Confession Friday: I Don't Finish Reading Everything I Start

October 12, 2012 Book Club, Classics, Dystopian, E-Readers 32

Welcome to the Confessional, Bookworms! Let’s talk about my secret shames, shall we? Ordinarily, I am a stubborn book finisher. There have been occasions where I power through a book where I hate the characters, hate the situations, and sometimes talk back to characters… Loudly. It makes me feel powerful to “not let the book win.” The books that have won haunt me. Let’s talk about them!

I started reading The Fifth Book of Peace by Maxine Hong Kingston because I had read her book The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of Girlhood Among Ghosts in college and really liked it. Woman Warrior was all about Chinese girls growing up in America and the cultural mish-mash they encountered. So, when I was in Barnes & Noble with my graduation gift cards burning a hole in my pocket, I saw The Fifth Book of Peace on the clearance rack and bought it excitedly. Unfortunately, I made it halfway through the novel and gave up. It starts off with Kingston lamenting the loss of one of her books and her home to wildfire. (Terribly sad for her, I’d absolutely lament too.) Then she started reconstructing what she remembered of the original novel. A Chinese American artist, his wife, and their son run off to Hawaii during the Vietnam era to avoid the draft. They lived off the grid in a squatters village and… I have no idea because I stopped reading. Reading this felt like a chore, and there are so many FUN things out there. I took a break from it, put it on a shelf, and never went back to it. To this day, it taunts me from the bookshelf…

Stop judging me, book!

Sons and Lovers by DH Lawrence is next in my little walk of shame. I really liked Lady Chatterley’s Lover, so I figured another Lawrence tome was a safe bet. Back in the days before I had a Kindle, I carried handbags of epic proportions. I went to visit my Slaw (short for sister in law, for those of you who aren’t up on my lingo. Jenny smells nothing like cabbage and I actually hate coleslaw, but my brain does stupid things with letters and this is what it spit out) in Chicago one weekend and had perhaps one adult beverage too many. At this point, I started hunting for my lip balm, thus scattering the contents of my ginormous handbag on a table in a bar. Photographic evidence below… I should really stop using that bookmark. That’s the one I was using on The Fifth Book of Peace too. Maybe it’s cursed. I read a little bit more of it on the train back home, but that was the end of that. I was expecting some Lady Chatterley flowery smut and I got a carnival and some weird dating stories. Then I fell asleep. Narcolepsy, I guess. Or a mild hangover. Tomato, toMAHto.

Of course there were cameras that night! Of course there were.

Our last stop on the walk of shame is 1Q84. Oh boy. So I’ve mentioned that I only speak English right?  The title of this book apparently means something funny in Japanese, but something is lost in translation. The number nine and the letter Q? Yeah. Not funny. How I came to be reading this in the first place is an embarassing story. I’m apparently an accidental cultural bigot. My book club (Wine and Whining) read Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and I loved it. Yay dystopian clones! One day, I was hunting through the books available for Kindle from my local library. I saw 1Q84 by Hakuri Murakami and I thought “oh! I liked his book about the clones!” Because if you’re me, those two completely different Japanese names are the same?! You are welcome to judge me harshly for this- I deserve it.

Murakami is more the sort of novelist that fancy people pretend to like- nothing about clones (sad face.) The problem with Kindle books is that you can’t see the, uh, girth of the novel. I’m also lazy and I never look at the approximate page numbers when choosing books, so I didn’t realize that trying to read a 928 page novel on alternate worlds set in Japan wouldn’t be possible in the span of my two week lending period. The book went back to the library (no late fees = digital lending perk) and I never checked it out again. Woops.

Maybe one day I’ll get back to it. Maybe.

There you have it, Bookworms. Katie’s walk of shame- books I didn’t finish. Happy weekend!

32 Responses to “Confession Friday: I Don't Finish Reading Everything I Start”

  1. didibooksenglish

    Yeah Ieve done the walk of shame. Although I consider it a sensible one. I didn’t finish Midnight’s Children. I guess I’m just stupid but I’d read about 150 pages and gave up because I couldn’t tell who was who. What a pretentious piece of literature. How can a writier change the names of the characters and you can’t tell who’s who and don’t even understand why it’s been done. No regrets on that one.

    • Words for Worms

      LOL I’ve only read one Rushdie novel, The Enchantress of Florence. I finished it, but it was pretty crazy. Not sure I’m brave enough to try him again.

      • didibooksenglish

        Can you believe I have that novel on my shelf and haven’t atempted to read it yet. Am I some kind of masochist or what. One day I’ll sit down with it and a some wine to take off the edge.

  2. Sami

    I have a walk of shame the size of a library…I will usually give a book at least 50 pages but If I’m not feeling it I just skip to the last page for closure and walk away. I have a 4 yr old son who has taught me the value of picking my battles. Sometimes you just have to walk away and let the book win.

  3. Michelle Proulx

    I gave up on The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Shame on me, right? I got about a third of the way through, and nothing was happening so I put it down. Of course, everyone tells me that things will start happening soon, and what is wrong with me, keep reading! but I just can’t do it. Maybe it’s because I don’t like detective stories. Maybe it’s because I don’t like reading about freezing cold places. Regardless, that is currently my greatest shame.

    • Words for Worms

      I read the dragon tattoo books, but the whole time I was like “I don’t care about Swedish politics! I don’t get your allusion! Why is it so cold there?!” So. I feel you 🙂

  4. NextInLine

    My walk of shame currently features Cloud Atlas. I’ve made it about 100 pages, but the need to incessantly look up arcane words and the flip flop narrative forced me to put it down and pick up the new J.K. Rowling. I already know all the naughty words. Win win!

