will's Reviews > Amsterdam

Amsterdam by Ian McEwan
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
1015266
's review
Mar 27, 08


Amsterdam by Ian McEwan

Is it just me or do other people "shy away" from books that look a little too intellectual for them? I read because I enjoy it. I am at an age where I don't need to read to impress. I like a good book (and I hate a bad book) and will read anything that interests me. I am shallow enough to pick a book up because I like the picture on the front or I like the title. I occasionally read books that others have recommended but I have to know what the other person likes. Too often I have started books that people tell me are "absolutely brilliant" to get halfway through and wonder what the hell I am doing. At this point I should mention I hated The Da Vinci Code with a passion however I will defend it with a greater passion. You see, the other thing I hate is book snobs. People who start off with the line: "Oh I never read any book on the best seller list - they are too populist!" In an anti-snob way I have a tendency to avoid any book that says "Winner of the Booker/Pulitzer Prize", more fool me! I worry that the book is going to be full of "big words" and "purple patches" - sometimes studying English Literature at school can kill any desire to read a "literary must read". I love my Neil Gaiman/Nick Hornby/Mil Millington. And then I read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and enjoyed it. It was only afterwards that I noticed the big sticker on the front "Winner of the Pulitzer Prize" - hey, maybe all intellectual books aren't that scary :^)

Amsterdam is the winner of The Booker Prize. It is a small, dull looking book. It tells the story of three men, linked by being ex-lovers, and what happens after the love of their lives dies. The three men are "the greatest living composer", the editor of an intellectual newspaper, the foreign secretary. It just sounds dull, dull, dull. It sounds like a book that I would pass up reading every single time I finish one book and return to the bookshelf trying to find another book to read.

Picked it off the shelf yesterday morning at just past ten, lived a fairly active "doing" day and yet, before ten at night, I had finished the book. I realised, as I closed it, that I had been secretly (or not so secretly) going back to it at every possible chance: sitting on the balcony for a cigarette - read; waiting for a scan of Dani's drawing to upload - read; watching the Yorkshire puddings rise in the oven - read; sit watching Spirited Away with the kids - read.

A very enjoyable book and not as dull as it pretends to be :^)
86 likes · likeflag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Amsterdam.
sign in »

Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Kate Will I agree with all of your musings, so comforting to know I am not alone - an excellent review Cheers.


message 2: by Joe (new)

Joe Mossa i love this writer s style. yes, you can learn much while reading his books. i like to learn while reading. i want to find other contemporary writers who write as he does. please, recommend some contemporary writers for me. thanks..joe


Joseph So often, anti-pretension is its own form of pretension. Ugh.


message 4: by Anne (new) - added it

Anne I'm going to read this because of your review


Dmitry Lovermann I have almost the same point of view: i read because I want to read. Nice review, Will!


message 6: by Riya (new) - added it

Riya I also often find myself feeling intimidated by books that have won a Pulitzer or any other prestigious award; I'm glad that you enjoyed this novel, I think I will be reading this soon.


Prashant Das I was surprised to see low ratings for this book until I found yours. I loved the book and share similar sentiments as yours


message 8: by Tessa (new)

Tessa I agree.I hate book snobs.However I have issues with people who flaunt Shantaram around.


Joshua "Not as dull as it pretends to be" is an excellent description of quite a few of my favorite books. I am solidly in your camp when it comes to my reading choices. I want to be engaged. That means lots of smart sci-fi and fantasy, and non-fiction on topics that matter to me. Along with that comes a certain reluctance to pick up fiction that clearly knows that it is literary. But good old stuffy literature still comes up with some winners, and when it does, I am reminded that "engagement" has more guises than I imagined.


back to top