Everyone is always going on about how many books they have on their TBR pile -- but I'm becoming more and more aware of how many I have on my CNF pile -- that's Could Not Finish. In my last post I was saying how picky I was, and it seems to me that I have got a lot pickier in the last few months, though I can't fully account for it. It might possibly has something to do with lack of easy availability of books -- being in France I can't go to the library or the charity shop and browse for something I like the look of. I do bring books back from my quite frequent visits to the UK, though, and of course there's always Amazon, and friends' bookshelves.
And in fact when you look at what's on the pile, it's certainly not all rubbish. There's a couple of Viragos on there -- and in fact I found another, May Sinclair's The Three Sisters -- after I'd taken the photo. The biggest disappointment there was The Thinking Reed by Rebecca West, who is one of my best-loved novelists. This is an early novel, and all I can say is that she doesn't seem to have found her voice yet. I lasted about half a chapter of this one, and the same with the Holtby and the Sinclair.
And what about Hilary Mantel, A Place of Greater Safety? It's an extraordinary tour-de-force, set at the beginning of the French Revolution, and I read about half of its enormous length with great pleasure and then ground to a halt. Perhaps I'll get back to it. As for Parade's End, I loved this on the TV recently, and as a fully paid up adorer of Ford Madox Ford's somewhat contentious The Good Soldier I couldn't wait to get my hands on the novel. But no, it just confused me and I gave up really quickly. Another one for later, perhaps.
I won't be coming back to the AS Byatt or the Deborah Moggach. Though I've liked some of their other books quite a lot, these ones ended up by boring me. Kathy Reichs was a disappointment as I didn't realise that this was not a Tempe Brennan novel, which series I have gobbled up in the past and hoped to go on with the gobbling. An Equal Stillness was a Christmas present -- I read about a third of it, put it down, and never picked it up again. The Weight of Silence I found in a charity shop and didn't warm to at all though it had sounded intriguing. And the Attica Locke was kindly left for me by a visitor who knows how much I love crime novels, but somehow I just couldn't get into it.
All this is really rather disappointing and worrying. I know sometimes it's possible to change your mind and start to love things you thought you never would like at all -- notably this happened to me with Angela Carter's Nights at the Circus, which was given to me for my birthday many years ago. I twice picked it up, read the first page, and thought, no, not for me -- and it ended up, when I finally did read it, being one of my absolute favourite novels. And of course there are still things I do enjoy -- I'm just finishing my second William Boyd this month, Ordinary Thunderstorms, and loving every minute, and I'm amazed to find myself enjoying Ivy Compton-Burnett -- I'm about halfway through A Family and a Fortune and I think I've finally got ICB. More on these soon.
How about you? Any notable rejects?