Reading notes: My growing list of unfinished books

by , under books and reading

As you might recall, I struggled to get through Thackeray’s Vanity Fair. I’d put it aside to read a book for another commitment, I’d read parts in paperback and some of it on my iPod, I was up and down with it for weeks — and when I finally finished it, I was so happy! I’m almost embarrassed to say that, soon after that, I checked out a 2-disc DVD version of Vanity Fair from the library (not the Reese Witherspoon one, but an earlier production by A&E), watched it during several treadmill sessions, and enjoyed it very much. I might have enjoyed the book more if I’d seen a movie version first, and could keep better track of who was who, and who was where. Anyway, it’s ironic that after taking so long to finish the damn book, I still wasn’t ready to let the story go.

There have been a few other times lately when I thought I’d get into a book and found myself mistaken. First, one of the books I wrote about in this post, called Genuine Happiness: Meditation as the Path to Fulfillment. I started reading it within just a few days of buying it, and it started out much as I expected. But as I read, I couldn’t help thinking, “24 minutes, twice a day, every day…in this house, and with these kids around here???” So yeah, I haven’t quite gotten back to that one yet.

In that same blog post, I mentioned that I bought Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko because it was my book group’s choice for our April meeting. I started reading it, but found it wasn’t grabbing me too quickly. Then, I found out that one of the boys will be having a musical program at school that same night. No offense to Leslie, but since I knew I wasn’t going to make the meeting and I hadn’t fallen in love with the book yet, I lent it to another member so he could read it before the discussion. This one isn’t abandoned, but merely delayed.

This past weekend, though, I did abandon a book, and I feel quite good about my decision. One of those novels that sounded interesting, got decent reviews, sat on my watch list for a while, and then I found an old library copy on sale at the Booktique a couple years ago and instantly bought it. (I had put this comment in my LibraryThing catalog: “Groundhog Day bargain!” That almost made me want to keep it.) After deciding I wasn’t going to read Ceremony right now, I went to one of my bookcases and pulled out Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart. It wasn’t a difficult read, parts of the story were interesting, and for a while I was willing to follow the main character, Misha, wherever Shteyngart decided to send him. (One recurring joke that I loved: while Misha is stuck in Russia, his girlfriend is back in New York and starts a relationship with a professor who Misha used to know and now doesn’t like. It’s supposed to be based on the author, and his name is something like Jerry Shteynfarb — yet that also reminds me of Jerry Seinfeld, so it just cracked me up on two different levels.)

I read about 100 pages of the book, then started thinking, “Am I enjoying this enough to continue?” I started listening to my next audiobook on Saturday, On Beauty by Zadie Smith, and though I only got partway into disc two, I felt it was much more on my wavelength than Absurdistan was. I had read to about page 140, and decided I didn’t like it enough to finish it. I brought it back to the Booktique today, and I have no regrets. It’s not a bad book, but it just wasn’t for me. I started my newest LibraryThing Early Reviewers book last night, a poetry anthology, and I already love it. I feel I’m back to where I should be.

© All the parts of my life 2008-2015.

  1. J.C. Montgomery

    My library is too big and life too short to struggle reading through a book that just has you stumped.

    Some I return to, others not. Luckily those I plan to return to outnumber the ones I've out and out given up on.

    I am so glad you are enjoying your latest reads. Can't wait to see what you think about them.


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