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200 Books and Counting



I'll be honest, at times recently, it has started to feel like a bit of a chore to read. Reading should never feel like that and most of the time for me, it doesn't. Nevertheless, setting myself the challenge of reading the books on the BBC list has meant that I'm sometimes persevering with books I have no interest in and would ordinarily have given up on. However, in some ways, I'm glad I'm being 'forced' to read outside of my comfort zone. Occasionally, there's a little gem at the end of a boring book that makes it all worthwhile. I didn't enjoy much of Ulysses, but the last chapter is exquisite. Having previously loved Shakespeare, I've now discovered there are many of his plays I really dislike, but if I'd not done this challenge, I'd never have picked up A Fine Balance and would have missed out on a really beautiful book. I'd also never have learnt that I don't in fact hate ALL Dickens!


Swallows and Amazons is one of those that I'm struggling to get into. There's nothing inherently 'wrong' with it and I'd been looking forward to reading it because it's set in the Lake District - an area I know really well - but it's just not gripping me at the moment.


The other issue is that I've been writing so many book reviews recently that I've had to race through the actually reading of them to make sure I've given myself enough time to write a proper review. Book reviews are interesting. I've obviously been writing quite a few recently and each time I do it, I try to write as full a review as I can and to personalise them or explain why I found the plot/character/settings so relatable because I think it's important that people understand why you've enjoyed it so much, beyond 'it was interesting'. I also feel that if an author has invested the hours they have in actually writing the book, they deserve to have a proper review written about their work. So many reviewers write nothing more than a brief paragraph as a review and don't think about the book beyond whether it was an easy read. I feel guilty about my monthly roundup and that I don't do an in-depth review of each book. If I did that though, I'd never actually get any of my own writing done! One thing I have noticed recently though, is how many of the books I read talk in great detail about the food the characters eat - not the easiest thing to read about when you're meant to be dieting!


Of course, what I've also had to admit to myself is that this week I've definitely been in avoidance mode. Yes, I've been reading Makarelle submissions, I've written both my own contributions for the Autumn issue, I've updated my blog and I've written several reviews for posts still to come. I've also sorted out payments and uniform for the various things the boys have needed sorting out. What I haven't done is any work on the novel. I tell myself it's not through lack of desire, but if I'm to be perfectly honest, there is probably a small part of me that is refusing to work on it because I'm a bit scared of going back to it, in case it's no good! I only have about two weeks of work left on the first draft and then I have to make a decision about what I'm going to do with the other books that are sitting waiting for me to either send them back out to agents and publishers, or publish them under my own imprint. I don't really want to make this decision, because it's far easier to write things if no one else is ever going to read them!


So... I'm going to stop prevaricating, stop worrying about whether or not I'm going to enjoy what I'm going to read in the future, stop stressing about the books still lying unread and in some cases, unwritten, in my drawer and get on with the things I need to do (like finishing Swallows and Amazons) so that I can schedule this post and by the time it goes live in a couple of weeks, I'll be well on my way to completing the first draft of novel no. 3!

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