I said on twitter a couple of days ago that I’m enjoying my BFB read so much it almost feels like cheating. After reading Wolf Hall in the spring, Bring Up The Bodies is wonderfully familiar and I am lapping it up. It’s not just knowing the characters and the setting (and indeed many of the events, since this is historical fiction). It’s also feeling comfortable with Mantel’s prose. These books are very different from my normal genre fare and it did take quite a lot of perseverance a the beginning of Wolf Hall. Miss Bates is reading Wolf Hall for this BFB challenge and she has some characteristically insightful comments about how she has found the exercise. I am happy that Miss Bates is persevering and being won over by the book.
Earlier today, there was a twitter conversation about the appeal of the familiar vs. the challenge of the new. I admit, familiarity is one of the main things which appeals to me about genre fiction. I love to know that I can find a particular reading experience, a particular emotional satisfaction, a particular kind of comfort. I used to be a big re-reader, and I am a bit sad that since the arrival of the Kindle I’ve mostly stopped re-reading. New ebooks are much cheaper and more readily available. If I want, I can buy a new book when I’m already in my pyjamas without having to leave the house. I am not good at resisting that sort of temptation, so I buy a lot more new books now. But even when I’m reading new books, I am choosing authors who are known to me, category lines I am familiar with, tropes that are tried and tested. I am a cautious reader and it takes a concerted effort to make me try something different.
So I’m glad for the BFB challenge which made me pick up Wolf Hall in March. I sort of wish I’d read Bring Up The Bodies earlier and chosen something else new this time. I won’t abandon my choice now, though, since I know I’ll be away with limited reading time from July 20th to 30th. I do think I am going to try to be more deliberate in reading outside my comfort zone in the future though. I’m going to compile a short list of non-genre books I want to read and try for one every other month.
How are you getting on with your BFBs? I know Sunita had one false start but is now racing away with her second choice. Feel free to check in with your progress (or lack of it) here, or link to posts elsewhere. But don’t worry if you haven’t got far, there’s still plenty of time.