Sunday, April 27, 2014

Reading Habits #9: Do you surprise your readers?

© Prashant C. Trikannad

On my blog I seldom review books I write about before I read them, because they lose their novelty irrespective of what I may have to say about them later. There is no surprise element. A reader or visitor knows what to possibly expect, not that public memory is long. Still, I like reading books and short stories that most people might have forgotten about or might not have been aware of. Those are the ones I like reviewing too. My reviews of Public Murders, a crime fiction by Bill Granger, and short stories by Fanny Stevenson, wife of Robert Louis Stevenson, and John Philip Sousa, a renowned presidential musician, created a mild but welcome ripple.

Last week, I picked up three used paperbacks in good condition—Early Autumn by Robert B. Parker, who, according to The Boston Globe, has taken his place beside Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Ross Macdonald; The House That Jack Built, a Matthew Hope mystery, by Ed McBain; and Cast a Long Shadow, a Bandolero western, by Wayne D. Overholser. The McBain novel is No.13 in my collection; I haven't read the other twelve yet. While I’m familiar with McBain and Overholser, having read their novels previously, I have not read anything by Parker, the noted American crime fiction writer who created Detective Spenser. I’m looking forward to it. I'll be reading these novels but I won't be reviewing them.


Hiking or trekking, we walk off the beaten track; I apply the same principle to reading and reviewing. How about you?

20 comments:

  1. You are in for a treat with Early Autumn by Robert B. Parker. One of the finest in the series. And I understand your point on wanting to be surprised by the content.

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    1. David, I'm bringing the Parker novel on top of my endless pile of books to read. The synopsis promises a good story.

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  2. I loved about the first half dozen Parkers of which this was one.

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    1. Patti, I have not read anything by Robert B. Parker and I'm looking forward to reading EARLY AUTUMN.

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  3. Really looking forward to seeing what you make of the McBain books of course and I lost count of how many Parker books I've read over the decades - a fgood haul chum - if it weren't for reading challenges I would probably cast my ney even further, but I quite liking giving myself little reading tasks and seeing them through to the (hopefully not bitter) end.

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    1. Thank you, Sergio. I no longer buy used books as often as I used to; it's down to once in three months. The three paperbacks were together and I didn't think twice before picking them up for a total of $1. I'm going to have to stop collecting McBains at least until I start reading the ones I already have. I don't have the time to participate in fresh challenges seeing as I'm struggling with FFB and Overlooked Films every week.

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  4. Probably not as I tend to announce my forthcoming reads. Don't have that many readers to surprise anyway!
    I would have read that Parker book maybe 20 years or so ago, but can't recall it or many of the 20 plus other Spencers I read in the early 90's. I tired of them in the end.

    Not read the other two.

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    1. Col, your blog will have more readers than you think as many of them may not leave a comment. You have been posting reviews of contemporary crime fiction at a steady clip and that's going to attract a lot of readership. Unlike everyone else on this page I've never read Robert B. Parker novels.

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    2. Cheers Prashant - Keishon just posted a great review on a Spencer/Parker novel she just finished recently.

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    3. Col, I saw Keishon's review of a Parker novel but haven't had the time to read it. I'm heading over there right away.

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  5. I just finished a Matthew Hope mystery and really enjoyed it. I ordered a few more.

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    1. Charles, I really have to dig into my Ed McBain novels before the "hoarder" tag sticks for good.

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    1. Skyline Spirit, thank you for visiting, commenting, and following.

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  7. I think I do nothing but surprise my readers. Check out the comments in any given week. Even some of the "regulars" cannot help but remark, "Where do you keep finding these books?" In fact I think my love of obscure and seemingly untattainable books chases away more readers every week! But I keep coming back to your blog, Prashant, whether you surprise me or not. :^D

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    1. John, I thought of you and your blog while putting this little post together. You surprise me with almost every vintage and "obscure" book you review where both author and title are new to me so much so that I'm often at a loss for words, comment-wise. I think I've asked you that question as well! I appreciate your regular visits to this blog and look forward to sharing "notes" on vintage books with you.

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  8. I try to vary what I read and I have been reading some fantasy, sci fi, and non mystery fiction lately. But it has more to do with what I want to read rather than surprising blog visitors. I am influenced by many other blogs to widen my reading horizons, however. You have influenced me with some of your choices and suggestions.

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    1. Tracy, thank you. I read more sf and fantasy stories last year than I have so far and I still have to read full-length novels this year. I'm not particular about what I read, as I read just about anything, though I do like to be inventive over my choice of books and short stories.

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  9. Do you surprise your readers? Hmm. That's a good question. I say no and yes as I think I tend to horrify/anger visitors with my mistakes and error in judgment on some stuff. I can tolerate a lot of dark stuff that other people would be disgusted by in general. My motto has always been if it's good I'll read it or watch it.

    I don't review everything I read either and that Parker title is one that I plan to read next when I'm in the mood for Spencer & co.

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    1. Keishon, I agree with your motto. In fact, I'm open to reading all kinds of books and watching all kinds of films. I'm not a discerning reader or viewer. I have cut down my book and short story reviews to four or five per month to give myself more time for some serious writing.

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