Time to Read for Fun

I log all of my reading and TBR now on Goodreads, as it helps to keep a semblance of order.  (Although I know full well that chaos lurks underneath!)  Imagine my surprise when I discovered that 7 of the last 10 books I read (and certainly all of the books that I’ve read so far in March) have been books sent to me by publishers for book reviews.

Not that I am complaining! It’s not that I don’t enjoy these books, and I am grateful to the publishers for exposing me to authors or translations which I may not have  come across otherwise.  But reading books for the purpose of reviewing is different: it’s WORK.  I have to read them with pen in hand, making notes of characters’ names, or a phrase that grabs my attention, or a thought which I need to explore further.  Also, because I review for a crime fiction website , the books I get to review all fall into this category.  Plus, I have signed up for the Global (crime fiction) Reading Challenge, so even my ‘spare time’ reading has turned completely mysterious.

Now, you may know I absolutely love crime fiction, but I do also need a break from it every now and then.  I need a gentler read (or a demanding, experimental, pretentious literary read) by way of contrast.  To keep me fresh and eager to return to my old love.  So, although I still have a pile of books to review, I also want to make sure I plan in some time to read more widely.

SosekiThe last non-crime book I read (back in February) was ‘Kokoro’ by Natsume Soseki, a writer so well-known in Japan that he is pictured on the 1000 Yen note.  I had read this as a student – supposedly in Japanese, but I seem to remember cheating and reading the translation alongside the original.  This was a new translation, much more colloquial and lively than the previous one, perhaps even a bit too chatty for the rather serious, contemplative nature of the story.  It is so interesting comparing different translations, though, that I wish I had the time to do this more frequently.  I also want to spend some time reading books in the original and then comparing them with their translations into English.

CarsonMcCullersSo, what am I going to attempt this month? First of all, a true classic: Carson McCullers’ ‘The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter’.  I have a weak spot for misfits and outcasts, and this is full of such characters.  Plus, I find it amazing that such a young writer could write so accurately and eloquently about life on the margins of society.

Just in case I get too depressed, I also have a lighter read up my sleeve, which should have me laughing out loud in recognition: Peter Mayle’s ‘Toujours Provence’.

Do you prefer to read all in one genre, or do you feel the need to balance your reading with something completely different at times?  And what are your ‘go to’ reads in such a situation?

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23 thoughts on “Time to Read for Fun”

    1. I thought you were planning to use Goodreads as a way of organising your reading this year – you were the one that inspire me to use it, do you know?

  1. Marina Sofia – I’m so glad you’re going to take the time to read what you want, just because you want to. We need to do that sometimes as a reminder of what a pure delight reading can be.

  2. I like a good thriller and some exciting historical fiction, not the snooze kind. But, I enjoy hopping around the genres. There’s so much out there so why not, right?

  3. Marina, I can relate deeply with this post. Starting January 2013, I have stopped accepting books for review. I am a compulsive book buyer too and the pile of unread books is touching the ceiling. Reviewing is ‘WORK’ as you say, for I often end up reading them twice: first for enjoyment, next for gleaning the details that I’d found striking to be used in the review.

    So I am again back to reading what I love. I am currently reading Maidenhair by Mikhail Shishkin (I believe I’ve put it on Goodreads too). There are times when things do go heavy and I mostly go back to books I’ve already read and loved: Hemingway, D H Lawrence, Anita Desai (do read her) and even Haruki Murakami.

    1. I do like reading new books too, and reviewing them – I didn’t mean to sound too negative about it. But I can see you understand perfectly well that you want to be able to read a book without a running commentary in your brain…
      As for rereading, ah, I do want to do more of that! I used to reread all Jane Austen novels every where, as well as several of my favourite Shakespeare plays. But that was pre-work, pre-marriage, pre-children, clearly.

  4. I read “the heart is a lonely hunter” a long time ago when I had more time and more ‘pretentious’ about what I read. It made me so sad. These days though, my go-to books are mysteries and adventure stories, mostly fun stuff. 🙂

    1. Well, some of the mysteries can be pretty hair-raising, so I don’t know about fun..! But yes, I could never subsist on a diet of just serious books – it takes all sorts to keep the happy hormones and the creative juices going (but it certainly doesn’t help with unmixing my metaphors!)

  5. I try to experiment with my reading, choose different things, but I can’t read Sci-Fi or fantasy, just can’t do it! It goes straight over the top of my head lol (happy to watch those kinds of films though…odd).

    My problem is finding TIME to read *sighs*


    1. Ha, that’s a possible name for my blog as well!!! Mind you, I find it easier to make time for reading than for writing. I suppose you just need a different state of mind to write, while, when you read, no matter what state of mind you are in, reading takes you out of it.

  6. I think reading is a bit like nutrition: even if you have a favorite genre (dish), it’s important to get a balanced diet!
    Personally, I love to read stuff that’s just a few notches more literary than my own writing abilities… I feel that offers me the best chance to improve and develop.

    1. Perfect summary and good point about the quality of the writing! Although I do love to read really great writing, it does make you feel that you will never quite reach that level, no matter how hard you try, doesn’t it?

  7. I read ‘The Gate’ last year and didn’t mind the translation too much, but I read a couple of posts which were very annoyed by it.

    1. To be honest, I have only occasionally found really striking differences between translations. The classic one: Seidensticker’s and Waley’s versions of ‘Genji Monogatari’. I found them to be so different that I have both of them on my bookshelves. But I like them both!

  8. Yes let’s have a book buffet!!? Read one for a review and then one you want to read. Or two at a time but different genres? It’s hard but important to do both as the TBR pile just gets bigger. It’s good to mix it up when you can – a balanced diet as Pauline says. It is hard though as there are so many good books out there!

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