Perhaps I am suffering from a sort of literary fiction overload. I’ve read loads of it over the summer but for the past 4-6 weeks I’ve found it very hard to read anything other than science fiction/ fantasy/ dystopia/ YA books. I’ve let my ‘pile of shame’ of books (literary fiction for the most part) grow and grow while I’ve downloaded and devoured a whole load of books on kindle and these have been mostly pretty bad but also pretty addictive. So as Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for The Time Being arrived in the post from Daunt Books, I thought it was time to go cold turkey on dystopia and get on with a ‘proper’ book, a recent release (those tend to sit on my shelf and by the time I get to them are practically considered ‘classics’) with all these wonderful reviews and a Booker shortlist to its name. Yes, well, I thought wrong (it’ll probably win the Booker now).
I liked the beginning and then shortly after, I found myself slowly but increasingly irritated by it. I stopped just over a hundred pages in because the book just didn’t grab me and it all began feeling a bit contrived. I don’t know whether I will finish it, the thought of picking it up again is almost as irritating but I have read books that have irritated me in the past that I persisted with and was rewarded by afterwards, glad to admit my mistakes. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace is one example and Life A User’s Manual by Georges Perec another. So while being in two minds about Ruth Ozeki’s book, I downloaded yet another fantasy series – The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss and read it with a patience I don’t usually have for fantasy. I totally loved this – there was something Dune-ish about it (age + arc of the main character), something Lord of the Rings-ish (the languages, the songs), also something romantic about all that music, the adventures, the mythology and finally something distinctly George R.R. Martin-ish in the fact that I’ve now read both of the published books and have a feeling the third and final book will take Rothfuss a while. I would like to read it now please.
And the reason for my patience with The Kingkiller Chronicle is very simple – after a whole summer off history and non-fiction (thought I needed a break), I’ve a new uni course and a load of books on 20th century history to occupy me on the daily bus journey to and from work so can only read fiction in spare time. This morning, as I dipped into The Age of Extremes for a bit of research I realised I’ve totally missed Eric Hobsbawm. Perhaps my current book ennui is totally down to going cold turkey on non-fiction? Must learn to balance better and in the little spare time that I’ll have over the next 8 months, try to stay off silly books and silly books that think they’re clever.