reading procrastination

As fellow procrastination expert The Plashing Vole wisely points out in his comment here, there are few better ways to avoid doing the reading you’re supposed to be doing (say for a certain dissertation) than by spending your time reading something else instead.

As part of my procrastinatory activities, I’ve recently been enjoying the first issue of Corridor 8 magazine, Curtis Sittenfeld’s brilliant American Wife, and two new books I’ve recently reviewed for Bookmunch: The Bride’s Farewell, the latest from Meg Rosoff; and Small Wars, Sadie Jones’s follow-up to her phenomenally successful debut The Outcast.

I’ve also been reading a selection of really excellent young adult novels: Judy Blundell’s engrossing What I Saw and How I Lied, a 1950s-set thriller with a hint of Rumer Godden’s The Greengage Summer; Jenny Valentine’s pleasingly kooky Finding Violet Park; and the completely gripping The Knife of Never Letting Go, the first part of Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking Trilogy. Ness is also currently online writer in residence at Booktrust: his blog and straight-talking tips for writers are well worth checking out. I have to admit to feeling a bit jealous of today’s teenagers: the wealth of excellent young adult writing out there at the moment makes a marked contrast with the dreary selection of Judy Blumes, Point Horrors and Sweet Valley Highs on offer in the teenage section of my local library, back in the darkest 1990s.

In addition, I’ve been browsing a couple of entertaining cookbooks: Agnes Jekyll’s Kitchen Essays, re-published by the wonderful Persephone Books – a witty 1920s guide to cooking and entertaining, with chapters entitled ‘For the Punctual and the Unpunctual’ and ‘A Motor Excursion Luncheon’ amongst others; and Joanna Weinberg’s distinctly 21st century equivalent, How to Feed Your Friends with Relish, described as "not exactly a cookbook… nor a domestic manual [but] a book about food and friendship and cooking and love." There’s something very pleasing about reading recipes: as Weinberg herself points out in the introduction to her book “they tell stories of happy endings, perfect-length fairytales to read at bedtime.”

And finally, I’ve also been re-visiting a few old favourites to help with a contribution I’ve recently put together for Untitled Books. If you’ve never visited Untitled Books, I urge you to check it out: as well as excellent book reviews, news and features, this literary website and online magazine is currently host to an interview with Helen Oyeyemi, brand new fiction from the likes of Evie Wyld and even a literary lonely hearts column. My contribution will be coming soon…

Basically, in the words of C.S. Lewis, "you can't get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me"… especially when there’s something else more productive I’m really supposed to be doing. Now, I’m off to put the kettle on… what shall I read next?

[These lovely bookcovers come via the book cover archive, alteration and the always-inspirational daydream lily]


7 September 2009 at 23:00 The Plashing Vole said...

Thanks for the nod! I'm glad it's not just me enthusing to all and sundry about children's/teen literature - it really is a golden age of talented writers tackling the big issues, while the so-called 'serious' novelists try to write the Great British/American novel and demonstrate how out of touch they are.

Your feelings on Alan Garner? Even twenty years after first reading it, The Owl Service is still creepy, rich and thought-provoking. Definitely one of the best books I've every read.

7 September 2009 at 23:03 The Plashing Vole said...

Literary lonely hearts? Maybe it is time to dip my toe in those waters once more.

13 September 2009 at 18:45 Katherine Woodfine said...

I am definitely with you on Alan Garner. The Stone Book is my absolute favourite.

14 September 2009 at 11:14 Benjamin Judge said...

I find I get a bit bored with Garner's fantasy stuff but The Stone Book Quartet is amazing. It is reminiscent of Adam Thorpe's Ulverton but far more satisfying.

(of course Thorpe followed Ulverton with Still which is one of the best books ever written)

18 October 2009 at 13:14 Candice said...

Oh thanks for the link :)