I was initially attracted to this book by the subtitle – The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life. I thought it had a nice ring to it and promised some insight into the thoughts of another reader. Things along the lines of …..
What is popular or in vogue in the way of books? What does the author like to read and why? Does she have any issues or opinions regarding the current publishing world? What would she like to see more of in the way of subject matter?
I think it’s probably good to start off knowing that the author, Anne Bogel, is the creator of and writes for her own popular literary blog called Modern Mrs Darcy and produces a podcast that goes by the name of What Should I Read Next?
This will help you understand the construction of the book and its chapters. To me they read like individual blog posts that could have appeared independently of one another at various stages of the author’s blogging career. Chapter names include Book Bossy, I’m Begging You To Break My Heart, Confess Your Literary Sins, The Readers I Have Been and A Reader’s Coming Of Age. They should have been the first indication that perhaps the content wasn’t quite what I was looking for.
Each chapter has a style in which it feels like a favourite lifelong friend speaks intimately with you over a coffee and scones in a cozy cafe on a summer’s day while gazing out at the clear blue sky watching the little children play with a bucket and spade on the golden sands of the nearby beach. Ok … this might be overdoing it but the flavour of these ‘posts’ is very sweet and saccharine with a soft focus lens. It will not be to everyone’s taste. If you are looking for an incisive commentary into 21st century reading habits and the literary world, as I was, then this is not for you as it wasn’t for me.
I didn’t mind it up to a point but perhaps distancing the chapters from each other might have made them a bit more palatable. In hindsight I should have interspersed it with reading a second book of a totally different genre, something to create balance and temper the sugar.
I also found it a little hard to relate to the immersive way that she wrote about some of her topics. Don’t get me wrong here. I love reading. I love books. I find it an enjoyable pastime, a way to relax the mind, to enter another space and experience worlds that are not your own.
But on many occasions, while following the author’s words, thoughts and philosophy, I found myself feeling very much like felt an amateur or beginner in the reading game. I should point out that this is unintended – the author is not doing it on purpose. She is merely articulating her passion, love and deeply held feelings for all things literary from her own perspective.
From my personal point of view (and it is entirely up to every individual) I found the author’s approach and expression of her view just a bit much.
Under no circumstances am I saying that this book is bad or awful – it most certainly is not. It just wasn’t the right book for me at the time. Ironically enough the author actually talks about this very thing happening to her. I possibly should have read a few reviews or done a bit more research on it before I picked it up but in saying that I don’t consider the time spent reading it wasted.
Indeed, as I pondered her point of view I came to the realisation that I am comfortable with where I am at when it comes to what I read, the amount I read and how I feel about reading. I will admit that 12 months ago I wasn’t but as 2019 has progressed this has improved markedly.
But not to worry though. Not every book can be a success with everyone. C’est la vie. Perhaps next time?
(Header Image: Sarah Kreig)