If you read the last post, you'll know about my best of three dilemma. I resolved it fairly quickly by nipping to the library the following day. They had On Beauty, by Zadie Smith, on the shelf, so I decided to give her another chance (on the strength of White Teeth), disregarded the words on the back cover and borrowed it. Side note: what a pretty (front) cover. Finished it pretty quickly.
It has made my top ten!
It's better than White Teeth!
The problem with my memory is that it doesn't work. Not well, anyway. So although I stated with some confidence back there that it is better than White Teeth, the two could actually be on a par. I'm going to go out on a limb, though, and give my vote to On Beauty. It is so good I'm going to buy my own copy of it; knowing it is available in the library just won't suffice. I already want to read it again, but must leave a semi-decent interval between re-reads otherwise my ropey old memory will only let me down by actually remembering stuff and ruining the experience.
I was so excited/triumphant about yet another of my non-back-cover-reading experiments paying off, I immediately did it again. No sooner had I put down On Beauty, than I walked over to one of my bookcases and simply extracted a novel. None of the usual rumination or comparison; I grabbed a book - Tim Winton's Eyrie, since you ask - and off I went. Now I'm nearing the end of that too and I think I'll be picking up an Alan Hollinghurst next. We shall see.
Mine is not a book review site, even if you are thinking that it reads very much like one at present. I'll refrain, therefore, from a full-on review of On Beauty. This is the blog of a book-lover, however, so I will outline what I loved and you can read the reviews on Goodreads should you be so inclined. (I have given up on my Goodreads reviews - frankly, I'd rather be reading - so I just stick a star rating down for the benefit of the aforementioned appalling memory. On Beauty got five of the stars, from a possible five.)
I love the way Zadie Smith writes in On Beauty. Her characters' voices are so painstakingly described (via writing in accents, if that makes sense - it's almost phonetic) as to be clearly heard when reading. You can love characters without admiring them or approving of their actions. She makes you want to keep reading without requiring cliffhangers. Her prose is a complete pleasure. She also teaches me new words - I like that.
Ugh, I'm going to have to check out NW again now, or at least look it up on Goodreads to see if I was 'right' about it being annoying. Perhaps it's actually a masterpiece.
Goodreads - a website to keep track of your reading and find new books - is a funny thing: you can spend too much time looking at others' opinions of books before reading; these opinions can end up influencing your own. Reading reviews post-read is similar: you change your mind about your rating/feelings of the book as you note points raised by other reviewers and think 'oh yes, that riled me, too'.
Once - this is weird - I started reading a review that I had written. It was really, really good. And funny. I was very pleased with myself.
As I got further into the review, I realised it was too good and too funny to have been self-penned. Had a quick check. I didn't write it. Somehow I was reading somebody else's review! When I looked at my profile, I hadn't actually reviewed the book in question at all! But this person had covered all the points so frustrating to me, just in more depth and with more venom than I would have done (because I worry the author might see it and be disheartened). It took around ten paragraphs before I doubted my status as the review's author. How strange. That's Goodreads for you. It has scared me off it for a while. I'll stick to writing nonsense on here instead.
PS The Tim Winton is going very well, thank you. I'm unconvinced that another bookish blog post is required in the near future, but one never knows. I do love books.
PPS Thank you for reading x