Is there anyone else on here who didn't love The Book Thief?

(265 Posts)
TunipTheVegedude Sun 07-Jul-13 20:54:58

I was told to persevere with it and I'm now 63% through and it's annoying me more than ever.
I'm finding it pretentious and dull and while some of the characters are fine, the girl is totally unconvincing - she reads like someone has sat down and decided on some interesting characteristics to give her ('I know! I'll make her good at fighting and football!') rather than the character growing naturally.
Is it going to get better in the last 37%?

issimma Sun 07-Jul-13 20:58:25

I've just finished it, but I loved it, I'm afraid! Did find it pretentious to begin with, but soon got used to the style and couldn't put it down.
Don't persevere if you don't like it though, life's too short!

Never got past the first chapter despite three attempts.

IThinkOfHappyWhenIThinkOfYou Sun 07-Jul-13 21:01:39

I liked it but I'm struggling to get through The Woman in Black. People kept telling me it was scary sad

Give up if you don't like it. I liked it from the beginning but if you didn't then you aren't going to suddenly start enjoying it.

Kasbaah Sun 07-Jul-13 21:07:46

Just go with the flow, it's so unusual

CoteDAzur Sun 07-Jul-13 21:13:33

The Book Thief was published as a "young adult" book - i.e. for teenagers. It is a fine introduction to the holocaust if you are a teenager, but seriously, after the age of 25 or so, haven't we all read/watched so many better works on that subject?

One would expect that Death as a character at the very least would have something interesting to say. You know, as the timeless predator that has carried everyone to their end, kind of like vampire Lestat in Interview With The Vampire. But no, Death was rambling on like a mindless android about the colour of this, the colour of that.

It doesn't get better in the last 1/3 either, OP.

MiddleAgeMiddleEngland Sun 07-Jul-13 21:14:42

I started it but didn't find it gripping enough and got distracted by other books. Will maybe give another go one day.

IThink The Woman in Black isn't very scary at all, although I probably wouldn't read it alone on a dark night. I've just bought Susan Hill's The Small Hand and wondering if that is scarier.

I have a BA and MA in English Literature and my allegedly educated opinion of it is that it is a pile of wank.

Hated it, don't finish it because I did and the overriding feeling at the end, beside a sense of utter relief that it was finally over, was regret that I would never get those hours back.

It is dreadful, tries to hard.

TunipTheVegedude Sun 07-Jul-13 21:25:06

Ha! Brilliant! Thanks everyone.

Tries too hard - yes, exactly.
When Max is painting over the pages of Mein Kampf to write his own story it's like MASSIVE BIG CLUNKING METAPHOR.

The only thing I like about it so far is the way Rosa is so unappealing at first and then you realise she's really heroic.

Cote - I read a lot of YA, I am generally not keen on literary fiction. AFAIK The Book Thief was not written as YA but publishers spotted a market and brought it out under YA imprints. I blame them for sneaking it into a category which is not normally weighed down by poncery.

LRDLearningKnigaBook Sun 07-Jul-13 21:29:53

Not read it - will have a look, thanks. smile

I have a BA, an MA and I'm just about to submit my PhD in English Literature, and in my educated opinion, it is just as difficult to write a good book for teenagers as for adults.

I agree, though, I find authors who try 'to hard' difficult to enjoy. I'd prefer it if they'd only put more effort into the basics and less into over-ambitious ideas. sad It is quite a common failing, though, and not limited to YA authors.

I liked it (and have an English degree, not that this seems relevant!). I liked Death.

The Woman In Black is a pile of crap though - about as scary as Thomas the Tank Engine.

BOF Sun 07-Jul-13 21:34:47

Well, I'm a tenured professor of English Literature, and I rather enjoyed it. Perhaps it just goes over some people's heads?

CoteDAzur Sun 07-Jul-13 21:35:08

I haven't even read YA when I was YA. Imho, Book Thief was not written for an adult audience - too shallow, too narrow and simple.

LRDLearningKnigaBook Sun 07-Jul-13 21:35:40

Sorry, you're quite right, it's not relevant.

I just find it sad that we have to be sneering at stuff not being sufficiently grown-up or being too 'try hard'.

Maybe the heat is putting me in a foul mood.

TunipTheVegedude Sun 07-Jul-13 21:35:40

I quite like The Woman In Black and it did scare me.
It's just a modern pastiche of a Victorian ghost story and it's not as good as the best Victorian ghost stories by any means but it worked for me.

LRDLearningKnigaBook Sun 07-Jul-13 21:36:15


Cross posted, and just see my point proven.

BOF, excuse me while I curtsey.

LRDLearningKnigaBook Sun 07-Jul-13 21:36:41

I loved the film of Woman in Black - that is really scary.

Is the book better, or worse?

imademarion Sun 07-Jul-13 21:37:18

I couldn't be arsed to finish it; thought it was self-regarding twaddle, and I will pretty much read everything and anything.

Emperors New Clothes.

Gave it away half way through.

CoteDAzur Sun 07-Jul-13 21:37:53

Tell us, Professor BOF, what subtle literary achievement was in The Book Thief that has gone over our heads? I would really like to know smile

The Daniel Radcliffe film? I loathed it. It didn't scare me at all, and I am a super-wuss usually.

LRDLearningKnigaBook Sun 07-Jul-13 21:39:32

Oh, really, remus? sad

I loved it. I am a giant wuss though. And I have a paranoia about that sort of idea, so it played on me being scared.

I clearly need to read the book. smile

itsallshitandmoreshit Sun 07-Jul-13 21:41:30

I hated it. I found it weak, childish and boring and struggled to finished it.

I'm not sure why people liked it so much but then you could say that about any book I guess smile

BOF Sun 07-Jul-13 21:42:47

I think you either get it or you don't, Côte...

<shakes head sadly>

LRD - if you liked the film, I'm sure you'd like the book. The end of the film is v different to the book though.

LRDLearningKnigaBook Sun 07-Jul-13 21:45:17


TunipTheVegedude Sun 07-Jul-13 21:49:59

I am interested to know what you liked about it BOF. In a totally open-minded, what-am-I-missing kind of way.
I don't read much literary fiction but I don't assume that's because it's all rubbish, just that it's not my thing.

