Monday, 28 October 2019

This and that

I've had to enable 'comment moderation' on here due to a recent increase in spam... at least, I'm trying to enable it, still waiting for email confirmation and am now wondering if I've done it correctly. Oh, to be technically savvy! And why the hell can't these morons find something better to do with their time like ... you know... read a book!

I know it's early to be thinking about 2020 reading but I've already decided that I'm cutting right back on challenges next year. I get all enthusiastic at the beginning of the year because they all sound fun and interesting and I have books on my tbr pile that fit perfectly. Then I find I have tons of books to review, which is fine, but sometimes I don't feel like it or I've not got time, but if I don't review it the book won't count. The other thing is, I kid myself that the challenges will take books off my tbr mountain. They don't. Or rather they do but the number doesn't decrease because I keep adding new ones! And I'm not very good at book buying bans... So anyway, I will probably limit myself to two, definitely the European one, which I love, and one other, possibly Mount TBR but keep the number small and target specific books, possibly 12 chunksters or non-fictions. We'll see.

I've just finished this:

I have to thank Judith at Reader in the Wilderness for encouraging me to revisit Maisie Dobbs. If it wasn't for her I never would have gone back to it after reading book one, feeling a bit so-so about it, and thus not bothering with any more for years. The series is both thoughtful and thought provoking, making you consider issues about World War One that would never otherwise occur to you. In Among the Mad Maisie finds herself 'invited' (ie. not given much choice in the matter) to work with Scotland Yard and Special Branch on a case where a possible WW1 veteran is making a toxic gas which he intends to use to kill hundreds in London. He writes letters to the government demanding better treatment for veterans who, of course, returned from the battlefields scarred forever, not just physically, but also mentally which is the issue in this book. War veterans were very poorly treated, not looked after, pensions were not at all automatic, and there were very few jobs. Many ended up on the streets begging. This was an absolutely superb book. I didn't mean to read it in two days but that's what happened, I just couldn't put it down. Jacqueline Winspear, in this book, somehow managed to make you feel sorry for the perpetrator of a potentially horrific crime, via Maisie and her understanding of human nature and of the horrors inflicted on men who fought in WW1. Also featuring strongly in the book are women's mental health issues connected with the death of a child, a common occurence in those days, in fact my own grandmother lost a young son in the 1920s. An amazing book, gave it 5 stars on Goodreads, no dithering at all (and I can dither for England over Goodreads' ratings). Among the Mad is my book 27 for Bev's Calendar of Crime challenge, covering the December category of 'Primary action takes place in this month'.

Currently reading this:

Which is all about sailing and the sea and how daunting it can be crossing the Atlantic in a yacht. For people who like 'sea-voyage' travel fiction I can't recommend this series of books by Sandra Clayton enough. The first two books are Dolphins Under My Bed and Turtles in My Wake and there are now two more books I gather, making, I think, five altogether.

Not sure how that led me to this, Moby-Dick, apart from the fact that it also has a strong 'sea' theme, but I thought after years of procrastinating, I'd give it a go. All 600 pages of it.

I foresaw it taking me months to read, 'into infinity and beyond' sort of thing. But when I did the Maths I realised that if I read 10 to 20 pages a day I should be at the end by the New Year. Not sure how I'll get on, naturally it's a book that divides opinions... it's wonderful 'the best book ever written'... or it's so tedious people can hardly stand it. I reckon if I go into it knowing it rambles on a bit I am forewarned and thus forearmed. Works for me. Well, hopefuly it will.

Happy autumn reading!



Sam said...

I've had a huge uptick in spam comments, too. One person/company was hitting me with spurts of 10 spams once a day for a week or two but I deleted them pretty quickly and I think they've given up - or moved on to a softer target, act least.

The Challenges always become restrictive to me as I get toward the middle or end of the year, so I've given up on them. The last thing I need to be doing is putting more reading pressure on myself. That's how I ended up with blog-burnout a couple of years ago, and I never want to do that again.

