Tuesday 27 March 2018

Not Wanting the Book to End #amreading

I’ve just finished reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (hereafter known as “Eleanor”), which I won in a HarperCollins Ireland giveaway, hosted by Mairead Hearne of the fabulous Swirl and Thread book blog. This book is a fantastic read. The main character, Eleanor has the most wonderful voice and her friendship with Raymond is so special and heartwarming. She is someone who lacks social skills; who says what she thinks (and it’s often what we’d think, but we perhaps wouldn't say anything), without realising how it might offend, but she is charming and funny and because of her backstory and her vulnerability, you find yourself rooting for her throughout. Here’s a brief excerpt, to give an example of Eleanor’s voice:

"Janey the secretary had got engaged to her latest Neanderthal, and there was a presentation for her that afternoon. I’d contributed seventy-eight pence to the collection. I only had coppers in my purse or else a five-pound note, and I certainly wasn’t going to put such an extravagant sum into the communal envelope to buy something unnecessary for someone I barely knew."

When I found myself carrying Eleanor from room to room around the house-to read in those spare moments which arise between putting dinner in the oven and waiting for it to be ready (see my post, Do you Read in the Kitchen?), whilst waiting for the kids to do something they’re supposed to be doing like brushing teeth or packing school bags etc-I knew I’d discovered a gem.

On Friday, I found myself taking Eleanor to a hairdresser appointment, and the lady sitting beside me happened to be reading the same book! Usually I forget to take a book to hair appointments and kick myself as I’m stuck with crumpled, coffee-stained magazines I don’t want to read, dodgy WiFi and for some reason barely any phone reception (is it the hairdryers interfering?-there never seems to be decent phone reception in hairdressers). Eleanor accompanied me on trips to cafés, and as I couldn’t fit her in the handbag I’m currently using (have downsized due to shoulder ache), I actually carried the book in my hand whilst walking around my local town, which I can’t remember doing ever.

Do you find when you’re enjoying a book this much, that as you progress through those last chapters, you reduce the speed of your reading; as you’re not ready to say goodbye to characters you care about or to the world you’ve become part of? Does the finishing of a good book leave you with a kind of flat feeling? In this case, I think it’s important to have a book guaranteed-to-please ready to take its place: one by a favourite author, one which you’ve heard good things about from friends (always the best recommendation), one which you know you’ll love as it’s your favourite genre and a setting you're familiar with and you’ve read the first page and you just know.

When not selecting the next book carefully, I’ve found myself taking reading breaks, which can be as frustrating for writers as being stuck with writing. Reading breaks are not good for my writing. When I’m reading a lot, and writing a lot, I find the writing really flows. I have a few books lined up in my To Be Read (TBR) mountain, but can’t decide which one to go for. It doesn’t help that I made a trip to Waterstones on Sunday and bought a couple more.

Before moving onto the next book, I need to return to the William Boyd I cast aside for Eleanor-even though it's a great book: Any Human Heart. I started to read the first page of Eleanor after removing her from the fabulous pink metallic envelope received from Mairead, and then I was hooked.

But when I've finished Any Human Heart, the next three books to choose from are:

1. How to Stop Time by Matt Haig. I know this book will be excellent, and the only reason it's stayed in my TBR pile since before Christmas is because I bought the hardback and should have waited for the paperback (which is now out in the UK), as it’s a bit heavy to read.
2. The Venetian Game by Philip Gwynne Jones, bought on Sunday during the Waterstones trip. My WIP is set in Venice, and I love Venice, so it was a must-buy.
3. Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner, picked up from the Booker Prize table in Waterstones-an excellent idea for a table. Read the first page in the shop, and the writing is beautiful.

Have you read any of these books? Which do you think I should go for first?

Richmond Green in Surrey, with snow from the first beast, and last week

There's been snow in the UK recently, and I had to move my neetsmarketing course in York to April due to the first beast of the east. But now, it seems, spring is here. The clocks have changed, and summer is on its way, and I need to think about eating less chocolate. I heard a rumour about a third beast showing its face over Easter, but I'm hoping it isn't true! 


I am a finalist for The Write Stuff at The London Book Fair. This means that on 12 April, 2pm I shall be pitching my novel to a panel of agents in front of the Author HQ audience. I’ll report back and let you know how it goes (and will update Twitter and Instagram on the day).

Previous posts:

What’s Your Writing Routine? (with guest authors)

About me (Anita Chapman):

I'm a writer, and a freelance social media manager with clients in the world of books. I run my own one day social media courses for writers in London and York (28 April, 19 May, 6 October 2018), and I'm a tutor at Richmond and Hillcroft Adult Community College (Surrey), where I run 10 week courses, Social Media for Writers and Bloggers #neetsrhacc (next course starts 26 April 2018). Find out more with booking info via my website. You can follow me on Twitter @neetsmarketing and @neetswriter, Instagram @neetswriter, and my Facebook pages are here: Anita Chapman Writer and neetsmarketing


  1. So many comments here chimed a chord. Suspending the final pages, sneak reading and needing a surefire book to read afterwards. The comments that have brought tears to my eyes for my own book #Perception, have all been the ones where people said they didn't want it to end and eked out the final chapters.

    1. Thanks for reading, Terri! Ah, can't imagine the feeling of someone not wanting your book to end; must be an amazing feeling.

  2. I need to read that book, Anita, since I've heard so much about it. The last book I carried about with me (at home anyway) was Harry Potter - until I started reading CJ Sansom novels! Good luck with that pitch.

    1. I think you'll enjoy it, Rosemary! Thanks very much re the pitch.