I loved it, but then as a single Mum on benefits, what would I know.

Mind you, it did make a change from my usual reading, the Sun. (Paper, rather than the large hot thing in the sky)

I thought it was a beautiful book. I read it a few years ago. Thoughtful and graceful in my opinion.

Khara Sun 07-Jul-13 22:24:27

I hated it - don't know why - but I didn't finish it and I never don't finish a book.

IThinkOfHappyWhenIThinkOfYou Sun 07-Jul-13 22:30:08

I liked the foster mother, she is very like my mil

I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it. I don't think I'd read it again.

Floralnomad Sun 07-Jul-13 22:31:38

I loved it ,but I'm not really a big reader and tend to dislike things other people like ( curious incident of the dog for example) . Now Cloud Atlas I gave up on after the first few pages .

milkwasabadchoice Sun 07-Jul-13 22:34:20

Loathed it. Ugh.

hackmum Mon 08-Jul-13 08:58:24

I didn't like it. I particularly disliked the conceit of using Death as a character.

valiumredhead Mon 08-Jul-13 09:05:36

Never been able to get past third chapter or so and I've tried a few times. Have given up now!

MissAnnersley Mon 08-Jul-13 09:19:02

I've picked it up a few times but have never got past the first two or three pages. I kept giving up because I didn't understand it. blush

SoupDragon Mon 08-Jul-13 09:22:42

I enjoyed it but I'm not entirely sure I understood it completely.

Rather nicely, I actually "stole" the book from the supply in out holiday villa a couple of years back smile I did leave several of mine behind though.

TunipTheVegedude Mon 08-Jul-13 09:36:16

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about books taking that sort of mythic approach to the Holocaust.
The conceit of Death taking the people makes the whole thing feel inevitable and takes away some of the sense of human responsibility for what happened. It's oddly cozy and morally I'm afraid it might be a bit of a cop-out.

AnonYonimousBird Mon 08-Jul-13 09:39:17

I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it. I felt the need to finish it, but wasn't that bothered.

I didn't mind it, but there are many better books out there that address the holocaust using mythic tropes - Jane Yolen's novel Briar Rose and short story Sister Death, for example.

TunipTheVegedude Mon 08-Jul-13 09:50:43

Thanks for the tip, Uptheairymountain <makes note>

Trills Mon 08-Jul-13 09:58:01

I thought it was quite meh. I read it a year or two ago and I don't really remember it much at all.

lljkk Mon 08-Jul-13 10:03:34

I loved it, I guess I just bought into the magical realism and the way the girl was emotionally stunted, forced to just survive. A lot of it is portrait of ordinary poor Germans caught up on an ideological maelstorm they can't see objectively. Interviews with the author are good, too.

If you don't like, just move on quickly! Something like The Woman in White would be dull & turgid to me. Isn't it great we're all different & like different things?

TunipTheVegedude Mon 08-Jul-13 10:06:23

I'm 82% through now. I'm going to skim the rest.

I love The Woman In White grin

Clawdy Mon 08-Jul-13 14:06:19

I read it,quite enjoyed it then re-read it for a book group a couple of years later. The second time,I loved it.

IThinkOfHappyWhenIThinkOfYou Mon 08-Jul-13 14:34:25

The Woman in White is fabulous, certainly knocks the Woman in Black into a cocked hat.

CoteDAzur Mon 08-Jul-13 16:11:58

"I think you either get it or you don't. <shakes head sadly>"

What is sad is that you call yourself a Professor of English Literature but are unable to explain what you feel has gone "over our heads" in a book written for teenagers fgs hmm

I hope your students get slightly more intellectual replies from you in class than "either you get it or you don't".

TunipTheVegedude Mon 08-Jul-13 16:21:07

I'm not sure BOF still teaches students formally, I think she's in one of those very senior posts where she just sits on funding councils, runs her department and gets loads of study leave.

LRDLearningKnigaBook Mon 08-Jul-13 16:22:20

How dare you? angry

I learned everything I know at BOF's knee.

Or, you know, the professorly equivalent of knees.

Hullygully Mon 08-Jul-13 16:23:15

I couldn't get past the first paragraph

Intensely irritating and twee

BOF Mon 08-Jul-13 16:23:25

Absolutely. I'm all about the ivory tower.

LRDLearningKnigaBook Mon 08-Jul-13 16:24:32

Is that an ivory tower, or are you just pleased to see me?

I'll get my coat.

Hullygully Mon 08-Jul-13 16:25:36

<knock's Boffy's mortar board across the quad>

Hullygully Mon 08-Jul-13 16:26:12


dear lord

please forgive that apostrophe

Trills Mon 08-Jul-13 16:27:53

I enjoy teenage books, if they are good ones, and I think there are many more good ones about now than when I was a teenager.

LRDLearningKnigaBook Mon 08-Jul-13 16:28:45

It's fine, hully. In fact in the ancient proto-Anatolian such apostrophes were de rigueur, and it is awfully johnny-come-lately to object to them.

So I hear from Prof Bof, anyway.

LRDLearningKnigaBook Mon 08-Jul-13 16:29:36

Cross posted with a serious point. blush

I agree trills. I think there is a lot of brilliant writing for teenagers around. In fact I think it's a pity MN seems only to have adult fiction and children's fiction - unless I'm missing the YA section?

BOF Mon 08-Jul-13 16:29:43

A friend of mine who writes had a blog post I'd like to share, as it sums up my feelings:

"And people should read books. Books are good.

But many are intimidated. One of the reasons people are put off reading is snobbery. You know, the snobbery that says opera and lacrosse and Pinot Noir and jazz fusion and quails' eggs and literary fiction are for certain types of people and them alone?

There is something innately snobby about the world of books. There is the snobbery of literary over genre, of adult books over children's, of seriousness over comedy, of reality over fantasy, of Martin Amis over Stephen King. And it is unhealthy. If books ever die, snobbery would be standing over the corpse.

So here is my message to book snobs:

1. People should never be made to feel bad about what they are reading. People who feel bad about reading will stop reading.

