Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Leapfrogging Books

Yes, I'm leapfrogging books again. What's leapfrogging? It's reading more than one book at a time.

I'm getting better about this because I used to have a book in each room and would simply pick up and read based on where I was sitting. My brain can't take that kind of thing anymore so I don't read any more than two books at a time.

Imagine my surprise when someone offered me a book to read and review. Hmmmmm, someone must have gotten word that I was housebound by the weather and without reading material. Yes, we have about 1,000 books in the house, stashed in various bookshelves in every room. Have I read them all? Mostly, but I draw the line at the Farmer's 1997 U.S. Tax Codes which is a little dry for my tastes.

Probably the number one reason the book fascinated me was the cover.


Look at that sumptuous fabric, those beautiful folds in the ball gown. Gosh, I'll never wear a ball gown in my life so this is the closest I'll get.

The book was sitting on the kitchen table when the Farmer spied it.

"What's that?"

"Someone sent me a book to read and review."

"It looks like fiction. You don't read fiction."

At this point I take a moment to think about his observation. Can the cover alone denote fiction. In the Farmer's case it can.

"I know, I know.... I don't really like fiction but I thought I'd give it another try. The book sounds fascinating. It's about Edward VIII, and you know how I love history."

The book is actually based on historical fact. When he was still the Prince of Wales and serving in World War I, Edward fell in love with a pretty Red Cross nurse. Although the woman was aristocratic (the daughter of a Duke), in the eyes of Edward's stern father she was a commoner and thus, he refused to allow them to marry. Rebecca Dean has taken those facts and created a fictionalized account.

The whole subject seems quite interesting in light of the fact that Edward's great-nephew is marrying a commoner with the blessings of the royals.

A short way into the book and I'm already in trouble. It really has nothing to do with authors, it has to do with the fact that I lack the ability to "suspend belief" and simply enjoy a story. It's me. The other problem is that I know too much. Seriously, my brain is jammed with thousands and thousands of bits of information that I may or may not ever need. That is why I was always captain of the trivia team when I worked at the local newspaper.

Here's an example of the type of trouble I get myself into when reading fiction. The author states that the main character steps over her chocolate colored lab. The brain comes to a screeching halt. Chocolate colored lab? I'm pretty sure that chocolate colored labs did not appear until the 1930's. A quick trip to the internet reveals that at the turn of the century labs were actually called St. John's water dogs and they were black.

Do you see how crazy I am? When reading fiction I'm often calling out loud for the author's home phone number because I'm wanting to quibble over pretty insignificant details. I'm crazy that way.

Anyway, I'll continue to read with interest and struggle to calm my crazy tendencies.

I'm pretty sure this post isn't exactly what the marketing group had in mind when they offered the book for my opinion. But...... I gotta be me!!


Anonymous said...

I read more than one book at a time too.
and I agree with you on reading historical fiction! I hate it when I read something and know that it wasn't possible for that to happen in that time period, I don't read a lot of it anyway, I more prefer contemporary fiction-and sometimes that has mistakes in it, too.

Lisa D. said...

Hehe! I had the same thought as the Farmer when I saw the cover of the book!
My husband reads like you, a chapter here and there, out of whatever book is closest. I can't - it's one book at a time, and I am completely immersed in it while reading, then another few days to live with the characters after the book is done. So, I don't end up reading too many books anymore, because I just don't have time for that kind of reading, but I devour magazines (Discover and Scientific American, and National Geographic) and the newspaper because I just love to read.
I like fiction, especially historical fiction, and I can suspend belief for a good author and a good story, but I can be like you with science fiction. I love Star Trek and Stargate, but their science can be irritating. And I would never read a book based on their story lines because the irritation is just magnified when reading a book over a longer time period than just a single episode on T.V. There you go - we all have our weird quirks!

bv said...

oh good grief...you read like my husband watches a movie..which is pretty much never as he get sooo bored really fast. "that can't be taking place in the 50's, look at the tail lights on that car!" and on and on...just relax kids! it is just a book, movie, tv show, etc

Donna said...

I don't usually read more than one book at a time, might have a magazine or 2 throughout house, but only 1 book.

My daughter a voracious reader since kindergarten, reads several books at a time. Fiction. How to keep all those characters and plots straight, it's beyond me.

I have a similar problem reading fiction, I am a stickler for details, when I know something is wrong, then I wonder about what else may be false.

I also rewrite blah sentences in my head. And wonder at an author who has a working class speak without contractions, ever?!

My favorite fiction series is Janet Evanovich, Stephanie Plum books. Too funny to quibble over facts, just fun reading. Escapism at its best.

Second Sun Press said...

I usually read two or three books at a time, but only one of them can be fiction. You can find adventure, romance, discovery, hardship - whatever you wish - in non-fiction ... and there's no need to suspend disbelief to enjoy it. In fiction, I prefer "historical" so you get some useful knowledge along the way. Sci-Fi is the worst.

On December 9th you wrote: "I heard recently from a reader who said that she discovered my blog through a friend, and that he loves to read my blog. I'm always mystified by this and I'm sure that almost everyone who blogs wonders what it is that people find in their words."

Well, it turns out I'm the "he" you referred to. "She" gave me a towel from your Etsy shop as an early Christmas gift. Very Nice! And your calligraphy is first rate too.

I'm not really sure why I like your blog. I dream of living in the country and you make it seem glamorous somehow. And you're non-fiction - I like that! I almost never comment because I don't have anything useful to add; but I'm still enjoying the conversation.

Vee said...

You'd be a wonderful asset to any author. A great person to have on the research team! I sometimes trip over these things, too, but it has to be glaring such as the book I read about Eleanor of Aquitane where a diner picked up her fork. Okay, no forks in that time period. Interesting bit of trivia with that chocolate lab bit. Oh, here's another one. My niece has a photo of her great-grandfather standing with his pet pug. That pug looks weird...mighty...by our standards. Its ears are hanging way down to its shoulders.

I read too many books at a time. I'm sure that I'm not appreciating any of them to the fullest.

Next time you get an offer like this, I hope that it is for good nonfiction. Do you enjoy memoirs?

Chris said...

For me it is always a history or a mystery. I cannot read most fiction. Usually I get a third of the way through the fiction book and think "Who cares about these characters?" and I toss the book! Mysteries on the other hand don't count as fiction. :-) And give me a good non-fiction history book any day. Love your blog!

Anonymous said...

i have the same problem as you in reading fiction. i do however enjoy really good historical fiction. they are harder and harder to find. there is a historical review website. i saw a posting that they were looking for readers with blogs to sign up to review books. i thought about it for about five minutes. i would have to create a blog. but then i am reading all the time why not write reviews? i got cold feet as there were too many titles of the harlequin romance type that were considered historical fiction. i cannot make myself get past the first page.

Janet said...

Hello, I totally understand your reaction to poorly researched writing and it is good for the marketing people to know that people do pay attention to historical detail.

I find that multiple errors makes me look more closely at the author's writing style and I am often less than impressed by the package.

It's good you are honest about it!