Tuesday, 15 January 2019

I watched ALL the Poirot

Early in 2018 I bought a complete DVD boxset of Agatha Christie’s Poirot with David Suchet.
It’s a beast. There are multiple disks on each spike.
See that? 5050 minutes… almost 85 hours.
And it has taken me a little while to watch them all. It revelatory to see how the production values changed over the series; and as always it’s a game of ‘spot the awesome English actor’.
It is singularly amazing that all the main character actors stuck it out for the entire series. It would not be the same if it wasn’t the right Hastings or Chief Inspector Japp or Miss Lemon in the last episodes. Expertly played by Hugh Fraser, Philip Jackson and Pauline Moran respectively.
But more and more I see just how clever Christie was. They are amazing stories. An absolute master class in mystery writing.
It’s as if she challenged herself. I’ll make the murderer the narrator. I’ll make the murderer one of the victims. I’ll make the murderer the doctor. I’ll make the murderer all the suspects. I’ll make the murderer the investigating police officer. And so on. I’m reading ‘Talking About Detective Fiction’ by P.D. James and she laughed that all you had to do with a Christie story was pick the person most unlikely to be the murderer and you had a good chance to get it right.
Some Christie expert will no doubt swear she repeated herself, but I’m struggling to think of an example.
They focus more on the story than the method. And the thing Christie was so good at was writing these utterly appalling but somehow so English families. Decades of building anger, resentment and guilt. Adult married children still living with their parents or step-parents and waiting patiently (or not) for the old tyrant to die and leave them the estate.
Personally, I want to be Ariadne Oliver, the self insert Christie character who hates her own fictional detective. ‘Why did I make him Norwegian?’ she moans in the same way I expect Christie did about making Poirot from Belgium.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Small moments of joy

When the world is horrible we have to find small moments of joy. Read a great book, notice a pretty flower, leave a nice comment… whatever floats your boat, or better and better, someone else’s boat.
Last month I bought a stationery set at Kmart. Yes, I shop in the children’s section. It was a Llama pack and it cost me seven bucks. I mean LOOK at this pen!
How cute is that? It is also ridiculous. And it brings me joy. I am NOT going to apologise for that.

Friday, 4 January 2019

My reading in 2018

500 titles - total of 97,333 pages with an average length of 194 pages.
Bear in mind that doesn’t include pages for audiobooks. A few people don’t put in the number of pages when they post a title to Goodreads so often they show up as a zero, too. It can only use the data it was given.
I keep my own count of my star ratings as I post the reviews. I am not overgenerous. I can’t see the point of giving every book five stars, but it looks like I give 40% 4 stars. I will mark up for diversity; call it positive discrimination if you will. We need to push the balance until it comes naturally.
5 stars: 87
4 stars: 203
3 stars: 89
2 stars: 61
1 star: 21
dnf: 39
total: 500
I think I need to read less male authors, and more diverse authors but I don’t know the stats for that. Maybe I can count that, too? It is easier to do it as I go so I’ll try that and see. I went off and added those to my Scrivener keywords. I write and store GR reviews in Scrivener and it has meta data functions that I still underuse. That’s the issue with Scrivener; I always feel as if I am paddling in the shallow end with everything it can do. And yes, I’ve done courses. [sheesh as IF I’d miss an opportunity to do a course. *laughs at self*]
And I’ve hit my first snag with book one for 2019. Ilona Andrews is a husband and wife writing team that uses her name. *shrugs* close enough. Sorry, Gordon you now have a pink tag.
I also use a keyword to remind myself where the book is. Is it a physical book? On Kindle? Kobo? A pdf from the author? A free online read? This saves me time when I’m looking for it later. There’s no point looking for a book on my shelf if it was a library borrow. A super quick summary or note that reminds me what it’s about and if it is part of a series.
So my corkboard view with the colour-coded meta data looks like this:
In 2018 I tried to put things in my ‘currently reading’ file to make me read them. It didn’t work. I have things in there that have been there all year so I am taking them out again. There’s no point guilting myself into more guilt, if that makes sense. Things change. Moods change. I’m reading for pleasure and education, not work, so nothing has a deadline unless it’s a library book. Maybe at another time I’ll get into them. That’s fairer on the books, too.
So task one is clean up my ‘currently reading’ list.
Done… woot that was easy.
If I have another aim for 2019 reading it’s read the books I paid for. I keep buying Humble Bundles and forgetting I own them. They also show up on my Kindle App on my PC but not on my phone where I often read them. This is probably a knowledge issue of mine and may be fixed by simply buying a Kindle reader and learning how to import files. I don’t think I can use the app on a tablet or laptop as it relies on things imported into it on here. To explain, I save a mobi file from a book bundle onto my hard drive, click open and it automatically puts it into the Amazon App. It also doesn’t show up as bought by me in Amazon. Another reason to check Goodreads before I buy anything.
To the research, she shouts.
For 2019 I set my goal at 365.