2. Snobbery leads to worse books. Pretentious writing and pretentious reading. Books as exclusive members clubs. Narrow genres. No inter-breeding. All that fascist nonsense that leads commercial writers to think it is okay to be lazy with words and for literary writers to think it is okay to be lazy with story.

3. If something is popular it can still be good. Just ask Shakespeare. Or the Beatles. Or peanut butter.

4. Get over the genre thing. The art world accepted that an artist could take from anywhere he or she wanted a long time ago. Roy Lichtenstein could turn comic strips into masterpieces back in 1961. Intelligence is not a question of subject but approach.

5. It is harder to be funny than to be serious. For instance, this is a serious sentence: 'After dinner, Alistair roamed the formal garden behind this unfamiliar house, wishing he had never betrayed Lorelei's trust.' That took me eight seconds to write. And yet I've been trying to write a funny sentence for three hours now, and I'm getting hungry.

6. Many of the greatest writers have been children's writers.

7. It is easy to say something to people who are exactly like you. A bigger challenge lies in locating that universal piece of all of us that wants to be wowed, and brought together by a great story. There isn't a human in the world who wouldn't enter the Sistine Chapel and not want to look up. Does that make Michelangelo a low-brow populist?

8. It does not matter about who the author is. The only thing a book should be judged on is the words inside.

9. Martin Amis once moaned on the radio that there were too many writers talking across the table to their readers rather than down to them. This was the point I went off Martin Amis.

10. You don't have to be serious about something to be serious about something.

11. You don't have to be realistic to be true.

12. You are one of 7,000,000,000 people in the world. You can never be above all of them. But you can be happy to belong.

13. The only people who fear people understanding what they are saying are people who have nothing really to say.

14. Books are not better for being misunderstood, any more than a building is better for having no door.

15. Shakespeare didn't go to university, and spelt his name six different ways. He also told jokes. (Bad ones, true, but you can't knock him for trying.)

16. Avoiding plot doesn't automatically make you clever. (See: Greene, Tolstoy, Shakespeare.)

17. Freedom is a process of knocking down walls. Tyranny is a process of building them.

18. There can be as much beauty in short (words, sentences, paragraphs, chapters) as long. Sparrows fly higher than peacocks.

19. Snobs are suckers, because they have superficial prejudices.

20. The book I am least proud of, that I didn't work hard enough on, was my most ostentatiously highbrow one.

21. Reading a certain book doesn't make you more intelligent any more than drinking absinthe makes you Van Gogh. It's how you read, as much as what you read.

22. Never make someone feel bad for not having read or not read something. Books are there to heal, not hurt.

23. Imagination is play. Snobbery is the opposite of play.

24. I used to be a snob. It made me unhappy.

25. Simple isn't always stupid. When I write a first draft it is complicated. There is mess. The second and third and fifteenth drafts try and get it to make sense, to trim away the frayed edges.

26. Stephen King was right. Books are 'portable magic'. And everyone loves magic.

27. Inclusion is harder than exclusion. Just ask a politician.

28. The brain can absorb many things. So can a novel.

29. For me, personally, the point of writing is to connect me to this world, to my fellow humans. We are all miles apart. We have no real means of connecting except via language. And the deepest form of language is storytelling.

30. The greatest stories appeal to our deepest selves, the parts of us snobbery can't reach, the parts that connect the child to the adult and the brain to the heart and reality to dreams. Stories, at their essence, are enemies of snobbery. And a book snob is the enemy of the book."

TunipTheVegedude Mon 08-Jul-13 16:31:50

Definitely, Trills. The quality of the writers who write for teens now is phenomenal. It's not surprising so many YA books have crossed over to adult readers.

Hullygully Mon 08-Jul-13 16:32:00

yeah but the Book Thief is still shite innit

Hullygully Mon 08-Jul-13 16:32:51

shite is shite, boffy

if it looks like shite, smells like shite, has shite sentences, construction, characterisations, story etc.

LRDLearningKnigaBook Mon 08-Jul-13 16:32:51

Amen to that, BOF.

Hullygully Mon 08-Jul-13 16:34:20

I would agree that accessible does not equal lowbrow, but not that all reading is of equal worth.

No way no how no no

nenevomito Mon 08-Jul-13 16:34:25

I'm reading Spongebob goes Jellyfishing at the moment.

BOF Mon 08-Jul-13 16:37:33

Yes, shite is shite. But I still find it rude and bizarrely up one's own arse to loudly dismiss the taste of people one clearly considers to be intellectual amœbae.

Unless it's about 50 Shades Of Grey, of course.

LRDLearningKnigaBook Mon 08-Jul-13 16:37:40

Regrettably, that might go in the 'not so highbrow' pile, baby. grin

But I agree with hully. Everything isn't equally good, but dismissing something because of it's genre or because it was written for the YA market just seems mean-spirited to me.

FWIW I can't get into Book Thief at all - I'd like to say I loved it but I had a look in Waterstones earlier and it makes me itch just flipping through it. I'm entirely willing to believe that's me, though.

Hullygully Mon 08-Jul-13 16:39:32

I prefer Bakhtin's definition of genre.

LRDLearningKnigaBook Mon 08-Jul-13 16:42:49

Which is?

I will admit I have read quite a lot of Bakhtin and got DH to explain it to me when I suspect the translation of being piss-poor, and I still have no clue what he might have said or meant about genre.

I liked the bit where he talked about piss-ups having cultural significance as 'carnivalesque' episodes. :-)

HomeHelpMeGawd Mon 08-Jul-13 16:44:02

If you'd like to read other books about the Holocaust, I've always thought that Maus by Art Spiegelman and The Last of the Just by Andre Schwarz Bart are staggeringly good.

TunipTheVegedude Mon 08-Jul-13 16:44:34

I just went off to Google and couldn't make head or tail of it blush
<returns with relief to well-thumbed copy of Twilight>

Hullygully Mon 08-Jul-13 16:44:46

Put simply, genre, said Medvedev, “is a specific way of visualising a given part of reality,” It is not a generative grammar, it cannot be broken down and analysed into determinable component parts, but is, as Bakhtin described it, a “form-shaping ideology,” a way of seeing the world that develops as a result of the author’s experience of the world.

