Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Confessions of an Uncertain Reader

I have a terrible confession to make:
In the past 4 weeks, I have read the first 75 pages of 2 books without finishing them.  I'm sure these novels are works of art- in fact, I know they're on the list of Notable Books of 2012 for The New York Times, and all came highly recommended from Amazon, which has to count for something.  However, they just could not hold my interest, or I wasn't in the right mindframe, or there was a nagging feeling that the main character was just overly difficult for me to connect with.  I'm going to list them below; have you read them?  Did you like them?  Was I missing something?  What's going on with me lately?

I generally love Zadie Smith's works, but just couldn't get into the format of NW.  It's told from several perspectives, and the first one was off-putting.  The storyline follows four people in a NW suburb of London, and each character has his or her own section of the novel.  The first character, Leah, did not sit well with me; her trail of thought was difficult to follow, and she's just so unhappy.  I'm all for working through a book and earning the ending, but I couldn't do it.  Not this time.

The opening section of this book is masterful: a young man, Billy, is trying to figure out his sexuality in a small Maine town.  His grandfather always plays a female role in the local community theater, he is obsessed with his best girl friend's bra but not the breasts inside, and both of them are crushing on the school's big man on campus.  He's in love with the town librarian, who is hiding her own secret.  
Irving did a great job with the first third of the book, but once Billy moves away from home and tries to figure out his life in Europe, it drags and dies out.  Meh. 

Are you guilty of reading half a book and then giving up?  Anything lately that just didn't grab you?  Things happen- let's drop the shame of the uncertain reader!  Unite for books worth our time!


  1. I'm with you on abandoning a book if it doesn't grab you pretty early on. I plugged away reading "The Round House" -- which got raves on Amazon -- but gave up before the end. HOWEVER, I nearly quit on "The Casual Vacancy" -- JK Rowlings' latest -- but a friend urged me to stay with it and I ended up really liking it. Now I see it's going to be produced as a series by BBC. Glad I can say I finished it. Have you given "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" a try? XXXX - G'ma

  2. Not yet, but I'm first in the holds line for it at my library; hopefully I'll get it soon! I'll keep you updated. xo