So Many Books, So Little Time

I haven’t forgotten about my unfinished review of J.K. Rowling’s “The Casual Vacancy.”  I’m on p. 448. The pace of the story is picking up as I near the end @ p. 503. It’s a wonderful book tracing an intricate web of human interactions, hypocrisy and deceit. I haven’t written another interim installment of the review (the first part is here) partly because I hardly know where to begin.

And partly because I’ve been busy with so many other projects, like trying to become a photographer and to improve this blog. Hard to believe I’ve written 12 posts on other subjects in the intervening days. Casual Vacancy, despite its length, is a book I would easily finish in two days (and enjoy more) if only I could sit down and read it straight through.   

As if my to-do list isn’t long enough, I’ve just ordered “Personality: How It Forms,”  by Henry Kellerman, from Amazon. Diane Rehm interviewed the author on her PBS show this morning. I found the interview unusually informative and interesting, in part because J.K. Rowling touches on so many aspects of personality in Casual Vacancy. One book leads to another. Reading will keep me busy for the rest of my life, or until my eyesight fails, whichever comes first.

Based on the Diane Rehm interview and the table of contents on Amazon, Kellerman’s book apparently explains in understandable terms not only how a child’s personality is formed; it also contains enlightening information about “anger,” and brief explanations of the 17 personality disorders. Or should that be “personality types?” I’m not sure. I’ve heard of personality disorders for a long time, but only recently begun to learn about them.

Naturally, I think I resemble several of the personality disorders. But that’s probably only my angry, narcissistic, ego talking. I’m definitely becoming obsessive about blogging.

Speaking of 17 personality disorders, I wonder if that’s only 17 that have been discovered so far? Ann Patchett writes convincingly that millions of unknown species of fish, birds, and insects remain to be discovered. See Patchett’s most recent novels, “Run” and “State of Wonder.” Both are wonderful stories. I’ve reviewed Run in some depth here, but haven’t gotten to State of Wonder. Not yet.

Fortunately, Personality: How It Forms will probably not arrive until Nov. 1. That gives me time do a redesign of “Work In Progress” (the blog, not the unfinished novel) and finish reading The Casual Vacancy.

What election?!  Is there an election coming up?

— John Hayden

7 thoughts on “So Many Books, So Little Time

  1. You got it! Many times I’ve been tempted to go directly from the radio interview to the bookstore or Amazon. But this is the first time I’ve been so sold that I bought the book immediately.


  2. I had to stop adding to my reading list. I’d never live long enough to read all the books I’d like to read. I started A Casual Vacancy, but I need a better attention span for all the characters introduced initially. J.K. Rowling was on the Daily Show this week, which reminded me to get back to her new book.


    • You’re right about the rapid-fire introduction of characters, all of them interesting. It quickly becomes a bit confusing because many of the characters are introduced as couples, and you have to keep track of their place in the social web of the town. I lost track and went back to the beginning and highlighted the introduction of every character. Here’s an excerpt from my review, Take 1, which is linked to at the beginning of this post:

      “In the first 100 pages of Casual Vacancy, Rowling introduces an average of one new character every two pages.

      She is able to add characters quickly because the cast includes nine couples (18 peeps) and 16 teenagers, who of course travel in groups. Although the town’s society is clearly based on couples – and I suspect that each couple hides its own dark secrets — the first 100 pages also introduce seven individual characters of significance, nine miscellaneous bit players (mostly teachers) and lastly, one small child. Fifty-one peeps in 100 pages!”

      After the first 100 pages, most of the characters are present and you can concentrate on the story, which is indeed interesting. I hope to post soon a list of the characters for readers’ convenience.


      • I remember reading “War and Peace” in college and being ever so grateful for the list of characters in the front of the book. J.K. Rowlings’ book is not as phonetically challenging as that, but I know I could make use of your list of characters!


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