Book rut or bad luck?

I went away for an extended weekend and was so excited to bring a bag full of books with me to read. Days and days worth of uninterrupted reading time? Please. This is the stuff book nerd dreams are made of. I tend to put more thought into what books I’m bringing on any trip than what I will be wearing. Sometimes it’s a plane trip and that kind of reading is going to be vastly different from a car trip. Lake side reading is going to be different from foreign locale reading you know?

Anyway, it’s been quiet around here because I left town and access to internet.

I also feel a little bit like I squandered my reading time with poor book material. It’s not that any of the books I brought were bad but none of them particularly grabbed me and most of the time I was hoping to finish the book I was reading so that I could start something else. This is no way to spend uninterrupted reading time!

When we went away I was in the middle of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Ruth. I was promised that this tale of a young seamstress who falls in love with a rich guy and then gets pregnant by him before she is abandoned was the perfect Victorian novel. And in many ways it was: examination of the class system and the role of women? Check. Characters obsessed with the idea of doing and being good? Check. Idealized portraits of hard lives? Total check. But Ruth lacked any of the spunk or “vigour” that I’ve come to expect from my Victorian heroines and all we’re left with is a crappy life where a woman is punished for something that she definitely didn’t make happen all by herself.

I thought that Philippa Gregory’s The White Princess would probably make excellent holiday reading, it falling firmly in my categorization of “guilty pleasures.”  But it, like its predecessor The Kingmaker’s Daughter, frustrated me with its tale of things happening around a woman. Elizabeth of York is struggling to find her family’s footing in a world with a Tudor on the throne. When Henry VII makes good on his pledge to marry her and unite the warring families, she must figure out where her loyalties lie. But Henry VII is horrible to her, forcing himself on her before they are wed to ensure that she isn’t barren and never trusting that she isn’t trying to screw him and put her family back on the throne. The entire time they are dogged by the ghost of her brother who was supposed to die in the tower. Gregory definitely thinks that it was Henry VII (or his mother) who made the Princes in the Tower disappear. Once again we’re treated to a history lesson of all the battles and men that made history while the women, even Queens, sat at home sewing and popping out babies.

As our holiday was winding down I started reading Sarah Bradford’s Lucrezia Borgia: Life, Love and Death in Renaissance Italy. I had read Bradford’s biography of King George VI and really enjoyed it. I’m still trying to make my way through Lucrezia Borgia and it seems like a case for a Do Not Finish. I have a hard time putting a book aside so this should tell you how much I’m not enjoying it. I think part of the issue is that it’s probably really hard to put together a complete picture of a Renaissance woman; the information available can’t be super complete. But I’m getting really tired of letter fragments and all the things that all the men around her did. If I wanted to read a biography of the Borgia men, I would have picked up a biography of the Borgia men.

The one book that I did manage to enjoy was the Agatha Christie book I brought along, Cat Among the Pigeons. But then when does Mrs. Christie ever disappoint? (Never. The answer is never.)

What do you think? Book rut or bad luck?

24 thoughts on “Book rut or bad luck?

  1. This sort of thing seems to happen to me every time I travel! I almost never love the travel books I bring for some reason. But I have a hard time reading while I travel anyway so I’m just going to say its bad luck in the midst of a natural book rut.

  2. Sounds like a bout of bad luck to me. I’ve had it happen to me when traveling, too, which might be why I feel so much panic when I’m about to head on a trip. Hope things pick up!

  3. Just bad luck, I think. I am always so careful to bring books that I am almost 100% confident that I will like. Also, like you, I bring a bunch and think about it longer than what clothes I’m bringing. Who needs clothes? Books are way more fun!

    Don’t you hate it when you spend you’re reading time just trying to get through a book so you can start another? This usually happens when the book is only sorta good, but sometimes it happens when I’m reading a good one and I don’t know why. Maybe just my mood.

    Anyway, definitely a good idea to bring at least one book by an author who has never failed you! I hope your luck changes now that you are home. 🙂

    • It happens to me fairly often when I’m reading a really long book and it seems like it’s taking too long. If I then walk into a bookstore or a library and take home new reads…forget it, I spend the rest of my time with that book hankering after something new. The grass is always greener right?

      Thank god for Agatha Christie!

  4. First, you are absolutely right: Mrs. Christie never disappoints.

    I think it’s neither book rut nor bad luck. I’m currently away from home and I put a lot of thought into what books I was going to take with me. The week previous to my departure, I hesitated, I switched one book for another, etc. Until the day I had to leave. I was not happy with the novels I took mainly because I felt like I was limited in my choices — I hate to plan what I’m going to be reading next. Maybe in another context you would have enjoyed these books more. Or maybe not, we never know :). Maybe you weren’t in the right mood, or maybe you were expecting too much. When we’re on holiday, when we have a lot of time to read, we expect to read amazing stuff… And sometimes, we are disappointed :/.

    Anyway, I just have to wish you happy reading. May the books you’re going to read be good ;).

    • Agatha Christie is just the very best ever!

      I think it was partly that I knew I was restricted in my reading choices while I was away but the books I had also just weren’t awesome. Well the ending of Ruth was pretty redeeming but we probably didn’t need quite so much sermonizing to get there. And I’ve felt for a long time now that Philippa Gregory might need to find new subject matter.

      Thanks for commenting!

  5. Oh I can relate! Summer is my reading time and I try to balance my list with contemporary and classics. One problem with classics is pacing-many are are. Oh. So. Slow. Contemporary will suck me in with clever writing and then toss in way too much in detractors (sex and swearing) and I usually quit them. Sometimes I’ll go through five books before I find THE book. My last one was Flight of the Falcon by Du Mair. Classic writing with a contemporary feel–a smidgen of swearing and sex was mentioned without being obvious.

    • You’re right about the pacing of some of the classics. We are very used to instant gratification and evidently this has bled into my reading as well. That’s something I should probably address. Sex and swearing don’t turn me off books too often – not sure what that says about me. But I definitely want to get more reading in before the summer is done!

  6. I vote bad luck! This is perhaps one of the shittiest situations to find yourself in because we put some much excitement into choosing our reading material and then ..flop. But there are always the amazing books to come home to, right? Silver lining?
    I’ve yet to pick up an Agatha Christie book but I see that I definitely should!
    I hope that regardless of the crappy reading experience, you still had an enjoyable and relaxing vacation :).

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