have never looked back.

35cindydavid4
Jan 7, 10:45 pm

Did you find you put too much pressure on yourself to achieve a particular goal, or do you need that pressure?

no, becaue i read for enjoyment for the most part, so Im not worried if I dont reach a goal. and I dont finish a book I dont like even if Im reading it for a goals, They are not what reading is abour for me

Did your reading inspire you to take any action in the real world, or change long held opinions?

as >31 dchaikin: said:"It only opens my mind to how similar we are through time, space and culture. And how complex we are." i agree with that, but with this in mind it reminds us, or at least me, to take bring about changed in my community, my country and the world

36Jim53
Jan 7, 11:02 pm

Q2: what did you learn?

I learned that it's quite easy to read a lot of easy books that don't really feed my soul or my mind. A whole year of comfort reads is not my goal. I sometimes have to push myself to read better books, and I almost always end up feeling better when I do.

37baswood
Jan 8, 9:11 am

Looking back, what did you learn about your reading? Were there new areas to embrace, old ones to leave behind?

My reading last year certainly threw up a question about being obsessed by completism. I had a target to read a certain number of books printed in 1595 and halfway through the year I found an online thesis listing all available reading material for that year and I got super excited and added them to my list. The result was that I did not even finish the books on my original list and I read some (in fact quite a lot) of not very good poetry. Going down this rabbit hole was not a particularly rewarding experience. A lesson learned - perhaps. I will keep to my original lists and think carefully about whether to read the books on that list.

Did you find you put too much pressure on yourself to achieve a particular goal, or do you need that pressure?

I need the pressure, otherwise I will waste time playing games on the computer or even worse read more articles on the state of the world by various journalists and become thoroughly depressed.

Did Your Reading Insire you to take Action in the Real world
Only to visit more bookshops and art galleries.

38dchaikin
Jan 8, 9:17 am

>37 baswood: books to counterweight the news? (Don’t read Prophet Song)

39qebo
Jan 9, 8:36 am

>32 thorold: Q2 : Looking Back

However, this year, looking back, what did you learn about your reading? Were there new areas to embrace, old ones to leave behind?

The main thing I've learned in my years on LT is that although I read more than most people I know in RL, I read less than most people in the LT challenge groups. I could spend all my waking hours trying to keep up on LT and still fall short. This has been helpful to realize; having tried and failed numerous times, I can triage more easily, accepting my limitations.

Did you find you put too much pressure on yourself to achieve a particular goal, or do you need that pressure?

When I was in the 75 book challenge, I could read 75 books by setting a quota for each day, week, month. As a consequence though, I would choose for the count and avoid long books. In CR, the point for me is to reduce the pressure. Not ideal, because I may slack off for months, but for now I don't care enough to sustain goals.

Did your reading inspire you to take any action in the real world, or change long held opinions?

Well, the action was not exactly earth shattering, but I stepped through two short book tutorials to get (re)started with crocheting.

>34 WelshBookworm: over 50 years ago I read a review of Animal Liberation
The same book indirectly (my sister read it) inspired me to go veggie a bit under 50 years ago.

40rocketjk
Jan 9, 9:13 am

Question 2

Looking back, what did you learn about your reading? Were there new areas to embrace, old ones to leave behind?

As I look over my reading list from 2023, I can't say that I find any new areas I've embraced,, although I did once again have reinforced my love of reading a wide range of books.

Having stepped out of the reading group I'd been in for a couple of years when my wife and I moved across country mid-year, I guess I can sadly say that I also had confirmed what had always been my suspicion: reading groups may not be for me, as I much more enjoy selecting the books I read myself than having them chosen for me. They were great guys and friends, and extremely intelligent and accomplished fellows, but our reading styles were in many ways dissimilar. So perhaps that was more the issue. I greatly enjoyed the social aspect of the gatherings, but I would much rather have met with these fellows once or twice a month and played poker.

As you may recall, over the past few years I have done a lot of reading to educate myself about the history of racism and as well as of the civil rights movement in the U.S. While I'm sure I will still read a book or two a year on that topic, I feel that I have completed that project as a concentrated endeavor for now.

Did you find you put too much pressure on yourself to achieve a particular goal, or do you need that pressure?

The only real pressure came, again, from those reading group selections. My guys like to select long books. For some of them, the monthly selection was their only leisure reading. For me, though, I sometimes had to power through if I didn't want the book to be my only one for the month.

Also, for quite a few years, now, I've taken part in the ROOT Challenge group. ROOT is an acronym for "Reading Our Own Tomes." Basically it's a challenge for reading books already in your house, or that have been in your house for a certain period of time, or however you feel like interpreting the challenge. At any rate, I'd set 30 as a goal, and toward the end of the calendar year I pushed myself somewhat to try to at least approach that goal, which I fell short of, at 27. That was still better than the last few years, though. But I must say I do enjoy having that sort of goal to keep my eye on, and I don't really worry about missing it. (Here's this year's group: https://www.librarything.com/ngroups/24198/2024-ROOT-Challenge)

Did your reading inspire you to take any action in the real world, or change long held opinions?

I don't know about "changing" long held opinions, but reading Gaza Mom: Palestine, Politics, Parenting, and Everything in Between by Laila M. El-Haddad very much helped to deepen my knowledge about how miserable life in Gaza had become by the mid-2000s due to Israeli oppression. I finished this book before the current horrors transpired.

My recent reading about African American history as well as my deep affinity for jazz and jazz history as made my current time living in Harlem, where my wife and I moved in June and where we'll be staying through May, a particularly rich period. I've been spending a lot of time investigating the history and culture around me. The chances are good that we will be staying in New York long-term at this point, but if we do, we will not be looking for a long-term place in Harlem, because neither one of us want to be part of the very real problem of gentrification in this glorious, historical African American neighborhood. A year's visit is one thing. Digging in for the long haul is something else. I don't think I really needed my recent reading to tell me this. (My wife is on the same page sans reading list.) But it certainly has reinforced the issue for me.

41SassyLassy
Jan 10, 1:52 pm

>30 rocketjk: QUESTION 2: Looking back

Looking back, what did you learn about your reading? Were there new areas to embrace, old ones to leave behind?

Looking back over my 2023 reading, and that of the previous few years, I realized finally just how bothered I was with my lax reading of the last five or so years. Initially, I had attributed it to moving halfway across the continent and settling in, with all that entailed. Then there was Covid lockdown, but if that wasn't a perfect opportunity to hunker down and read, what was? It was time to face up to it; I had become a lazy reader. There were entirely too many fillers in my reading. I was also allowing myself to be distracted from valuable reading time.

Did you find you put too much pressure on yourself to achieve a particular goal, or do you need that pressure?

I am one who used to do well under pressure. I probably still do, but who knows, because I haven't been challenging myself. I haven't even risen to the minor challenge of posting about my reading.

I suspect by once again setting goals for myself, and then reviewing them periodically, I will read more and better this year.

Did your reading inspire you to take any action in the real world, or change long held opinions?

This was one of the things I used to love about reading. Sometimes it took me in entirely new directions, other times it was just a quiet thought redirection. These flashes of inspiration have been fewer as there was less to inspire in what I was reading.

Self criticism session over, I am coming away with a couple of guidelines:

Read nothing for which you'll hate yourself in the morning.
Stay true to what interests you - don't be distracted by what everyone else is reading.
Keep moving forward - challenge yourself. The odd murder mystery or entertainment is fine, but it they keep adding up, it's trouble.

42lisapeet
Jan 11, 4:33 pm

Q3 Looking Back

What did you learn about your reading?

Nothing much, other than that I'm more susceptible to a certain kind of self-help book than I had thought. I always figured I was immune to that kind of pop advice, but last year I found myself really attracted to books that wanted to talk about how to allocate my energy, particularly on the professional front.

Did you find you put too much pressure on yourself to achieve a particular goal, or do you need that pressure?
Nope, I don't make goals or read with an end result in mind, other than reading I need to do for work. And actually, maybe that's something I can say I learned—that this is a good approach for me. I had a hectic year, and I'm sure read less than usual (no, I don't count them), and that was one less thing to feel bad about, or feel like I was somehow letting myself down. Life is full of enough of that, honestly—reading is just fun.

Did your reading inspire you to take any action in the real world, or change long held opinions?
No. Not even the self-help stuff, heh. Although at least getting more sleep is on my wish list now, if not an actually achieved goal.

43bragan
Editado: Jan 11, 4:42 pm

Question 1:

Mark me down as yet another one who doesn't do anything special when it comes to ringing in the literary new year. I suppose I do find that often at the very end of the year my reading starts to get particularly random and to include a lot of shorter stuff, perhaps because consciously or unconsciously I'm trying to up my total count before the year ends. And then, having gotten over that, I may be more likely to dive into something more substantial come January. But there's certainly no deliberate planning there.

I also have no deliberate planning for my reading this year. I've given up formalized goals for the moment, at least (and maybe for good, although who knows where my future self's head may be at). I can't say I have no goals, but they're kind of vague, casual ones: read as many books as possible, read some of these specific books I've been meaning to get to, try to start some series and not stall out in the middle of others.

Question 2:

However, this year, looking back, what did you learn about your reading? Were there new areas to embrace, old ones to leave behind?

Honestly? I think the main thing I learned about my reading this year is that having an up-to-date prescription on my glasses really does make it easier! (Not that that one was entirely my fault. Yeah, I was late making the eye doctor appointment, but then it was five months before they could get me in!)

Did you find you put too much pressure on yourself to achieve a particular goal, or do you need that pressure?

2023 was actually the first year in a long time that I didn't have any particular goal I was pressuring myself to complete, having decided to take a step back from the ROOT (Read Our Own Tomes) group, which was a nice place but by this point was starting to feel less useful and fun. I did have some sort of counter-intuitive notion that not putting that kind of pressure on myself might actually lead to reading more books, but alas it didn't quite work out that way.

Did your reading inspire you to take any action in the real world, or change long held opinions?

I sort of feel like the sum total of everything I read goes into shaping my opinions in some way, but I don't know that there's anything this year that especially stands out here. There was that rather alarmist book on food safety that tried really hard to discourage me from eating anything that falls off my plate and onto the counter, but here I am still doing it, anyway.

44cindydavid4
Editado: Jan 11, 5:02 pm

in our house its a race between us and the cats to catch said fallen food

>42 lisapeet: Life is full of enough of that, honestly—reading is just fun.

well said. these kinds of questions bother me because it makes me think I should have goals. and pages of data for the year. there are times when I decide to read certain books but there are not part of a plan. I do list the topic for the challenges I am in (rtt, RG, monthly authors, non fiction) but I like those because its all losey goosey how I want to interpret a theme, and the boook I read for it is completely my choice

45AlisonY
Jan 11, 6:03 pm

My tuppence... From last year's reading I realised that I struggle with fiction when I've difficult things going on. It requires too much energy and attention to get into from scratch. It also somehow feels inappropriate for me to get lost in the world of a fictional novel when in the real world things aren't quite so rosy. I don't think I give myself permission for that joy when times are a little tough.

By contrast, I discovered that poetry really is a soothing balm for the soul. It ticks all the boxes - words that soothe the soul, prose that makes you want to speak it out loud just for the loveliness of the sound and above all it's usually short for frazzled attention spans.

I had no reading goals beyond just reading for pleasure and reading to learn new things.

Like Lisa I enjoyed quite a few personal development books in 2023 which collectively have inspired me to be more intentional about going after my dreams, getting clearer about what I really want and setting goals for myself. I enjoy working on stuff like that, but the planets of work, self and home have to align for me to feel like I've the mental bandwidth to do it properly.

46Annie_09
Jan 13, 9:00 am

>1 rocketjk: Its not really a hard and fast tradition but I do like to go back and re-read some of my Favourite novels or some classics. Again its not always it's just something I have started unintentionally and recently
Honestly I don't like to plan any thing prior just because i am a very flighty person and sometimes I'll find books and immediately start reading them and other times I'll let it sit around holding it off until whenever.

47Willoyd
Editado: Jan 13, 11:49 am

However, this year, looking back, what did you learn about your reading? Were there new areas to embrace, old ones to leave behind?
I continued to learn how much I'm enjoying the diversification provided by my Reading the World project - discovering some brilliant new books and writers, especially from Africa but also elsewhere. My reading has been transformed dramatically in the past 2 years. I've also learned that I'm struggling a bit to read longer novels - seems to have been ever since lockdown. I used to lap them up! Just can't settle to them at present. So...develop the former and work on the latter!

Did you find you put too much pressure on yourself to achieve a particular goal, or do you need that pressure?
Yes - especially trying to read X books in a year. Have learned / am learning to let 'goals' go - including feeling required to finish a book for a book group. Reading the World is now no longer a 'challenge', but a 'project'. Aim this year is to read fewer books overall and create space to read some bigger ones!

Did your reading inspire you to take any action in the real world, or change long held opinions?
Not so much change opinions, but I do feel my education has improved and my reading has certainly changed what I do. Chris van Tulleken's book Ultra-Processed People especially has given me pause for thought. Johann Hari's book Stolen Focus was also very thought-provoking and helped me rethink some things about personal habits. Other actions during the year were strongly influenced by previous reading (Wilding, read a couple of years ago, being the key trigger here).

48dchaikin
Jan 13, 3:35 pm

>47 Willoyd: I've also learned that I'm struggling a bit to read longer novels

I feel that too. It really struck me in, I think, 2021-2. I had read several long books, some very good. But my most enjoyable reading was consistently where i was going through several 250-ish page books in a row. Apparently that’s where my brain is these days.

49SassyLassy
Jan 13, 3:50 pm

>47 Willoyd: Really like that distinction between 'challenge' and 'project'.

50rachbxl
Jan 15, 8:02 am

Looking back, what did you learn about your reading? Were there new areas to embrace, old ones to leave behind?

My reading changed considerably last year, as visitors to my thread already know. The visible changes were that I suddenly started reading non-fiction, having been as good as incapable of doing so previously, despite often wanting to (nothing was guaranteed to set my mind wandering more than picking up a NF book; I'd be off with the fairies before the end of the first page), and that I started reading in French again, something I'd more-or-less consciously chosen not to do for years (not because my French isn't good enough but I think perhaps because of a feeling that I get enough French in day-to-day life, we speak French at home, etc, so I'd rather give reading space to my native English and to the other languages I read in). Both of these changes made a huge difference to my reading (and therefore to my general well-being), and I believe they were both connected to my Dad's death in August (he was a keen NF reader so that brings me closer to him, and although he'd lived in France for over 20 years and spoke reasonable French, he'd never read a book in French - that wasn't my case as I used to read in French, but I think that the realisation that I was cutting myself off from part of the local culture in a way Dad had done too (he ended up lonely and isolated, though I'm not saying that reading any number of books in French would have changed that) shocked me into reading French again). Whatever the reason, I've got my reading mojo back.

Another part of this is that, just like Sassy in >41 SassyLassy:, I finally became aware of just how unsatisfying my reading has been over the last few years...until August last year, in fact. I knew it was a long time since I'd really enjoyed my reading, but I'd managed to hide from the thought that perhaps I was partly responsible for that. I know what kind of reading I enjoy, and it's not a steady diet of airport novels and murder mysteries (they have their place too, but they need to go back to being a tiny proportion). I've been filling up on junk. Like so many others in this group I'm in my early 50s; I hope to have a fair few reading years (decades) ahead of me, but I don't have reading time to waste on the equivalent of fast food. My reading since August looks a lot more like the reading I used to do (with the welcome addition of NF), and it has given me the kind of pleasure it used to.

Again like Sassy in >41 SassyLassy:, I intend to keep steady on my own course regardless of what others are reading. That doesn't mean that I can't be tempted to read something that someone here is reading because it catches my eye - that's always been one of the great benefits of CR for me. But not when it leads me to books I just don't enjoy that much.

