Thursday, January 6, 2022

On The Day I Die, by Catriona

Q: When reading a book (or watching a movie or TV series), how long do you give it to grab you before giving up? Is your tolerance level different in the different mediums? Has it changed from where it was ten or even twenty years ago? How much of this tendency has to do with your reader/viewer self and how much is due to the writer self?  Do you wish you were different in this regard, and if so, how?

Sliding into homebase footfirst here with a late post - I came back to work after the hols this morning and so today feels more like Monday than any Monday could. Sorry. The long wait for basic competence enters another year.

Funnily enough, it's a timely question. This was my Christmas reading:

(amazing what you can get tnrough when you knock off on the 17th of December and don't go back till Epiphany, eh?)

It's the usual mix of "How did I miss this"? - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, The Girls of Slender Means - hot new releases I only just managed to save till the holidays - Billy Summers, The Heron's Cry - and delicious treaty bankers - Big Little Lies (how did I manage to miss this, mind you?), Rachel's Holiday (ditto).

I didn't give up on any of them. I never do on the couch at Christmas, with fairylights and mince pies. So I think the thing that makes me give up on books is definitely me, the non-Christmas me, twinkle-less and eating celery.

And I do give up on a few. Maybe a handful a year. I give them fifty pages and if I'm still checking to see what page I'm on at p.50 - buh-bye. Why? Because on the day I die the bookshops and libraries are going be full of wonderful books I haven't read. It's a no-brainer.

There are exceptions. I gave up on a book after the first sentence recently. It had a grammatical error in it. I gave up on a book once because the first word was a typo. But usually, fifty pages.

There are some books I would give up on if they were my first time with an author I love, who might be past their peak but are so much part of life that I will read every word until there are no more. I don't think anyone would argue that the blessed Mary Higgins Clark's final novels were the equal of her earlier work, but I couldn't have cared less and I wouldn't have missed them for a pension.

I'm quite a sticker when it comes to films. I've only walked out of two in my life. I tried to watch both of them again on the telly and still hated them, by the way. Eraserhead and The Prince of Tides. I could never tell you what my favourite film is but my least favourite is one of those two. And I watched the second Sex and the City. I'm no slouch when it comes to knuckling my way through dross and piffle.

Neil - husband and frequent fellow pictures go-er - has a simple test for a film. He asks himself if he'd rather have the twelve dollars back. He's been asking himself since it was "Would I rather have the  three pounds back" and the answer is hardly ever yes. He reckoned even Yellow Earth was worth it, back in 1984. Yellow Earth is Neil's Prince of Tides. He says he's made of sterner stuff than me because he stuck it out through all four hours. It's eighty-nine minutes long.

Happy New Year and may you have twelve months full of great books, wonderful films, and I haven't even talked about telly because this post is late and I need to get it up. But did you know all of The Repair Shop is on Amazon Prime now?


p.s. And now for the sales pitch: SCOT MIST is now out on Kindle (1st Feb, hardback) and SCOT FREE (book 1 in the series) is $1.99 for the month to get new readers started. Click here


Susan C Shea said...

Squinting to read all the titles you chose for your annual Christmas readathon and wondering why them? How do you choose which among the hundreds of possible treats will make the stack? Do they have something in common, like great reviews, personal recommendations, written by friends...? And are you always glad by the end of the marathon that you chose these rather than other candidates for the stack?

Lori Rader-Day said...

I give up on books all the time, but not forever. Sometimes it's just not their time. They go back on the shelf for another try. But 50 is a good amount of pages to see if it's for you. It used to be 80. I have walked out on two movies in my life. Once because the kids running up and down the aisle with no parents anywhere (it was a kiddie film I now love) and once for Grumpy Old Men. I was sick and bored, so...

Catriona McPherson said...

Susan, I try to have a Stephen King and a celebrity memoir, and nothing I have to write a quote for. Apart from that - free choice.

Lori - that reminds me. When Kris Calvin and I went to see Toy Story 4, a kid in front of us in the cinema was watching Toy Story 3 on an iPad. We moved and got dirty looks from the parents. I mean, we knew it was a kids film so we didn't say anything but got side eye for moving away! He wasn't using headphones, by the way.