TSS: Tackling the List

sunsalon1It seems counter-intuitive in some ways to add a stack of library books to the stack of books I received for Christmas, but I thought that if I wanted to tackle my list, I should go ahead and commit to reading at least a few of the titles I mentioned last week. Yesterday I picked up the small stack pictured here, plus a book on writing, at the library. American Tabloid, Hate List, and The Knife of Never Letting Go are all part of my goals. I also picked up Shutter Island, which has long been on my TBR list, because I wanted to read it before the movie comes out in February. We saw the preview for it on Christmas Day, when we went to see Sherlock Holmes. It looks promising.

Yesterday I finished reading Ordinary Thunderstorms, by William Boyd. I had heard good things about his book Any Human Heart around the blogosphere, and when I saw the description of his latest book I jumped at the chance to get an advanced reader’s copy. I feel obligated to post my thoughts about it, but I admit they are mixed. There are some things I really liked, but there are some parts that really don’t work. I need more time to think through exactly why…also, I feel sort of bad about getting an ARC and then maybe saying it wasn’t all I thought it would be. It feels a bit like trying to judge how cute a baby is by looking at its sonogram picture. Then again, this isn’t a draft–it’s basically a finished book, except for copy editing.

How about you: if you receive ARCs, do you feel compelled to give them more positive reviews (or at least more slack) than published works?

Happy Sunday, everyone!

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8 comments

  1. I review an ARC pretty much the same way I would any other book. I sometimes cut a little slack for a first-time author, but I’d do that if it weren’t a ARC, and I’d be pretty clear about it (“not bad for a first novel”).

    The only things I do differently is that I don’t quote without checking a finished copy, and I have made trips to Barnes and Noble to do that when the writing is particularly note-worthy (for good or bad reasons).

    I also don’t complain about typos and such because I figure (hope) a lot of those will get fixed in the final proofing stage. I’m the final proofreader on the magazine I work for, and I’d be horrified if someone were to judge the editing of our magazine on that final proof!

  2. Interesting, your take on Ordinary Thunderstorms. I’ve been seeing lots of positive things about this one. I look forward to a more detailed review and I think you should give us the good and the bad.

    The only Lehane I’ve read is Mystic River but a good friend suggested I read The Given Day, soon. Happy Sunday, Priscilla.

  3. I haven’t yet tried ‘Ordinary Thunderstorms’ but what you say about this books rings true for me in relation to Boyd’s work as a whole. Some of it I’ve loved and some I just haven’t been able to get to grips with. I was thinking about getting an audio copy of this latest one, but might now rethink that.

  4. The only one of those I’ve read is The Knife of Never Letting Go…it was a really fast read, but I didn’t love it the way that everyone else does. 😉

    I don’t give ARCs more slack than published works, but if I really didn’t like one and I don’t want to finish it, I e-mail the publicist explaining the situation. I don’t accept ARCs anymore, though…my reading is much less stressful when I just depend on the library.

  5. Shutter Island is super…and the movie looks almost too scary, but I’ll see it anyway!

    As for ARC books – I usually don’t accept them unless I’m pretty sure I’ll enjoy them. But I might find it hard to write a really negative review…but I’d find it hard to do that about any book, actually. I’m too nice – it’s my fatal flaw!

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