51dchaikin
Jan 15, 9:30 am

>50 rachbxl: That’s a lovely answer

52rocketjk
Editado: Jan 19, 9:52 am

Question 3: Forgotten Bestsellers

I'm not sure exactly how to frame this question, so it's going to be fairly open-ended. Also, it starts with a story, as my questions may tend to do from time to time: Somewhere around 17 years ago, my wife and I were driving around in rural Northern California and came upon an open thrift/antique store. It was closed, but had an honor system shelf of books for sale on the porch. I bought a copy of a beautiful old hardcover novel that I'd never heard of, The History of Rome Hanks and Kindred Matters by Joseph Stanley Pennell.



When I got it home and looked it up, it turned out that this book had been a literary sensation when it was first published in 1944. A huge bestseller. Now it is more or less entirely forgotten, only to be found on lists of "forgotten bestsellers." It is a novel of the American Civil War and a tale of a man going in search of his family history. In the reading, it was easy for me to see why it was so popular when it first came out. It is certainly eye-catching, out-of-the-box storytelling, with some very vivid battle scenes as well. On the other hand, it's also not that surprising that the book was left behind. Parts of it make difficult and not especially entertaining reading.

Anyway, I thought of all this when trying to come up with a new Avid Reader question. I recall that when I was first looking for information about Rome Hanks I found it listed on a "Lost Bestsellers" website. I went looking for that site this morning. I don't think I found the exact site, but I did find this intriguing online locale:
https://neglectedbooks.com

The reference to Rome Hanks is here, on the "Second Chance Press" page:
https://neglectedbooks.com/?page_id=79

The more general "Lost American Fiction" page is here:
https://neglectedbooks.com/?page_id=67

On all of these pages, if you scroll down just a bit you'll see on the righthand side a column of "SOURCES: LISTS OF NEGLECTED BOOKS."

OK, the actual question(s)!

When browsing for books, either in stores or online, are you drawn at all to old novels or histories that you've never heard of?

Have you ever come upon and read, or at least researched, a book you'd never heard of but turned out to have been a big best-seller in its day?

If so, do you usually find such books to deserve the anonymity they've been consigned to or have you found books that you thought should still be better known?

More generally, do you have any personal older-book favorites that you wish more people knew about and enjoyed as much as you do?

I have a feeling that the website I've linked to, and most of the lists to be found there, are mainly U.S.-centric, for which I apologize. But of course the topic works across national/language borders, too. Who/what are your favorite "forgotten" authors or books?

53thorold
Jan 19, 11:43 am

Q2 Forgotten bestsellers

Thanks for the links to that site — some fascinating stuff there, which could quite easily end up inflating my ABE Books bill for the next few months…

It’s interesting when you look at things like that famous 1977 TLS article (“The most underrated books…” https://neglectedbooks.com/?page_id=145 ) how relative all that kind of thing is. Lord David Cecil and Philip Larkin famously conspired to boost their mutual friend Barbara Pym out of the undeserved obscurity she’d lapsed into, and it eventually turned her back into a bestseller. And there are quite a few other authors mentioned there who might have been underrated in 1977 but certainly aren’t now: Raymond Queneau, W E B DuBois, John Cowper Powys (not many people actually read him, but he’s definitely up there as a literary novelist), Stevie Smith, Mervyn Peake, Ford Maddox Ford, …

There are also quite a few publishers out there nowadays who make a point of reviving neglected writers, e.g. Persephone and Virago in the UK, which both focus on women writers. So some “forgotten” authors mentioned in other older articles on the site are now very mainstream, like the Australian Henry Handel Richardson. The fifties British novelist Elizabeth Taylor was pretty unknown forty years ago, but I don’t think anyone would call her “forgotten” now.

- - -

To the actual question: I enjoy finding “forgotten” things, books that obviously made an impact on many people but not on me when they first came out. Little libraries and charity shops are good for that kind of find, of course. But I also sometimes deliberately seek out things that I see mentioned in passing in other books.

Sometimes they are clearly justly forgotten, but interesting for what they tell us about the moment (for instance when I found a collection of three romantic novellas by Jean de La Brète — Alice Cherbonnel in civil life — who had a big hit in 1889 with her first novel Mon oncle et mon curé and is now firmly unknown even in France).

A few recent “surprise finds”:

— The memoir Die Revolution entlässt ihre Kinder (1955: Child of the revolution) by Wolfgang Leonhard, who grew up in the Soviet Union as the child of exiled German communists during WWII, was trained in secret Comintern colleges, and sent to Berlin as assistant to Walter Ulbricht in 1945. I came across it through my interest in the history of the DDR.

Lucky Per (1904) by Henrik Pontoppidan. Pontoppidan disappeared below the threshold of translatability-into-English early in his career, and even his 1917 Nobel Prize didn’t bring him back into sight: this novel, a wonderful modernist Bildungsroman about a renewable-energy pioneer, is one of the classics of Danish lit. It didn’t get a proper translation into English until a few years ago, when it suddenly got two. I found it when chasing Nobelists.

The Manxman (1894) by Hall Caine. Manx author Hall Caine was a huge bestseller in his day. His sales figures made contemporaries like Joseph Conrad and Thomas Hardy look pretty insignificant. This is a big, shaggy page-turner, with a predictable Victorian plot. The 1929 Hitchcock adaptation — his last silent — was much better than the book, but it was still quite fun for all the island atmosphere.

More generally, I’ve long had a kind of semi-guilty fascination with Simon Raven, who, mostly in the 60s and 70s, wrote long serial novels about English upper-middle-class society on the same sort of basis as C P Snow and Anthony Powell. But with far more sex and general turpitude. Raven was a pretty obnoxious person by all accounts, and he enjoyed overplaying his own nastiness and cynicism in his fiction, so the books are often pretty much beyond the pale by current standards. But of course sold like hot cakes when paperback publishers of the day put suitably naughty pictures on the covers. He’s very clever, writes fluently and wittily, and has absolutely no illusions about the world being a nice place or the English upper classes being fit to run it.

54cindydavid4
Editado: Jan 19, 4:46 pm

>1first let me congradulate you on such an interesting and unique question. gosh I want to read them all! (from the first link) Will settle down later to answer!

55RidgewayGirl
Jan 19, 3:07 pm

Question 3

As someone who leans hard into new fiction, I don't tend to gravitate towards the older books. Rather, I like to find the novels and short story collections published by small, locally-oriented presses, which is to say, only a few books spring to mind for this question.

First is Dawn Powell, who is not entirely unknown, but who deserves a lot more fame than she ever achieved. Her writing has that same biting wit as Dorothy Parker and her novels are brilliant.

And Mary Ladd Gavell, who was unpublished in her own lifetime. Her son put some of her stories in an industry newsletter and eventually they were published in the collection I Cannot Tell a Lie Exactly: and Other Stories.

56LolaWalser
Jan 19, 3:14 pm

>52 rocketjk:

Q2

Since I read mostly older literature, often not-in-English, I come across lots of forgotten books, including bestsellers. So many in fact that I'm not sure listing them would be of interest... HOWEVER! In one of those serendipitous occurrences, I finished yesterday a bona fide American forgotten bestseller, Kings Row by Henry Bellaman, a scandalous success in 1940 and a film (sanitized out of all resemblance) with Claude Rains and Ronald Reagan in 1942.

It was the film that led me to the book in a way--I was poking around a Canadian website (the book is available free in Canada but not, apparently, in the US, I'm sorry to say), thought I recognised the title, dimly remembered Claude Rains, whom I like a lot, in the film of the same name, started reading and, whoa!

Bellaman doesn't seem to me a good writer, but he seems sincere in a wish to show life "as it is", contrary to the whitewashing of the hypocritical classes. He's not prurient, as invidious comparisons to cheap soaps might lead one to think. Teenagers have sex, and it doesn't read as if it were written for the gratification of sleazy adults; same with the attention a gay boy receives from other boys (it's pretty amazing to me that he's shown as generally attractive, instead of--as happens--as one "sick" specimen either drawing out another wrong 'un or being a nefarious, corrupting influence. No, he just exists, other boys find him "as pretty as a girl", and that makes them hot under the collar.)

As for the plot line regarding the strange, forbidding Dr. Tower (the character played by Rains in the film), it chilled me to the bone. The film completely changed its substance so it came as a shock, especially once the details sink in (how long it lasted, were other crimes connected to it, etc.)

An unsettling but compelling, sprawling bit of Americana with less corn than usual.

57KeithChaffee
Jan 19, 3:51 pm

>52 rocketjk: I have a couple of specific areas in which I dive into older and more obscure works. I enjoy mysteries from the Golden Age, but I generally let someon else curate them for me, mostly choosing volumes from Martin Edwards' British Crime Library series or Otto Penzler's American Crime Classics series. And I am making my way through the early years of award-nominated short SF, though again, that list is pre-curated for me, so I'm not getting anything that's genuinely obscure.

About a year, I picked up a novel by the early-20th-century American novelist Winston "no, not that Winston Churchill" Churchill, who was a best-seller at the time but has since fallen into an honestly earned obscurity. I read it mostly because I was amused by learning that there had been an American Winston Churchill.

58rocketjk
Editado: Jan 19, 4:05 pm

>56 LolaWalser: Cool! I will have to look out for that book. Thanks.

>55 RidgewayGirl: & >57 KeithChaffee: I've heard of both Dawn Powell and the American Winston Churchill, but haven't read anything by them. I had quite a few of Powell's novels in the used bookstore I used to own,

59cindydavid4
Jan 19, 4:39 pm

>53 thorold: the author won the nobel for lit in 1910 so obvioisly some folk notices him. Glad to see him comiing back

Interesting that a few authors had Jewish characters might be interesting what their roles are

60cindydavid4
Editado: Jan 19, 4:50 pm

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

61cindydavid4
Editado: Jan 21, 4:06 am

>55 RidgewayGirl: powell was rediscovered via gore viadal I read all ov her NYC books and they are not dated at all,in fact there are stories of todays life.

she has a biograhy which is quite good Dawn Powell: A Biography Tim Page was instrumental in bringing her back in the light

another come back was irene nemirovsky is now best known as the author of the unfinished Suite Française two novellas portraying life in France between 4 June 1940 and 1 July 1941, the period during which the Nazis occupied most of France. she died in aushiwitz

Némirovsky's older daughter, Denise, kept the notebook containing the manuscript for Suite Française for fifty years without reading it, thinking it was a journal or diary of her mother's, which would be too painful to read. In the late 1990s, however, she made arrangements to donate her mother's papers to a French archive and decided to examine the notebook first. Upon discovering what it contained, she instead had it published in France, where it became a bestseller in 2004. It sold 2.5 million copies by 2008 and has been translated into 38 languages.

62thorold
Jan 19, 5:05 pm

>59 cindydavid4: >53 thorold: — Just to be clear: the Danes never forgot Pontoppidan. It was in the English-speaking world that he was so hugely overlooked, after translations of his early books failed to make an impact. A similar case might be the celebrated Dutch writer Louis Couperus, from about the same time, who was championed during his lifetime by people like Arnold Bennett and briefly stirred interest before going out of sight in English for decades, and only made a small comeback quite recently.

63cindydavid4
Jan 19, 5:18 pm

>61 cindydavid4: got it, thanks

64cindydavid4
Editado: Jan 19, 5:25 pm

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

65Willoyd
Editado: Jan 19, 6:50 pm

>47 Willoyd:
I'm currently reading Daniel Deronda for a book group. I reread Middlemarch a few years ago (I studied it for A-levels back in the 70s!) and sailed through it. This I'm only managing by reading it in elephant-style bite size pieces: I've set myself 50 pages or 4 chapters a day. It's not that I'm not enjoying it - it's excellent and am loving it - but just can't settle, and trouble is I think I've got my mind set that way now. Hopefully, tackling it this way, I'll get over the blockage eventually.

>49 SassyLassy:
Yes - suddenly I'm enjoying it so much more! No time scales, nothing except the enjoyment of trying out new material, styles etc. As I said above, both projects have been transformational.

66kjuliff
Jan 19, 6:56 pm

>61 cindydavid4: Thanks for that. I just borrowed Suite Française - it looks upsetting but interesting.

67cindydavid4
Editado: Jan 20, 8:34 am

>66 kjuliff: it is both; excellent writer:it wasnt complete, I think the daughters wrote the rest, If you like her style, check out her works; they are a map of herself and the books

68arubabookwoman
Jan 20, 11:22 am

>56 LolaWalser: >58 rocketjk: Serendipitously I discovered Kings Row is available on Kindle for only 99 cents. So I bought it. It's nearly 800 pages long, though, so not sure when I'll get to it.

69laytonwoman3rd
Jan 20, 1:37 pm

>55 RidgewayGirl: Dawn Powell was one of our featured authors in the 2020 American Authors Challenge. The thread where we discussed her is here. You might find some interesting comments on her work. The Library of America published 2 volumes of Powell in 2001, and those should be easy to find...our library system has them.

70LolaWalser
Jan 20, 2:39 pm

>68 arubabookwoman:

Cool find! I didn't think there might be interest, but FWIW here's the link to the website I got it from:

https://www.fadedpage.com/showbook.php?pid=20200976

It does seem huge but I admit I got hooked and had to race through it until the resolution of the Dr. Tower's story (which happens almost midway, then other characters get their 15 mins).

71janoorani24
Jan 20, 4:45 pm

Hello, this is my first time posting to this thread, and I love the questions so far. I ask your indulgence for my answers to the questions in order:

QUESTION 1: ANNUAL NEW YEAR READING TRADITIONS AND/OR YEARLY READING PLANS

1) Do you have any sort of tradition for how you begin your reading calendar year? A specific author, or kind of book or anything of the like? I don't have a tradition - I just start the year off trying to finish books I began reading in the prior year.

2) Do you have any particular reading goals for 2024? Maybe you've taken on a particular challenge to fulfill or number goal to reach. Anything like that on the menu for this year? I've participated in the 50 Book Challenge for a number of years, but have only reached that goal once. For the past few years, I've had a personal goal to read all of the books I already own related to WWI, both fiction and non-fiction. As part of that goal, I'm currently about half-way through The War that Ended Peace by Margaret MacMillan.

3) In general, do you like having your reading planned out in advance for a year (or any other period of time), or do you prefer to take your reading selections as they come? Either way, is there any particular reason(s) why?

I don't normally plan my reading -- I own a lot of unread books, but this year I'm making an exception and have nineteen books I've already started or that are on lists I've made from other people's lists (mostly from Medium).

72janoorani24
Jan 20, 5:12 pm

Here is my answer to the second question:
QUESTION 2
LOOKING BACK
This year, looking back, what did you learn about your reading? Were there new areas to embrace, old ones to leave behind?

I only finished 26 books in 2023 - an all-time low for me. I was overly immersed in Robert Galbraith's Cormoran Strike books and work-related reading. I also went from having over an hour commute everyday (I listen to audio books when I'm driving) to working primarily from home, which radically reduced the number of audio books I completed. I began a lot of books I didn't finish, and read a lot of magazine and journal articles. I have to say that, overall, it was a dissatisfying year of reading. I only read two books I considered worthy of five-stars, and both of them were re-reads. All of the Galbraith books but one were good, they just were long and time-consuming.

Did you find you put too much pressure on yourself to achieve a particular goal, or do you need that pressure?

I do put too much pressure on myself to get my work-related reading done, which leads me to feeling frustrated when I don't meet those goals.

Did your reading inspire you to take any action in the real world, or change long held opinions?

I'm decades older than most of the people I work with, and some of my reading this year has inspired me to try to see the world through younger eyes. One of the things that surprised me was that a few of them enjoy the same type of books I do, and have similar opinions to mine about some of the classics (especially if they were forced to read them in high school). I may try to read a couple of graphic novels and newer contemporary fiction based on conversations I've had.

73labfs39
Jan 20, 5:31 pm

>72 janoorani24: I only read two books I considered worthy of five-stars Which of course leads me to wonder, what were those two books?

I read the occasional graphic work as well, and we used to have a thread on Club Read dedicated to graphic works. You can access the list that members put together here.

