Reading to a Deadline

Somehow or another I’ve managed to read myself into a corner this week.  There’s nothing unusual about my having half a dozen books that I desperately want to read NOW all sitting on my TBR shelf at the same time, but this weekend I have three that I am enjoying equally and which have to be finished by Friday or I’m in trouble.

Actually, one of them has to be finished by Wednesday.  I’m re-reading Aldous Huxley’s 1932 novel, Brave New World, for a book group meeting that day and although I’m not leading the discussion there is nothing worse than not being fully prepared when everyone else is.  Although I say re-reading it must be at least forty-five years since I last picked this book up and while much of the scientific and philosophic thinking is as relevant now as it was then, I am amazed at just how much of what Huxley was predicting in the way of creature comforts seems at best run of the mill, at worst rather tacky.  Even your seediest hotel is going to run to a television in the bedroom these days and the concept of en-suite doesn’t seem to have crossed his mind.  I suppose the fact that there has been a longer gap between my two readings than there was between my first and the book’s publication might have something to do with that.

The other two books have to be back at the library on Friday and as they both have readers waiting for them there is no way I can extend the loan. The first is Rose Tremain’s latest novel, Merivel. When I’m recommending her work one of the things I always say is that she is unpredictable.  You have no idea what she might write next.  She never writes the same book twice.  Well, in one sense that’s not true where this is concerned because she has gone back to the character central to Restoration, the Merivel of the title and taken up his story in later life.  This time it is the Court of Louis XIV rather than that of Charles II that is being anatomised, but it is just as much fun as the first book was and I desperately want to finish it before the week is out.

But then I also want to finish the new Louise Penny crime novel, The Beautiful Mystery.  As some of you know, I am a great fan of Penny’s work. The early books in the series about Quebec’s Chief Inspector Gamache were not great novels but the setting in the small village of Three Pines and the cast of characters that she developed made them irresistible to me.  Gradually, however, she has grown as a writer until in the sixth book, Bury Your Dead, she produced a novel of which any writer would have been proud. It is so powerful and so disturbing, that alone of all her work I have only read it once.  I don’t yet have the strength to live through those pages a second time. I’m not far into this, the eighth book, as yet, but it looks as though it might be the first in which none of the Three Pines characters appear.  If that should prove to be the case, then it will be a brave decision but one for which I think both she and Gamache might be ready.  

So, you will excuse me if I vanish now and get back to my reading.  I hope you have as good a week ahead of you as I am looking forward to.

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13 thoughts on “Reading to a Deadline

  1. If I’m reading to a deadline, I find it helps if the three books are all very different. If I’m reading multiple books in the same genre and I’m worrying about finishing on time, my brain tends to muddle the details. it sounds like you have a nice variety here, so hopefully you won’t run into this problem.

    1. That’s true, Naomi and it is definitely helping. So far, I’m on target and still really enjoying them all – which also helps.

  2. I’m often overwhelmed by the number of books I want to read NOW! So much so that this is the first time in years that I’ve decided I can only manage two at a time – and one has to be non-fiction, a biography or history etc. My brain can’t cope with much more than that.

    Would you suggest starting to read Penny with one of her later books? I did try an early one (can’t remember which) and didn’t bother finishing it.

    1. Try the fith one, ‘The Brutal Telling’ because number six won’t make sense without it. If you don’t like the Three Pines books then the one I’m reading now will work because it clearly isn’t going to feature any of the characters from the village.

  3. I read Brave New World when I was a teen and found it ominous. I wonder what I would think of it now? I’ve got a couple books I am reading on a deadline too so I understand that frantic feeling. I hope you got lots of reading time and enjoyed it all!

    1. I’ve just finished ‘Brave New World’ and am surprised at how it has dated. What seemed prophetic in the sixties now seems vaguely ludicrous, although the general ‘message’ still holds. After we’ve had our meeting tomorrow I’ll post about how it goes.

  4. Rose Tremain and Louise Penney, two authors I keep promising myself I WILL get to sooner rather than later. Brave New World I am a bit ho-hum about reading. I read 1984 a couple of years ago to keep my son company when he was studying for GCSE (he loved it) and thought it was a very interesting book but not one that was squarely in my ballpark. I’m not really a big dystopian fan although I like the ideas behind them. What would be perfect would be a discussion about the book and it’s ideas without having to read the book – and that’s something I would disapprove of terribly if I did it!

    1. In fact, there is an ‘In Our Time’ podcast on the book. I haven’t listened to it yet because I wanted to finish the novel first. However, I’ve just downloaded it and will play on my drive over to Stratford tomorrow. If it’s any good, I’ll let you know.

  5. I’d love to read the new Rose Tremain. I have to admit, I have not yet read Restoration, so I’ll have to get out that and the unread Tremains before I think about the new one. Thanks for reminding me of what a great writer she is. I’m not sure her new one is out in the U.S. yet.

    1. I’ve just finished it Frisbee and it really is one of her best, although I think you would enjoy it more if you’d read ‘Restoration’. Now I have to get hold of the Mantel and read that so that I can join in the general acclimation.

  6. Gosh I admire your reading discipline. I’m hopeless at reading to deadlines. I do love talking about books though. I have a monthly book group and we often get asked to leave the pub because we can’t stop talking!

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