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My Books and Me

I love reading. Which boils down to the fact I will read, to be honest, pretty much anything. I enjoy a wide range of genres, and prefer not to limit myself with preconceived notions about a book based on it’s genre. I do tend to gravitate towards fantasy a lot. I also find books with a political slant appealing, most particularly of the dystopian variety, but my interest is broader than that would suggest. I enjoy a lot of classics (well, who doesn’t – a book has to be pretty darn good to stand the test of time and remain popular with generation after generation of readers). I like historical fiction, contemporary fiction, sci fi, thrillers, mysteries, horror, children’s fiction, and even the occasional romance. Pretty much the only thing I actively avoid would be erotica. Of course, that doesn’t mean I like every book I read ever. It just means I will give most books a chance. Sometimes this can cause a lot of frustration, because I can end up reading a lot of not-so-great books. Particularly with so much self-published material out there these days. There are some real gems out there, but sometimes you have to wade through a lot of detritus to find them. And even some of the rubbish contains much to redeem it, and I find myself wishing the author had had the benefit of a skilled editor, because there is so much promise there that failed to deliver. I should make clear, I am no writer myself. I sometimes feel guilty judging the works of others harshly when it is still vastly superior to anything I could write. On the other hand, I think it does the author no favours to give false praise. I believe criticism is something we all learn from, and can lead us to better achievements. So when I review I try to err on the side of frank criticism where I feel it is warranted. This is not meant to offend, but inform. I may not be able to write fiction myself, but I am quite capable of assessing my own enjoyment of it – and that is what I intend to express.

Currently reading

Death Comes to Pemberley
P.D. James
The Ladies' Paradise (Les Rougon-Macquart, #11)
Émile Zola
Under the Dome
Stephen King
Son of a Witch (Wicked Years, #2)
Gregory Maguire


We - Yevgeny Zamyatin The main criticism I have of this book isn’t actually a criticism at all, merely an unfortunate consequence of me being already familiar with 1984, a novel heavily influenced by We. However, despite the familiarity of the basic concept and plot, it was a very enjoyable read. The world Zamyatin describes through the eyes of the central character, D-503, is vividly and beautifully drawn. As the story progresses D-503′s perception of himself and the world he inhabits begins to change, generating a great deal of internal conflict, to the point where he regards himself as insane and unwell. It is in this conflict that we find the real heart of the story. D-503′s strong desire to conform, to do what he has always been taught is right, combating with his sense of self and his own desires and needs, is central to the narrative. We see his half-finished thoughts and sentences and contradictions. For me, it is this personal struggle that held my attention more than anything else. The wider narrative didn’t engage me as much because, ironically, it felt like it was treading old ground. I suppose it was inevitable I would feel that given so much of the dystopian literature I have read owes such a lot to this original work. However, despite that self-inflicted impairment to my appreciation of this book, I still found it a very worthwhile read and enjoyed it immensely. I heartily recommend reading it.