. . . on a book? When I was younger and spent more time reading, I would never, ever not finish reading a book, no matter how bad it was. After all, I knew that even if it didn't get any better, I'd be done with it in a day or so. Then, since I started quilting and haven't had as much time for reading, there have been a couple books that I didn't finish. The last one that I remember giving up on--after reading a couple hundred pages because I read a review that said to expect the first 150 pages to be a bit slow--was Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. It's gotten some good reviews too, but it just wasn't for me. Too bad, because I was just starting to develop some real firm arm muscles from holding the darn thing up! (Note shipping weight is nearly 3 pounds!)
One book that I struggled through and finally finished was The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. Critics raved; even OPRAH raved. So I figured it must just be me and my lack of taste. Did you read where I said the other day that I don't like most "LITERATURE"? So I figured this must obviously be Literature. If you look at Amazon now, they only give it three out of five stars. I guess I'm not the only one who found it less than perfect! Of course, that was before Oprah's embarrassment with James Frey and his Million Little Pieces book, so I figured back then that if Oprah thought it was good, it must just be ME. Still, despite the problems with James Frey, I know Oprah gets it right more often than not, so I don't want to give the impression that she's been totally discredited in my book (bad pun intended!).
More recently, I read some raves about a largely unpublicized book written--or partly written since it was never completed after the author died in Auschwitz--in the early 40s about the Nazi invasion of Paris. That book is Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky. Have you read it? I found it totally depressing, and since it was translated from French, it seemed kind of stiff. I only made it to around page 150 before I gave up. The fault there was me, I think. I was reading it at the time of my parents' car accident and my dad's subsequent death and I just needed to read something lighter and happier. I still have it on my nightstand, but I'm still not in the mood to be depressed.
Which brings me to the present. Now I'm reading Amy Tan's Saving Fish from Drowning. Amazon shows only three out of five stars. I read the reviews before I got the book, but there were some people who loved it and I fully expected to be one of them. Well, no, apparently I'm siding with the majority on this one. How could AMY TAN be bad?! The writing is actually good, but I'm not getting caught up in the characters. I don't care about them. In fact, I can't even keep them straight. The story is told from the perspective of a dead woman who was to lead a tour group through part of China and into Burma. Her spirit accompanies the group and reports to us what goes wrong along the way. According to one review, it's a love story, a mystery, an adventure story--and maybe that's why it doesn't work for me. It's trying to be too many things at once. I'm on page 108 of 472 pages. I don't think I want to go on. Have any of you read it? Does it get better?
I really don't like to abandon a book I start, but I don't have a lot of time to waste, and there's a whole bookcase of books here that I want to read. In fact, while I was writing this, my husband brought in the mail, and there was the latest book in the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear, Messenger of Truth. And I KNOW that's going to be a good one!
So, when do you give up? Have you read any of these books I couldn't finish? Do you think I should go back and finish any of them? Do YOU ever give up on a book? Inquiring minds . . . .