Today I want to discuss difficult books, and what we all do when we come across them!
As I’m sure all of you can relate to, I have misjudged books in the past. Thinking I will love something based on reviews, or recommendations, or the blurb, but once I start reading, finding myself in Struggle Town. However, I’m usually determined to get through it. It takes a lot for me to put a book down without finishing it, which I must admit, can get painful at times. I can count on one hand the books I’ve started and not finished. And not for want of trying. There are also a small number of books that I’ve started and am YET to finish. Ones that I am determined to persist with. So I guess you could say that I’m currently reading about 5 books… some are just taking longer than others!!
Two books that I never plan to even think about again (after this post, of course 😉 ) are the second Bridget Jones’ Diary – The Edge of Reason, and The Children’s Book by A. S. Byatt. I lost patience with Bridget Jones. I didn’t like the first book, so really have no idea why I even picked up the second. Actually didn’t get very far in before giving up. The Children’s Book, I tried, I swear. So hard. I finally conceded that I had to give up when I had chewed my way through almost 200 pages of the 700-odd pages (and this much took me a month), and realised that I had absolutely NO CLUE what I had read. Other than that there were children in it. Sigh.
Apparently that lyrical style of writing confuses my brain. I’m led to believe these types of books are easier to understand if read aloud, but that looks (and sounds) slightly odd on a crowded train, and takes for-freaking-ever. So I – grudgingly – gave up. I find it incredibly difficult to stop reading a book, even if once I get to the end my thoughts are solely “Well there’s 2 hours/days/decades of my life I’m never getting back.” I suppose I feel I have to give it every chance to prove itself. Not entirely sure why though, it’s not like I enjoy those particular books very much!
A couple that I’ve struggled but persisted through are 1984, and Cloudstreet. One that I’ve finished, and one that I’ve yet to – but am still planning on. 1984 took 5 tries, and about 3 years, but the sense of satisfaction I had once I closed that final page was amazing. Cloudstreet I powered through the first half, then something interrupted me, and I never got back to it. Note to self: must have another go…
Why do I continue to do it to myself? Oh yeah. I (mostly) enjoy it. Give me a good book and a decent coffee and I’m set. Tim Tams don’t go astray either. But I digress. Silence or the iPod on shuffle and you’ve got my perfect Saturday afternoon. I know I’m completely hooked when it takes physical violence to get my attention.
Anyway – back to the topic at hand. I tend to mostly find the books I struggle to finish through book club, we have an eclectic mix of girls and book preferences! One example is Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates by Tom Robbins. The first one ever that I hadn’t completed by meeting time. Oops. It took up over a month of my life, but I was DETERMINED to finish it, probably due to the fact that it is a friends absolute favourite book. And also, I enjoyed the story – it’s definitely different to what I usually read – but I was Mayor of Struggletown trying to cope with the writing. It is roundabout, lyrical, and difficult for me to follow.
What do you do with books that are difficult to read? Do you DNF? Or persist through the pain?