74janoorani24
Jan 20, 5:50 pm

And finally, to finish catching up:

Question 3 - Forgotten Bestsellers:

When browsing for books, either in stores or online, are you drawn at all to old novels or histories that you've never heard of?

I am drawn to older books when browsing in used book stores, but I can't say I've ever discovered a forgotten bestseller. I did recently purchase East of Eden in a used book store in Northern California because I've been meaning to read it for a long time and didn't already have it, but it's not exactly forgotten.

Have you ever come upon and read, or at least researched, a book you'd never heard of but turned out to have been a big best-seller in its day? Or have you found books that you thought should still be better known? Who/what are your favorite "forgotten" authors or books?

I can't think of any book I've read that turned out to be a forgotten bestseller, but I can think of several that should have been, or that may have been, that I think should get more attention -- The Cowboy and the Cossack by Clair Huffacker, Northwest Passage by Kenneth Roberts, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak, Maia by Richard Adams, anything by Sally Watson, especially Jade and Witch of the Glens, and finally, anything and everything by Dorothy Dunnett (my favorite author).

75WelshBookworm
Jan 20, 7:59 pm

>74 janoorani24: Welcome to Club Read. Dorothy Dunnett has been my favorite author for decades! I'm also a member of the Dorothy Dunnett Society and I love getting my issues of Whispering Gallery. Maia and Shardik are also favorites. I mean to reread both of them sometime. I have not read Northwest Passage, but I did read Arundel and enjoyed it. I look forward to following your reading here!

76dchaikin
Jan 20, 9:33 pm

Great Q3. I’ve enjoyed everyone’s answers.

I think i used to browse, especially used bookstores. Somehow i’ve lost the knack. Now i look for certain things and move on. Wish i wasn’t like that.

77cindydavid4
Editado: Jan 21, 4:09 am



noel perrinwrote a readers delight where he looks for forgotten books,remembered books honored books and orphan books. the collection includes some global selections as well as genre and poetry. I was introduced to new to me books like,a fine and private place, all hallows eve, the maker of heavenly trousers,the ugly ducklings and unhappy swans,the green child,islandia and more. happy reading!

78cindydavid4
Editado: Jan 21, 10:53 am

>52 rocketjk: When browsing for books, either in stores or online, are you drawn at all old novels or histories that you've never heard of?

oh yes even as a little kid going to the bookstore with dad, he often pointed out books he read and andid take them home to read. as I got older Id see those books with no covers and immediatly walk over like they were magnets. Remember getting the two volume edition of HG Wells outline of history and read over and over again.I looked for them in any bookstore, thrift store, local yard sales and came home with my treasures. Later I became more interested in old (1880-1930) childrens illustrated books so those are my magnets now.

Have you ever come upon and read, or at least researched, a book you'd never heard of but turned out to have been a big best-seller in its day?

yes, I think the first time I did that was with how green was my valley, one of those off my dads shelf and found out that it was a best seller when he was young

If so, do you usually find such books to deserve the anonymity they've been consigned to or have you found books that you thought should still be better known?

with few exceptions (ayn rand Im looking at you) I think every book should have a chance of being read again, I love that Gore Vidal was the one who noted Dawn Powells books and started to get them publised. I like small press because they are better placed to introduce these books to the public

More generally, do you have any personal older-book favorites that you wish more people knew about and enjoyed as much as you do?

I wrote another post below where i put some of my favs. I need to look at my shelves some more to find

Love that website! I could spend hours just looking at the contents

79cindydavid4
Jan 21, 4:08 am

>69 laytonwoman3rd: oh, I wish I knew about that challenge! thats for the link, will read it when I can

80avaland
Jan 21, 7:09 am

Q3 Forgotten Bestsellers

When I was ten, my class took a field trip (first field trip!) into Portland (Maine) to Longfellow's birthplace. It was a lovely old house... There was a reading of some of his poetry and I was completely smitten and started writing rhyming poetry almost immediately ); it was the gateway drug into all the poetry I have read or written since.

Longfellow, in his time in the 1800s, was the Michael Jackson of his era (a superstar).
He still was much revered in the state of Maine into the 60s ("Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie" was still being read in 8th grade) but rhyming poetry was going out of fashion ... '

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/henry-wadsworth-longfellow

81FlorenceArt
Editado: Jan 21, 7:11 am

>70 LolaWalser: It’s also .99€ at Kobo, and included in my subscription so I added it to my reader.

Although they are not exactly bestsellers, I enjoy reading old romance or pop culture books once in a while. When I was reading paper books, I used to browse the bouquinistes stalls along the Seine, or the back shelves at Shakespeare and Company. I recently noticed that some of those books are available as ebooks, though so far I've seen mostly old scifi, maybe I should look for romance too. Also, little free libraries can be a good source, as mentioned already.

I've only read a few over the years, but I remember fondly a few old romances whose title I forgot, except Leap Before You Look (couldn't find a touchstone, too many books with the same title). There was also a Bob Morane and a San Antonio, wildly different but probably both unknown outside of France. And recently I discovered a wonderful web site called Digital Comics Museum and read a magazine called New Romances front to back, including the ads.

82thorold
Jan 21, 9:01 am

>80 avaland: My great-great-aunt, who trained as a primary-school teacher ca. 1900, was a huge fan of Whitman and Longfellow and read me Hiawatha when I was a small child. The effect was much the same as in your case!

83labfs39
Jan 21, 9:04 am

Q3: I went through some of the very interesting lists that were linked off from Jerry's post and was not hugely surprised that I had not read many of the books listed. But then I remembered the publisher's series by Bloomsbury Group that brought out a number of older British novels in matching covers that I adore. I had never read things by Ada Leverson, E.F. Benson, or D.E. Stevenson before, but went on to read others by them. The Joyce Dennys is interesting in that the books are a compilation of a column she wrote during the WWII.

84rocketjk
Editado: Jan 21, 9:45 am

I just thought of another old find of mine from long ago. During my first year living in San Francisco (1986-1987) I lived in SF's Mission District. At that time there was still a glorious collection of bookstores--mostly used books--in that neighborhood, clustered around the intersection of Valencia Street and 16th Street. One of the most fun stores was called Maelstrom Books. It was a large, lovely jumble of books of all sorts. They had a back room of more or less bargain novels which they called Unpopular Fiction. Back there one day I found a copy of a novel called Angel Pavement by J.B. Priestley. I'd never heard of the book, though I knew of Priestley. It's a chunkster novel about London just before the Depression and published in 1930. I still own that copy, which, as per my LT listing, appears to be close to a first American edition. (Sadly, no dust jacket.) I remember enjoying it, though I see that when I originally posted my LT catalogue 23 years later, I only gave it 3 stars. I think my rating system was a bit tougher in those days.

The book is included in the LT Legacy Libraries of William Somerset Maugham, Astrid Lindgren, Anthony Burgess.

The books wikipedia pages tells us, "Angel Pavement is a novel by J. B. Priestley, published in 1930 after the enormous success of The Good Companions (1929)." And then, "Dedicated to C. S. Evans, Priestley's editor at Heinemann, it was begun in October 1929 and completed in April 1930. It sold nearly as well as its predecessor."

So I guess "nearly as well as" "enormous success" equals best seller! Although Priestley himself as an author has certainly not been forgotten, I don't know that I've ever heard or read of anyone mentioning Angel Pavement itself, although it is included in 280 LT libraries.

Alas, Maelstrom Books succumbed during the first wave of "brick and mortar" bookstore closings during the early Amazon days. I went by there one day only to find an antique store in its place.

85cindydavid4
Editado: Jan 21, 10:59 am

not sure if this counts, but a had a c opy of
ripleys believe it or not given to me by my aunt and uncle for a graduation present. I used to read it off their shelves whenever i babysat for my cousins. Unfortunately it got lost along the way; found it again one at college library book sale.I read the contents and wow, very colonial and I cringed at many things. But its one of the books that started me wanting to know about travel,history, social sciencs in general, I know there have been upteen edition in that series, but would it count for this questionn?

86avaland
Jan 21, 11:19 am

>82 thorold: That's lovely. I'm glad there are others.

87thorold
Jan 21, 12:27 pm

>84 rocketjk: I haven’t read Angel Pavement, but it’s certainly one of the Priestley novels you see in libraries and secondhand bookshops a lot. I have a vague idea that people disapproved of it because he was seen as trying to position himself as more than just a Yorkshire novelist by writing a “fake Dickens novel” set in London.

88janoorani24
Jan 21, 2:19 pm

>75 WelshBookworm: How exciting to find another Dorothy Dunnett fan! I discovered her in the late 80's and actually was able to meet her once. I am also a member of the Society. You are the first person I've known of who has read Maia, and I have Arundel, but haven't read it yet. Shardik is one of my planned listens this year - I have the audio book. I've read the physical book a couple of times. I'm also re-reading Race of Scorpions this year. I tried listening to the audio book, but the narrator for the new editions is awful.

89WelshBookworm
Jan 21, 6:49 pm

>88 janoorani24: Oh, that's too bad about the audio books. I've been saving up my Audible credits to get them all. The old editions for the Lymond chronicles had a TERRIBLE narrator. I haven't tried the new ones yet. If you get the Whispering Gallery, I'm in the picture for the Minneapolis gathering for IDDD. We have a small group of fans here. I started a reread of King Hereafter in 2021 - then I bought a house and all my books were in boxes for six months or more... I had quite a few chunky books I was working on that I need to get back to. Currently working on Ahab's Wife and then I want to get back to And Ladies of the Club

90kjuliff
Jan 21, 7:03 pm

>89 WelshBookworm: it’s so disappointing when you save points for a particular audio book, only to find out that the narrator is hopeless. It’s happened to me a few times. Some of the newer narrators seem to want to be actors, or are actors between jobs. Reading a book out loud for others to hear is not necessarily something an actor is suited for.

91rv1988
Editado: Jan 22, 10:08 pm

Question 3
>53 thorold: This is such a great question. I was reminded of a podcast that I've been recommended, but haven't yet heard. It's called Backlisted, and the goal is for the two hosts to convince you to give a book that has fallen into obscurity, a chance. I was skimming through their episode descriptions and there are a number of books that I immediately wanted to add to the looming To-Be-Read pile. You can see the index of books that they discussed on their website. Going from their list, I suppose one way of looking at it is to think also of books by otherwise well-known authors that have fallen into obscurity, or are less popular (e.g., Nabokov's The Gift as opposed to Lolita), or Joseph Heller's Something Happened as opposed to Catch-22, or Alice Walker's The Temple of My Familiar rather than The Colour Purple. Of course, there is a distinct and particular pleasure in rediscovering authors who have entirely vanished from public conversation, too.

Another lens is to consider how authors widely popular in one region are completely obscure in another. When I travel, I like to go to bookstores and see what is selling there; if there's a secondhand bookstore with absolute piles of a certain author, even better. A couple of slightly more obscure authors that I enjoy are from Asia, and may not be as popular in the West. R. K. Narayan is an author, who, in his heyday, was probably the most widely-known and best-selling writer in India. He wrote in English, and most of his novels are set in the fictional South Indian town of Malgudi, featuring a wide cast of characters. People don't remember him much now, but he was mentored by Graham Greene, who read and enjoyed his work, and worked to bring it to the West. If you're looking for an entry point, try Swami and Friends or The Guide, which was adapted into a very popular film and has a soundtrack that is considered a classic even today.

Sometime ago, I found a copy of Elizabeth von Arnim's book, Vera. I ended up reading and enjoying it, and on looking her up, was surprised to find a tremendous bibliography of several novels. In her time (the early 1900s), she wrote under a pseudonym, which triggered wild speculation as her books gained in popularity. Most of her works are now open source, and available online on Project Gutenberg's website. I know some of her works have received film adaptations, but she is rarely read now, despite her great popularity during her lifetime.

92dchaikin
Jan 22, 8:23 am

>91 rv1988: i love Backlisted. It’s unfortunate i don’t listen more regularly but they are always fun and always interesting. And Nabokov's The Gift is a special, if somewhat difficult, novel. It’s everything Nabokov thought important in his life and writing up to that point, including his father and later his wife (all fictionalized).

93janoorani24
Editado: Jan 22, 9:26 am

>89 WelshBookworm: I should explain about the DD narrator -- I only didn't like his narration of Race of Scorpions because he gave Carlotta such a terrible voice and a bad Italian accent. Niccolo Rising and The Spring of the Ram weren't bad (I think they had the same narrator). I have all the original Lymond series on actual cassettes and/or CDs and Andrew Napier was the narrator for all but one (I can't remember which -- it may have been Game of Kings), and I thought he was awesome! His recordings are all out of print, unfortunately. Funny how people react differently to narrators.

94rocketjk
Editado: Jan 22, 9:18 am

>87 thorold: "I have a vague idea that people disapproved of it because he was seen as trying to position himself as more than just a Yorkshire novelist by writing a “fake Dickens novel” set in London."

Indeed! The Wikipedia page for the book as this to say under the "Reception" heading:

George Orwell reviewed Angel Pavement in The Adelphi in 1930. Orwell, writing under his real name E. A. Blair, argued that Priestley's prose fails to "touch the level at which memorable fiction begins", lacking beauty, profundity and humour, and that "Mr Priestley's work is written altogether too easily, is not laboured upon as good fiction must be—not, in the good sense of the phrase, worked out." Dismissing comparisons between Priestley and Charles Dickens as absurd, Orwell suggested that rejecting such blandishments would make possible an appreciation of Angel Pavement as "an excellent holiday novel, genuinely gay and pleasant, which supplies a good bulk of reading matter for ten and sixpence." Responding to Orwell in The Guardian in 2012, D. J. Taylor reads the novel as a study of "detachment, the absolute conviction expressed by most of its characters that their lives would be better lived out elsewhere, doing other things and in the company of other people" and concluded that Angel Pavement "is a terrific example of the mainstream novel's occasional habit of noticing some of the features of ordinary life that so-called highbrow productions routinely ignore"

I believe if you look up the definition of "damning with faint praise," you'll find the sentence, "{A}n excellent holiday novel, genuinely gay and pleasant, which supplies a good bulk of reading matter for ten and sixpence."

95arubabookwoman
Jan 22, 3:02 pm

>84 rocketjk: A few years back Paul Cranswick over in the 75 Group recommended this, or listed it as a favorite or something similar, so when I saw it as a cheap Kindle deal, I bought it. So Angel Pavement is on my Kindle, and I had recently just downloaded it as one I want to read so (like this year).

96cindydavid4
Jan 22, 4:46 pm

>90 kjuliff: whats funny when I took drama in HS we also took speech interepretation, which was basicaly reading a story, and making it sing. I remember some of my friends did very well, others who were reallly good actors couldnt.
So Id assume it depends on the voice. do you know who the narrator is before you can select a book?

97cindydavid4
Editado: Jan 22, 5:08 pm

sorry, double post

98kjuliff
Jan 22, 4:53 pm

>96 cindydavid4: Yes, you get the name of the narrator and can play a 3-4 minute sample. The sample gives you a fair idea.

99thorold
Jan 22, 4:55 pm

>91 rv1988: Yes, I thought of R K Narayan as well (the touchstone in your post points to another Indian writer) — a little bit old-fashioned, and certainly one of those writers who used to get a shelf to himself in public libraries back in the day, but you don’t hear much about him any more. Well worth checking out if you don’t know his books.

>95 arubabookwoman: I expect I had that Orwell review in the back of my mind. Priestley was an entertainer, and Orwell approved of that sort of writer in theory but not in practice, I suspect. He does have one important thing in common with Dickens, though: he writes like someone reading aloud to you. You can always hear his voice through the page.