(Paraphrased from me)

TunipTheVegedude Mon 08-Jul-13 16:45:21

Yes, Maus is brilliant.

Hullygully Mon 08-Jul-13 16:45:25

Soz, Medvedev is in there because Bakhtin built on his concept.

LRDLearningKnigaBook Mon 08-Jul-13 16:46:20

Yeah, that doesn't help me. Not even a teeny bit.

Put simply, I think it's a bollocksy way of over-reifying parlour-game attempts to categorise things.

But excuse me if you think it's brilliant. I'm sure you're right.

Hullygully Mon 08-Jul-13 16:46:33

So even more simply, books are linked into genres by their authors' world views and the form this then takes.

Hullygully Mon 08-Jul-13 16:47:36

Really lrd?

It makes complete sense to me...

BOF Mon 08-Jul-13 16:48:19

I was delving into a bit of Daktarin the other day. I only saw the stuff about warts though.

Hullygully Mon 08-Jul-13 16:49:13

Didn't Daktarin do safari type stuff?

LRDLearningKnigaBook Mon 08-Jul-13 16:49:31

Really, yes.

Hullygully Mon 08-Jul-13 16:49:57


LRDLearningKnigaBook Mon 08-Jul-13 16:50:54

Don't worry, you can simply write me off as one of those ignorant medievalists who doesn't know Proper Lit.

Nothing I study ever won the Booker, so god knows it must be crap. grin

CoteDAzur Mon 08-Jul-13 16:51:49

BOF - So, basically, you have come and said that we didn't get The Book Thief, and that it must have gone over our heads. And now rather than explain what you meant, you want people to read a 1000-word essay about snobbery.

Brilliant grin

LRDLearningKnigaBook Mon 08-Jul-13 16:54:13


Is the Book Thief actually shorter than 1000 words?

Or do you always need the Readers' Digest version?

I thought that post was really pertinent. I don't follow why it should be dismissed just because it isn't a twitter-length soundbite.

book thief vair disappointing. Boy with striped pajamas, however, superb.

The book thief seemed to me a book by creative writing course numbers...

BOF Mon 08-Jul-13 16:56:22

Cote- I am pulling your leg, lighten up.

I think it has an essential lack of integrity that was insulting.

TunipTheVegedude Mon 08-Jul-13 16:59:48

How do you mean, Madame?

Its where the concept of the book overrides the experience of it.

"I want to write a book about the holocaust, and I am going to use one central conceit to carry my philosophical apercues, and to make sure everybody knows what I am talking about I am going to use every overused concept to do with childhood, war and the holocaust, and draw upon magical realistic techniques to underline the ambiguity of the experience of reality in situations of horror. I will make a really good plot plan and I will stick to it. I will overwrite it, however, and lose the heart of my story through my concentration on technique.

It was, at heart, an empty experience for me. I think the author drowned the book in cleverness and faux naivity.

TunipTheVegedude Mon 08-Jul-13 17:09:12

Thank you!

I get what you are saying.

Hullygully Mon 08-Jul-13 17:09:13


shite, see?


Oh no I liked it but can't remember much about it. But then I only went up to English A level. I also didn't sleep for nearly 2 years and think it caused irreversible damage. I can barely follow a mumsnet thread let alone critique a book.

ZZZenagain Mon 08-Jul-13 17:11:24

when I first started reading it,I thought it was an interesting way of writing but I soon got annoyed with both the style and the content.

LRDLearningKnigaBook Mon 08-Jul-13 17:12:19

I think (and I did only flip through it despite wanting to get into it as a result of this thread) that the author was enjoying himself too much. It was too lush and sensory, and I found that odd with the subject matter. I don't know if that's similar to what you're saying about the whole book, madame, but when you say it, it definitely strikes a chord.

It's odd because I've read books about horrible events that were very sensory and stylistically fancy, but didn't make me feel a bit disgusted.

The author was showing off and it showed, basically. Hence the feeling of disgust. I felt I was colluding with narcissism.

hackmum Mon 08-Jul-13 17:16:22

That's brilliant, MadameDefarge, that's what I thought too. I think.

I also like HullyGully's succinct summing-up.

All those years of reading slush piles and writing reports and book reviews has paid off finally!!!

CoteDAzur Mon 08-Jul-13 17:18:51

BOF - Not really, you are not. But you can't be bothered to engage in a talk about the book and I can't be bothered to read your friend's verbose blog post, so that's that, I guess.

LRDLearningKnigaBook Mon 08-Jul-13 17:21:25


You need to change your name to ColludingWithNarcissism.

CoteDAzur Mon 08-Jul-13 17:22:04

"the author was enjoying himself too much. It was too lush and sensory, and I found that odd with the subject matter"

I'm just amazed that you can say so much about a book that you have not read.


The thing is, artistic intent, is by its nature, a narcisissitic enterprise. The good writer can allow a book to grow from this er, pile of shite, and create a work which is independent of the author's desire. it can stand alone.

Of course there are also works of fiction which play very cleverly with the notion of author and intent. Perec, for instance, was fascinating because he wanted to banish the authorial voice.

cote, if you want to engage with someone who has read it, there are plenty of us here. Why bother having a tiff with BOF?

CoteDAzur Mon 08-Jul-13 17:26:31

I agree with you, Madame, although have to say that I didn't see that much cleverness in it.

Hully's assessment is pretty spot on, too.

scottishmummy Mon 08-Jul-13 17:27:16

If I don't get a book or dislike it,I don't persist
Life too short to read a book you dislike

BOF Mon 08-Jul-13 17:27:28

I am, in so far as I am not actually a professor of anything, but was sending up the pomposity of the intellectual credential-flashing going on.

You are right though that I cba. It's bloody hot, and I read the book years ago and can barely remember it. I must dig it out though- it was a signed first edition that I got when I worked in a bookshop, so it might be worth a few bob now. That is if mumsnetters don't succeed in making it a byword for drivel grin.

I meant the "cleverness" of the author, rather than the book. sorry to be unclear about that..which of course was not clever because it showed.

don't you think my intellectual credentials are pretty, though, BOF?


