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Sunday 4 April 2010

The Lenten Read - It Ends

It is Easter Sunday, signifying the end of Lent, and while many are gorging on the vice they had denied themselves, I have spent much of this morning sitting in the sunshine with a book.

My reading forty pages a day is essentially a commitment to Time. One of the most regular complaints I hear from customers in the bookshop is that they don't have enough time to read. First of all, quantify "enough". Second, this is exactly why I do my Lenten Read, to give myself permission, in pop-psychology parlance, to ignore the many tasks screaming for attention and devote a guilt-free hour to a book.

The gamble in making a commitment to [fill in your Lenten pledge here] is not knowing what will be thrown at you by Life during those forty days. Life made things interesting for me by producing a stray puppy, and puppies take up Time and finding that hour to read became a real challenge until she went to her new home. I did choose to spend time with friends visiting from afar over completing the full forty pages every day, and had been careful to pick a book that was easy reading for the duration of their stay, but I caught up easily over a couple of days. Overall, I managed to do what I had set out to, finding the flexibility to fit in a dog and people, and without the rest of my life descending into complete chaos. Already I'm looking forward to doing it all again next year.

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Wednesday 17 February 2010

The Lenten Read - It Begins

'Tis the first day of Lent and I'm itching to begin my first forty-page foray. With the proviso that I may change my mind at any time (why yes, I am playing the female card), I have chosen the following books for my Lenten Read:

Click for moreLittle Hands Clapping, Dan Rhodes (Cannongate), 313 pages, 7.82 days

Click for moreThe Sorceress, Michael Scott (Randomhouse), 483 pages, 12.07 days

Click for moreInvisible, Paul Auster (Faber), 308 pages, 7.7 days

Click for moreThe Missing, Tim Gautreaux (Sceptre), 422 pages, 10.55 days

Which all adds up to 38.14 days (N.B. I will always go for the good stopping point over exactly 40 pages). Interspersed with the above will be stories from Simon Van Booy's Love Begins in Winter (it won The Frank O'Connor Short Story Award this year over Wells Tower's Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned which I loved so I have high expectations (Rosita Boland asks about the influence of book awards on reading choices here)).

I've been waiting to read The Sorceress for ages after flying through the first two in the series (the fourth book, The Necromancer, will be out May 25th). I've also been waiting on Invisible, especially after hearing the author on Open Book way back in the summer of 2008, a very interesting individual indeed.

The Missing has been highly recommended and really, what's not to love about a novel set in 1920s Louisiana, "a wild world of jazz, moonshine and lawlessness"? Little Hands Clapping arrived in last week and I was hooked from the first sentence of the synopsis: In a room above a bizarre German museum, and far from the prying eyes of strangers, lives the Old Man.

In content the books are quite a mix, yet all are fiction, all written recently by Western white males. If we are to judge ourselves by what we read, I'm not sure what this says about me other than the abundantly obvious fact that I love a good yarn well told.

Daily updates on progress will be tweeted with possibly a blog post or two thrown in for good measure (if I'm not too busy reading).


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Monday 4 January 2010

The Lenten Read - An Intro

The sacrifice of giving up something for Lent has perhaps lessened in appeal in times when many are giving up little luxuries on a daily basis as a means of survival rather than as a way of spiritually or physically detoxing. Last year, rather than choosing to temporarily eradicate some minor evil from my life, I choose a more positive approach and decided that I would commit to reading forty pages for forty days. Each morning I would tweet my progress (or lack thereof) from the previous day and with one or two hiccups completed my Lenten Read successfully. I intend to do it again this year, with a bit more preparation and thought into what I'll read, and suggest others keep it in mind as New Year Reading Resolutions fly around the interweb. Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent) is February 17th this year and before then I'll post which tomes I'll attempt to tackle. This isn't, by the way, rooted in religious discipline despite the use of Lent - February and March are literally and metaphorically dark months and a good time to positively exercise the imagination.