16 October 2010

Day 203: Kane and Abel

Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer.  ISBN: 9780671251215.

Oh no, I've found another series I have to read.  At least I'll be finished with His Dark Materials relatively soon.  I was surprised by how much I liked this one; I went in expecting to drop it after 50-80 pages.  Instead I found that I just really liked the writing style, and sometimes that's all I need to like in a book to make me keep reading it.  I mean, I didn't even really care all that much what happened to the characters after they hit their mid-30's because at that point they were both established big shots and I was kinda, meh, but my brain was all, "Wooooo, this guy knows how to write books!"

So, are there any books out there that you were kind of lackluster about as far as topic or plot, but just really enjoyed the writing enough so that you finished it?  Especially if it's Kane and Abel size (540 pages)?

Basically this is the opposite of Twilight, um, in some obvious ways, but what I mean is that Twilight has a really compelling plot that makes you want to read it, even if it is complete drivel and poorly written, whereas Kane and Abel had kind of a mediocre plot, but really, really good writing.  And honestly, I think part of the reason this didn't appeal to me as much is that it was written 40 years ago and probably hasn't aged as well as it could have.

I understand that this post is more review-ish than I typically like, but part of living a life through books is your experiences with them, and I can't deny that this was like having a brief affair with someone I probably would never touch except I'm on vacation and no one will ever know I slept with the bellboy.  These are the kind of books that I specifically hope to find when I read out of genre, meaning when I stray from books I would normally be interested to those I am usually not interested in.  I would place this mostly in literary fiction, but it has a bit of the political thriller with what I like to call a Moneybags twist as it involves two very wealthy individuals.

I usually have very poor experiences reading outside of genre, but I never know when my tastes are going to change.  I don't seem to be as drawn to fantasy and sci-fi as I was in my teenage years; although that used to be what I read almost exclusively at that time.  Lately however, those genres have become a bit too formulaic for my tastes and with the overpopulation of paranormal in the mix I've seen a definite decline in the quality of science-driven or even space-driven sci-fi.  It kind of saddens me that my reading tastes have moved away from sci-fi, because it really was one of my first loves of reading and probably when I first started reading independently.  Although, slightly embarrassingly, I got started by reading Star Wars novels (I still recommend A.C. Crispin's Han Solo Trilogy...which I actually need to reread so I can finish the last book which I left on a plane when on my way back from Guam when I was 13...or maybe it was the trip to Hawaii). 

These days I tend to read more non-fiction.  I do not read a whole lot of non-fiction, but I find myself missing the opportunity to learn new things now that I'm out of school and I have been extremely pleased with the advent of Readable Non-fiction.  I think publishers and editors have finally realized in the last 20 years that scholars are not the only ones interested in information that can be found in books, and if they only made the information more accessible they might actually be able to sell a few more books.  These books also tend to be written by people who are professor-style quirky without the shut-in nerd social skills.

And YA books: I'm going to sound old and cranky, but kids these days don't realize how lucky they have it.  There are tons of books that are written just for them, and most of them are good.  When I was growing up most of the youg adult-ish books were basically animal books or coming of age stories (mostly involving boys).  It's like they wanted to skirt the issue of hormones and puberty altogether so they gave us stories about A Boy and His Dog or A Boy and His Adventure Through the Mountains...or I could read Nancy Drew, which did not appeal at all given my distaste for mysteries.  I am not that old, people, we are talking about 10 years ago and now you can read YA on any conceivable topic and quite a few inconceivable ones.  Chocolate War was probably the most real YA targeted book I read during my teen years and I was hard pressed to find anything even close to that in my pathetic high school library.

I couldn't even really tell you what my reading focuses on nowadays.  I think given this project I have made myself expand my reading tastes so I don't get bored.  I think at some point I'm going to have to take a month and dedicate that as "Browsing Month" where I go to the library and browse for my reads rather than working off of my massive reading list.  At the very least it would be interesting to see if my selections would now be as broad as my current method of book selection, or if I would go back to old standbys.

If I did this, what month do you think would be best?  Would you be interested in taking a peek into my reading habits? 

My review can be found on Goodreads.

4 comments:

  1. Well, I picked up Janet Fitch's second book Paint it Black because I loved her writing style for White Oleander, even though I had no interest in the subject matter (a period drama set in the 70s revolving around an artist community and a suicide...I think). Unfortunately, I could not make myself power through...I don't think the writing was bad, but the plot bored the pants off me, and I was in public so I pretty much needed pants. I think because I am a slow reader I tend to give up books that don't grab me in, say, the first 30-50 pages (although, I did get to page 186 or so on Twilight, for some reason), or I don't even pick it up before reading reviews and seeing how likely I am to enjoy it.

    Usually I am the inverse of this, reading through mediocre writing because I like the story or there's a lesbian in it or something. ("Don't eat that soup! There's a lesbian in it!") There's a book called Veronica Decides to Die, which is horribly predictable, not exactly badly written but not much my style, but it was rumored to be made into a movie so I just kept with it, picturing Sarah Michelle Gellar puttering around this mental institution. It was okay.

    Hm. I guess, now that I'm analyzing it, you could say every Sarah Water's novel I've read after Fingersmith has not interested me plot-wise (very sleepy books sometimes), but she has a beautiful style and there are often lesbians. But Fingersmith was beautiful, had lesbians, AND the plot was insane.

    Ummmmm.........yes, browsing month! I'd be interested to hear what you discover.

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  2. Excellent, I will likely institute Browsing month in January. I believe that November will be Novella and Short story month, because I will be doing crazy things like trying to blog, write 2 Rupert stories a day, travel to Alabama to see my mother for Thanksgiving, and keep applying to jobs.

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  3. Nice blog.

    http://youcanfacetodaybecausehelives.blogspot.com

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  4. Thank you, Toyin. I put a lot of work into it. Hope you enjoy reading.

    -Amy.

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