Monday 13 May 2013

Bout of Books: Monday

Bout of Books

Bout of Books starting point:
Age of Miracles - Karen Thompson Walker, p.28
iBoy - Kevin Brooks p.76

8.20AM (BST)

I said that I would be writing my daily Bout of Books blog posts in the evenings, but I thought I might as well start early on my first day. Besides, today and tomorrow I don't start work until 9, (as opposed to my usual 8.30) which gives me an extra half hour sleep reading time over breakfast (fruit salad, a pain au chocolat and, of course, the fuel on which I run: a mug of coffee.)

Currently reading:

Karen Thompson Walker's The Age of Miracles caught my eye when it was first published in hardback, but I decided to wait until the paperback release.

UK Hardcover
UK Paperback
It's interesting to compare the marketing of the book between the original release and its paperback publication. It was published around the same time as Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter's The Long Earth, and I found the covers similar, which may have influenced my perception of the book as hard science fiction. Though the paperback cover is not actually that drastically different from the hardback, its new design gives it more of a feeling of a "women's literary fiction" novel with a twist of not-quite realism. Perhaps the fact that it has been chosen by Richard and Judy for their book club has had something to do with this: they seem to choose very specific genres of books, and this seems to have been slotted into the Jodi Picoult/Lovely Bones category. The focus has shifted from the strange phenomenon threatening the earth as we know it - hinted at in the flare at the centre of the hardback image - to the child, representing the more intimate crisis at the centre of one family. The crispness of the colours, the change in typeface, even the buildings in the background, have changed subtly but enough to give a very different first impression of the novel.

But onto the story. I'm just a few pages in so far. The news has just been announced that the earth's rotation is slowing down, and mass panic has broken out, which we see in the mother of eleven-year-old narrator Julia. I wonder whether that's a realistic reaction to a weird scientific phenomenon? I would have thought it more likely that people would be quietly a little freaked, but be slow to really grasp the implications of what's happening. They haven't actually noticed anything different until the change was pointed out, and can't really see how it affects them, so business as usual. None of this panic-buying at the supermarkets and staying home taking cover under the kitchen table nonsense!

But then, I am British.


It seems I misjudged the suddenness of the earth's slowing in Age of Miracles. It is slowing faster than I realised, so that in a matter of months days have doubled in length. This leads to an interesting consideration of how to measure days: by the old 24-hour clock, or by the every-growing length of time for the Earth to complete a rotation. These two timetables have divided society, and it brought home how stupid the reasons humans come up with for fearing and hating each other are.

I'm now about two thirds of the way through the book, and as the days grow longer and longer, we see all the different effects of the slowing on wildlife, on people's health, on the tides - I start to realise how frightening it would be if something we took for granted were to change. How many of us have wished there were more hours in the day? The Age of Miracles shows what else would change if that were to happen.

Wondering how this story will end. Will the earth eventually get back to normal? It seems unlikely without Superman getting involved, and I don't think he's going to feature in this story. Either nature, and humanity will adjust to the new way of life, of days being dark and nights being bright, and maybe the earth will fix on a constant, if slower, cycle. This seems the most likely ending. Or else it could slow right down until it stops altogether and everyone dies. (But then, who would be telling the story?)

Challenge: Book Spine Poetry

And now for something completely different: the book spine poetry, a challenge hosted at Escape Through The Pages. I was kind of surprised by the results. I ended up creating two poems out of the books on my bookcases, one uncharacteristically romantic, the other somewhat darker (which is perhaps more me.)

Poem #1

Goodnight, beautiful.
Linger, before I fall.
Never let me go.

You against me, 
warm bodies,
forever stardust

Why did I ever wonder?

Poem #2

What was lost:
plain truth,
It's not the end of the world.

Readathon statistics:

Books read today: The Age of Miracles - Karen Thompson Walker
Number of pages read today: 240 so far
Number of books read in total: 1
Books finished: 0
Today #insixwords: What if the days grew longer?
Strangest place to read: Walking to and from work


  1. I saw The Age of Miracles in The Works last week and I wish I'd bought it now! It was between that one and another book (trying to cut down on how many books sneak their way into my house!) and I chose the other, which later turned out to be rubbish. Ah well, that will teach me - next time I'll just have to BUY ALL THE BOOKS! :D

    Happy Bout of Books anyway. Seems like you got off to a good start.

    1. There are so many great books out there it's always frustrating to find you've spent time and money on a bad one. But the more books you buy, the more likely some will be worthwhile! (That's how I look at it anyway!)

  2. You are really off to a good start.. and I love your updates! I should write updates like this too but didn't think to do it. I love you book spine poems. I am so bad at poetry. So I did the best I could!!

    My Book Spine Poetry Challenge Picture

    1. I enjoyed yours - gruesome, but it made me smile. I missed an update yesterday because of a last-minute cinema trip, so I've got a double post to update now. Hope your readathon is going well.

  3. Wow, I love both of your spine poems. The second one is so beautifully heartbreaking (the "(liar)" is so perfect - if you couldn't tell, I love any use of parentheses, haha), and the first one is just plain gorgeous. Great job, and good luck with the rest of your readathon!

    Aimee | My Spine Poem

    1. It wouldn't have worked without the parentheses, I think. I started off with lots of titles about truth and lies but couldn't get them to fit, so kept it short. The other one surprised me. I don't usually write anything remotely romantic, but I was pleased with how it turned out.

  4. Wow, two spine poems :) I really like yours, like real poems. Also, The Age of Miracles sounds like it has a very interesting premise.

    If days grew longer we'd be able to read more books :)

    1. I have to say that the longer days appealed to me - you could have time to both read AND do all the things you'd be doing if you weren't reading. But there were lots of disastrous consequences I hadn't considered; it got a bit gloomy as the slowing continued.

  5. I love both of your book spine poems! You did such a good job!!


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