A Reader’s Reality: Let’s give the “Get To” approach a try!

It’s the age-old lament of book lovers everywhere: So many books. So little time. What’s a reader to do?

Sometimes when I contemplate my huge stacks of books waiting to be read, I feel all mopey and lost. I dream of a day when I can do nothing but read.

But since I live in the real world — one filled with bills and taxes and work and responsibilities — my dream of reading 24/7 will have to wait.

And that means that I have to prioritize. And like so many bookworms, I keep telling myself that I need to focus on the books I already own. Stop buying new books! Stop requesting books from the library! Stop picking up even more library books on a whim! And the biggie for book bloggers;

Stop requesting so many ARCs!

Because ARCs are simply dominating my Kindle right now, and with the ARCs comes a sense of obligation, or even worse, the guilt that hangs over our heads when we just don’t get around to reading them.

The direction my house is heading in…

Now excuse me for a second while I take a detour…

While staying at a relative’s house this past week, I happened to be in a room where the TV was on most of the day, and one day, the group there was watching some morning talk show. No idea which. In any case, the host and the guest were talking about either a book or maybe the guest’s motivational speaking topic (?) — I didn’t catch all of it. But what did strike me in that moment was the approach the guest was promoting, using a reframing of language to change the way we think about things.

Two examples stuck in my mind:

Rather than talking about “going through a hard time”, substitute the word “growing”: I’m growing through a hard time right now.

Um. No. Not for me. Way too hokey, although if it works for some people, more power to them.

But this one I kind of liked:

Instead of “have to”, try “get to”. Rather than “I have to go to work today”, try “I get to go to work today”. I like this! Kind of puts a more positive spin on things we think of as obligations or objects of dread.

Which brings me back to ARCs. Ah, the long, long list of ARCs. Look, I totally believe that getting ARCs to read is a privilege, and one that I really and truly appreciate. That said, I do get way, way ahead of myself and end up with so many ARCs that they take over my reading life, which leaves me feeling frustrated when I have to ignore all my other books in order to read the ARCs in a somewhat close proximity to their publications dates.

I realize that I’ll probably never tame my impulse to request ARCs, and that’s okay. Because I’m trying my new positive spin!

So no more saying: I have to read so many ARCs this spring.

Instead, I’m celebrating! Because…

I get to read so many ARCs this spring!

What do you think? Does shifting the language also shift the attitude? I’m ready to give it a try. And here I’ll be, reading away to my heart’s contect, relishing my ARCs as well as my other books… all the wonderful stories I get to read!

Take A Peek Book Review: The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

“Take a Peek” book reviews are short and (possibly) sweet, keeping the commentary brief and providing a little peek at what the book’s about and what I thought.

 

Synopsis:

(via Goodreads)

The Rules of Blackheath

Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m.
There are eight days, and eight witnesses for you to inhabit.
We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer.
Understood? Then let’s begin…

***

Evelyn Hardcastle will die. Every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others…

The most inventive debut of the year twists together a mystery of such unexpected creativity it will leave readers guessing until the very last page.

My Thoughts:

Man, this book. I DNF’d at 40%, then read so many rave reviews that I convinced myself to soldier on. What if I’m missing out? What if there’s a huge payoff? What if it gets tremendously better in the 2nd half?

Nope, should have trusted my gut on this one. I’ve seen it described as “Agatha Christie meets Quantum Leap” — and sure, why not. There’s definitely an Agatha Christie vibe to the set-up. The Hardcastles have invited an assortment of guests to their country estate for a party. Someone will be murdered at this party, and it’s up to our main character to solve the murder. But there’s a twist! The main character doesn’t know who he is or have any memory before waking up on the morning that the book begins. And it turns out that there’s a reason for this — the main character is doomed to inhabit each of eight different people (“hosts”), all of whom have some connection to the Hardcastle family, on a repeating loop. He has basically eight chances to solve the murder as the day repeats itself over and over again, or his memory will be wiped and he’ll start all over again.

There are quite a lot of clever bits in the story, and it would take an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of the timelines and all the interlocking pieces of this puzzle. Still, it’s too complicated for its own good, and the fact that the main character doesn’t know himself means that we as readers don’t get to know him either. It all feels like an elaborate charade, and I always felt like a distant observer, rather than getting absorbed by the story or the cast of characters.

On a language note, there was a writing tic that bugged the heck out of me: the constant use of phrasing such as “he is stood…” or “it is sat” (as in, the book is sat on the table, or the girl is stood outside the door). What is that? Is that a UK English vs US English thing? I haven’t come across this before, and the repitition of this phrasing throughout the book made me batty.

Long story short: Yes, I finished the book. Yes, there’s an explanation for the time loop and the set-up, kind of, although the mechanics aren’t explained and the reasoning behind the situation seems pretty flimsy to me. Having never become invested in the characters, I just couldn’t care very much. 500+ pages is a loooong book for something that didn’t grab me. I’m still not sure what all the fuss is about.

_________________________________________

The details:

Title: The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Author: Stuart Turton
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication date: September 18, 2018
Length: 512 pages
Genre: Murder mystery
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

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