100cindydavid4
Editado: Jan 22, 5:07 pm

>91 rv1988: thats an amazing list! Think it might be fun to use that list as a challenge at some point. I recognize several there and definitly want to jump into

Oh Von Armin became one of my fav english writers a while back. of the ones Ive read, my faves were elizabeth and her german garden, the pastors wife and mr skiffington hope you like her as much as I have

"she is rarely read now' well I found it through a book magazine out of enland, and it sounded like she was popular there (gosh what was the name of it? came out in the early 2000s, in a small sized catalouge that was so much fun to browse throug)

hee speaking of orwell and von armin, they had rather a lengthly affair, if I recall correctly

oh she also wrote enchanted april. I saw the film but for some reason didnt read the book, but I liked the filn

101kjuliff
Jan 22, 5:04 pm

>97 cindydavid4: I just posted in All Things Audio -just came across AI generated virtual voice on Audible. It sounded human.

102cindydavid4
Jan 22, 5:10 pm

its all so scary, but I assume thats what people said about the telephone ,tv, and computer. Its going to change our world, for better or for worst I suppose

103ShikhaB
Jan 22, 5:24 pm

>1 rocketjk: No tradition, but this year, I intentionally started off with Parable of the Sower, given the year in which the story starts.
2. Reading goal is 13 books - busy job and life so average a book per month.
3. I have a few books planned out in advance for the year, but other than that, I play it by mood - though I do try to alternate between fiction and nonfiction, to mix things up.

104cindydavid4
Jan 22, 5:47 pm

good for you, wish you luck in what books you get. report back here to let us know how they wer

105Willoyd
Editado: Jan 22, 6:53 pm

>84 rocketjk: Although Priestley himself as an author has certainly not been forgotten, I don't know that I've ever heard or read of anyone mentioning Angel Pavement itself, although it is included in 280 LT libraries.
One of which is mine! I live on the outskirts of his modern-day Bradford, his home town ("Bruddersford"), and read my first novel of his a couple of years ago - loved it, and have carried on reading (mainly essays, English Journey etc) - developing into something of a fan. Planning to read The Good Companions as the English novel for my Reading The World project - I wanted something NOT based in London! A year or so ago, I acquired a nice copy of Angel Pavement (without slipcase) of the first signed limited edition for a few pounds in a local second-hand bookshop. On my list to read soon! Have explored where he was born (worked just round the corner on occasions) and where his ashes scattered (at the top of the valley I live in).

So maybe I ought to answer the Question 3s, which I somehow missed, but have enjoyed reading people's responses.

When browsing for books, either in stores or online, are you drawn at all to old novels or histories that you've never heard of?
I don't know how you would browse such stuff online - for me one of the big disadvantages of online bookstores is that they are, in general, really poor for browsing. In book shops, I tend to browse non-fiction or authors/genres I'm looking for. Quite often, I'll still pick up unknown books - as so often an older author is known for just 1 or 2 books, but the rest of their work is largely invisible. Priestley is a good example actually (and try finding Richmal Crompton's adult novels!).

Have you ever come upon and read, or at least researched, a book you'd never heard of but turned out to have been a big best-seller in its day?
Not that I can recall!

If so, do you usually find such books to deserve the anonymity they've been consigned to or have you found books that you thought should still be better known? Definitely the latter, but not found through browsing. Almost all the books of that sort I've 'discovered' (at least for myself) have been through personal recommendations, hearing about them on radio/podcasts (are they then unknown?), or through specialist 'revival' publishers, such as Persephone Press in Bath.

More generally, do you have any personal older-book favorites that you wish more people knew about and enjoyed as much as you do?
I think the author I would perhaps shout loudest about is JL Carr - although he is getting better known, or at least his 'masterpiece', A Month In The Country, is. That's if publishing in the 70s and 80s is regarded as 'older'. A fascinating man (see Byron Roger's biography of him The Last Englishman), and an equally fascinating, enjoyable, diverse oeuvre. I first knew his work through The Harpole Report, cited as Frank Muir's Desert Island Discs book choice. Actually, I'd shout a bit about JB Priestley: he may well be a well enough known author, but how many people have actually read his books?
Another writer (or at least series of books) that I think has slid out of recognition, that were best sellers and a personal favourite, is Giovanni Guareschi, and his Don Camillo series - short stories about an Italian priest and his ongoing rivalry with Peppone, the local Communist mayor. Funny, sometimes biting, sometimes thoughtful, a really pleasurable read.
But it's not just 'older books'. I think there's are loads of really good books and writers that just don't receive the recognition they deserve, or have (even recently) slid out of the spotlight (if they were ever really in it) as the book industry moves on with its obsession with the 'new' and the 'marketable' (whatever that means). One writer I'd pick out is David Fairer and his Chocolate House Treason trilogy (last book published only earlier this year) - ignored by publishers and agents for all too long, but really entertaining , immersive (and unusually accurate) historical fiction. There are plenty of others!

106WelshBookworm
Jan 22, 7:07 pm

>105 Willoyd: Okay, you've sold me on that last one. I'm intrigued by anything with "chocolate" in the title.

107mnleona
Jan 22, 7:27 pm

>89 WelshBookworm: I see you are Minnesota. I am interested in Welsh as my step-father was a Joplin and I have a chart of the Joplings/Joplins in America. I live past North Branch.

108Blazeguard
Jan 22, 8:17 pm

I will preface my response by saying that I have been a member of this site for almost 2 years now but initially joined just to keep track of my books and didn't even realize there was more to this site. Anyway...

Question 1

1) Do you have any sort of tradition for how you begin your reading calendar year? A specific author, or kind of book or anything of the like?
In a word, No. I used to be a voracious reader when I was younger but that has sadly fallen by the wayside although I still have a rather large collection of books. To be honest, I didn't even realize this was/could be a thing. I have always just tended to read whatever caught my fancy at the time although I do have my favourite genres/themes.

2) Do you have any particular reading goals for 2024? Maybe you've taken on a particular challenge to fulfill or number goal to reach. Anything like that on the menu for this year?
I've never had a reading goal before but I would like to continue reading the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. I'm only on the fourth book and I feel that I may need to go back and start at the beginning as it has been so long since I started it that I may not even remember what all has happened but that is something that I would like to pursue. Unfortunately, I have way too many hobbies and they keep pulling me in different directions.

3) In general, do you like having your reading planned out in advance for a year (or any other period of time), or do you prefer to take your reading selections as they come? Either way, is there any particular reason(s) why?
I don't think I've ever planned out my reading. I pick up books that look/sound interesting or are from authors that I like or are in my preferred genres and then just pick something when the mood strikes.

Question 2

1) However, this year, looking back, what did you learn about your reading? Were there new areas to embrace, old ones to leave behind?
I didn't really read enough to get any significant data other than I really need to start reading more again. :-P

2) Did you find you put too much pressure on yourself to achieve a particular goal, or do you need that pressure?
No, I've never put pressure on myself to read as it's a hobby/leisure activity for myself.

3) Did your reading inspire you to take any action in the real world, or change long held opinions?
While I didn't read a lot last year, one of the few books I did read was 'The Bible Tells Me So...' by Peter Enns. While it didn't necessarily change my opinions/beliefs it did give me pause to examine what I believe and why and did open me up to some new points of view that I hadn't considered before.

109avidmom
Jan 22, 9:14 pm

>100 cindydavid4: I absolutely loved In the Mountains by Elizabeth von Arnim.

110cindydavid4
Jan 22, 9:17 pm

oh thats a new one for me! tell me more about it pls

111cindydavid4
Jan 22, 9:25 pm

oh didnt know about that one, I looked at the reviews; I like slow books where nothing much happens but everything does. Ill have to get ahold of this one, thanks for the tip.

112rv1988
Editado: Jan 23, 3:05 am

>99 thorold: Thanks - I've corrected it!
>100 cindydavid4: I really must read more of Von Arnim. I'm glad to hear there was a bit of a revival.

113dchaikin
Jan 23, 8:57 am

>108 Blazeguard: The Eye of the World was the book that finally got me reading for fun. I was 17. (Late starter.) Wish you well the Wheel of Time series. (I tried the TV series but didn’t really like it).

114rocketjk
Jan 23, 9:38 am

>108 Blazeguard: Great response, and welcome!

115markon
Jan 23, 2:10 pm

>108 Blazeguard: Welcome!

Like you, I initially joined to keep track of books I read. Now, the list of books I want to read is longer than the ones I have read.

116cindydavid4
Jan 23, 10:32 pm

>115 markon: hee this is why I never bothered to keep track of books at least not on line. One less headache trying to keep up with my reads off line! (welcome blazeguard)

117avidmom
Jan 24, 7:02 pm

>111 cindydavid4: It's been quite awhile since I've read it. I just remember loving the writing and the gloriously slow and easy way the main character finds her way back after being so traumatized by the war.

118cindydavid4
Jan 24, 8:53 pm

free on kindle, so of course I started it (ignoring other books Id been reading) and I can already tell this will be good Thanks for turning me on to it

119SassyLassy
Editado: Jan 27, 9:50 am

>52 rocketjk: QUESTION 3: Forgotten Bestsellers

Turning your question around a bit; I have searched out books that I know were important, popular, or both in their day, but are difficult to find now.

One is fiction: Shanghai '37 by Vicki Baum. It was a disappointment.

The other two I spent some time pursuing. They are in the house, but I have not read them as yet, but am hoping for good things from them:

Scottish Mandarin: The Life and Times of Sir Reginald Johnston - Johnston is known as tutor to the last emperor of China, but he was also supposed to be a brilliant sinologist. This was an intriguing time in China, so looking forward to reading it.

Southern Politics in State and Nation by V O Key - this was once a standard text in studies of Americans politics. It was first published in 1949, so the language will not be what would be current usage, but Key apparently set up the understanding of what was to come in the south in the 1950s and 1960s.

I think there is a place for older first hand accounts like these, or any other topics readers may be interested in, even if just to partially see how we got here from there.

---
An author who is largely forgotten but who was really popular, and perhaps deserves a second look is Walter de la Mare

----
edited to remove all bold font

120cindydavid4
Jan 29, 6:35 pm

Keith Chaffee posted this on the non fiction thread and thought it would go here (with his permission)

They Died in Vain, Jim Huang, editor

In 2000, the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association published 100 Favorite Mysteries of the Century, a reader's guide to mystery novels. The books and authors in that volume were all reasonably well known. For this follow-up volume, published two years later, IMBA members were asked to recommend their favorite "overlooked, underappreciated, and forgotten" books. Huang's only criteria in gathering their responses were that no author would be represented more than once, and no bestsellers were allowed.

(Huang returned to this well at least once more. The 2006 Mystery Muses collects similar recommendations from mystery authors, and it is now on its way to my local branch library.)

This book contains 103 short essays -- one or two pages each -- in which booksellers recommend a favorite book that even mystery fans might have somehow missed. The essays are well written, and as one might expect from booksellers, they do a fine job of teasing the story, placing each book in its proper sub-genre, and in many cases, summarizing the author's career beyond the recommended book.

It is in the nature of a book like this that you may have trouble finding some of these books. Huang notes in his introduction that 53 of the 103 books are out of print, and some of those were only a few years old at the time. (And that was in 2002; one imagines that even more of them are OP by now.) But I am lucky enough to have a large urban public library where I can find a copy of most of these books, and I was pleasantly surprised at how many of them have been reissued as e-books.

Did I need to read this book? No, I did not. With a Libby wishlist that's already several hundred titles long -- far longer than I can ever possibly finish, especially since publishers are so thoughtless as to keep publishing new books instead of letting us get caught up on our TBR piles -- I didn't need to be teased with 103 possible new books to read. But I enjoyed the tease very much, and there are eighteen more books on that wishlist than there were last week.

121AlisonY
Jan 30, 3:53 pm

QUESTION 3: Forgotten Bestsellers

When browsing for books, either in stores or online, are you drawn at all to old novels or histories that you've never heard of?


I'm definitely very much drawn to old novels, but I'm fickle and they have to be in nice modern jackets. In the secondhand bookshops I can never bring myself to buy old novels in their original bindings. They smell too musty and unappealing.

Have you ever come upon and read, or at least researched, a book you'd never heard of but turned out to have been a big best-seller in its day?

Persephone are great for rediscovering popular authors who went out of fashion. I particularly enjoyed reading a couple of Dorothy Whipple books republished by them (especially Someone at a Distance). She was very popular between WW1 and WWII but then disappeared until obscurity until Persephone revived a number of her titles.

Robin Jenkins also springs to mind as a fine novelist who disappeared off people's radars.

If so, do you usually find such books to deserve the anonymity they've been consigned to or have you found books that you thought should still be better known?

I think many fine books have been left behind as reading tastes changed in the 20th century. They remain largely forgotten due to the modern day economics of publishing - not many publishing houses are interested in reviving long forgotten titles.

More generally, do you have any personal older-book favorites that you wish more people knew about and enjoyed as much as you do?

Outside of LT, I don't think too many people have heard of Janet McNeill, who was a prolific Irish author in the 1950s and 1960s, yet so many people who have read The Maiden Dinosaur have loved her writing.

And again, Robin Jenkins. He disappeared as publishers stopped printing his work, but he was a fine Scottish author of a large number of books.

122SassyLassy
Jan 30, 4:45 pm

>121 AlisonY: Robin Jenkins is a favourite of mine. I have several of his books, and look for more whenever I get back to Scotland. Good to see him get a positive mention here. He was a conscientious objector in WWII and was sent to work in the Argyllshire forestry service. My grandfather had the same experience.

123rv1988
Jan 30, 9:07 pm

>121 AlisonY: Thanks for the Janet McNeill mention. I had not come across her work before. I see she also wrote two opera libretti!

124AlisonY
Jan 31, 5:16 am

>122 SassyLassy: Any Robin Jenkins' books you'd particularly recommend? I've read Poverty Castle and The Pearl Fishers.

>123 rv1988: Janet McNeill seemed to disappear into obscurity until Blackstaff press (a publisher here in Northern Ireland) revived some of her titles some years back.

125arubabookwoman
Jan 31, 9:53 am

>124 AlisonY: I have , but have not read The Cone Gatherers by Robin Jenkins. It was highly recommended to me, but I don't remember by whom.

126thorold
Editado: Jan 31, 4:12 pm

>125 arubabookwoman: Someone here (presumably not Alison…?) recommended The cone gatherers to me a few years ago and they were right. An excellent book.

BTW: AlisonY — do you know about No mate for the magpie? That was another chance find (reissued by Virago, I think) that I really enjoyed.

127SassyLassy
Fev 1, 4:34 pm

128leamos
Fev 2, 3:03 pm

>52 rocketjk: Question 3: Forgotten Bestsellers
I absolutely love this question.

Generally my answer to all of the sub-questions is YES!! :D

Before chronic illness, my favourite thing in the world was trawling used bookstores (and my mother's bookshelves) for treasures as the ones you describe.

But also, because of my chosen areas of study, I was exposed to a great many older books that were influential in social movements or pop culture - books like Women's Room Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Maltese Falcon being three very different examples.

The one that comes to mind as one I'd never heard of and also one that I wish more people enjoyed as much as me is Illusions - I picked it up at the station for a train ride in 1992 pretty much at random.

As for deserved obsolescence... times, values, mores, ethics change... the way we view each other changes... that doesn't make what came before less important, less valuable or less impactful on the way we experience life today.

I don't know that there's such a thing as deserved obsolescence, so much as maybe it's our responsibility as readers, to choose how to approach such works. There are books I loved 25 years ago that today make me cringe, and that is a reflection of who I was, who I am, where the world was and where the world is now. I think there's value in acknowledging those changes, and in revisiting old stories that don't resonate, if only to realize how much we've grown.

129cindydavid4
Fev 2, 6:16 pm

Very well said. Like you there were books I read as a teen now that I barely admit to (looking at you xanth trilogy, but Ive grown and changed as has the world (not as much as id like it to but hope springs eternal)

130rocketjk
Editado: Fev 3, 1:41 pm

Question 4: Fiction Writers and Their Characters

This one's going to be a bit open-ended. I think there are a lot of directions to take the topic I have in mind, and I think that's a good thing. OK: taking the plunge.

In 2014, Stanford University's "Another Look" bookclub was getting ready to discuss Philip Roth's 1979 novel, The Ghost Writer, the first of Roth's novels featuring novelist Nathan Zuckerman. In preparation for that event, author and literary critic Cynthia L. Haven (https://bookhaven.stanford.edu/about-2/) conducted an email interview with Roth about the novel.

