So summer rolls around, good intentions disappear, and I find myself writing blog posts like this one…
It’s a combination of reeeallly long hours at work (less said, the better) and now the tennis season is in full swing (yes, I’m keeping an eye on the French Open as I write this), I’ve just about enough time to lurk on other people’s blogs.
I’ve been reading though.
I stayed up way too late this week reading Ellen Emerson White‘s “Long May She Reign”, the fourth book in her President’s Daughter series. I read the first three books a couple of years ago now, and while I’d been meaning to get the fourth for ages, I never got around to it until now, which was rather silly of me. I finished it in one go, and it’s not a slim book by any means.
The reason why I’m still pondering my final feelings about this book is perhaps the overall tone and subject matter – LMSR essentially deals with the impact of the previous book’s traumatic events, and not just how they affected Meg, but also the fractures created in her family as a result. So it’s not always an easy read, but it was incredibly well-written and, I think, realistic – I felt as though I was there with Meg and I loved her wry sarcastic voice (I have to say at times, I was reminded of Ms White’s very different “Romance is a Wonderful Thing”). I closed the book believing Meg would triumph, partly because she (and her parents, brothers, and friends) had started to heal – but also because I had to, the alternative would have been too difficult to imagine.
I’ve also been reading James Anderson‘s country-house mysteries (“The Affair of the Bloodstained Tea Cosy”, “The Affair of the Mutilated Mink Coat”, and “The Affair of the 39 Cufflinks”) and I’m sad there’s only three of them. Lovely 1930s set whodunnits with an incredible number of red herrings, with the end solution brilliantly deciphered by the self-deprecating Inspector Wilkins.
And finally, on a completely different note, I read an article about reader doorways which fascinated me (apologies, this is not the actual article I first read and I (obviously) can’t remember who originally linked to this concept). The summary is that individuals are generally drawn to one of four aspects of a book (character, story, language, or setting), which act as their doorway to the book. Understanding your primary doorway is the key to figuring out what other books you would like (and possibly why you just didn’t get a book someone else loved – you just have different doorways).
You can identify your doorway by thinking about how you describe a book – for instance, do you start by talking about the sense of place (setting)? Or the prose used and the flow of language (language)? Or the plot (story)? You get the idea.
I’m starting to think my primary doorway is setting, with character as a close second, which is making a whole load of sense. I used to think I was all about the characters, but when the world-building and background details are just right, I’m hooked.