And...Good Luck with Moby Dick. It literally took me years to read that one because I started and quit it so many times over the years. And I never came back to it feeling that I remembered much of what I had read the last time around. But I finally got it done, and felt like a university graduation. I was that relieved.

Cath said...

Sam: Ah, not just me then. It's real pain in the proverbial this wretched spam. The trouble is I also do not like comment moderation very much as I keep forgetting to look on the relevant page to 'release' comments. Can't win.

I understand your feelings about challenges completely and am finding the 'restrictive' comment applies to me now as we approach the end of the year. There's one challenge to read 6 particular books and I've only read 2 but I really don't feel like reading the other 4 right now, so that one will not be completed I'm afraid.

Thank you re Moby-Dick. I'm 50 pages in and am fine so far but can already see on display the potential for long rambling sections... I may have to do a bit of skimming but am quite determined to finish it. I loved his 'Redburn' but suspect it's a more accessible novel than Moby-Dick.

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Cath,

No books with a strong 'sea' theme for me I'm afraid. as I don't like water much. In fact I am positively scared of it, being unable to swim or save myself if I needed to!

I'll stay firmly on land with 'Maisie Dobbs', although I have yet to dip my toe in the water with this series. I am assuming that as you have now reached book 6, you have either re-read the previous 5 books, or, as I am hoping, the books work okay as stand alone stories.

I canned all challenges at the end of last year, although I do still set myself a very modest end of year, books read target, over at Goodreads - and I am thinking of not even doing that in 2020!

I am getting caught in the same trap over at the NetGalley site now, as I download so many books with publisher approval so that I can take part in Blog Tours and Cover Reveals, but my actual review ratio is too low. So other publishers are now refusing my download requests for books I might want to read when they check out my review stats, and NetGalley themselves are becoming more reluctant to grant downloads, as the site is very much review oriented.

Oh! the joys of blogging. Together with site maintenance, which thank goodness I have hubbie to help out with, it is all just sometimes more trouble than it is worth!

Rant over, you know I am only sounding off and don't mean half of what I say. Thanks for listening and Good Luck with whatever challenges you decide to opt for in 2020 :)


Nan said...

I just sent you an email about comment moderation. No idea if it will help or not!

You know how I love Maisie Dobbs. Reading your review makes me want to read them all over again. I just checked and I read this TEN years ago. How is that even possible. Time is very strange. If you are just dying to read what I wrote, here it is

Margaret @ BooksPlease said...

I joined too many reading challenges this year and whilst I enjoy listing books I'd like to read, somehow or other it ends up counter productive and I become reluctant to read them - and review them. So I'm thinking I won't do any challenges next year and see how I get on. I've also decided to stop going to my local book group too as that was becoming another added pressure - often reading a book I'd never have chosen myself. NetGalley is another problem - too many books on there I wish I hadn't requested, so I'm running that down too and being strict about not even looking at the books on offer.

Then maybe next year, I really will read what I want when I want. I might even try reading Moby Dick ...

Cath said...

Yvonne: Sorry to hear you don't like sea or water books very much. Having been brought up by the sea in Penzance I tend to love anything sea based.

To be honest, with the Maisie Dobbs books it is better to start at the beginning as there is quite a backstory. I'm not rereading them, this is my first read of the series and book 6 is where I am currently.

You rant away. So many things are quite aggravating these days. Have a good weekend!

Nan: Thanks for your email and help with the comment moderation thing. I need all the help I can get!

It seems incredible to me that you read this book 10 years ago when I'm just getting to it. Will check out what you wrote in a moment.

Margaret: Yes, I did that too. Why I then become reluctant to read the books I list I don't know but it is so. So I have to stop doing it. And I quite understand your wish to do no challenges next year. I do want to do the European one as I like that one, but if I do Mt TBR it will be just 12 books. Netgalley is a bit of a mystery to me so I can't comment as I don't know how it works.

Yes, you could try Moby Dick! Strangely, I'm finding it quite readable and interesting at the moment. Whether my entusiasm will last 600 pages is quite another matter.

