I have a bookcase to the left-side of my bed. It's full of not-yet-read and half-read books, mostly paperbacks. This bookshelf causes me angst. All these (perhaps great?) reads are just sitting there, within reach. Some have been there for years. You see I have a hard time not buying a used book at a low price if I think I might like it, someday. The library in my old neighborhood, which is now still a short drive away, has a great used-book room. There are almost always good books to be snagged at prices ranging from 50 cents to 1 dollar. It's hard to resist. I suggested it to my former coworker and she came back an hour later with 24 books (for 20 dollars).
But I digress, what truly makes me feel guilty is not that there are yet-to-be-read books filling the shelves of the bookcase, but that many of these books are now half read. Only half read.
I have a feeling that I'm not the only one who feels some sense of failure when unable to get through a book. For me there is some sense of personal defeat (yes, on a tiny scale, but still). It's a book, if it's not badly written and you at least like it, then just suck it up and finish it, right? What's the big deal? Turn the page, just do it.
It's been happening a lot lately. I had to abandon one today, in fact. It was Brick Lane: A Novel by Monica Ali, a story about a Bangladeshi woman who immigrates to London for an arranged marriage. I wasn't dis-liking it, and it's a subject I usually find interesting, but it was just not doing it for me. Not right now. I need something, um, more riveting, or faster paced, or trashier, or something.
It's almost as though certain books, at certain points in time, don't fit right. It's like trying to wear your skinny jeans when you're PMS-ing, or your low-cut shirt with your newest Wonderbra to church. It just doesn't feel right. I know that for me, if I end up leaving the house in an outfit that I don't really like, I spend the day feeling less good than I could. "Oh hell, why didn't I just wear my Buffalo jeans again? No one cares and I would feel a whole hell of a lot better."
So I succumbed. I abandoned Brick Lane for.....are you ready? Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik. Go ahead, judge if you will. But I'm already on page 111, and I'm almost positive that I'm going to finish this one! And maybe, just maybe, when I'm done with this one, my mood will be such that I can finally get through:
The Way the Crow Flies by Ann Marie MacDonald, or The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant, or Wish You Were Here by Stewart O'Nan, or Stones From the River by Ursula Hegi, or Mexico by James Michener, or The Fig Eater by Jody Shields, or The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory, or Mornings in Mexico by DH Lawrence, or one of my other strewn-off half reads.
If you've made it through any of the above mentioned titles, I'd love to know if their worth the second half.