09 March 2009

To Read or Not To Read

I have long felt it important to finish what I start. (Unfortunately, this does not hold true for the scarf I began knitting something like 4 winters ago.) Wow, that sounds really depressing and makes me look quite bad. Do over!

Whether or not I have said it out loud, I have been a firm believer in following through with what I set out to accomplish. It's how I learned to snowboard, lost 10 lbs (still 15 more to go) and why I canceled my cable.

That being said, I am at a terrible crossroads. I am reading a book that I have absolutely no desire to finish. I've been working on it for about a year (though the canceled cable resolution has definitely helped spur it along in the past few weeks). The "bookmarks" are a bike rental brochure from last summer's camping trip to the Apostle Islands and an Amtrak ticket stub from our Nov. 4 adventure to Grant Park. I believe I purchased it about last May, as I remember discussing with a friend at our Memorial Day camping trip that I was going to start it.

That Memorial Day conversation may have been the beginning of the end, because my friend told me that he didn't like the book at all. But I started it anyway, because he thought that I may like it, after all, it is quite a popular book. I got a few chapters in, it didn't seem so bad. Then I set it down for a bit and came back to it while on the Apostle Islands trip, where a second friend mentioned that he didn't like it either. Darn. (I will admit, I got a bit mad, at 2 of my friends telling me they didn't like it, that they were just setting me up to fail and they should have just let me read it and make my own decisions.)

At any rate, the book was set down and picked up several more times over the next few months until I've reached the point where I'm at now, about 3/4 of the way done and absolutely no desire to finish. I don't care about what happens to the characters because they are not people I would care about in the first place. Three quarters of the way into the book and there is no interesting hook or plot synopsis for me to care about. I feel that the author has failed to engage me, and it took me 3/4 of his book to figure it out!

So what to do next? Do I stick it out to the painful end, with the hopes that something amazing will happen and make me glad I read the book? Or do I accept defeat and put it back on my shelf and maybe gather it with a bunch of other books in 6 months or a year to sell to Downtown Books for in-store credit?

Given the recommendations of my friends, I think the answer will be to accept defeat. It's going to go back on the shelf and I'll pick up the other book that I've only partially started (though the story behind this one is far more exciting... this book is called Istanbul, and I purchased it while in Istanbul in 2007. And the story is interesting too!).

Wish me luck, dear friends, as the list is only more exciting after this!

In no particular order:
The World is Flat (Friedman)
And The Band Played On (Shilts)
The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide (Adams)
American Gods (Gaiman)
The Audacity of Hope (Obama)
I Was Told There'd Be Cake (Crosley)
Bowling Alone (Putnam)

Also, I kindly ask that you don't share your opinions on these books until I've had a chance to read these books, as to not set me up for the dismal failure mentioned above. Many thanks, Lars.

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