Friday, January 24, 2014

On Not Finishing Books

I have gotten into the habit of not finishing books. And being OK with it.

I don't know when it happens but you get to a point in your life when you just think "I'm not enjoying this book and it's not worth my time to finish it. I only have so many years on earth. I don't owe anything to this author. I'm putting this book down." Now, I'm more inclined to force myself to finish a book if it's a book I own or it's an easy read even if I'm not enjoying it. But whether it's library books or books that I've actually purchased, I've reached the point where I just stop reading when I'm not enjoying what I'm reading. It's a better use of my time to go find a book I do enjoy than to have another book in my list of books that I didn't enjoy. I thought I'd make a list of some of the books I've left unfinished which I may or may not return to in the future.

One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell
I think I bought this on sale somewhere because I had watched a few episodes of Sex and the City and wanted to see what her writing was like. I don't think I even read a full chapter. It was awful.

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
I found myself getting very bored with this novel. I just couldn't connect to the characters. I do like some Austen. I've read Northanger Abbey and Persuasion and I didn't have a problem with those novels. Maybe it was the dispersed focus on so many characters that threw me off with Sense and Sensibility but I was reading this book in very small increments and it never hooked me. I do own it so I'll probably force myself to try again one of these days.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I think I got 100 pages into this one. I know it's the one everyone loves and the one that gets adapted all the time but I was just so bored. I hated all the characters and they were so poorly defined. I suppose I was expecting Lizzie Bennett to be this fierce, witty feminist the way she tends to be portrayed in the adaptations but the character I was reading about was so lifeless. She was critical of everyone and didn't have very many redeeming qualities. The one time she picked up a book (in those 100 pages) she was only pretending to read. Why was I supposed to like her? I expected Darcy to be the proud, condescending hero of the Laurence Olivier/Colin Firth variety but he was also bland and badly defined. I was starting to come around to him towards the end of those first 100 pages but the most I knew about was still that he was tall and handsome. Seriously? I will go back to this one if only so I can add it to my conversation topics.

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway is just not my kind of writer. I think I got 1/3 of the way into the book before I just gave up. It was a book I was always reading on the subway or in transit. I will probably try and go back to it.

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
I was actually kind of enjoying this novel but I stopped with 100 pages to go and I never got back to it.

So many romance novels...
I get a lot of my romance novels from the library and purchase the book after I've already read it and decided that I liked it. When I'm busy, or just not in the mood to read like a normal person, I will skip around. It's kind of like ruining a mystery by jumping around a figuring out who the killer is before you go back and read the novel from the beginning but it's my process. 

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