TCL’s Shelf Control #11 – Yes, I am One.


Shelf Control is a weekly celebration created by Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies, of the unread books on our shelves. Lisa says: “Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.”

As of January 2023, Shelf Control moved and now Mallika @ Literary Potpourri is our hostess with the most-est. 

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

For my 11th entry… “Girl Reading” by Katie Ward.

I really don’t remember when we bought this book, but it has obviously been on my shelves for quite some time, and from the look of the spine, I guess my husband didn’t get to reading it either. Since the picture here is of the copy I own, I know I wouldn’t have been attracted to buying it, since I really don’t care for the color green. One way or another, recent purchases once again force me to make space for new books, and that’s what this meme is all about.

So, let’s look at the blurb that appears on both Goodreads and Amazon (much of which also appears on the back cover of this book):

Well, this one really had me going until the bit that says “into the present and beyond.” Beyond? That sounded very strange to me, so I looked at the table of contents. Lo and behold, the last part is supposed to take place in 2060! Oops! Especially because this was written in 2011, and the author wouldn’t have known then about the AI art of today. This is the problem I have with most futuristic fiction – after a book is published, when new technology comes out in the real world the technology in these books are suddenly stale and outdated. Still, maybe I could not read the futuristic bit?

What about the other stuff on the cover:

“Ward is wise, poised, and utterly original. Her eye and her words are fresh, as if she is inventing the world.” – Hilary Mantel

“A real wow of a first novel … a book packed full of adventures and stories and you completely lose yourself in them as Ward races through time from the 1300s and into the future. Like David Mitchell, Ward is adept at shifting between completely different registers and voices … Girl Reading has a real beating heart.” – Viv Groskop, The Times.

I always hate it when I see an ellipsis in a quote of a review. It makes me wonder what they’ve left out, and if those bits aren’t as flattering as what they quoted! Even worse when you read a poorly worded, run-on sentence between the ellipses! (I mean, what kind of critic are you, if you can’t write a coherent blurb?) But what about the opening paragraph of the first chapter, entitled “Simone Martini, Annunciation, 1333”?

She arrives glowing from the effort of running, strands of red hair coming loose from her kerchief (she tucks them in), marks on her neck like bruises on fruit. A few minutes late, but not enough for anyone to mention it. Is almost surprised to find herself in the wards once more amid illness and suffering (on an evening such as this). Her mind is elsewhere. She accepts a dish, a spoon, instructions to feed a patient who rasps with each breath, whose sores stink, who has for eyes one piercing brown bead and one sagging black hole. Familiar and strange, ordinary and violent.

Where to begin? First of all, I really dislike the telegraphic tone here. It feels like the author had a very long sentence, but she didn’t realize she could use semi-colons to break it up. Instead, she put in periods, and broke up the flow with punctuation. Next, I’m confused about the parenthetical remarks here. I mean… if they’re superfluous, then leave them out; if they’re important, take them out of the parentheses and give them their own sentence. Especially in an opening paragraph. I’m not getting a good vibe from this at all. Plus, I also looked at the openings to a couple of the other parts and I didn’t get any better impressions from them, I’m afraid.


My verdict is… 

NO this will NOT stay on my shelf!

Would you read this? Have you read this? If so, would you recommend it?

However, if this book does interest you (and I’m guessing many people will like the sound of this one, despite my reservations), you can find it via the following (affiliate) links: Amazon, Blackwell‘s,, UK.Bookshop, iTunes (iBook and iAudiobook), Alibris, Kobo (eBooks and audiobooks), Better World Books, Booksamillion, Foyles, Waterstones, WHSmith, and Wordery UK and US.

Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments to Lisa’s latest post, or link back from your own post, so Lisa can add you to the participant list.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

What about you?

What books do you have on your shelf that you haven’t read yet?

10 thoughts on “TCL’s Shelf Control #11 – Yes, I am One.

  1. I normally enjoy art-related fiction but that extract is enough to know I would not take to this book at all. The style is all over the place – as you say, what is the point of all those parentheses??

    Liked by 1 person

  2. While I like the idea of portraits or pictures as a starting point or the link around which stories are explored, the futuristic aspects would put me off too. I have read a few others around portraits which I liked though, especially Wings Over Delft.

    Liked by 1 person

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