Book/reading drought.

(34 Posts)
DoItTooJulia Fri 19-Jul-13 21:04:33

I've been on maternity leave since November and I haven't really read much, despite really looking forward to the time off as I am usually such a bookworm!

I bought the Booker shortlist to read and have read a couple, but didn't really enjoy any. I tried Hilary Mantel, but didn't get through it.

Part of me wonders if its the baby brain syndrome stopping me, or whether I have just not got a good couple if books to hook me back in?

Anyone recommend anything good?

I love Atwood, Kingsolver, Orwell. I have enjoyed Julian Barnes, but not all of them. I loved the American Wife by CurtisSittingfeld, I enjoyed The Seamstress, Snowflower and the Secret Fan, The Life of Pi, Birdsong. I enjoy Isabelle Allende and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Help!

Oneforthemummy Fri 19-Jul-13 21:16:13

I felt exactly the same when I started maternity leave! I used to read on my commute and suddenly I didn't quite know when I was supposed to read. Before I had DD I just could not concentrate on anything - I had planned to read some classics that I thought I might never get the chance to read once DD arrived... War & Peace, maybe have a crack at Ulysses, but that just didn't happen. I watched trash tv, a lot of the Olympics and slept. It's only really now (DD turns 1 next month) that I am getting around to reading again. I've read a few books over the last 12 months, but on the whole they have been easy reads - crime/detective/historical fiction. I did feel a bit like I had just got out of the habit and reading a few 'easy' books helped me break that. I'm now about to settle down with Claire Tomalin's Dickens biography...

Have you read Curtis Sittenfeld's Prep? That's a bloody good read, whilst being light and easy to read too.

DoItTooJulia Fri 19-Jul-13 21:25:08

It's funny isn't it? Ds1 is 8, and I do remember going through something similar with him, and funnily enough it was around his first birthday that I started to read again. I set myself a target of 12 books a year, 2 of which need to be challenging. But I just haven't got the concentration span!

Easy books are so hard, I don't know where to start? Is the hunger games worth it?

DoItTooJulia Fri 19-Jul-13 21:26:25

I haven't read Prep, my mum has a copy and has offered it to me, but I didn't fancy it. See what I mean? I've become awkward and fussy, whereas 12 months ago I would have read anything!

Oneforthemummy Sat 20-Jul-13 08:25:26

I've had a copy of Prep on my shelf for about 2 years and it's never felt the 'right time' to read it. I actually put it on a pile for charity last week, but might have to just give it a go - so many people have recommended it! I think I'm worried it'll be like Donna Tartt's Secret History, but not as good.

Oneforthemummy Sat 20-Jul-13 08:27:44

I've not tried Hunger Games - not sure it's my kind of thing (although I guess you never know until you try). Books I read were things like Sophie Hannah, Elizabeth Jane Howard (The Cazalet series) and currently loving Barbara Pym.

DoItTooJulia Sat 20-Jul-13 08:33:10

Thanks for the recommendations, I might treat myself to some new books for over the summer.

I don't know about the Hunger Games either, it just seems popular and easy...

Oneforthemummy Sat 20-Jul-13 09:33:18

A trip to the bookshop might be a good idea - there's nothing quite like a brand new book!

The Hunger Games isn't worth it. The first one is readable, the second is ridiculous and the third is positively unreadable.

Have you read Barnes' Arthur and George? 'Flaubert's Parrot' is great fun too.

My favourite Allende is, 'Paula' and then her one about Chile, 'My Invented Country.' Both vastly superior to her novels imho.

All Quiet On The Western Front - very, very well written and very moving, but short and gripping so can be read quickly.

Evelyn Waugh - A Handful of Dust / Scoop / Vile Bodies = all v short but well written.

Bill Bryson is v funny and interesting, but v easy.

I quite like the Ladies' Detective Agency books for mindless escapism.

Or these little non-fiction books are good, for interesting and intelligent but not needing too big an investment of time because they are short. They are perfect for a train journey, for example.

greenhill Sat 20-Jul-13 17:29:25

Try short stories to get yourself back in the mood.

Or essays. I've just re-read Orwell's, 'Decline of the English Murder and other essays' and really enjoyed it.

superbagpuss Sat 20-Jul-13 17:46:51

Iain banks - the ones in black and white covers - you may like - but some of the are very rude

american gods - Neil gainman

Stephen king - the dome

David Mitchell - cloud atlas

all based around the fact you liked Atwood

DoItTooJulia Sat 20-Jul-13 19:26:14

Remus, I loved Arthur and George! Possibly because its local to me! I have Flauberts Parrot but haven't fancied it yet. Maybe that's the one I will start with? We have similar tastes? Any other recommendations?

I loved both of the Allende books, Paula was so moving.

