Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What a slog!

Ugh. I just finished reading Earth by David Brin. I have read and ejoyed Mr. Brin's sci-fi stylings before (I swear to you. I do not only read and watch sci-fi/fantasy.) but this book was just a slog. It had too many boring characters and was way too excited about it's physics for my liking. Seriously, I did not like that book from start to finish. It took me three weeks to read that 600 page paperback. (In comparison, after I finished that book I read 100 pages of the next book on my list whilst taking a bath. I'm no Megan but I'm a pretty fast reader.)

The real question is, why can't I stop reading books I don't like?

I have been reading Shake Hands with the Devil for over a year now. I perservere on that book because a) it has actually been improving and b) I think it's subject matter is important.

But Earth by David Brin did not improve at any point nor was it's subject matter important. There is a long list of "oh my god! the world is ending!" entertainment for me to choose from and Earth did not live up to most of those choices.

So why can't I just give up a move on? Do you know how many books there are in the world?!?!? I don't have time to read them all! Especially if I waste precious weeks on books I don't even like.

I have given up on reading just 3 books in my entire life. One was a book that turned out to be the second in a series. I didn't really like it so I didn't bother getting the first in the series. I secretly don't count that one since it was nigh impossible to understand without having read the first book.

So really, I have given up on reading 2 books in my entire life. The Simarillion (Tolkein other than Lord of the Rings? Just don't go there) and Naked Lunch (I feel like giving up on Naked Lunch is almost like a rite of passage).

I give up on other things all the time! I write off people, places, things...why not books???? why???

(this Tuesday really feels like a Monday. a gloomy depressing Monday. Where did the sun go??? where??????)


Meg said...

I'm the same way. I can't give up on them. They're almost like friends. Friends whose entire existence is based upon me reading them once. I can't let them down.

There is such a sense of accomplishment when one finishes one of those slogged through books. Not to mention relief.

Sterling Lynch said...

The last book I didn't give up on was Joyce's Ulysses. Why did I not give up on it. So I could say it sucks and reply, "yes, goddamn it I read the whole damn thing. Good start, good ending. Hundreds of pages of twaddle in the middle."

Life is too valuable not to give up on bad books. I think I learned this during my PhD.

Hm. Maybe it's the hope that it will get better and the fear that you will miss out on something great. Try skim reading ahead. No obvious improvement? Ditch it.

Wayne C. said...

We give up on bad TV effortlessly (click,click,click) so it's weird that we apply a different standard to literature. I think it's because in school we were convinced that if we put a book down in the middle we were cheating. Unfortunately, many of those books we studied were downright awful. This encouraged bad habits ie. finishing lousy literature out of a sense of moral obligation :)

Great post.

Paper Bag Princess said...

I guess there's a sense that books exist on some kind of rarefied ground - hence the sense of moral obligation. But just because it's between two covers doesn't make it awesome, important, or even better than bad tv for that matter.

Yogibear said...

I'm not the only one! It's a very strange thing to do - there's relief, yes, when you finish, but there's also this overwhelming sense of irritating (like I can't believe I wasted x-days of my life reading that).

I think it is some twisted sense of obligation...hmmmm... internalized from our high school English teachers?? It's almost like eating those veggies - we do it because we know it's good for us, but not because we like it.

Sterling Lynch said...

I'd rather eat the veggies then read a bad book :)

Lady Rose said...

Huzzah! A new blog commentor. It's like opening up a surprise gift, isn't it?

So basically I'm a snob. I think that's what it boils down to. I think that books are so important that even a bad book is probably a better investment of my time than good tv.

Which is crazy. Because at least good tv will entertain me.