CoteDAzur Mon 08-Jul-13 17:29:07

Madame - BOF has actually read it. She says if we didn't like it, it must have gone over our heads. I would just like to hear what it is that we have missed, but she does not want to tell us.

LRD, on the other hand, has not read it. That quote was from LRD's post.

greenhill Mon 08-Jul-13 17:30:03

The story tried to shoe horn too many events from WW2 into it, as if there was a tick list of incidents that had to be mentioned: no analysis, no real background, then rush on to the next thing.

Also Death was such a mystical, child like character, that I dreaded having to read those overly simplistic, yet florid segments.

I've read a lot of fiction over the years and there didn't seem to be anything fresh in there; also I read Austerlitz by W G Sebald around the same time and was blown away by that.

I have an English Literature degree, but that doesn't make me snobby about books! I've read tons of Mills and Boon, Jilly Cooper, M C Beaton, thrillers etc.

You see SM's post is interesting, because she has forsaken her customary three line style and gone for a two line "gavel'-like brevity.

<<climbs up own arse>>

LRDLearningKnigaBook Mon 08-Jul-13 17:31:27

Oh, yes, she's quite correct.

I was talking about why I was put off.

It is certainly true that, if I were a student, I'd conscientiously force myself to read every word, instead of sitting in Waterstones' cafe reading through. But I started reading and this is why I gave up. I thought that was a fair response to the OP.

Did I misunderstand?

cote, Really I do think BOF was teasing.

LRD, seems pretty spot on to me. If it was so turgid you gave up, there is an opinion in itself.

When I was reading the slush piles at various places I knew within a couple of pages whether it was worth reading further.

CoteDAzur Mon 08-Jul-13 17:35:14

"I read the book years ago and can barely remember it"

And that would be why you said it must have gone over our heads, along with "you either get it or you don't. <shakes head sadly>". Because you don't even remember it.


Maybe read it again and then we can have a conversation about it and see what has gone over whose head.

LRDLearningKnigaBook Mon 08-Jul-13 17:36:09

Thanks madame.

Is it fair to say YA novels often have to hook readers more quickly? I did wonder about that bit as I know I will sometimes try to trawl through a duller introduction for a book that's just physically a bit longer.

BOF Mon 08-Jul-13 17:37:27

Cote-^I was joking^...<gives up>

cote, you are now impeding our narrative flow....

I feel the YA is a red herring. Good writing, (in whatever genre) will hook you within paragraphs, I find.

CoteDAzur Mon 08-Jul-13 17:41:07

greenhill - I agree with you, especially re your first two paragraphs.

Mintyy Mon 08-Jul-13 17:41:34

Cote - the Prof Bof was being ironic. You do know that?

Mintyy Mon 08-Jul-13 17:43:14

Sorry, should I have mentioned that I have won the Nobel Prize for Literature, The Booker (twice), The Orange in its inaugural year, and a Blue Peter Badge for writing a good story.

LRDLearningKnigaBook Mon 08-Jul-13 17:44:27

Fair enough, madame, very likely I'm overly keen to excuse bad writing when it's won awards. I think we all do it.

LRDLearningKnigaBook Mon 08-Jul-13 17:44:58

grin It's the Blue Peter badge that makes it.


greenhill Mon 08-Jul-13 17:46:17

mintyy that's even better than Hilary Mantel and she always divides opinion...either her stuff is too long or people are hanging on her every word wink

thaliablogs Mon 08-Jul-13 17:46:50

didn't liike the book thief. Gave up at about 75% of the way through (same as you now). Don't feel bad about it at all even though I nEVER stop reading books. This was the one that proved me wrong.

Mintty, you forgot the Smarties Award when you were at school, the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, and of course, the Pulitzer, for your searing indictment of global cartels in your seminal work, "Where Have All the Artisans Gone?" It made me cry.

Hullygully Mon 08-Jul-13 17:46:59



Mintyy Mon 08-Jul-13 17:48:45

Oh yes of course! I won that Smarties Prize when it really meant something

<wistful smile>

Hullygully Mon 08-Jul-13 17:48:54

I don't have no prizes

But I calls a spade a spade I do

<chews baccy ruminatively>

Or should that be "ovarian' work?

BOF Mon 08-Jul-13 17:49:38

You lot are cracking me up grin

greenhill Mon 08-Jul-13 17:50:00

If it was recommended by Richard & Judy that would be good enough for me...

Hullygully Mon 08-Jul-13 17:50:31

I'd go with just Richard

He always shows good judgment

I just go with Dick.

<<dives into sewer>>

LRDLearningKnigaBook Mon 08-Jul-13 17:52:23

I'm petitioning MNHQ to replace the Christmas appeal with a new-style Booker, current longlist BOF, Mintyy, Hully, MadameD and Cote, with possible newbie challenge from Kusak.

Who's with me?

hm, might be a conflict of interest to nominate oneself!

<<runs off to buy new frock for award ceremony>>

<<wanders down memory lane, dragging Mintty with her>>

Those booker parties used to rock!!!!

I think it should be like the Whitbread (or whatever it's called now)

I suggest a category entitled

"Best Refusal to be Amused on A Thread"

juneau Mon 08-Jul-13 17:59:37

I didn't love it either. It was okay. It passed the time. But I haven't recommended it to anyone else.

Hullygully Mon 08-Jul-13 18:11:57

<impales MMe on her passing Dick and grabs prize>

Hully, you are too kind!

TunipTheVegedude Mon 08-Jul-13 18:18:44

Hey, my thread ended up brilliant! grin

Of course LRD can say the prose was too lush and sensory based on a quick flip through. You can comment on the prose style from reading a sample. If she'd been criticising the structure without having read it that would be different.

Hullygully Mon 08-Jul-13 18:18:45

I am, it has always been my downfall <simpers prettily>

LRDLearningKnigaBook Mon 08-Jul-13 18:29:24


Oh my lord, we've crossed over into sub-Bronte rude story territory. I trust we all have mob caps at the ready.

Thanks, tunip, for not getting infuriated that I didn't read the whole thing.

<<slaps Hully gently with the MD patented love tap>>

no simpering here, missus, pretty or otherwise.