Cynthia Haven: “There is no life without patience.” This thought is expressed at least twice in The Ghost Writer. Could you expand on it a little?

Philip Roth: I can expand on it only by reminding you that the six words are spoken not by me but by a character in a book, the eminent short-story writer E.I. Lonoff. It is a maxim Lonoff has derived from a lifetime of agonizing over sentences and does a little something, I hope, to portray him as writer, husband, recluse and mentor.

One of the several means of bringing characters to life in fiction is, of course, through what they say and what they don’t say. The dialogue is an expression of their thoughts, beliefs, defenses, wit, repartee, etc., a depiction of their responsive manner in general. I am trying to depict Lonoff’s verbal air of simultaneous aloofness and engagement, and too his pedagogical turn of mind, in this case when he is talking to a young protégée. What a character says is determined by who is being spoken to, what effect is desired, and, of course, by who he or she is and what he or she wants at the moment of speaking. Otherwise it’s just a hubbub of opinions. It’s propaganda. Whatever signal is being flashed by those six words you quote derives from the specificity of the encounter that elicits them.
________________________________________

Well, I will confess that my starting point here is the fact that I just love that quote so much, and I've had to, shall we say, wrestle a couple of questions out of it. Let's see how well I did! And, of course, feel free to take the question in any other direction you like:

When you read fiction, do you generally separate an author's characters' speech from your notion of who the author is and what his/her opinions are?

Can you think of any favorite novels that are distinguished by the ways in which their characters are particularly sharply defined and/or illuminated by their dialogue?

Do you have authors who you especially like due to their facility with dialogue?

We can turn that last question on its head, of course, and ask whether can think of an author or two whose storytelling skills are ruined by their poor dialogue writing.

eta: The link to the full Haven/Roth interview is here (note that it includes one or two spoilers):
https://bookhaven.stanford.edu/2014/02/an-interview-with-philip-roth-the-novelis...

131thorold
Fev 3, 11:38 am

Q4:

Well, I suspect Roth has messed up that question by expressing it so much more clearly than any of us could…

Officially, we all know about the Intentional Fallacy ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authorial_intent ) and refrain from holding opinions about what the author might or might not have thought about what a character is saying. But of course in real life, there are plenty of cases where a character is “obviously” standing in for the author and we feel we can safely take their opinions as those of the author, and there are other cases where a character is clearly saying things in order to be disagreed with, either by another character or by the reader. And there are cases where a character’s speech is entirely determined by the circumstances of the narrative and doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with opinions the author might or might not hold. So we jump to conclusions and — inevitably — sometimes get it wrong.

Good dialogue: I don’t think it has to be naturalistic: Some of the best dialogue has little or no relation to anything people might say in the real world, but it does the job of defining the characters and carrying the story forward very effectively. P G Wodehouse at the comic end of the spectrum, or Raymond Chandler; in more serious fiction, what about Ivy Compton-Burnett?

132cindydavid4
Editado: Fev 4, 11:26 am

When you read fiction, do you generally separate an author's characters' speech from your notion of who the author is and what his/her opinions are?

it does depend on how much a reader knows about an author. If I dont know much, I let the text guide me a long without a second thought about the author. But some I know like Paul Asher, I know (or think I know )he is writing as himself. And since I happen to like him, I dont mind. But it does irk me when I recognize what a unknown writer doing and I wish s/he would stop

need to stop here and consider the other two questions later

133dchaikin
Fev 3, 6:30 pm

>130 rocketjk: q4

Fun question.

Authors play games. Storytelling is a game. Author’s can do a lot through fiction that they can’t do through nonfiction or, in, say, an essay. They can say things they normally couldn’t get away saying. They can provoke and nudge issues that are hard or suicidal to address directly. This can be cultural taboos, or political hot points. A lot of writing is a response to various themes and trends in popular culture and author’s can present positions they may not have, but also cannot have. That is they might be saying things in fiction that they really want to say, but simply can’t say otherwise.

Stella Maris was entirely dialogue. 100%. I just read it in December and loved it. I enjoyed Cormac McCarthy’s dialogue. Isaac Singer is another who can nail dialogue. Sometimes his characters show a degree of freedom and creativity not otherwise found in his writing. It can open his stories, telling the reader, with a wink maybe, “hey, I can write like that too”. And, of course, there’s Shakespeare. Try pinning him down through his character’s dialogue.

Three men. Hmm. Well, Ali Smith comes to mind as another writer whose writing can come alive through dialogue. She’s clever and her character conversations are playful with extra meaning.

134rv1988
Fev 4, 4:28 am

>131 thorold: P. G. Wodehouse is a great example of this point.

135leamos
Fev 4, 3:01 pm

Ooooh more great questions!

"When you read fiction, do you generally separate an author's characters' speech from your notion of who the author is and what his/her opinions are?"

Yes and also no and it also really depends :D

I agree fully with thorold in >131 thorold: as regards to intentional fallacy, and about the role dialogue plays in well written fiction. Great dialogue does a lot of work in defining characters and relationships, exposition, creating conflict and resolution. Which in turn tells us a lot about the author's worldview, mindset, message (if any)

It is utterly impossible to fully separate an author from their work - even ghostwriters or those writing under pseudonyms - for the simple reason that everything we do is informed by our life experience, the socializing agents we encounter, the access we've had to various world-views, the belief systems we are surrounded by... Any author, no matter how skilled, or how expansive their life experience, how practiced at perspective-taking, can only write from within their own ideological circumstance. Because I read mostly genre fiction these days, I see it most clearly in the difference between American and British writers.

At the same time, as >133 dchaikin: dchaikin points out, fiction authors play games with words and stories. They weave fantastical works that support and subvert dominant narratives, sometimes both at the same time. Salman Rushdie comes to mind immediately as a high-literature example. Umberto Eco is another.

The Sandman Slim novels I've been reading are actually a great example of a lot of this - although my mind immediately goes to Pride and Prejudice when I think of great dialogue. Not sure you could get much more different but hey. That's what makes life fun :D

Kadrey was a cultural critic before his novels went big, and part of his personal ethos is subversion via "trash literature" so there's a ton of social commentary in the novels, much of which plays out by dialogue. Kadrey makes an effort (stated in interviews) to pare down his writing so there's as little between the character's words and our experience of them. None of the characters in the Sandman novels are a direct stand-in for Kadrey, and yet, his messages come through in the interactions.

Pretty much every piece of fiction I've loved is on some level about how relationships change us - and relationships in fiction books are most often developed through dialogue. I never realized before this conversation how much I tend to forgive a lot of weakness in a novel if the dialogue sucks me in.

136arubabookwoman
Fev 4, 3:27 pm

>130 rocketjk: One author who does dialogue very well is Roddy Doyle. If I am recalling correctly many of the books I've read by him are almost entirely dialogue. The most recent one I read was Love: A Novel in which two 60ish men who were friends when much younger are reunited for an evening. The evening consists of a pub crawl as they visit their old haunts. The novel is almost entirely written as a dialogue between the two, and as the evening progresses that dialogue becomes more and more incoherent and cantankerous. It was amazing to read the skill with which Doyle depicted the condition of the two just through how their dialogue sounds. That said I didn't rate the book that highly because, as I said in my review, it was mostly about old men problems which I wasn't particularly interested in.
And though I read it years ago, and loved it (so that my memory may not be accurate), I believe that large portions of Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha consist of dialogue.

137AlisonY
Fev 4, 3:50 pm

>126 thorold: Never heard of Frances Molloy - thanks for putting her on my radar.

138LynnB
Fev 5, 5:49 pm

In response to the opening questions:

No, I don't have any traditions in terms of authors or books, but I do start a new book on New Year's Day.

Last year, my sister and I set challenging numerical goals, and I found myself skipping over the larger books on my TBR shelves. So, no numerical goals this year. Rather, I've declared 2024 the YOBB -- year of big books.

I belong to three book clubs and read, on average, 10 books per month. So, that's about 1/3 of my reading chosen by someone other than me alone. That's enough! I like having a bunch of books on hand so that when I need a new one, I have lots of choice. Right now, the TBR shelves have 57 books clamouring for my attention.

139SassyLassy
Fev 8, 5:01 pm

>130 rocketjk: QUESTION 4

Do you generally separate an author's characters' speech from your notion of who the author is and what his/her opinions are?

Depends what I'm reading. For twentieth century fiction and forward, I usually do separate author and characters. Notable exceptions would be James Kelman and James Elroy, two very different authors, each of whom seems to write as himself.

Can you think of any favorite novels that are distinguished by the ways in which their characters are particularly sharply defined and/or illuminated by their dialogue?
Although not a favourite author, Margaret Atwood's characters seem to all have incredible dialogue reflecting both themselves and their place in life.
Dickens, actually a favourite author, did this, but sometimes it could be too much.
As to characters in novels, only Rhett Butler and Sidney Carton stand out right now, and then only for a line or two.
Actually now that I think about it a bit more, The Long Ships had great dialogue for its various characters. On a completely different note Mazurka for Two Dead Men was almost entirely in dialogue, and never indicated who was speaking, yet the characters there were sharply defined.

Do you have authors who you especially like due to their facility with dialogue?
In addition to those mentioned above, I would say A L Kennedy, Janette Turner Hospital, Rebecca West and T Coraghessan Boyle.

We can turn that last question on its head, of course, and ask whether can think of an author or two whose storytelling skills are ruined by their poor dialogue writing.
Nobody springs to mind. Either those writers have learned to write with a minimum of dialogue, or I've missed them!

Naturally as soon as I post, all kinds of responses will come to mind!

140SassyLassy
Fev 8, 5:04 pm

>130 rocketjk: More Roth - I heard the last seven minutes of this interview twice this week, but will have to listen to the whole thing:

https://www.cbc.ca/radio/writersandcompany/the-incomparable-philip-roth-looking-...

The whole interview can be found on a CBC podcast.

141LynnB
Fev 9, 8:36 am

Question 4

What I really dislike is authors who use dialogue for the characters to preach to the reader rather than talk to each other. Arundathi Roy's Ministry of Utmost Happiness comes to mind, but is not the only book I've read that does this.

142SassyLassy
Fev 9, 10:56 am

I'm wondering if some of the best dialogue, not in terms of great ideas or political reform, but in straightforward stories, is found in the great rollicking adventure stories. There it serves to move the story on, introduce humour and pathos, and keep the reader truly engaged. I'm thinking here of Alexandre Dumas, Robert Louis Stevenson, and other writers of those times, along with more recent writers like Carsten Jensen and Bjorn Larsson.
Maybe it's just my love of adventure stories that makes me think that.

143KeithChaffee
Fev 9, 2:30 pm

Question 4: As an SF reader, and especially as a reader of early SF, I've developed a particular dislike for dialogue as exposition. In the genre, it's called "As You Know, Bob" syndrome. Two characters are talking about something they both already understand -- their latest experiment, maybe -- and wouldn't need to discuss but for the author's need to get the information to the reader. So there's a lot of, "As you know, Bob, our last test proved that hamsters, if exposed to sufficient levels of gamma radiation, could learn to play the harpsichord, and today we hope to learn if they can also play the ocarina."

144kjuliff
Fev 9, 4:25 pm

>143 KeithChaffee: I’m assumed that last sentence is your own words and not a quote. If your own words you probably could take up writing SF rather than reading it! 😊

145dchaikin
Fev 9, 8:50 pm

>143 KeithChaffee: there was once an active LTer whose handle was AsYouKnowBob or something like that. (He may still be active) Clearly marked himself as a scifi reader.

146labfs39
Fev 9, 9:56 pm

>145 dchaikin: I've met him. :-)

147rocketjk
Fev 10, 12:31 pm

>145 dchaikin: There used to be a radio sports call-in show host in San Francisco named Ralph Barbieri. He was on the radio station that broadcast the San Francisco Giants games, and so had a lot of listeners. Whenever he was interviewing athletes or team executives, he always asked his questions in a way that would make it very clear that he was so knowledgeable that he already knew everything his interview subject was going to say, such that the only possible response to the question was, "That's right, Ralph." Hence, his nickname among the other SF sports media professionals and athletes was "That's Right Ralph."

148avaland
Fev 10, 1:29 pm

>145 dchaikin: We visit "Bob" and MaggieO when we are in the Schenectady area (NY). He might be on Reddit or Twitter....

149janoorani24
Fev 10, 2:56 pm

QUESTION 4

Do you generally separate an author's characters' speech from your notion of who the author is and what his/her opinions are?

I hadn't ever thought of this before -- I don't usually think about the author while I'm reading. But thinking back, Robert Heinlein comes to mind as someone whose characters' dialog reflect who I think the author is. Isaac Asimov's characters also reflect the author's identity (however, I think dialog in Asimov is weak for the most part). Two of my favorite authors fade into the background in their characters' dialog -- Dorothy Dunnett and Mary Renault.

Can you think of any favorite novels that are distinguished by the ways in which their characters are particularly sharply defined and/or illuminated by their dialogue?

I don't know if Shakespeare counts -- but I can't think of another author who does this so well.

Do you have authors who you especially like due to their facility with dialogue?

In addition to Dunnett, Renault and Shakespeare -- Lyndsey Davis, Georgette Heyer, and Jane Austen.

We can turn that last question on its head, of course, and ask whether can think of an author or two whose storytelling skills are ruined by their poor dialogue writing.

I'll probably be drawn and quartered for this, but Ken Follett's cathedral novels and Diana Gabaldon. Great stories ruined for me by the flat dialogue. However, I think Follett's mysteries are excellent, especially Eye of the Needle.

150cindydavid4
Fev 10, 6:05 pm

>149 janoorani24: another who could not get into Gabaldon either. I read Follets cathedral book and that was enough for me.tbf, it wasnt is dialogue it was the plot and the mulipe instances of violence against women that really turned me offf.

151janoorani24
Fev 11, 12:03 am

>150 cindydavid4: oh, it’s so nice to find someone else who feels that way about Gabaldon. I was only able to get through about three chapters before giving up in disgust. Dorothy Dunnett, Mary Renault, Hilary Mantel, Umberto Eco, and Lyndsey Davis have ruined most other historical novelists for me. I also dislike Philippa Gregory immensely. BTW, if you want to read a great cathedral historical novel, I highly recommend The Heaven Tree by Edith Pargeter.

152cindydavid4
Editado: Fev 11, 10:24 am

Oh yeah I read Gregorys the other boylen girl and tossed it, The word Historic Fiction has historic in the title, youd think that would be included? I have read Pargeter, esp her cadfael series Havent read that one but will try it. Two other excellent writers of Historic Fiction are the late Sharon Kaye Penman, and the English author Elizabeth Chadwick her first books were known as romance, but still strongly historic. the greatest knight is the start of her William Marshall series that should not be missed.

I recognize the other others but don't knowLyndsey Davis where should i start?

153jjmcgaffey
Fev 11, 2:50 pm

P.F. Chisholm who is Patricia Finney is excellent - though I've only read her Sir Robert Carey novels (and haven't picked them up since she started writing them again - should do that). I've read from A Famine of Horses to A Plague of Angels. I also picked up and have skimmed but not read The Steel Bonnets which she refers to as her first introduction to Sir Robert...

I can't take Gabaldon either - more for the time travel bits than for the history, mostly because I haven't been able to read enough to get any picture of her idea of history. Time travel romance is hard to do well, on many levels, and she does _not_ succeed (for me).

154Willoyd
Editado: Fev 11, 4:55 pm

Good to feel not alone! Really enjoyed Mantel, Eco, Penman, Pargeter (some years ago now for the last two); couldn't get on with Gregory (although going to give her Normal Women non-fiction history a go), or Follet.
Other historical fiction authorss at the top of my pile of likes: David Fairer (virtually unknown, but his Chocolate House Treason trilogy was, I thought, excellent - with a lot of very careful research behind them (including the language - he did an interesting video talk for Ilkley Lit Fest on the subject); Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey and Maturin series; Andrew Miller, Sarah Dunant. I also have a soft spot for Georgette Heyer's Regency novels (even if they are pretty much the same story retold!). Having read Stella Tillyard's The Great Level, I'm hopeful about her other books (her history is excellent). And it does seem to be individual books rather than authors in general otherwise for me - perhaps because I've only read one book (so far) from those authors.

