On abandoning books

If you’ve been a reader here for longer than a month or so, you will know that I read a lot of books. It’s my main hobby, I guess, although sometimes crochet crowds it out a bit. But every month there are books that don’t make it onto my round-up list, because I’ve either abandoned them halfway through, or sent them back to the library unread. This is actually good for me, I think; I used to compulsively finish books, even when I hated them. I think I’ve gotten better at not starting books in the first place that I’m likely to hate, but I’ve also been able to let myself stop reading things without too much fuss.

Here’s a peek at some of the books I haven’t read recently:

Right book, wrong time: I tried reading Alan Jacobs’s The Year of Our Lord 1943: Christian Humanism in an Age of Crisis while we were in the middle of our move. I like Jacobs and I’m interested in his subject, but it was absolutely the wrong kind of book for my life at that time. This is one I’ll try again later.

Authorial overdose: Sometimes I get on a reading jag and start hitting a lot of books by the same author. And then sometimes I’ll look at a book by that author and think, “if I read another one of these I’ll scream.” Sophie Kinsella’s Surprise Me and Twenties Girl both went back to the library for that reason. I’ll try them again when I’ve had a bit of a break.

I’m just not that into you: A while ago I started Elena Ferranti’s My Brilliant Friend, because I had heard good things about it. I read about half of it before I realized that I didn’t care about any of the characters. Sorry, Elena.

My disbelief suspenders snapped: I spotted Johann David Wyss’s The Swiss Family Robinson on the shelves at our new library and snapped it up, remembering that I enjoyed it very much as a child. In retrospect, the version I read then must have been heavily abridged — or perhaps I didn’t realize how simultaneously preposterous and dull the whole thing was. Back to the library it went!

This isn’t the droid I’m looking for: As it turns out, Kevin Kwan’s China Rich Girlfriend is a sequel to Crazy Rich Asians and does not stand on its own. It’s extremely confusing on its own. I’m going to read the first one first.

My intentions were good: I always take a peek at the display shelves at the library, which is where I found Richard Cohen’s Chasing the Sun: The Epic Story of the Star that Gives Us Life. Well, I intended to read it enough to renew it once or twice, but not enough to actually read it.

Slow and steady lost the race: The policy of our new library system is that if you take out a book upon which someone else has placed a hold, you can only keep it for a week instead of the usual three. I checked out Louise Penny’s Still Life, put it in my pile, and then got a “coming due” notice four days later. It went back to the library before I had even cracked the cover.

What have you stopped reading lately?

3 thoughts on “On abandoning books

  1. Looking over my Kindle library, I see two abandoned books: “The Goldfinch”, a Pulitzer Prize winner by Donna Tartt, and “The Paris Architect” by Charles Belfoure. The first wore me out, and I didn’t like the other. For a year I have been struggling with Dorothy Dunnett’s “King Hereafter”, a lengthy, complex, historical novel. Other readers’ comments are that it is worth the effort in the end, so I plan to finish it. However, it doesn’t help that the author’s background charts and maps do not render well in the e- book.


  2. I also couldn’t get through Elena Ferrante… the story wasn’t engaging, and, with (even less engaging, for me) a twist at the end…because I foolishly thought the title referred to the protagonist, but it…um…doesn’t. And because although I’m sure it’s anatomically correct, as it were, that’s not the Naples I saw in my many wanderings…the more fool I, of course, but…it just made it harder to read. And – dare I say it? – the characters were neither convincing nor compelling. Yeeks! now I’ve said it!



Comments are closed.