I don't like the McCall books at all, (possibly because I read masses of African lit for my first degree).

Short stories....hmmm...never tried any! Any recommendations?

American Gods, never heard of. Will check it out.

Thanks all, any more ideas welcome!

Okay - other things I love include:

Lolita
A Clockwork Orange (but you have to steel yourself for it)
A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius
Jane Austen (Persuasion maybe?)
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (but be warned that the ending spoils it imho)
Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day is v sweet and light
Have you read, 'I Capture The Castle' before, or revisited as an adult?

Short stories - gotta be Conan Doyle!

Oh and if you liked A&G, you'll probably like This too.

DoItTooJulia Sat 20-Jul-13 19:32:11

Not read any except Clockwork Orange, great!

Conan Doyle grin

DoItTooJulia Sat 20-Jul-13 19:41:34

The Knife man floats my boat! Thank you!

DoItTooJulia Sat 20-Jul-13 19:42:58

And I like the look of the Brides in the Bath one!

highlandcoo Sun 21-Jul-13 12:47:48

You like a lot of the same authors as me smile

With that in mind, try Ann Patchett. Bel Canto, Run and State of Wonder are particularly good.

For something a bit lighter, I'd recommend Sue Gee. She's a writer who really deserves to be more widely known. The Mysteries of Glass to start with, and Thin Air. Earth and Heaven is excellent but very sad (child-related) so might not be a good one at the moment.

highlandcoo Sun 21-Jul-13 12:50:41

Oh, and because you liked Birdsong try My Dear I Wanted To Tell You by Louisa Young. Looks like chick-lit but it isn't - the cover does it a disservice IMO.

Also That Summer by Andrew Greig, WW2 and the Battle of Britain related. Very good.

Galaxymum Sun 21-Jul-13 13:32:58

I went through a long period of not reading after DD was born - I worried I'd never get back into it. But nother friends with children a couple of years older reassured me I remember!

I would choose novels with strong characters and themes which interest you. I got back into reading with Sarah Dunant's historical novels and felt I was learning from her research as well as great characters and storylines. Then there is Rose Tremain or Sharon K Penman.

My read of the year is The Light Between Oceans - it is so emotional and fascinating details about a different era and life in a lighthouse - this completely swept me to a different world.

I also think writers like Maggie O'Farrell or See Gee can challenge you but it's not like ploughing into a 700 or 1000 page book that may daunt you when you have a little one!

Cherrypi Sun 21-Jul-13 14:54:02

Reread an old favourite maybe?

DoItTooJulia Sun 21-Jul-13 16:27:51

Thanks so much for the recommendations! And for the reassurance!

2 votes for Sue Gee....sounds like a must!

katydid02 Sun 21-Jul-13 16:37:07
greenhill Sun 21-Jul-13 18:44:36

Thanks katy I've just downloaded that smile

Julia I read a lot of books when I was b'feeding during the night, but it tailed off when my DC became toddlers (and I've read a lot more newspapers online since I've had an iPad). However, I'm on the "50 book challenge" thread and that has motivated me to read novels again, whether paper copies or on my kindle.

I think your interests change when you have older DC too, because their demands take up so much of your time (and headspace) too.

DoItTooJulia Sun 21-Jul-13 18:48:31

I just downloaded that, great!

I think that's it greenhill, headspace. I have an 8 year old ds too, so I am pretty busy and my headspace can cope with mumsnet, news, a couple of random blogs and that's about it!

But I want to be lost in a book!

greenhill Sun 21-Jul-13 18:55:19

YY completely understand where you are coming from julia I normally manage MN, news and a browse through Amazon in a day.

I have Hilary Mantel on the go, a crime novel and have been half heartedly flicking through The Spectator, but it is too hot to concentrate on any of them...

If you've been off reading for a while, personally I don't think that Hilary M is going to be the best place to start. Her writing is very wearing imo.

Short and gripping is the way forward!

greenhill Sun 21-Jul-13 19:01:36

Yes, remus HM has to be read in long chunks, so you are immersed in it. I'm dipping in and out of Bring Up The Bodies and it isn't working as well as Wolf Hall did, because I read that over a weekend.

DoItTooJulia Sun 21-Jul-13 19:06:49

I was halfway through wolf hall when I had to go to hospital for an induction. I haven't picked it up since and that was almost 9 months ago.

I wasn't enjoying it. I didn't warm to any of the Thomas's at all!

Lovemynailstoday Sun 21-Jul-13 19:19:51

Based on a MN recommendation I have just read a couple of Dorothy Whipple books. They are lovely--written in the 30s/40. Hard to explain the tone really--just gentle tales of domestic life in that period but with quite strong plot lines. Not too deep but very intelligently written.

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