155kjuliff
Fev 11, 5:27 pm

>152 cindydavid4: I tossed The Other Boleyn girl as well. Too many second-rate writers are jumping on the Tudor bandwagon.

156kjuliff
Editado: Fev 13, 8:50 am

>108 Blazeguard: I’ve read three of von Arnim’s novels this year and was surprised I’d never heard of her till another LT member mentioned her. I loved all three books. I must get In the Mountains Is it as delightful as Elizabeth and her Garrden?

157cindydavid4
Editado: Fev 12, 11:32 pm

I read In the mountains from avidsmom recommendation; its rather different from most of hers, but quite good.

158janoorani24
Fev 13, 8:32 am

>152 cindydavid4: First of all, my apologies -- I spelled Davis' first name wrong. It's Lindsey Davis. She writes historical mysteries set in Ancient Rome. She is possibly my second favorite historical novelist. Start with The Silver Pigs.

159janoorani24
Fev 13, 8:46 am

>153 jjmcgaffey: I have Firedrake's Eye by Finney on my list of books to read this year. I've had my copy since 2009. I'm looking forward to reading it.

160janoorani24
Fev 13, 9:06 am

>154 Willoyd: Thanks! Lots more authors to try. I don't know how I could have forgotten Patrick O'Brian! His books are favorites as well. And I just remembered another favorite -- Kenneth Roberts who wrote Northwest Passage and Arundel. And I think I have copies of all of Georgette Heyer's novels, including her mysteries. I fell in love with her when I was in Junior High. I re-read one whenever I need a pick me up.

161thorold
Fev 13, 9:39 am

>160 janoorani24: Yes, Patrick O'Brian was a master at convincing us that we were actually listening to Georgian sailors talking. I'm sure it was a trick, but it was very cleverly done.

162rocketjk
Editado: Fev 13, 11:22 am

Interesting and fun the way that a question about dialogue sparked a conversation about particular authors! I'm going to try to come up with a new question over the next day or so, but for now, here's my own response to Question 4.

Coming up with a response has actually been a bit of a puzzle to me. I struggled at first to come up with any authors who I like especially because of their facility with dialogue. It occurred to me after a while that the reason for this might be that I very much enjoy novels or short stories in which the dialogue is so natural and realistic that it more or less melts into the story. It doesn't stand out as clever or sharp necessarily, but is believable and also serviceable in that it helps round out the personality of the character speaking the lines. This, I think, is more or less what Roth was getting at in the comment I quoted above. Looking over my reading list for this year and, especially for 2023, the novels I noticed that best exemplified this quality were Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry and Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. Also Lucia Berlin's marvelous short stories, many of which are found in her collection A Manual for Cleaning Women. Toni Morrison comes to mind as well.

But another sort of dialogue I like, and this may seem contradictory to what I wrote just above, is speech that effectively helps illuminate somewhat larger than life characters via somewhat larger than life speech. I've come across this in ways I've enjoyed in my reading of Isaac B. Singer's novels over the past couple of years. Other recent examples for me would be Egyptian/French author Albert Cossery's novel Proud Beggars (at least via the English translation) and Voroshilovgrad by Serhij Zhadan. Along these lines, the only Faulkner I've read is his Snopes Trilogy. The dialogue in those books was often hilarious and, I found, trusting the Faulkner was getting this right, rewardingly evocative of the time and place he was writing about.

Of course, one never minds properly funny dialogue in books whose principal aim is to make us laugh anyway, such as E.F. Benson in his Mapp and Lucia books, or humorous crime novel writers like Carl Hiasson.

The kind of dialogue (and novel, come to think of it) that I most dislike is overly cutesy, "whimsical" speech. For example more or less every sentence of Amor Towles' The Lincoln Highway made me feel like somebody was sticking a pencil in my eye, and the unrealistic dialogue was a large part of that. (Apologies to my many LT friends who liked that novel. To each his/her/their own. I'm speaking here of my own reactions solely.) The worst practitioner of this sort of thing, for my money, was Tom Robbins. Or maybe I should say that the dialogue of the characters in these novels accurately portrayed the sort of novel the authors were writing, and so my problem is not with the dialogue per se but with the entire endeavor. Either way . . . .

And then of course there's Hemingway, whose characters,famously, mostly speak in very terse sentences. I think the strategy is effective in getting across the atmosphere/world view that Hemingway was trying to get across. The question would more become what we think of this world view at this late date. It's been a couple of decades since I've read a Hemingway novel. I liked his program then, but I'm not sure it would hold up so well to me now.

163leamos
Fev 15, 2:23 am

>162 rocketjk: Great to hear your own thoughts on this!

"believable and also serviceable in that it helps round out the personality of the character" - could not agree more.

164cindydavid4
Fev 15, 12:25 pm

>156 kjuliff: you asked me about in the mountains just read the section in the bio which deals with this book. Very interesting background, about what she was escaping from, and what it was that brought her back to herself. I think youd like it

165kjuliff
Fev 15, 2:26 pm

>164 cindydavid4: Thanks Cindy, I checked out In the Mountains but it’s not available in audio unfortunately. A pity. Very frustrating.

166cindydavid4
Fev 15, 6:40 pm

>158 janoorani24: thanks for that! Ill check it out

167rocketjk
Fev 17, 2:09 pm

Greetings, all. Sorry to be late posting a new question. My wife and I have been involved in an apartment search, and also right now I am visiting a friend in Tampa, so things have been a bit hectic. At any rate, here's my usual "here's hoping" I'm not forgetting that we had a similar question recently.

Someone here in Club Read recently posted a good short paragraph about his/her review writing process. Sorry to say that while I took the time to cut and paste the post for future use here, I neglected to make note of whose post it was. So if this topic seems like something you just posted about, then thanks! And also, sorry to not be able to reference you directly.

Question 5: Writing Reviews

How central do you consider review writing to be to your LT experience and to your reading experience overall? Do you look forward to writing reviews or consider the process to be something of a chore?

Do you prefer to write your reviews immediately upon finishing a book or do you like to let your impressions settle for a few days first?

Do you find it easier to review books you liked than to write about books you didn't like? (Or vice versa, of course)

Do you ever find that your impressions of and/or opinions about a book you've just read have changed as you write your review?

Are you generally happy with the length of your reviews? Do you wish you could find the time and/or inspiration to write more in-depth comments. Are you filled with admiration for the folks who can write effectively yet succinctly?

Do you ever find yourself going back and reading over your old reviews?

168kjuliff
Fev 17, 2:22 pm

>167 rocketjk: Good questions. I don’t usually post reviews of books I don’t like. When I enjoy a book I like to write a review to encourage others to read it. If I really dislike a book I might review it, but if it’s mediocre for me, I won’t bother.

I’d like to write longer reviews but because of physical problems mine are a bit shorter than I’d like.

And yes I do go back and read my reviews - another reason for writing them is to be able to do so, to refresh my memory.

Other points on reviews. I like to get feedback. Sometimes I wonder if anyone even reads my reviews. For myself only, I could rely on notes which I often make when impressed by a book. Adding a cover image and formatting, avoiding typos is for others to read.

Don’t like writing synopses more than a few broad sentences. This is because I don’t like reading reviews that consist largely of synopses. If I want to know what a novel is about - plot, genre, characters - I’ll read the publisher’s note. I like reviews that give opinions.

169Willoyd
Editado: Fev 17, 2:45 pm

Question 5: Writing Reviews
A big topic for me, one in which I regularly get tangled up!

How central do you consider review writing to be to your LT experience and to your reading experience overall? Do you look forward to writing reviews or consider the process to be something of a chore?
I haven't submitted many reviews up to now on LT, but I've written them for some time - until recently posting on another site, then I started including relevant ones in the two reading project threads I've got involved in: Fifty States Fiction and The Global Challenge, and now I'm including all my reviews here. I intend to put go back through and start posting as reviews attached to books. Writing them is pretty central to my reading experience now, and becoming increasingly important in my LT experience. When I miss one out, I always regret it later (see below), so now try to ensure it's always done promptly, even if not in depth. They can be a bit of a chore, but I find the process and the end result (even as thin as I often write) absolutely invaluable and worth the effort in the long term.

Do you prefer to write your reviews immediately upon finishing a book or do you like to let your impressions settle for a few days first?
Definitely the former. Even after a few days, memories aren't as sharp, and invariably I forget to do one altogether as I'm almost certainly involved in another book by this stage. Having said that, I do quite frequently revisit and edit reviews after a few days, but I need that immediately written framework.

Do you find it easier to review books you liked than to write about books you didn't like? (Or vice versa, of course)
Neither, but some books are easier to comment on than others. It's quite often hard to identify quite why I do or don't like a book.

Do you ever find that your impressions of and/or opinions about a book you've just read have changed as you write your review?
No, but I do find that my impressions/opinions can change over time, after feedback by somebody to my review, or after further discussions with others. It's an ongoing process. Normally, my negative views are lessened, but sometimes an initially positive opinion can deteriorate (a good recent example of that was Lessons In Chemistry where the more I thought about the book, the more I felt negatively towards it. Others opinions didn't affect that either - most people I've spoken to rated it well).

Are you generally happy with the length of your reviews? Do you wish you could find the time and/or inspiration to write more in-depth comments. Are you filled with admiration for the folks who can write effectively yet succinctly?
I do find it difficult to express my views precisely on occasions, and feel that I'm all too often not getting beyond a very superficial 'it was great' or 'it was awful' in what I'm saying. Reviews rarely come out the way I intend them!

Do you ever find yourself going back and reading over your old reviews?
All the time - that's why I write them. Without them, too many books would merge into the past. Enough do anyway, even ones I thought strongly about at the time.

Final point, one I was reminded of by >168 kjuliff:. Since I've started writing contributing to Club Read, I've been really pleased at the fact that people do comment. Previous sites have often seen little traffic on this, and I appreciate the interaction, especially when they bring a different slant to the conversation. I value a different viewpoint.

170valkyrdeath
Fev 17, 3:11 pm

>167 rocketjk: I find posting my comments about books I've read here on LT really improves my reading experience in general. Writing about the books after reading them makes me spend a bit more time thinking about them, which makes it a bit easier to make it stick in my memory for longer. And if I do find myself forgetting, then I can go back and read over what I wrote to remind myself. In the years since Covid when I was mostly off LT, my memories of the books I read are far more hazy than the ones when I've been posting in Club Read.

I don't write my reviews immediately after finishing the book because I need to organise my thoughts first, but I do try to get to them within a few days since I really need to get to it while things are still fresh in my mind. I don't find my opinions on a book changing as I write the review but I might have new thoughts on it over the following days.

I'm happy with the length, which can be anywhere from a couple of lines to a few paragraphs depending on how much I feel I need to get my thoughts down. I do try to think of them more as a few thoughts rather than full reviews though, since when I used to write reviews of various media in the past they'd be lengthy and very thorough and could take me days, and if I reviewed things like that here I'd never have time to get any actual reading done.

I've always found it easier to pick apart things that don't work than to explain why something does. When I was doing full reviews, it was also easier to bring humour to a negative review than a positive one. Often it's the books I like the most that I find it hardest to set my thoughts down about. While I don't find writing them a chore, it can be daunting at times, especially when I have a few lined up, and I often end up procrastinating and doing other things instead, such as replying to questions for the avid reader.

171cindydavid4
Editado: Fev 17, 3:49 pm

How central do you consider review writing to be to your LT experience and to your reading experience overall? Do you look forward to writing reviews or consider the process to be something of a chore?

personally for me, reading is more important to me than writing reviews. i much rather read other reviews than write my own, for many times they say what I want to say. . in fact i have on occasion found a review that perfectly mirrored my feelings, and include them in the review, citing the author of course. But I try not to do that unless Im really stuck

I feel like Im not proficent enough to write reviews, but as time goes on, I find it easier and have more confidence doing so. especially once I started using a template that works for me. Sometimes I enjoy the process, sometimes not usually depends on what I can say about books

Do you prefer to write your reviews immediately upon finishing a book or do you like to let your impressions settle for a few days first?

Depends on my time; sometimes it takes me a few days to thinkg about it, other times immediately because I know just what I want to say

Do you find it easier to review books you liked than to write about books you didn't like? (Or vice versa, of course)

either really. some books I just dont review because I dont have much to say about them, but regardless, if I have something to say it , its easier,no matter which type of book it is

Do you ever find that your impressions of and/or opinions about a book you've just read have changed as you write your review?

since I will often read other reviews before I review, mh initial impressions will change by the time I write.

Are you generally happy with the length of your reviews?yes

Do you wish you could find the time and/or inspiration to write more in-depth comments. yes

Are you filled with admiration for the folks who can write effectively yet succinctly? YES!

Do you ever find yourself going back and reading over your old reviews?

now and then but usuallly not

and I concur with this

"Final point, one I was reminded of by >168 kjuliff: kjuliff:. Since I've started writing contributing to Club Read, I've been really pleased at the fact that people do comment. Previous sites have often seen little traffic on this, and I appreciate the interaction, especially when they bring a different slant to the conversation. I value a different viewpoint"

172thorold
Fev 17, 5:08 pm

- Before joining LT, I didn’t really ever think of writing reviews, except for a brief spell when I was editing a newsletter and had columns to fill. Now, 2300 reviews later, I’d say it is pretty central to my reading process. Mostly as a way of reminding myself to think through what I’ve just read, but also because of the opportunity it gives to share something of my experience of a book. Like everyone else who has already responded to this question, I get a lot of pleasure from knowing that other people read my reviews and sometimes find them interesting.

- Writing a review isn’t a chore, it is part of the pleasure of reading. Tidying it up and posting it can be a bit of a chore, but it’s satisfying as well, and I have worked out a process that makes it fairly quick and easy.

- I often formulate ideas in my mind and jot down notes or capture quotations as I read, but I do usually try to leave it a day after finishing the book before I post the completed review.

- Books I like or don’t like are usually easy. It’s the ones I don’t have strong feelings about that can be more difficult.

- Impressions are probably fixed at the moment of reading, but of course opinions can shift as I think about what I’ve just read and why it left me with that particular impression. That’s part of why writing stuff down for other people to read (or discussing in a book club or similar) is important.

- I think I tend to err on the side of writing too much. I don’t always have the time or the motivation to edit reviews down to a sensible length, so sometimes I ramble, or I write good stuff that no-one will ever have the motivation to do more than skim. That’s probably an important difference between social media reviews and press reviews: if you are writing for a paying public you need to be punchy every time. As {insert notoriously quotable author here*} famously said, “If I’d had more time, I’d have written a shorter letter.”

- I do read back over what I’ve written quite often. Partly to learn from it, partly because I hate to see uncorrected typos, but largely to re-engage with what I’ve been reading over the last months.

(*) The internet seems to agree that it was Pascal who first used this expression, but many others have followed him, independently or not.

173KeithChaffee
Editado: Fev 18, 12:07 pm

How central do you consider review writing to be to your LT experience and to your reading experience overall? Do you look forward to writing reviews or consider the process to be something of a chore?

It's an important part of the LT experience for me, and I enjoy doing it. Writing about what I read forces me to be a more thoughtful reader, to think about why I like a book, what works and doesn't, rather than to stop at "book good/book bad."

Do you prefer to write your reviews immediately upon finishing a book or do you like to let your impressions settle for a few days first?

I do most of my reading in bed before I turn out the lights, and enter my reviews the morning after I finish. I can't wait too long, because I forget the details of things fairly quickly. That is, to be honest, one of the main reasons I want to write reviews, and why I tend to write fairly long ones -- so that I'll have a record of the book and my reaction to it. For similar reasons, I rarely juggle multiple books at once, and it's unusual for me to start a new book the night I finish one, before I've had the chance to write a review.

