Sunday Salon: Read It Or Chuck It?

After a week of rain and overcast skies, the sun finally made an appearance today. And it’s starting to get warm again! I was beginning to think winter had returned (November is generally associated with scorching hot summer where I live). Oh, and the gardenias didn’t die after all! They are blooming beautifully, as are the jacaranda trees, which are a sort of tree with no leaves and beautiful lilac-hued flowers. In spring/early summer, a lot of the blossoms tend to fall onto the pavements, so the streets are often blanketed in lilac! It’s absolutely delightful. Okay, down to business. So I’m a day late; today’s Monday, but I’m going to blog about my day yesterday, so it’s still technically Sunday Salon.

Yesterday was the first completely relaxed and obligation-free Sunday I had in a while, and it felt extreeemly good to just loll around. I’m still very behind on my reading though, because I’ve had exams. To be honest, I haven’t even started The Great Gatsby yet, and that’s been on Currently Reading status for about two weeks now. The reason whyI’m not in a hurry is because it’s a re-read. I probably will pick it up sometime today, after I finish de-cluttering my rooms (they’ve degenerated into utter chaos due to exams, and other negligence-inducing factors).

As for the rest of my TBR stack, I’ll be getting back to it as soon as my eyes have recovered from post-exam trauma. I’ve decided to take it slow for a while. Meanwhile, I’m waiting for several of my library reservations to come in:

  • The Waves, Virginia Woolf
  • A Fraction of the Whole, Steve Toltz
  • Empire of the Sun, J G Ballard
  • The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga

and I’m wondering if I should add two more books to that list:

The first has been popping up on blogs everywhere. The second was – as most will be aware – nominated for the 2008 Booker prize, and I’ve heard enough about this year’s list to keep me away. Okay, I sound like a complete hypocrite because I’m going to be reading The White Tiger and A Fraction of the Whole, but only because the first won, and the second is Australian.

It’s just that I’ve never seen a writer successfully get away with writing in epistolary form. And I’m not a very forgiving or merciful reader. Nevertheless, if even one person sincerely recommends the books, I’ll promise to try them – so should I read them or shouldn’t I?

Actually, let me extend that question to the other four books on my list. JRSM over at Caustic Cover Critic recently informed me that The Waves is self-congratulatory wank pretentious and overbearing. And is a book really worth reading just because it won the Man Booker Prize? I never would have thought to describe a book as ‘trendy’, but there you have it. The White Tiger is hot on everyone’s reading lists because it has WINNER OF THE 2008 BOOKER PRIZE [literally] stamped over it, in large hot-pink letters.

I have no qualms about reading Toltz. I can instinctively feel that I’m going to like A Fraction of the Whole. I’m not entirely sure about the Ballard, but I think I put it down for the A to Z project, so I’ll have to read it sooner or later. And now I’m off to enjoy Official Day 1 of my five month summer break. Hope everyone has a good week!

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8 thoughts on “Sunday Salon: Read It Or Chuck It?

  1. I was dubious about the “Guernsey” book at first, primarily because I think most epistolary novels just never quite make it. But I was really pleasantly surprised. It turned out to be a wonderful little book, and one of my favorites of the year.

  2. I actually love epistolary novels (and I love reading collections of “real” letters, too, particularly authors letters. Sylvia Plath’s Letters Home is one of my favorites.”

    That said, I haven’t yet read Guernsey Society, but I do want to very much.

  3. Like Becca, I generally love epistolary novels and collections of real letters, but I haven’t read these two. From A to X is on my shelf, though.

    I hope you do enjoy the Toltz. I liked it an awful lot, but it seems most opinions are mixed. It was the most enjoyable of all the books on the long list that I read. (I liked The White Tiger as well.)

  4. JLS Hall – okay, I’ll add Guernsey (the full title is so long!) to my TBR list then. Thanks for the recommendation :)

    Becca – yes, I like reading collections of real letters too, but I always feel that the novels sound clunky and artificial … I haven’t read anything by Sylvia Plath, actually, but I’ve been wanting to for a while

    Teresa – oh yay, a recommendation for The White Tiger! Everyone else who I’ve talked to has treated it like an abomination.. They’re probably being over-critical because it won the ever-so-prestigious Booker

    Hm, no one’s recommended A to X yet. This year’s Booker list must have actually been as bad as people made it out to be!

  5. I cannot give you a more sound suggestion than to add both White Tiger and Fraction of the Whole to your list. I read WT and enjoyed it. The next on my list after Jane Eyre is Fraction of the Whole. Enjoy summer and happy reading! :)

  6. Oh, I have to comment on The Waves. It’s my favourite Woolf novel after Mrs Dalloway, although I have to admit I found the last chapter rather long and tedious.

    I loved everything else: the style, the way the story is told in six voices and how you learn to recognise them, even when no name is given. It is experimental, so not everyone’s cup of tea, but I loved it.

    I read it from the library, but bought the Oxford World’s Classics edition (with notes) so I could get the most out of re-reading.

    (Hello, by the way. :) )

  7. _lethe_, thanks for dropping by~ Mrs Dalloway is one of my favourite novels, but it was the first Woolf I read. Then I read Lighthouse, and I detested it, so I’m not sure what to think anymore. But since you’ve recommended The Waves, I’ll be sure to give it a try :)

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