For a very long time, it did not occur to me not to read any book I started cover to cover. I didn’t know I didn’t have to finish. Never giving myself permission to put a book down means I’ve done some serious hatereading. (Hatereading is my least favorite kind of reading. It ranks below carsickreading and interruptedreading.) It’s not like I’m going to qualify for the ‘Always Finishes The Book’ Prize because it doesn’t exist and there’s no scoreboard for it anyway. No one is keeping book scores except for the unreasonable compulsive asshole who lives in my head, and she should shut up. Letting meanless scorekeeping sabotage my Main Fun Thing by sucking all the fun out of it is somewhat shortsighted. Reluctantly, but necessarily, I have given myself an out in some specific instances when it becomes clear and a book and I are not compatible. Even though the breakups are handled gently and with respect – I always take the book out for coffee, and I NEVER give the bad news over a text message -there is a little part of me that feels like I let the book down. Please join me as we twirl around like happy autumn leaves in a mini tour of my Hall of Shame.
The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo I tried with this book. Twice. I still can’t believe I could not finish it. TWICE. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo has all of my Basic Crime Fiction requirements: down-on-his-luck grizzled male narrator, badass female protagonist, and a film adaptation starring Daniel Craig. When I first picked it up it seemed Smilla’s Sense of Snow-ish, and I was down with that because I loved that book. When I could not get into it, I figured I was just was not in the mood in that moment to feel Swedish so I put it aside. Then suddenly everyone I knew had read it and then the movie was announced then everyone had read the second book in the series I was all, ok, what the hell am I missing here? I hunted up my copy, took it with me on a vacation, and I cracked it poolside. It was slow going but I kept telling myself it was going to get better! Any page now! After I’d been at it about half an hour, the friend I was with said “OH MY GOD WHAT IS WRONG YOU KEEP MAKING SIGHING NOISES EVERY FIVE MINUTES STOP IT RIGHT NOW OR ELSE.” My involuntary breathing hated the book as much as I did, and my friend hated my exasperated sighing. It was time to bail. Sorry, Dragon Tattoo. I wanted it to work out as much as you did.
The Hunt For Red October Like The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Tom Clancy books qualify on paper as something I would really enjoy. (pause to hold for laughter at my awesome play-on-words-paper joke) But I bailed on The Hunt For Red October in the middle of a 3-page description of…omg, something about sonar? I leave these books for the gearheads who can truly appreciate the magic of a dimly lit submarine full of gauges, each requiring their own lovingly detailed description of detail-y details. Gauge on, my gearheads.
20,000 Leagues Under The Sea Ok, you got me. I did not bail on this book. I’m just here to say I am never ever going to read it ever. This book has a giant squid in it, and I don’t read about spiders. I know a squid is not a spider but it’s close enough because 8 legs and squids are WORSE because suction cups all over the legs. The only book I have ever read about a spider was It and that is only because I DID NOT KNOW Stephen King was going to go all giant town-eating spider on my ass and by the time I figured it out I was too far into the book to stop. That is the last time I let Stephen King bait me with a serial killer clown and switch me to a sewer-dwelling Charlotte with a gland problem. In fact, consider this whole paragraph my official request that bookstores have an Octopod/Arachnid section where all books even remotely related to spiders or squids are shelved. This will make it convenient for me to never get near that section.
Eat, Pray, Love I know. You loved it. Your friends loved it. Everybody everywhere loved it. I tried. I really did. I’m dead inside. I donated my copy to the library so everyone can continue to love it.
A Brief History Of Time Shut up. You didn’t finish it either.
It can be difficult to tell when it’s not working out with a book because sometimes my best reads are the ones that made me work a little. When I find myself fantasizing about accidentally dropping a book off a roof, I know it’s time to break up. It’s ok. We can’t make it across the finish line every time! I’ll pick up my participation trophy on the way out.
Book breakups are hard. Give yourself time to grieve.
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