Do you find it easier to review books you liked than to write about books you didn't like? (Or vice versa, of course)

This came up after one of my recent reviews. As long as there's some reaction, writing is fairly easy. The hard ones are the "meh" books. Writing negative reviews isn't really any easier than writing positive ones, but it's usually more fun.

Do you ever find that your impressions of and/or opinions about a book you've just read have changed as you write your review?

I don't think so. Having to put my inchoate feelings into words can help me to clarify my reactions, but I don't think it ever changes them.

Are you generally happy with the length of your reviews? Do you wish you could find the time and/or inspiration to write more in-depth comments. Are you filled with admiration for the folks who can write effectively yet succinctly?

My reviews are on the long side for LT, and I sometimes wish I were naturally more terse. I do think, though, that I manage to express a lot of thoughts in a reasonably elegant and compact manner; I don't waste time or words with lots of rambling.

Do you ever find yourself going back and reading over your old reviews?

Yes. Like Thorold, I occasionally go back into an old review to correct a typo I'd somehow missed; if the review's new enough that no one's gotten to it yet, I might edit a sentence or two, almost always condensing and cutting unnecessary words. (Too much Strunk and White from college professors, perhaps?)

I'm always aware of the dual audience when I write my reviews. For my own sake, I want a brief summary of the setup to remind me what the book was about, and some sense of what I liked/didn't about the book. But other people are reading what I write, and for their sake, I hope to write well -- to be clear and concise, and hopefully at least a little bit entertaining. I avoid spoilers unless I think it's impossible to thoughtfully talk about a book without them. (I don't think I've used the spoiler font since I came to LT, but I like knowing that it's there as an option should I ever need it.)

I am lucky to be skilled enough with words that "writing well" doesn't mean hours of agonizing over things; most of what I write here is largely off the top of my head. There are sometimes things that are hard to talk about without giving too much away, and I have been known to fall asleep writing certain sentences in my head, trying to find just the right way to phrase something so that it will be a fair and honest description without giving too much away.

174rv1988
Fev 17, 11:39 pm

>167 rocketjk: This is such a great question.

How central do you consider review writing to be to your LT experience and to your reading experience overall? Do you look forward to writing reviews or consider the process to be something of a chore?

I haven't always written reviews, but I'm trying to do so this year in an effort to be more mindful about what I read, and also, as >168 kjuliff: said, as a way of looking back and refreshing my memory about the book. I also do enjoy reading reviews by other people, especially of books I've already read, because it's always interesting to see what caught other people's interests, and what I missed, or didn't prioritise. I don't love the rise in four-sentence ARC reviews that plague sites like goodreads, and I wish there was a way to filter them out.

Do you prefer to write your reviews immediately upon finishing a book or do you like to let your impressions settle for a few days first?

I take notes, or flag things as I go, but I let it settle for a few days, mostly to give myself time to reflect and to avoid kneejerk responses.

Do you find it easier to review books you liked than to write about books you didn't like? (Or vice versa, of course)
I can't really say either way - it depends on the book itself, and the subject matter. Sometimes it's easy to articulate what did and didn't appeal; sometimes, my command of the language isn't sufficient to explain why I loved something, or why I didn't. I do try and give each book a fair shot, and not to be mean for the sake of being mean. I think it's important when writing a review of something I didn't like to bear in mind that because I didn't like it, doesn't necessarily make it bad: only unappealing to me. By contrast, if I really liked a book it might descend into incoherent squeals of glee, which make for a bad review, and tends to upset the birds outside.

Do you ever find that your impressions of and/or opinions about a book you've just read have changed as you write your review?
Not changed entirely, but the process of articulating and writing down my thoughts often helps me refine or understand better what I instinctively felt. I might have qualms, or decide I was being unfair after all. That's what I like best about writing reviews, even if it is just for myself.

Are you generally happy with the length of your reviews? Do you wish you could find the time and/or inspiration to write more in-depth comments. Are you filled with admiration for the folks who can write effectively yet succinctly?
I do go on a bit sometimes! It's alright though, because I think of them as personal notes that might be interesting to others - but I don't mind if they aren't.

Do you ever find yourself going back and reading over your old reviews?
Yes, frequently, and for the same reasons set out so well already by >168 kjuliff: and >169 Willoyd:. Mostly, also to correct spelling and grammar mistakes that I catch later on.

175AlisonY
Fev 18, 8:43 am

Q5 - Reviews...

Writing reviews is absolutely fundamental to my personal LT experience and reading experience. It helps me figure out my own thoughts on a book and draw it to a mental conclusion, and I much prefer to do it when my reading has recently finished (i.e. within a day of completion). If no one on LT ever commented on my thread I would still write my reviews (although I'd be a little sad!), as I enjoy the process of unravelling my post-read thoughts through the writing, but having others share their thoughts and join in debate on the back of my review wholly enhances my entire experience of the book.

Sometimes I close the cover of a book and think I've had a certain opinion of the book, but once my mind starts really processing and dissecting it as a write I can end up coming to a whole different conclusion on my reading experience (both good and bad). I enjoy that, and I appreciate that the review process helps me to untangle various knots in my thoughts.

I probably find it harder to write reviews about books I really fall in love with, as it can be difficult to find the words to do it justice. I've no issue writing about books I haven't enjoyed, but I try to caveat that with my reasons why, and where I know I'm in the minority in not liking a book I will usually point that out, as I don't want to unfairly put people off a book that just was a personal dislike for me.

I don't spend too much time analysing the quality of my reviews (probably I should!!). Sometimes I go off on wordy long reviews that weren't intended when I started, but returning to my initial point, much of this is me just talking out loud to myself, rather than trying to be a smart literary critique (random rambling, as often my thread is called).

I do occasionally read old reviews, mostly when someone reviews a book in CR that I read some time ago and can't remember much about. I like to remind myself what I thought of the book so I can be more useful to the conversation after someone has recently finished it.

176cindydavid4
Fev 18, 11:24 am

>172 thorold: >173 KeithChaffee: I love your long reviews, they are very readable, never boring and Ive discovered some incredible reads from them. so keep it up pls

177mabith
Fev 18, 1:22 pm

How central do you consider review writing to be to your LT experience and to your reading experience overall?
Certainly essential to my LT experience, though review reading is even more important really. For my reading experience I think writing reviews, even quite terse ones, helps me retain the book a little better.

Do you prefer to write your reviews immediately upon finishing a book or do you like to let your impressions settle for a few days first?
I think it depends on the book, sometimes it doesn't matter but for big classics or books I found particularly captivating I think it's better to wait a few days.

Do you find it easier to review books you liked than to write about books you didn't like?
Reviewing a book I've particularly loved, which feels like it will settle into a permanent part of my heart, is so difficult. I worry my review won't accurately represent the book or my feelings and someone who might have loved it will decide it's not for them. It's much easier to be rude about a mediocre book!

Are you generally happy with the length of your reviews? Do you wish you could find the time and/or inspiration to write more in-depth comments. Are you filled with admiration for the folks who can write effectively yet succinctly?
I'm very jealous of all of you who can write detailed, intellectual reviews. I'm quite a straightforward reader, and often feel I don't get to the heart of a book well. It's probably a personal relief that I spend so much time on non-fiction!

178WelshBookworm
Fev 18, 3:43 pm

Question 5: Writing Reviews

How central do you consider review writing to be to your LT experience and to your reading experience overall? Do you look forward to writing reviews or consider the process to be something of a chore?


It's central to my reading experience, and central to my book club experience whether it's a group on LT or Goodreads.

Do you prefer to write your reviews immediately upon finishing a book or do you like to let your impressions settle for a few days first?

Well, I think within a few days IS immediately. I certainly don't wait any more than a couple of days. I might wait until I am at work rather than at home, because I feel it is a good use of my time as a librarian.

Do you find it easier to review books you liked than to write about books you didn't like? (Or vice versa, of course)

Yes, I'm usually clearer about what I didn't like, than what I did. Sometimes I feel like I've spent too much time focusing on (probably) minor faults that make it sound like I didn't like a book, when actually I liked it very much!

Do you ever find that your impressions of and/or opinions about a book you've just read have changed as you write your review?

Occasionally my rating might be adjusted up or down, but more usually as a result of reading other reviews that I agree with.

Are you generally happy with the length of your reviews? Do you wish you could find the time and/or inspiration to write more in-depth comments. Are you filled with admiration for the folks who can write effectively yet succinctly?

I think I used to write longer reviews. I don't know if I've gotten better at being concise, or if it is a function of age. I just don't want to spend that long on it any more, AND I certainly appreciate reading other reviews that are short. I don't need to hear every detail about a plot - I just want overall impressions for myself. Mostly I think my reviews are to remind myself later what my impressions were. I do include a description in my reviews, which is generally copied and pasted from Amazon. Again, it is just there to remind myself what the book was about.

Do you ever find yourself going back and reading over your old reviews?

Yes, of course. To remind myself what happened in a previous book in a series, especially if it has been a few years. Or to participate in a group discussion of a book I have read that I don't intend to reread.

As others have said, I like it when people comment on my reviews. I keep a thread here in this group and also in a group on Goodreads, even though that means I'm copying everything twice. Before this group, I had a thread in two Goodreads groups, but groups change over time, and when my entire thread on one group got only three comments all year, I quit posting to that group. I wonder how my reviews may change once I have retired. Probably will get even shorter!

179dianeham
Fev 18, 9:30 pm

Question 5: Writing Reviews

How central do you consider review writing to be to your LT experience and to your reading experience overall? Do you look forward to writing reviews or consider the process to be something of a chore?

I don’t consider review writing central to my lt experience but I do feel pressured to do it. I see it as a chore. I’d prefer to write impressionistic reviews about my reaction to a book. But people here seem to expect a specific kind of review that includes a synopsis of the story.

Do you prefer to write your reviews immediately upon finishing a book or do you like to let your impressions settle for a few days first?

I prefer to ponder.

Do you find it easier to review books you liked than to write about books you didn't like? (Or vice versa, of course)

I find it hard to write about a book I dislike without giving away the plot. The things I hate are probably spoilers.

Do you ever find that your impressions of and/or opinions about a book you've just read have changed as you write your review?

No. My opinion about a book can however change while reading the final paragraph. The last lines can make or break the book for me.

Are you generally happy with the length of your reviews? Do you wish you could find the time and/or inspiration to write more in-depth comments. Are you filled with admiration for the folks who can write effectively yet succinctly?

I’m happy with the length - or lack of - of my reviews but I don’t feel other people are. I don’t wish mine were longer. I am not filled with admiration at a lengthy review and some are long. I appreciate ones that are succinct. I’m more delighted by a creative, one of a kind review than one written by rote.

Do you ever find yourself going back and reading over your old reviews?

Not often since I haven’t written that many. However, I do read old reviews written by CR members. If someone liked it and they are someone with similar taste to mine then I am likely to read it.

180avaland
Fev 19, 7:08 am

>5 jjmcgaffey: Reviews.

I came to LT in 2006 from my years at the bookstore where I wrote lots of short reviews for the independent bookstores "IndieNext"* flyers, local press ads, 'shelf-talkers'...etc I also was an excellent handseller...(oral reviews, ha ha)

And I also have an English degree and wrote the usual kind of papers and worked for several newspapers...so I could write more of a review if I wanted to... but....

I prefer to write short 'reviews' - maybe three or four lines. Just enough to remind me of the book and a bit of a tease for another. There are exceptions, of course,but for most of the nearly eighteen years that has been just that.

*it had another name back then

181dchaikin
Editado: Fev 19, 1:48 pm

Question 5: I have been so taken and fascinated by everyone’s answers. Great question, special responses

How central do you consider review writing to be to your LT experience and to your reading experience overall? Do you look forward to writing reviews or consider the process to be something of a chore?

This is where i talk about books. Reviews are the largely the medium and I enjoy writing them when I’m in the right mood and right state of mind, and the words come. So, yes, it’s central to me. Your responses to books, not just reviews, are also central.

Reviews are a chore when I can’t find the words or the state of mind. And a joy when I can. But often i can’t.

Do you prefer to write your reviews immediately upon finishing a book or do you like to let your impressions settle for a few days first?

I wish i could just hash it out after i close the book. But usually I wait to think and hopefully find the right mood (and time) I want for writing. I would happily wait awhile if I knew the mood was coming. So sometimes i wait and wait. Other times i write them quickly after i finish the book. Honestly, the quality, my personal sense of it, really depends on my state of mind when writing, and not on how fresh the book is. And i do forget things more and more with time.

Do you find it easier to review books you liked than to write about books you didn't like? (Or vice versa, of course)

It’s always easy to bash. And it stinks to fail to tell how much I enjoyed a good book.

Do you ever find that your impressions of and/or opinions about a book you've just read have changed as you write your review?

Yes. And usually it means I should stop writing and think more. I’m more respectful of books the more I think about them.

Are you generally happy with the length of your reviews? Do you wish you could find the time and/or inspiration to write more in-depth comments. Are you filled with admiration for the folks who can write effectively yet succinctly?

Like my answers there, they are always too long. I always wish I had condensed (even when I forget to add things i wanted to say). In contradiction, I usually want to add things. And I always admire succinctness. My patience is terrible.

Do you ever find yourself going back and reading over your old reviews?

Ok, I love reading my own review. Seriously. I go back to them all the time. I think, “how well I said that, I could never say that so well now”. I know, it’s ridiculous. But it’s my head I’m revisiting. There are so many lost memories in those old reviews. So many thoughts. I have a lot of me there. Been doing this 14 plus years now

———

Some extra thoughts.

- i really like comments. And feel a little sad when i don’t get any. And i know that’s silly.

- i have many contractions in my approach to reviews. My models are baswood’s structure and Avaland’s advice to write what you would want to tell someone over coffee or whatnot. These are incompatible goals. Further, when i write a review, i want to say everything at once. I have a tangle of responses and factoids and observations to share. And I have no patience to set them aside and work my way through. So I have to force that. I may outline or list or just wait until the right perspective of language magically comes (sometimes it seems to). In the end, I mainly just struggle to write what want, discarding all models. And then regret what comes out. And then come back a year later, and quite like what my previous self produced and left for me.

182labfs39
Fev 19, 2:56 pm

What an insight into people's experience with LT. I love the responses and could just echo what some have said and said well, but I will try to stammer out my own answers.

But first, >179 dianeham: I'm so sorry you feel pressured to write reviews, and especially a specific type of review, Diane. Personally I love variety among reviews. Some folks use an interesting template, others are humorous, some are more academic, and others are folksy. I appreciate them all. For my part, you could write a poem about every book, and I would think it awesome.

Question 5: Writing Reviews

How central do you consider review writing to be to your LT experience and to your reading experience overall? Do you look forward to writing reviews or consider the process to be something of a chore?

I began writing reviews for LT when I joined back in 2008, and it changed my reading for the better. I think I became a more thoughtful reader when I knew I would be writing something about the book when I finished. At first I did it as a way to participate and instigate conversation, then it also became a record of my reading life, and now it serves as a memory prompt as much as anything.

I don't mind writing reviews, but I also don't mind giving myself a pass not to write one. For me the ones that are a chore, and most likely earning a skip pass, are those of classics. So much has been written about them, I have nothing new to add, and my memory will be suitably prompted from reading any of them.

Do you prefer to write your reviews immediately upon finishing a book or do you like to let your impressions settle for a few days first?

I write them almost immediately upon finishing, and almost always before starting another book, or I lose the flow and the impetus. I usually write them straight through in one pass, no editing, as you maybe can tell!

Do you find it easier to review books you liked than to write about books you didn't like? (Or vice versa, of course)

It depends on the book, but I would say classics are the hardest, followed by books that I appreciated but didn't like.

Do you ever find that your impressions of and/or opinions about a book you've just read have changed as you write your review?

Writing is often how I process my thoughts, so it's not so much that my impressions change as I write, but are formed.

