I am finally over half-way! I find that with #TBR20 I am putting more thought into what I actually want to read, instead of buying books because they sound a little bit interesting. I’ve actually read (or discarded) 12 books now and a few have surprised me in a good way and I can see why others have languished on my shelves for so long. I have read the ones I was most excited about and now am left with books I feel a little ambivalent about. I have left a few doorstoppers to the end.
I started in January and am finally half way down!
#9: The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
I enjoyed this but had a few problems with it. I loved Middlesex and think that Eugenides is a very compassionate writer, which is something I think important. He takes an 18th / 19th century marriage plot and twists it in a way that made me smile. The protagonist is writing her thesis on the marriage plot in Austen etc., but we don’t hear enough about that. We hear a lot more about Derrida and theology. It’s all very impressive, and the characters are well-realised. Perhaps the male characters are better realised than the female protagonist they are both in love with. But, in spite of that, I still think Eugenides is great and I did enjoy this novel a lot.
#10: The End of Mr Y by Scarlet Thomas
I wasn’t a fan of this and I thought I was going to be. The plot was fast-paced and is similar to Possession, in that it’s almost a thriller set in academia. There is a lot of clever conversation – much like there was in The Marriage Plot, which is fine, but it doesn’t make up for the fact that the PhD student’s voice didn’t sound realistic enough to me. I was disappointed with it.
#11: The Complete Claudine by Colette
I bought this in 2007 and have never really felt like reading it. It’s all of Colette’s Claudine novels in one handy package. Perhaps, because I was still a teenager when I bought it, it sounded exciting at the time. I was disappointed with this too.
#12: Perfume by Patrick Suskind
So, after two books I wasn’t bothered about I read Perfume. It reminded me of many old Gothic stories and I realised that I have been reading a lot of novels lately (newer novels) who do not favour old-fashioned, detached narrators. I really felt like I was being guided through the story of the repulsive Grenouille. His entire psychopathic life is covered, from birth to death. The only thing that he desires is to capture scents. This is what drives him to kill. It’s creepy and evocative and there are no showy-off bits in there. The only downside was the descriptions of the various luscious virgins, which I thought was a little bit gross. But other than that it was great.
I guess that’s one of the things about #TBR20. You realise what your tastes are when you’re forced to think about something you’re not a fan of. You also realise how many books you buy but will never read, and how your reading tastes change over time. Only eight left now!