Previously I blogged about Transworld’s Summer Reading Challenge, a scheme whereby book bloggers, Amazon reviewers and Goodreads users can receive up to four free books from a list of 10 Transworld titles in exchange for promptly posting a review of each book. I thought this was a great idea, and immediately signed up. This week the first book I chose, If I Stay by Gayle Forman, arrived through my letterbox, and my review of it will be up next week.
This is going to be a very interesting experiment, not least of all because I don’t have a great history with books I haven’t chosen for myself. For some reason, I need the decision to pick them up to be all my own or I’ll be predisposed to hating them. One Christmas – before I saw the wisdom in providing Santa with a list of preferred titles – my mother gave me a copy of Kathy Reichs’ debut, Deja Dead. At the time I was staying up until all hours and neglecting my homework in order to plough through all of Patricia Cornwell’s books and it seemed like a new forensic superwoman would be just my thing. But it wasn’t. I hated it. Bad writing, fights that came out of nowhere, ridiculous character names (Temperance Brennan? For reals?) – they jumped out at me, because I was looking for them. I threw it down after a quarter of the book and I never read another Reichs.
The other thing is that I’m not a proper book reviewer. I’m not even, technically, a book blogger. Some months ago I read a scathing attack on book bloggers by a snotty literary critic, who basically said (and I’m paraphrasing) that us Ordinary Janes aren’t qualified to review books. He used the fact that one such blogger had opened her review of a new title with the phrase, ‘[The book] has been on my To Read list for a while…’ as evidence that she didn’t know what she was doing. And that’s just the kind of thing that I tend to do: I’ll share with you my reading experience as opposed to the cold, hard facts about the book. If this happens to be how many cups of coffee I drank while I was reading it, then so be it. After all, this is my blog.
So I won’t be calling them reviews. It’ll be more of a ‘What I Thought Of…’ kind of thing. And in defense of my mother’s book choices, she also gave me Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, an author I had never heard of at the time. And that book was so good, it didn’t matter that I hadn’t chosen it. Today, it’s one of my all time faves and I’m super excited about seeing the movie which, judging by the trailer, is going to be really true to the book. (Alex Garland, author of The Beach, wrote the screenplay.) Click on play below to watch the trailer and decide for yourself. It’ll be out in the autumn.
Join me on Wednesday for my review of If I Stay.