    • Words for Worms

      I’ve been meaning to give Cloud Atlas a try, but I’m not sure if I’ll like it or if it’ll end up on my pretentious list. JK Rowling though? That I’m excited about. I’m going to use that for Blogstalker Book Club, Month 2! 🙂

  5. Lyssapants

    I have the same issue, only I talk about it in terms of not wanting to be a quitter.
    Alas, I have a short list of books I never finished, many of them for classes, because they felt like chores. You’re right, reading should be fun, damnit!

    • Words for Worms

      I like to think that. I mean, I’m not going to go full time word nachos or anything, because sometimes we need to read things that are good for us too… But really, there’s no shame in not finishing your literary brussels sprouts here in my corner of the internet.

      • Lyssapants

        whoa whoa……whoa.
        Why does ‘fun’ and ‘good for us’ have to be mutually exclusive? Honestly, I think any reading is good for us!

        • Words for Worms

          I agree that all reading is good for us, but there’s something to be said for occasionally trying a classic on for size. Sometimes they’re fun sometimes they aren’t. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to finish it. I suppose I just want to encourage the tasting of different flavors. Like my mom did with vegetables at dinner. I still hate beets, but at least I tasted them.

          • Words for Worms

            Hubbs is rather fond of saying, “Everything is fine in moderation…except for herion.” I think that statement should be amended to include clown porn.

  6. Rachel

    Is this your Follow me Friday post? I couldn’t find it. Perhaps I’m just blind. 🙂 Anyway, I like the variety of reviews that you have on this blog. I’ll follow you. 🙂 I’m rather obsessive about finishing books myself. I have to have a really good reason for never finishing something.

    • Words for Worms

      Hi Rachel! Ummm I might be a failure at blog hops. I didn’t realize that the question thing was required. Woops! Thanks for visiting in spite of my ineptitude!

  7. joydai1989

    is not like Hakuri Murakami’s other novels. Chinese version is divided into three parts and I even doubted if the last part was written by him. I recommend and a lot!

  8. Miss Brill

    Great post. I have to admit that until recently, I was one of those people who bitterly insisted on getting to the end of every single book I started, no matter how much I wasn’t enjoying it. It was like I signed an imaginary Finishing Contract as soon as I cracked the spine. Now I’m kind of enjoying the rebellious feeling I get when I decide that I’m NOT GOING TO FINISH A BOOK. Except this year I started Anna Karenina and didn’t even make it 100 pages (I have every intention of trying again…sometime), and I still feel guilty.

    • Words for Worms

      Oh Miss Brill, I had a similar problem with Anna Karenina. Better than Ambien, Tolstoy is! Seriously though, it’s worth powering through, even if it takes a while. You should check out my post “The Greatest Sleep Aids Disguised As Books.” I think it’ll get a giggle out of you 🙂

  9. Meg

    1. I like Murakami, but I promise I am in no way fancy. Am currently drinking beer out of a Mason jar at 2:30 in the afternoon.

    2. Sons and Lovers…yeah…I finished it, but it took me months! The only reason I actually finally managed to finish the darn thing is that we had a 3 day power outage and I had nothing else to do, haha.

    3. Life of Pi. On the Wings of the Dove. Don Quixote. We all have our own list of shame!

    • Words for Worms

      I think my problem with Murakami is that I bit off more than I could chew… Incidentally, I am drinking tea out of a mason jar at 2:42… And I already had a beer 🙂

  10. Jayne

    I, too, HATE to leave a book unfinished. I have the same feeling that it means the book won. So far my two “walks of shame” books are:
    – Anna Karenina, like Miss Brill… seriously I think the Russian alphabet only has 13 letters and they insist on using all 13 in every name. It was so confusing (and I’m not easily confused by books!) and I already know the end anyway because it’s so famous…
    – The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe. I wanted to read it after it was mentioned so many times Northanger Abbey (I should’ve been warned since that’s probably my least favorite of Jane Austen’s books). It was one of those that was SO dull and I just didn’t care! Maybe one day I’ll pick it up again, but who knows…

    • Words for Worms

      Did you read The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler? When they read Northanger Abbey, the only male member of the book club decided to read The Mysteries of Udolpho too! I haven’t read Northanger Abbey… Jane Austen only wrote, what, 6 novels? I’ve read 4 of them… I think I’ll procrastinate the others for a while yet.

      • Jayne

        I haven’t read Jane Austen Book Club. Was it good? I’d say you’re probably fine waiting on Northanger Abbey, but it would be worth picking up if you’re ever out of books to read. It’s my least favorite Austen (but for as great a writer as she is, her worst is still better than a lot of other books!).

        • Words for Worms

          Jane Austen Book Club wasn’t bad. It wasn’t great either. If you’re in the midst of a Jane Austen bender though, I think it’s worth the read. Otherwise? Meh.

  11. Sarah C

    It’s ok not to like a book (or author) and it’s ok not to finish a book (I do that plenty), but if you want to be taken seriously as a book reviewer it’s not really ok to dismiss one of the preeminent living authors (in line for a Nobel prize and one of the most widely read authors around the world) as one that “fancy people pretend to like.” That shows ignorance, not clever wittiness, like I think you intended. I happen to love Murakami, not just pretend to, but even if I didn’t I would be ashamed to write dismissively about an author in a public blog (esp. one in which I wanted to be taken seriously and gain readership rather than turn people away). If you want an entree into Murakami (which I heartily suggest you try to gain) there are other, shorter of his books (but they’re all strange and merge this world and another version of reality, so perhaps ultimately not for you; nonetheless, Murakami WILL be remembered just like a Bronte or Dickens in the annals of world literature).

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