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Writing From the Land of Half-Finished Books

imagesHello, fellow readers and bloggers. I find myself compelled to this blog again today, despite a really crappy Internet connection and an overburdened laptop. I thought I might lay out a little issue I’m having as a reader right now, vent a little, and see if anyone in this blogosphere has experienced the same.

Okay, here it goes: I’M UNHAPPY AS A READER.

There, I said it. And looking back at that statement, I have to say it feels so wrong. So wrong but so true. After all, I love books, no I LOVE BOOKS, but I’ve been picking up readage lately that’s really let me down. Disappointing, just not feeling right, and I feel guilty about turning books down so I continue to read them only to feel even more let down. It’s strange: I keep reading books I know I don’t like or enjoy, but then I feel bad about returning them or putting them back on the shelf. Most of these books lately, I will say, have been library copies and it’s internally awkward for me to send a library book back, only to wander in the next day and check it back out because I’m not completely sure it’s a goner. One more page, maybe one more page. Nope, still boring as hell.

The worst part is picking up one you think you’re really going to like, maybe one that’s been on your TBR list for years, and finding out you waited all this time for THAT? And a great thing happens when you pick up a book strictly on a whim and it turns out to be something you just can’t put down. Maybe you don’t even know why, it’s just something you have to read. Now.

Well, the point is I’ve been writing from the land of half-finished books for several months now. True, I do get a few books completed and I usually cheer myself on when this happens, as in: “Okay, great, now let’s repeat that about fifteen more times this year!” Here’s a quick list of the most recent books I’ve had to quit because they were just dragging on or just not what I wanted to read.

1) Living With Our Genes: Why They Matter More Than You Think, by Dean H. Hamer

Allison is on page 158 of 368

— Mar 17, 2012 08:44pm

Allison is on page 201 of 368

— Apr 10, 2013 11:44am

On April 10, 2013  I was on page 201, 54.0% done with the book. CLOSED IT. A whole year passed before picking this one up again, and I still didn’t finish it.

2) A Time To Kill, by John Grisham

Picked this one up earlier this year for cheap, and CLOSED IT after at least a hundred pages or so. Other books were calling, as usual.

3) Out of Time (Time Travelers, #2), by Caroline B. Cooney

Read the first one on a recommendation, and kept reading it even though I didn’t like it. Not my style. CLOSED IT soon after starting it.

4) An Uncommon Education, by Elizabeth Percer

Read from October 24 to December 1, 2012 roughly, and CLOSED IT without hesitation. Okay, maybe a little. I think that’s because John Irving’s “In One Person” was snagging my attention away.

5) The Picture of Dorian Grey, by Oscar Wilde

Tried this one on my Nook, and not even the novelty of e-reading could make this one work. Boring, oh so boring. Why is this a classic? Maybe I’ll try it again someday but not any time soon. CLOSED IT on vacation.

6) The Empty Glass, by J.I. Baker

Even during the height of this year’s Marilyn Monroe phase, could not finish it. CLOSED IT after almost reaching the end. Below is my comment on Goodreads.com.

I forced myself to try to finish this one. Came close but couldn’t do it.

May 10, 2013 07:42am

7) The Talented Miss Highsmith: The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith, by Joan Schenkar

My review from Goodreads.com follows.

Jul 06, 13

2 of 5 stars

bookshelves: did-not-finish

Read from March 09 to July 06, 2013

I finally stopped caring about this book at page 486. After devoting so much of my intellectual energy and time to 35 chapters in this tome of a book, I decided to throw in the towel. Boredom was eating away at me slowly and I just didn’t act on it. I do have to applaud the author for caring enough about her subject to write chapter after chapter after chapter in this overdone biography, I couldn’t have done it! Patricia Highsmith was a truly insufferable woman and the psychological implications behind that woman were too draining on me. The major advantage (thus the two stars rating) carrying this book is the author’s detailed and lyrical precision in telling Highsmith’s troubled story. I’m exhausted just looking at the cover. Although I still want to read Highsmith’s fictions before I condemn her completely as an author, as a person and psychological study she proved too heavy for me. Glad to be moving on.

On June 23, 2013, I was on page 482, 68.0% done with the book. CLOSED IT and considered it READ, even though it was, of course, a did-not-finish.

8) Maybe One: A Case for Smaller Families, by Bill McKibben

Read from October 6 to November 27, 2012, and CLOSED IT.

9) X-Rated Bloodsuckers (Felix Gomez #2), by Mario Acevedo

First one was fine, not bad but not great, but couldn’t get through the second one. At one time I had the whole series ready.  CLOSED IT on August 13, 2013 on page 170, 45.0% done.

10) Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2), by Suzanne Collins

Even after reading the first one and watching the movie [which was just ok], I CLOSED IT on July 11, 2013 on page 160, 40.0% done. I also listed this one as back-burner and bored-to-death on Goodreads.com. Guess I’m the only one in the world unimpressed by The Hunger Games.

11) Heath Ledger: His Beautiful Life and Mysterious Death, by John McShane

CLOSED IT on September 21, 2013 on page 177, 61.0% done. I really wanted to read about Ledger but this was not the biography to take home.

So where exactly does the frustration lie? Certainly within myself, for maybe I’m just becoming too easily bored and ready to move on too quickly. Also, certainly within my reading material, which has largely [as of late] failed to entertain and sustain me. What’s going on? What can I do? Are there any readers/bloggers out there suffering from the same unfair situation? Is there light at the end of this tunnel? How do you guys cope with lackluster reading material and how do you make the choice to cut ties and move on?

Hoping I finish The Next Great One [and Soon!],

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