LRD, take a peek at the IPOAT's mob cap heaven!

SunshineBossaNova Mon 08-Jul-13 18:48:02

I read it a couple of years ago, was a bit 'meh' about it.

Hullygully Mon 08-Jul-13 19:20:10

That Kite Runner is shite too but Thousand Syrupy Suns with drooping Maryam is even worse

I wonder if Khaled Hussein has ever actually met a real live woman in his life.

And don't give me no kulcher shite

don't get me started on Maryam. Drippy drippy drip.

I quite liked the Kite Runner. But it def comes under easy reading.

LRDLearningKnigaBook Mon 08-Jul-13 19:44:51

What does IPAOT stand for?

Trills Mon 08-Jul-13 19:49:59

Kite Runner also meh, also forgotten.

I liked The Kite Runner but loathed A Thousand Turgid Suns.

Hully, tell LRD what IPOAT is..


CoteDAzur Mon 08-Jul-13 20:17:12

Oh God, 1000SS was truly awful. Glorified chick-lit.

Its author knows less about Afghanistan and Islam than he does about women, having left the country as a child to go be an American in San Francisco.

I have noticed that fans of The Book Thief also tend to like 1000SS. I have heard it said in adoring tones that both books make the reader cry buckets.

hackmum Mon 08-Jul-13 20:18:15

Insane Posters On A Thread. Even I know that, and I'm not even Mumsnet royalty.

Who'd have thought a fred in adult fiction would turn out to be so much fun...

LRDLearningKnigaBook Mon 08-Jul-13 20:22:24


Thanks hack.

You have been on MN longer than me, to be fair. And MN royalty rarely share their secrets.

roundtable Mon 08-Jul-13 20:38:54

I've read it a while ago but I remember nothing about it. Which means it wasn't that great imo.

On the subject of ya literature, I've just reread His Dark Materials and loved it even more.

I want Peter Jackson to make it into a trilogy and replace that awful first film.

Hullygully Mon 08-Jul-13 20:38:55

oh get thee hence with yon royalty shite

I think book threads are always fun

we are /were having a lovely old chat on a fred about books pour moi just a day or so ago

Hullygully Mon 08-Jul-13 20:39:55

Except that I went a bit mad and bought 30 new books off mad bad amazon and let's not even count those hiding on the kindle

Shhh - don't mention HDM on a thread with Cote on! smile

CoteDAzur Mon 08-Jul-13 20:44:08

HDM was OK but I had expected more, I suppose.

I think I would have really loved it if I read it in my teens.

bollocks to royalty...everyone welcome on IPOAT...there is a splendid new recruit name of tallia or summat...

we have to fight MNHQ to allow us to be on AIBU otherwise we get shoved somewhere totally inaccessible where even we can't find it.

ITs a great sadness to me that no one ever refers to me as royalty, despite all my best efforts...not even with contempt.

<adjusts makeshift crown and tilts head>>

I've been here forever. I had no idea what IPOAT was and am as far from MN royalty as possible, I think. I'm not even a wrinkle in the red carpet of MN royalty.

Cote - I know you don't like YA books, but there really are some very well written ones nowadays. I like them as my, 'bath books' in the same way I'll revisit Conan Doyle for things I don't have to think about much, but which are not just trite nonsense.

TunipTheVegedude Mon 08-Jul-13 20:50:34

Don't demean lovely YA by attempting to sell it to Cote.
She should never ever read YA and then there will be all the more for me.

My DS is just turned 13, for the last couple of years we have been sharing books...there are some stonkers out there.

I recommend Charlie Grigson's zombie series. bloody brilliant.

As is Michael Grant...

There has been a real dystopian future thang going on, but its about over now in publishing.

Robert Murchamore, whom my ds loves, grates upon me terribly. I mean really really badly.

TunipTheVegedude Mon 08-Jul-13 20:54:30

You mean Higson.
Are they funny?

Yeah, Higson, DS always telling me off cos I get it wrong all the time. Read it wrong once, and its stuck!

Not funny, but set in London, and really thoughtful. And gripping. totally.

Michael Grant - the first couple are really good, but they get more and more clumsily written imho and the ending is daft.

Absolutely Remus. The last two were so disappointing. And the last one just was shite. But the first few were brill.

Trills Mon 08-Jul-13 21:00:57

I think the Gone series would have been better if nobody had powers. Would more people have died, or fewer?

Mr Higson, otoh, delivers consistantly.

As do the Time Riders series by Amex Scarrow. However I am worried he is going to same way as Michael Grant...

Alex Scarrow. Alex. Alex.

Haven't read the Higsons. Is he the same guy who did the Young Bonds? They were okay but got v samey.

TunipTheVegedude Mon 08-Jul-13 21:03:33

Yes, he did the Young Bonds. I read the first one. Enjoyed it but didn't feel the need to read more.

CoteDAzur Mon 08-Jul-13 21:04:17

Remus - I could read a YA book if you want to recommend one although you probably won't, seeing how I ranted about Dark Tower #2 grin .

I didn't dislike Book Thief because it is YA. I disliked it because it is badly written and a bit silly. And its Death is just an idiot.

My point about it being YA was that it is a subject that we (adults) have read quite extensively about, and that this is a relatively light and superficial account of the holocaust in comparison.

I really liked World War Z but haven't read any other zombie stuff.

I agree. The young Bond's didn't work for me really. Being Bond seemed totally irrelevant. Especially the weirdy schi fi bit about it.

Try the Higson books, he really has matured as a writer with his own material.

who write the wwz?

Yes, I really liked WWZ too. Most zombie books are so badly written that they are not worth bothering with, but I did enjoy The Passage. It's not YA but other than its length, it could be.

If I had to choose one YA to get you to try, I'd say either Across The Nightingale Floor (ancient Japanese warrior-esque) or The Knife Of Never Letting Go (dystopian, futuristic, totalitarian-esque).

roundtable Mon 08-Jul-13 21:08:43

Uh oh! Am I going to be ostracised from MN! grin

TunipTheVegedude Mon 08-Jul-13 21:10:30

Not The Knife of Never Letting Go.
The voice is very strong and it opens well but it lets you down.

we have the knife of never letting go..great start I agree...