Are you generally happy with the length of your reviews? Do you wish you could find the time and/or inspiration to write more in-depth comments. Are you filled with admiration for the folks who can write effectively yet succinctly?

I honestly don't spend a lot of time evaluating my reviews. If they inspire interest in the book, I'm happy, but sometimes they are more for myself than anything. For instance, my "review" of the Chekhov biography I read recently is really just a list of things I found interesting about Chekhov and about the writing. After reading some of the responses above, I can see that that type of review would irritate some as an overly lengthy synopsis. Please feel free to skip! For me, my threads are my reading log, so sometimes they are geared for my needs, not other readers. My apologies in advance!

Do you ever find yourself going back and reading over your old reviews?

Absolutely. Sometimes I forget a book entirely and need to read my synopsis, and sometimes I want to remind myself of my impressions in order to better participate in a discussion.

183cindydavid4
Editado: Fev 19, 3:34 pm

>179 dianeham: gonna echo Lisa; Im sorry you have felt pressured to review. Not sure whos doing that but tell them to stop!I went years without doing reviews, or even have a thread.n I needed to use a template to help me make sense in my head what I wanted to write . I dont review every book I read, I pick ones that might be interested in reading. lots of times I just write a line or two and
you can still talk about books without a review oh and a poem about every book! now that Id love to read (but no pressure:))

184thorold
Fev 19, 4:08 pm

>181 dchaikin: In the end, I mainly just struggle to write what want, discarding all models. And then regret what comes out. And then come back a year later, and quite like what my previous self produced and left for me.

I think you just nailed the LT reviewing experience, Dan :-)

A few extra thoughts on things others have mentioned:
- Opinion vs. Synopsis — I work on the assumption that many of the books I read are unknown to quite a few people here, so I feel it’s useful to provide a bit of context. At least a general outline of what the book is about and whom it’s aimed at, but probably not a retelling of the story. Obviously that doesn’t apply when it’s a book that many people have reviewed here already: then I often give a more oblique and subjective summary of where it seems to be coming from (kjuliff quoted one back to me the other day in which I’d described a particular book as “a cross between Lord of the Flies and the Book of Job…”).

- classics — That’s a case where it’s often best to be very subjective. How do I react to reading this book now? What does it tie in with that will resonate with people who haven’t quite screwed up the courage to tackle it yet?

- short reviews — Let’s be honest. Those are the ones we all read! Long reviews are often more fun to write than to read.

185KeithChaffee
Fev 19, 4:16 pm

>184 thorold: Long reviews are often more fun to write than to read.

Not sure I agree with that. Yes, there is such a thing as too long, but there aren't very many at LT (at least in my experience) who fall into that category. I see more reviews that leave me wanting a little more information -- what's the story about? what in particular did you like about the book? -- than I see reviews that told me too much. (Which should, of course, not be taken as pressure on anyone to write longer. You do you, I'll do me, and it'll all come out OK in the wash.)

186baswood
Fev 19, 7:03 pm

How central do you consider review writing to be to your LT experience and to your reading experience overall? Do you look forward to writing reviews or consider the process to be something of a chore?

Writing reviews is central to my LT experience. I write a review of every book I read. I started doing this so I could remember what I reed and the habit has just stuck with me. I mostly look forward to writing reviews as I can then put the book to bed. Occasionally I have nothing much to say about a book and then the review writing becomes a chore.

Do you prefer to write your reviews immediately upon finishing a book or do you like to let your impressions settle for a few days first?

I write my reviews soon after I have finished reading - sometimes I leave it for a day to let my thoughts settle.

Do you find it easier to review books you liked than to write about books you didn't like? (Or vice versa, of course)

When I started reviewing books on LT I enjoyed writing bad reviews or scathing reviews of books that I did not like. I think I have grown up a bit since then and have become more aware of possibly insulting other readers or even authors. I do say if I don't like a book, but no longer indulge in put-downs.

Do you ever find that your impressions of and/or opinions about a book you've just read have changed as you write your review?

Mostly not as I usually have a fairly clear idea of what I am going to write before I start.

Are you generally happy with the length of your reviews? Do you wish you could find the time and/or inspiration to write more in-depth comments. Are you filled with admiration for the folks who can write effectively yet succinctly?

I sometimes think my reviews are too long, but I am not entering a literary competition and don't feel the need to work at them too much to make them more concise or succinct. I enjoy writing most reviews and if I get a little carried away well - so be it. The great thing about writing reviews on LT is that I am able to share thoughts and ideas about the books that I have read with other readers. I can talk to my wife about books because she is a great reader too, but most of my friends are far too busy doing other things than reading.

Do you ever find yourself going back and reading over your old reviews?

I am doing that now, because I am creating tags for my books. It is a sobering experience because reading reviews I wrote some ten years ago sometimes makes me cringe and sometimes I can't even remember the book.

187jjmcgaffey
Fev 19, 7:31 pm

Q 5

How central do you consider review writing to be to your LT experience and to your reading experience overall? Do you look forward to writing reviews or consider the process to be something of a chore?
It's not central to reading - but it is a major part of LT for me (which is why I'm sad/annoyed I'm not doing it at the moment!). I never used to review; then I started a thread and put brief comments on the books in the thread (and got responses, which are lovely); then I copied those comments to the review field for the book (and added to them, most of them). Now I consider reviewing to be an important part of completing a book. But when it piles up like it is now, yes, it's something of a chore. Fixable by reviewing immediately, of course - I _know_ the solution, I'm just not doing it.

Do you prefer to write your reviews immediately upon finishing a book or do you like to let your impressions settle for a few days first?
I prefer to write it as soon as I finish - I want what I thought about the book at the time. It's not happening at present, sigh. I'll forget details about the book far too soon, so I want to write them as soon as possible.

Do you find it easier to review books you liked than to write about books you didn't like? (Or vice versa, of course)
If I loved, or hated, a book I can review it quite solidly. As others have said - it's the meh books that are hard to review (and tend to be a plot summary, and a comment that others may like it better than I did).

Do you ever find that your impressions of and/or opinions about a book you've just read have changed as you write your review?
Not as I write, no. But sometimes I'll write my review then go read the others before I post - and often I find a bit I'd forgotten about that I want to comment on, or find an opinion I either agree with (and say so) or totally disagree with (and say so). The other reviews very seldom change my opinion, though they may clarify it.

Are you generally happy with the length of your reviews? Do you wish you could find the time and/or inspiration to write more in-depth comments. Are you filled with admiration for the folks who can write effectively yet succinctly?
Yes, I like the length I write at - which can be anything from two sentences to half a page. Depends what I have to say about the book. I often admire but don't envy other reviewers - they're not writing what I would write, even if what they're writing is really good (and even agrees with what I said).

Do you ever find yourself going back and reading over your old reviews?
Regularly. I frequently remember that I've read a book and have zero clue what I thought of it - even good/bad. Having a review from immediately after I read it, or at least while I still remembered having read it, is _wonderful_ then. I have also had the deeply disconcerting experience of reading a book, forming an opinion, going to review...and finding I'd already written a review on it (generally in agreement with my current opinion, though not always exactly the same). I usually remember/realize that I've already read a book once I get started! It's weird when I've forgotten it so completely.

I write my reviews for me, to remind me what I thought of the book. I try not to spoil things, because I know others are reading them, but that's not what's important. I'll often put in things like the main characters' names (because I'm _awful_ at remembering that - who they are, no problem, name? what name?) or a sketch of the plot. Sometimes it even works...

I consider both the real review (on the book page) and my comments (in my thread) to be important. The latter are more of a distillation, and sometimes get comments from others, which I enjoy (whether or not they agree with me); the former are more detailed (and very rarely get comments, only if someone reads it and actually is moved to write me a note or find my thread and comment there).

188cindydavid4
Fev 19, 8:53 pm

>184 thorold: I work on the assumption that many of the books I read are unknown to quite a few people here, so I feel it’s useful to provide a bit of context. At least a general outline of what the book is about and whom it’s aimed at, but probably not a retelling of the story.

I do that too; I know some dont like synopsis in reviews, but I want people to know what it is about if they are not familar with it. I know I appreciate it when I see it in a review even if I know about it

189dianeham
Fev 19, 9:33 pm

>182 labfs39: >183 cindydavid4: Thank you both for the feedback thats very sweet. I’ll see what I can do about writing poetic reviews.

190labfs39
Fev 19, 10:44 pm

>189 dianeham: I look forward to it! A couple of times I've written a silly haiku as part of my review process, but that's as far as I go.

191rocketjk
Fev 21, 9:22 am

Question 5: Writing Reviews

I've gotten in the habit of not answering these questions right away, but waiting until others have had a chance to weigh in on them (or not) first. I'm not 100% sure why, but since I'm the one providing the questions for now, that seems appropriate to me. So, here I am to consider Question 5.

How central do you consider review writing to be to your LT experience and to your reading experience overall? Do you look forward to writing reviews or consider the process to be something of a chore?

Review writing is one of the many great aspects of my 15 years of LT participation, second only to the people I've met here and probably equal to the many books I've learned about (and, yes, reviews I've read about them) from you all. I'd always told myself that I ought to jot down my thoughts about books as I was reading them but could never get myself to actually do it until I found this community. Now I don't consider a book really "finished" until I've gotten my review down here.

Do you prefer to write your reviews immediately upon finishing a book or do you like to let your impressions settle for a few days first?

I usually give myself at least one overnight to let my thoughts about a book settle before I plunge into writing a review of that book. A little bit of time helps me clarify my reactions and my reasons for them. It also sometimes allows me to think of ways in which different elements of the book go together that weren't as apparent during the reading itself.

Do you find it easier to review books you liked than to write about books you didn't like? (Or vice versa, of course)

I find it easier to write reviews about books I don't like because I'm not as motivated to write at length. So negative reviews are easier for me to knock out. When I'm enthusiastic about a book, I really want to dig into all the reasons why I thought the book was good, and if it's a nonfiction work, provide an outline of the important things I learned.

Do you ever find that your impressions of and/or opinions about a book you've just read have changed as you write your review?

Sometimes as I'm writing, especially if I'm working on a positive review of a complex narrative, new ideas about the story or history will occur to me as I'm writing, or new ways that different elements of the book interact will become clear. So while I rarely go from "like" to "dislike," or the other way around, while I'm writing, sometimes I'll go from "dislike" to "not as bad as my original impression" or from "like" to "like/appreciate more."

Are you generally happy with the length of your reviews? Do you wish you could find the time and/or inspiration to write more in-depth comments. Are you filled with admiration for the folks who can write effectively yet succinctly?

That last sentence comes from my own experience. Over the years, my reviews have grown longer. I guess I've just come to enjoy writing them more, more eager to express all the ways I admire a book I've enjoyed, and more interested in providing quotes that provide relevant examples of an author's writing style and a book's tone and/or symbolic richness. But I'm very cognizant of the point that Mark made above: "{Short reviews} are the ones we all read! Long reviews are often more fun to write than to read." So while I'm indulging myself by pouring heart and soul into a 1,500 word essay, I'm aware that I am most likely minimizing my readership in the process. So, yes, I am indeed filled with admiration for the folks who can write effective, memorable reviews in just a couple of paragraphs. I wish I had the discipline to go back after I've finished and cut out a paragraph or two. This point is especially brought home to me when I see an excellent review of a book I've read and reviewed myself, only the reviewer has managed to write a better review than mine using half the word count.

I do find that even my long reviews get some nice responses from my CR friends. Believe me, I do appreciate everyone with the patience to wade through my longer posts. On the other hand, when I have the time, I do enjoy reading the longer reviews by other CR members. And when I don't have the time for that sort of reading, I tend to use the same strategy I use for published reviews of books I want to be sure not to pick up spoilers for: I read the first paragraph and the last paragraph. This way I get the book's setup and overall topic and I can figure out whether I've an interest, and then the reviewer's overall impressions, good, bad or indifferent, without risking learning more than I want to know.

Do you ever find yourself going back and reading over your old reviews?
Yes. I enjoy doing that once in a while. It's fun to be reminded of the books I read 10 or more years ago. Also to be reminded of the days when I could write a decent review in a third of the length that my reviews are these days!

Plot synopsis or no?
An interesting point brought up and discussed above is the degree to which folks do or don't like to include plot synopses in their reviews. I try to avoid straight synopses, but I do like to provide the set up of a book, introducing the important characters we're presented with at a book's opening and describing the situations in which they find themselves at that starting point. I generally like to stop there, though I might sometimes provide a bit of a hint about the direction the plot takes thereafter.

192cindydavid4
Fev 21, 9:53 am

>191 rocketjk: 've gotten in the habit of not answering these questions right away, but waiting until others have had a chance to weigh in on them (or not) first. I'm not 100% sure why, but since I'm the one providing the questions for now, that seems appropriate to me.

think thats a sensible thing to do!

193SassyLassy
Fev 22, 11:33 am

>167 rocketjk: QUESTION 5: Writing reviews

How central do you consider review writing to be to your LT experience and to your reading experience overall? Do you look forward to writing reviews or consider the process to be something of a chore?

Dread with a capital D is the first word that come to mind when I think of writing reviews. It's not that I consider them a chore; I think it's more fear; fear of misleading those who might read it, fear of having missed the whole point of the book, fear of totally scrambling grammar and syntax, fear of sounding like a total dunce. (Yes, exams were a nightmare for me in the days before accommodation!).
It took me over a year on LT to work up my courage to write one.

Do you prefer to write your reviews immediately upon finishing a book or do you like to let your impressions settle for a few days first?

That's kind of funny! "Immediately" is not in my vocabulary. I have to agonize over the whole process first! It takes me an inordinate amount of time to write a review, and if I get caught up in something else, it's difficult to set aside that time. This does have the advantage of letting my impressions settle, and gives me time to mull it over. I suspect if I ever did write a review in a timely manner, I and the review would miss a lot.

Do you find it easier to review books you liked than to write about books you didn't like? (Or vice versa, of course)

Not really. However, I am aware that others may really be interested in a book I didn't like - that it's not necessarily a bad book, I just didn't like it. With that in mind, I try not to be too harsh, unless the fault seems completely egregious.

Do you ever find that your impressions of and/or opinions about a book you've just read have changed as you write your review?

This can happen with a more complex book, as writing to me is a way of working out my thoughts. One of the benefits of waiting to write about a given book, is that possibly there has been time to discuss it with others, or to read other things that relate to it and augment my opinion.

Are you generally happy with the length of your reviews? Do you wish you could find the time and/or inspiration to write more in-depth comments. Are you filled with admiration for the folks who can write effectively yet succinctly?

I'm one of those who tend to write longer reviews. I enjoy reading longer reviews by others.
However, reading responses above, I see that others may not feel this way.
There are times when I feel the review is definitely dragging on, and yes, I do admire those "who can write effectively yet succinctly" - it's a real skill. Regarding more "in-depth comments", I just wish I was wise enough to write them.

Do you ever find yourself going back and reading over your old reviews?

Yes. This generally happens in one of two circumstances:
- someone else writes a review of that book and I think "That's not at all the way I remember it? I should look at it again".
- I'm reading other things relating to that book or author and I want to see how or if my thoughts have developed.

Plot synopsis or no?

I'm not interested in the retelling of a book in anyone's review. I do want to provide enough of the outline or character description so that others will know if they would be interested in reading that book, and then get into what a review is supposed to be. Similarly, when I'm reading someone else's review, I look for the same thing.

_______________

As others have said above, I do like comments and questions on my reviews (positive or negative), as it gives an opportunity to discuss and think about the book further. That said, on reflection, I'm not that good at doing it myself.

194dianeham
Fev 22, 3:55 pm

>193 SassyLassy: what did you need accommodations for?

195SassyLassy
Fev 22, 4:33 pm

>194 dianeham: I didn't need them, I didn't mean to suggest that. They didn't exist at the time, so it would never have occurred to me to think of them. It was just a high intensity level that I could have done without.
Having said that, probably everyone else was experiencing the same thing, but no one would ever have admitted it.