Reading books about bad things happening to people makes me uncomfortable.

When I say bad things, I generally mean illness. I’ve mentioned more than once that I read a lot of crime fiction and by their very definition, they are full of bad things happening to people. But they are of the dead bodies/sexual assault variety and for some reason, that doesn’t bother me. That’s probably subject matter for a whole different kind of post…

But when you make me read books about illness, and cancer in particular, I almost can’t handle it.

The first book we ever read in our book club was So Much For That by Lionel Shriver, which is about a man and what happens to his dreams (and his savings) when his wife gets a really nasty form of cancer, mesothelioma. The book was mainly a commentary on the American healthcare system (or lack thereof) but it was also very graphic. If you’ve ever read any Lionel Shriver books you will know that she’s no shrinking violet – she tells it like it is. She has a talent for making you uncomfortable but she always has a reason for doing it.

I think the reason I hate reading about illness is that it scares the sh*t out of me in real life and that by reading about it, I’m tempting fate. It’s the same with tv – if Breaking Bad was mostly about cancer and less about cooking meth, I wouldn’t be able to watch.

I’m totally superstitious in some ways!

Basically what I’m trying to tell you is that I do my best to stay away from books about illness.

Except that Gold by Chris Cleave has been on my TBR list for so long, I kind of forgot what it was about and just grabbed it when I saw it at the library.


Gold is the story of Kate and Zoe, British cyclists and best friends (in the most uneasy sense of that term), aiming for gold (duh) at the London 2012 Olympics. They have been rivals for more than a decade, racing and trying to get the best of each other while falling into an uneasy and insanely complicated friendship.

So where’s the illness? Well in between the training and the protein powers and the low resting heart rates there is Kate’s daughter Sophie. Eight, obsessed with Star Wars and battling leukaemia. Kate and Zoe are battling their bodies to reach that pinnacle of endurance, the Olympics, while Sophie battles her body for her life.

And it’s heartbreaking because this isn’t a terribly unique story is it? But there’s something so heightened about this fight. Each character tells his or her own story (in addition to Zoe, Kate and Sophie we meet the girls’ coach Tom and Kate’s husband, Jack) and through their stories we start to understand why each is the way they are. Why Zoe has to win at any cost. Why 2012 is Kate’s last chance for gold. Why Sophie’s survival matters to all of them.

At this point, I haven’t finished reading the book. I’m kind of afraid to. So Much For That didn’t have a happy ending – well not in the traditional sense anyway. I will finish reading it, probably tonight. But right now I’m happy to leave them in limbo, when Kate is still racing for gold and Sophie is still hanging on.

Here’s hoping for a happy ending this time.


Put The World On Pause

I’ve come to the horrifying conclusion that there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do the things that I would like to do.

Mainly, read all the books I want to read.

I have a pretty substantial list of Books I Want To Read going. I like to think that I’m pretty selective and thoughtful when I add books to this list because I do want to actually try and read all the books on the list. Eventually. But recently I’ve started feeling overwhelmed by The List.

There are so many great (I assume) books on the list and great books (again, working on the assumption that they are great) keep being released and I just don’t have time to read them all! And how is that fair?

There are those titles on my list that have been there for ages. Things like Catch-22, Secret Daughter, Atonement, State of Wonder and The Night Circus. Then there are those that are sitting on my shelf waiting for me to choose them, titles like The Shadow of the Wind, Nicholas and Alexandra, and Lone Wolf. That’s before we even get to how War and Peace sits abandoned while I wait for a replacement copy to make its way to me!

Can we just agree to put the world on pause for a little while? Just for a few days to allow us all to catch up on some of the reading we want to do? That would really help me out. It would allow me to get on board with some of the great books I keep hearing about.

I’ve been seeing great reviews of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn all over the place. With my current crime fiction obsession, the psychological thriller about a wife who goes missing on her fifth wedding anniversary seems like a really great fit for me right now. Chris Cleave, brilliant author of Little Bee and my favourite, Incendiary, has come out with his new book just in time for the London Olympics. Gold is the story of 2 competing Olympic cyclists who are also best friends, who ultimately have to decide what is more important: their friendship or the gold medal? With Olympic fever gearing up, it just seems like the right time to read this!

I’m already months behind with reading Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. I bought it for a friend as a gift (I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a moment where I thought I could keep this and buy her a shirt) and I’m told it is hysterical (as if it could be anything else with Jenny Lawson aka The Bloggess behind it) but I don’t think that makes me feel any less behind on this one. When I get to borrow it (soon I’m told) I am going to read the shit out of it.

Since I’ve finished with the Fifty Shades trilogy, I’ve been feeling kind of hard up (ha) in the erotic literature department, so it was basically a godsend when I heard about Bared To You. This novel by Sylvia Day is supposed to be the answer to my Fifty Shades withdrawal. There’s a character called Eva in it for god’s sake (I choose to read her name as pronounced Ava, the Euro Way a la me). I am definitely supposed to read this.

So we’re agreed then? We’re pausing the world for a bit?

Good talk.