I think there maybe a problem with trying to make a mini franchise...they all run out of steam before the end of the series

roundtable Mon 08-Jul-13 21:12:04

There should be a question mark there, sorry!

I thought Knife of and the next one were really good, and the third was crap.

It really reminded me of the Chrysalids in tone...

TunipTheVegedude Mon 08-Jul-13 21:14:34

Yes, I loved the first two Uglies books but never finished the last.
The less said about the last Hunger Games book the better.

The second Hunger Games was preposterous and the third was unreadable.

CoteDAzur Mon 08-Jul-13 21:15:31

I'm putting both in my Kindle wish list, thanks smile

roundtable, if disagreeing with another poster got one kicked off MN...well, where would we be?

Uglies do tell!

TunipTheVegedude Mon 08-Jul-13 21:20:01

Uglies is by Scott Westerfeld, who is also a grown-up scifi author.
It's set in a world where everyone gets plastic surgery on their 18th birthday so they're all pretty.

great. I will order the first one!

TunipTheVegedude Mon 08-Jul-13 21:22:19

Enjoy it! smile

CoteDAzur Mon 08-Jul-13 21:24:03

I live in a place where many people have had it, and have to say that nobody really becomes pretty after plastic surgery.

Uncanny Valley is a terrible place to live in.

roundtable Mon 08-Jul-13 21:24:32

grin madame!

Any other book recommendations? Hoping I get more sleep so I can read without falling asleep after the first page.

I read a good ya fantasy book at a school I worked at which needed a follow up but they didn't have it. No idea what was called though.

I quite enjoyed the book where they're underground and the power starts to go out. I probably have a simple mind, but I found it an easy read. Again, I can't remember the name but I remember the storyline.

TunipTheVegedude Mon 08-Jul-13 21:30:51

B.R.Collins. She's interesting. Often flawed in one way or other but make up for that by being weirdly haunting. I want to read her first one, The Traitor Game.

Hullygully Mon 08-Jul-13 21:49:07

Read Unwound for YA

dear lord it's creepy

One of those dystopian ones where if you don't like your teenage you can have em "unwound"

A good plan

Hullygully Mon 08-Jul-13 21:49:19


another one for the list

Trills Mon 08-Jul-13 21:57:53

Just bought Uglies.

Hully do you mean this one?

Clearly anything set in the future is now going to refer to Hunger Games on the cover.

TunipTheVegedude Mon 08-Jul-13 22:02:54

Oh God, I don't think I can quite cope with reading that, Hully.

paintyourbox Mon 08-Jul-13 22:04:03

Well I really didn't like The Book Thief. Tried four times to get into it and it was still too tight so gave up in the end.

I just couldn't get with the girls character. It's not like me to give up on a book but I was getting annoyed every time I picked it up!

Hullygully Mon 08-Jul-13 22:08:36

Yes that one.

My dc's copy has no ref to Hunger Games.

Of it's type, it's one of the better.

It was an odd summer, there were loads of them and the dc kept making me read them to share the horror.

Hullygully Mon 08-Jul-13 22:09:11

Oh yes we had Uglies too, but I had had enough by then.

Hullygully Mon 08-Jul-13 22:10:48

What's that awful one where a mobile phone is thrown off a tower block and gets embedded in a kid's head and there's terrible rape and violence and all sorts? He's written lots and people rave, dear lord I say again.

I did like How I Live Now a bit more

I ask you.

Hullygully Mon 08-Jul-13 22:13:41

iBoy by Kevin Brooks, ds tells me

just don't go there

Ugh - I didn't like How I Live Now much BUT it is far, far better than the other crap she's written - that Justin one and that boy who's a girl living in a tepee or whatever it is one were DREADFUL.

Hullygully Mon 08-Jul-13 22:26:51

There was a whole rash of books about girls being forced to get pregnant in the future. They got very tedious.

And not stolen from Margaret Atwood at all, no?! smile

Hullygully Mon 08-Jul-13 22:28:28


As if.

Hullygully Mon 08-Jul-13 22:33:49

Some books that don't say they are YA but crossover anyway are better. Like Curious Incident

CoteDAzur Mon 08-Jul-13 22:40:56

Curious Incident is very good.

BOF Mon 08-Jul-13 22:44:04

That's one I never got round to reading. Cote, what did you think of The Silver Linings Playbook?

CoteDAzur Mon 08-Jul-13 22:48:27

I didn't read or watch it. Romantic comedies aren't really my thing.

BOF Mon 08-Jul-13 23:28:23

The film gave it a more rom-com emphasis. The book was far more focussed on his development.

TunipTheVegedude Tue 09-Jul-13 07:09:38

I liked the Justin one and the girl in the shack by the sea. I couldn't finish the god-is-a-teenage-boy one.

Kevin Brooks is too dark and violent for me <feeble>.

Mal Peet is good, even the football ones.

Hullygully Tue 09-Jul-13 07:41:27

The Cuba one is very good - is that Mal Peet?

hackmum Tue 09-Jul-13 08:32:38

I was joking about the royalty! [Reminds self to use smiley emoticons in future.]

I know the thread has moved on a bit but my real objection to The Book Thief was the attempt to be thought of as being a Serious and Important book because it was about a Serious and Important subject. And it doesn't work like that, in my view. (I feel the same way about the film of Schindler's list.)

TunipTheVegedude Tue 09-Jul-13 08:41:18

Hackmum, do you know Joan Smith's essay in Misogynies about Sophie's Choice? She makes the same point.

You are all far too clever for me.

Interesting what Sauce said up thread, that 2 years of no sleep had addled her brain.

I think lack of sleep and too much wine have prevented me from having an intelligent debate about why I like or dislike a book.

But glad to hear I am not alone in not getting past the first chapter of The Book Thief.

TunipTheVegedude Tue 09-Jul-13 10:11:26

I've just bought that horrible book Hully. Couldn't stop myself.
Am I going to wish I hadn't?

TunipTheVegedude Tue 09-Jul-13 11:24:39

OK. 20% into it. It's very well written.

