Thursday, April 15, 2010

Unfinished Books

I'm having trouble finishing books that I've started. I'm not sure why. I think it has something to do with the previous book I read.

Some books I'll finish. I'll finish books that I feel an obligation to. Books that come highly recommended by friends even though I might not understand why. Classics that everyone is supposed to know but that may or may not withstand the test of time for me. Books I read just to say  I read them. And of course I'll finish remarkable books. You know the ones. The books that become your friends. Books that make you smile when you see their spines. Books that soon have rippled pages and cracked binding.

But what about the dozens of books that I hold with such high hopes, but never managed to see past the first few chapters. I blame the good books for my problem, the books that come to the dinner table with you, the flashlight under the covers books, the books that leave their imprint on your face with distinct 90 degree angle.

I finish one of the good ones, close the cover shut, and it's like saying goodbye. And even with the most perfectly plotted conclusion, I want more. I want to find a book with the same tone. I want to see my new friends, my beloved characters reappear on another page, in another story. I know they wont, but until I get caught up in a new story, I can't help looking for a while. When I can't find what I'm looking for in one book, I close it and move on looking somewhere else. I'm probably passing up perfectly good books in an effort to repeat a previous book's charm.

Here is my book breakdown so far.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone
(I know I only read one book that month, but I was just coming off of a movie streak, trying to get caught up on some films I've missed)

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
This is my second time reading the Harry Potter books. I got the set for Christmas. The interesting thing is, by February the rest of the family started reading the same books. Between my sister and I, we have two copies of the books, three of book one. My sister has read the books I don't know how many times. My dad picked them up for the first time. He's on book five now which is saying something as I don't think he's read more that half a dozen books in all the years I've known him. And Mom, who's always been very skeptical of the series has picked it up as well. I'm not really concerned with what the verdict is when she finishes. I'm just proud of her for reading them before forming her opinion. And I started reading the first book to the six-year-old niece. It's fun because it's become a family event, kind of our own family book club.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Tales of Beedle the Bard
I came of the end of the Harry Potter books first, feeling a little depressed, like I'd been kicked out of the book club. I actually think I enjoyed reading them more this time than I did the first time. I was more alert this time to the structure of the books and trying to understand how JK Rowling did what she did.

Next begins my phase of starting and not finishing books. I read the first page of The Chosen. It's good. I want to read it, but not right now. I'm saving that one for later. I tried The Golden Compass. I didn't make it through the first paragraph, an all time record for quitting a book.
The Penderwicks
This book I finished within the day. I really enjoyed it. It was a very gentle story. That's the best word I can think of to describe it. It struck me the same way The View from Saturday and Criss Cross struck me. I didn't keep reading it because I wanted to know what was going to happen next; I read because I liked the language, and I liked the characters. It was charming.
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
I needed something that was going to take me a little longer to get through. I intended to read the whole set. I havn't read them since I was a kid. I only made it through the one book. I was ready to move on.

April continued with not finishing what I start. I started The Letter by Richard Paul Evans. I read and enjoyed the first two in his series. Not amazing books, but pleasant enough. This one I felt he was writing just to write one more. I'm not too impressed. I Started The Book of Air and Shadows by Michael Gruber. The first few pages were filled with positive reviews. I was sorely disappointed. I read the first few chapters. There were actually a few good lines worth underlining. I read them out loud to my sister. But then I was skimming paragraphs just looking for the author to say something interesting. I was bored. Maybe I'll try again another time, but it's going to require a personal recommendation. I started The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. This one's a little better. I might finish it. It's a vampire story. I don't usually read vampire stories. I'm not opposed to them. I've just never found one I really wanted to read. Speaking of vampire books, I started Twilight just to see what the big deal was. I didn't get far in that one either. It on my shelf of disappointments with the others. So I'm not glued to The Historian yet. But I think it might get better. It jumps back in forth between two time periods via one character telling a story to the other. It changes point of view and tenses at the same time which is leaving me just a little confused.

Now I'm reading Crafting Stories for Children. This one I'll finish. The NF is actually helping to break up my reading dilemma I think. I'm also reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I don't think I've read it before. Don't know why I thought to read it now. Maybe inspired by Tim Burton's latest film. I haven't seen it yet by the way. And my reviews were limited to "It was okay," by someone who is not familiar with the story and "It was boring," by someone who slept through it. 

You know how it is when you're in the mood for a perfect book, and none of the 1,300 books already lining your shelves are quite what you're looking for. So let me know if you have any good recommendations, something I'll want to finish.

1 comment:

valerie said...

I tried walking into your library today, and there were all the read, partially read, and one-page read books, tossed about like good friends at a slumber party. How good it is that you read. That was one of my hopes for you since you were little ... that you would see the glory in reading. And now you have taught me even more about great literature, and music, and life. What a dear friend you have become to me! I love you.