Judith said...

Thank you so very much, Cath, for the mention. And now you are so far ahead of me with Maisie Dobbs! I have one more, #5, I believe, to read for this year before surging ahead with the series in 2020.

What a grand idea to read Moby Dick in small chunks!! I'm sure if I'd had that option when I was assigned to read it, I would have managed it much, much better. After all, my most beloved brother loved it so much. I think it's likely that you will do very well with your reading experience.
Have you ever read Billy Budd, the novella by Melville?
We were assigned to read that in the seventh grade, when I was 12. I read it fine, but I wondered at the time if I was missing something profound in it.

TracyK said...

I like the way you describe dividing up Moby Dick to read it. After reading Les Miserables in pieces throughout one year, I saw that as a way to read (or at least attempt to read) longer books. I planned to do that with The Woman in White (which I read because of Judith's encouragement) and I got so involved with it I read it fairly quickly... for a long book. Another problem for me is reviewing that type of book.

I did have problems with spam a few months ago, I would get multiple spam comments at old posts. It finally did subside but I would consider going back to comment moderation if I continued to have that problem.

I have considered going back to the Maisie Dobbs series but I have so many books, I will put the decision on the back burner for a while.

I am still excited about doing challenges in 2020, mostly because I will be retired and can put more time into them. I like the European Challenge very much and wish I had time to review more of the books. If the Back to the Classics challenge continues I will try that one again, although I only did 6 books out of twelve this time. And I may do the TBR challenge just to keep track of how many TBR books I read vs how man new books.

Cath said...

Judith: My pleasure re the mention. I had to thank you as I'm so delighted with this thoughtful, wonderful series and it's all down to you as I certainly would not have gone back to it, left to my own devices.

Well, so far, reading Moby-Dick in small chunks is working very well. In fact I seem to be doing more than my 20 pages each session because I'm rather enjoying it! It's much more accessible than I was expecting. It is a bit rambly but when I'm aware of that before I start a book I can make allowances and prepare myself for a long read rather than a short one that will be finished in 3 or 4 days. No, I haven't read Billy Budd though I have heard of it of course. The only other HM I've read is Reburn, which I loved. I also have White Jacket and Typee on my tbh pile.

Tracy: Interesting that you did the same thing with Les Miserables. If this works for me - and I think it will - I shall use it to perhaps get a few more classics off my tbr pile next year. Funnily enough, I had in mind The Woman in White but also Pickwick Papers, Our Mutual Friend and Mill on the Floss. Possibly a reread of David Copperfield.

I think Judith is quite the 'enabler'. LOL!

My spam problem is the same as yours, stupid comments left on old posts. Very annoying and still ongoing.

I bet you're really looking forward to retiring! How lovely for you.

I think any 6 classic books off the tbr pile is excellent no matter that you didn't complete the challenge. I shall probably do Mount TBR again as well but keep it to 12 books, and make those really count... classics, chunky non-fiction that sort of thing. I need to make the challenges work for me. I shall also certainly do the European one again.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I use to join lots of challenges but, it seemed to take the joy out of reading for fun and just picking up a book on a whim. Now I only join RIP and trying NF November this month as well. (I also have to moderate comments and then forget to check - I feel bad when that happens - we just can't win!)

Susan said...

I'm kind of with you on Maisie Dobbs. I read the first book and liked it, but wasn't chomping at the bit to read more. Now I'm so far behind that I may never continue on with the series. I'd definitely have to re-read the first book in order to remember what happened. My MIL, though, LOVES the series. She recommends it to everyone. GLad you were encouraged to return to it and it worked well for you this time around!

Cath said...

Diane: I think you're right that lots of challenges do take a bit of the joy out of reading. Sometimes I feel like I'm only reading to fulfill my reading challenges. I need to do something about that.

Susan: I actually did reread that first book and found I liked it more than the first time. And subsequent books are hugely better. So I understand why your MIL loves them so much. Thank you!