Hullygully Tue 09-Jul-13 13:21:01

I'm saying nowt

Exit I genuinely think so. I get worried how deteriorated my brain power is. I'm sure I used to be brighter. I read these threads to challenge myself!

I couldn't get along with Sophie's Choice. Thought it was twaddle. But that was years ago and pre kids. If probably love it now.

Sophie's World I was thinking of.

<resigns from thread in shame>

hackmum Tue 09-Jul-13 17:23:47

Tunip: "Hackmum, do you know Joan Smith's essay in Misogynies about Sophie's Choice? She makes the same point."

I have read Misogynies, but it was years ago, and I can't remember! I shall dig it out and find that one.

Hullygully Tue 09-Jul-13 17:30:07

I can't remember any details about Misogynies either, just that they are Bad

I quite like Kevin B. At least he's got a few original thoughts in his head (unlike Suzanne Collins) and doesn't think that lurve is everything (unlike Suzanne Collins, Stephanie I'm putting feminism back three centuries Myers and Malorie Blackman.

Clawdy Tue 09-Jul-13 18:05:41

I really liked The Book Thief. I really hated A Thousand Splendid Suns. Is that odd,then??

mixedmamameansbusiness Wed 10-Jul-13 10:55:49

I didn't think Silver Linings was rom-com. I have only seem the film. I thought it was a great take on mental health (I have a bizarre fascination with mental health).

CoteDAzur Wed 10-Jul-13 13:28:29

Well, IMDB and Wikipedia call it Romantic Comedy Drama.

If you are interested in mental health, I would recommend The Atrocity Exhibition by J G Ballard and Umbrella by Will Self.

BOF Wed 10-Jul-13 13:40:33

Yes, that's how the film is classified. I wouldn't call the novel genre fiction in that way though?

CoteDAzur Wed 10-Jul-13 16:21:15

mixedmama has only seen the film so we can safely assume that she was talking about the film, not the book.

This is an interesting read:Madness
And of course, The Woman In White, and One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest are obvious superb reads.

BOF Wed 10-Jul-13 17:52:38

I was reiterating my point that that is not a reason to dismiss the book, although I suspect it would not be your cup of tea anyway, Cote. Still, if we all liked the same things, the world would be a duller place.

nenevomito Wed 10-Jul-13 18:04:59

If you're interested in Mental Health, never, ever, EVER buy a book called Bipolar, Me? by John Barrett. It's a poorly written autobiography by someone who is an utter dickhead.

nenevomito Wed 10-Jul-13 18:06:32

If you're interested in Mental Health, never, ever, EVER buy a book called Bipolar, Me? by John Barrett. It's a poorly written autobiography by someone who is an utter dickhead.

An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison, however, is brilliant.

nenevomito Wed 10-Jul-13 18:07:04

ooh that's bizarre! It posted my half written post. V strange confused

CoteDAzur Wed 10-Jul-13 18:15:54

I wasn't dismissing the book. I was pointing out that the film is romantic comedy, as a reply to mixedmama.

Unless you're "joking" again, in which case Ha Ha wink

BOF Wed 10-Jul-13 18:19:47

Ah, my apologies. When you said that you had neither read nor watched it, I thought you might like to know that the book differs in emphasis. I was referring to the book when I brought it up, on this thread about books.

mixedmamameansbusiness Wed 10-Jul-13 20:45:59

Thanks for the mental health recommendations, will add them to my huge lists of various obsessions.

Hullygully Wed 10-Jul-13 21:39:19

there is a very good book about bipolar , something like My bipolar family ??

Do stop "joking" boffy

and do stop being all snippy Cote

mixedmamameansbusiness Wed 10-Jul-13 21:42:08

Hear hear Hully.

And again, Hully.


Mintyy Wed 10-Jul-13 21:52:27

<admires Hully's ability to casually mumsnet just prior to setting sail on months of foreign travel>

Haven't you got packing or organising or fridge emptying to do?

Hullygully Wed 10-Jul-13 21:55:33

Mostly done, am now drinking a lot and arguing with dh which is how we start every sojourn. Stradition.

mixedmamameansbusiness Wed 10-Jul-13 21:58:48

<<peaked interest>>
Hully where are you going?

Hullygully Wed 10-Jul-13 22:01:59

I'm going to Greece to sit in th es ea a lot and drink enough wine to obviate the crushing austerity <selfless>

mixedmamameansbusiness Wed 10-Jul-13 22:12:23

Ohhhhh enjoy.

Hullygully Wed 10-Jul-13 22:17:33

It's purely economic kindness. There is nothing in it for me. Except wine and ouzo.

Mintyy Wed 10-Jul-13 22:21:27

One of these days I'm going to grill you about Greece Hully.

But meanwhile, bon voyage wine

greenhill Wed 10-Jul-13 22:22:46

"Except wine and ouzo "... feta, genuinely ripe tomatoes, fresh herbs, baklava etc etc <stomach rumbles>


Giant butter beans
Greek salad
Aubergine dip
Lemon Fanta
Greek pizza with piles of feta
Little pumpkin or courgette fritters

So jealous...

Hullygully Wed 10-Jul-13 22:30:30

hate feta

but yy to the rest

Hullygully Wed 10-Jul-13 22:30:56

The best bit is they don't care about kids getting your jugs of wine for you...

so civilised

Hullygully Wed 10-Jul-13 22:33:28

And no one cares if you're an odd shape and sit in the sea with your beer.

The epitome of good living

Have a great time Hulls. I remember you broke down on the way last year.

<sounds like a stalker>

Colyngbourne Thu 11-Jul-13 07:46:47

I really disliked The Book Thief - over-written and sentimental, esp. Death. Everyone I knew thought the opposite. (This also happened with Year of Wonders.)

Dislike The Kite Runner similarly.

Yes to BR Collins (The Traitor Game is very good indeed), and to Unwind (a sequel is due any month now), and to Higson.

I'm afraid I dislike The Hunger Games but particularly the last book. The Knife of .... starts out well, but loses itself along the way and I thought the last book was a failure.

Another one who disliked and didn't finish the book theif.
I would like the wine and butter beans and ouzo if anyone is offering.
Ramadhan has started here - and everywhere else I suppose.
It's as dull as a dull thing.

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