Abandoned Books

As a reader, I’ve found that my reading habits ebb and flow. Some weeks I’ll knock out two or even three novels, while other time it’ll take four, even five, weeks to turn the final page of a book. In that case, you can be certain that I’m just not feeling the book. (Either that, or I’ve been sucked into a TV series on Netflix.) I’m a before-bed reader, but I’m also a baby about getting at least seven hours of sleep each night. A book’s worth to me can be judged on the amount of sleep I’m willing to give up in order to read it. If I’m turning out my light after 10 minutes in order to get a full nine hours… it’s probably not going to make my Top Ten. If I’m telling myself, “Just five more minutes,” or, “Just until the end of this chapter,” and settling for a less plentiful night’s rest? Well, that says a lot.

My whole life, I’ve always finished every book I pick up. No matter how abysmal the writing, how boring mundane the character, or how foreseeable the plotline, I powered through. Recently, though, a T-shirt my mom owns has been weighing heavily on my mind. Well, okay, not the t-shirt itself, but rather the quotation emblazoned upon it. The shirt reads:

Too many books, too little time.

And this, my friends, is the truth. There are times when I honestly find myself stressed out over the knowledge that I will never be able to read all the books I want to read. And balancing my “wants” with the books for my 2+ book club meetings each month, the classics I avoided in school, and the professional reading I’ve never gotten around to… my goodness! The clear solution is to quit my job and read all day instead. At least that would eliminate one category of required reading!

So, I’ve developed a new policy. If a book just isn’t doing it for me, and three hundred others are calling my name, I’m no longer going to force myself through every page. I’m reciting my new T-shirt mantra, and avoiding thinking about Vince Lombardi’s words: “Winners never quit, and quitters never win.”

I began this policy in August with that month’s book club read: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. I know, I know. Everyone else in my book club LOVED it. And I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews from every other person I’ve encountered whose familiar with the novel. But I just didn’t get into it! Who knows? Maybe I’ll pick it up again sometime in the future… but maybe not.

Another book I’ve abandoned multiple times in my life is The Hobbit. I’ve never been a huge fan of fantasy novels, but felt like I should power through this well-known classic. But the book had the same effect the LOTR movies had on me. Every time I cracked it open, I fell straight to sleep. I gave it a fair chance. Honestly, I did. I’ve read that first chapter about Bilbo’s dinner party at least five times. Heck, I practically have it memorized. But past that? I just couldn’t do it. Will I pick this one up again sometime in the future? It’s possible… but probably not. We’ll see.

Just this month I abandoned Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage by Hazel Rowley. I feel especially guilty about throwing this one to the wolves (well, returning it to the library) because it’s this month’s book club read. I feel as though when I’ve made a commitment to a group, I need to follow through on my end. (I know, I just confessed to slacking on August’s read, as well. Bad book club member.) But after 2.5 weeks and 150 pages, I just plain couldn’t take it any more. Again, my mom owns a copy, so I might pick it up again sometime in the future. But, maybe not. We’ll see.

I’ve currently reading two fabulous books that I can guarantee I will not be abandoning. They are: A Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers and Four to Score by Janet Evanovich. (And, yes, I am SUPER-excited to see One for the Money which comes out THIS WEEKEND!) I also just finished reading (rather, listening to) A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle after reading this post on one of my favorite book blogs, Forever Young Adult. (BTW, they also just happened to post a book report for A Wrinkle in Time this week!)

So, to sum up, I’m gonna read what I wanna read. I’m still going to push my boundaries, try new genres, and at least give a fighting chance to each of my book club books. But, I’m going to keep in mind that reading is an escape for me, and there’s no reason to escape into a world more painful than reality. (Okay, that sounded really emo. I’m not one of those “the world hates me” kind of people, I was just trying to make a point.)

Remember, you can always keep up with my 2012 reading on by book log!

Mixing It Up Challenge 2012

In 2012 I will be participating in the Mixing It Up Challenge. You, too, could participate in this challenge and expand your reading repertoire. Just go here for more information and to sign up.

In an effort to round out my reading this year, I’m vowing to read one book from at least 13 of the 16 listed categories. Although I’m tempted to go for the All the Trimmings and a Cherry on Top participation level, I’m keeping it real and admitting that between my two book clubs, I may be over-committing. So, I’ll be a Two-Tier Cake-r this year. Confused yet? Read this blog for more information on the challenge.

Without further ado, the categories, and my brainstorming:

CLASSICS

Considering some Willa Cather, but considering going back to some of those should-have-read-in-high-school novels, such as Scarlet Letter or Three Musketeers.

BIOGRAPHY

I absolutely love reading biographies, but to be honest, don’t have any on my “to-read” list. However, I know that Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff has been getting a lot of attention recently, so I may have to check it out.

COOKERY, FOOD AND WINE

The author of this challenge suggested a book on wine for this category. If I can pair this with some real-life research, I’m down!

HISTORY

On tap for my July book club meeting is Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand, a WWII story named by TIME magazine as “the best nonfiction book of the year”. We also have Franklin and Eleanor by Hazel Rowley and Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure by Matthew Algeo coming up in February and April.

MODERN FICTION

And this is the category where I’ll fit in my recent addiction: Meg Cabot’s Queen of Babble series.

GRAPHIC NOVELS AND MANGA

This genre will (would) be entirely new for me, and quite a stretch out of my comfort zone. May be one of the 1-3 genres I skip. We’ll see…

CRIME AND MYSTERY

Paying homage to my mother, I will probably zip through an Agatha Christie or two in 2012, but I also plan to enjoy a few more of the Stephanie Plum series. In addition, Hardball, by Sara Paretsky, is on my book club’s list for March.

HORROR

I can honestly say I’ve never read a horror novel, but on my to-read list for quite some time has been Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.

ROMANCE

The latest Nicholas Sparks? Yes, please.

SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY

Ugh. This is my general reaction to science fiction and fantasy. If I re-read the Harry Potter series, does that count? (Maybe I’ll sign up for the Harry Potter Reading Challenge.)

TRAVEL

B gifted me with travel guides on London and Paris in preparation for our 2013 European vacation, so you can bet I’ll be scouring these in 2012.

POETRY AND DRAMA

I always enjoy poetry more than I think I will. Since I honestly never think to sit down and read it, I will appreciate taking the time to do so this year. I’m thinking some springtime reading…

JOURNALISM AND HUMOUR

This genre will take some research for me. It’s another one that I’m not too familiar with. Maybe I’ll check out one of those Chelsea Handler books that always look like they’ll annoy me… or maybe I’ll delve deeper and read a journalist’s collected works. Hmm….

SCIENCE AND NATURAL HISTORY

After reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks this year, I’m honestly not sure I can put myself through another work in this genre so soon…

CHILDREN’S AND YOUNG ADULT
In my profession, this one should not be a problem!
I’ll keep you updated on my favorites of 2012.

SOCIAL SCIENCES AND PHILOSOPHY
I gave B a copy of Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar by Thomas Cathcart this Christmas. The subtitle, Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes, sounds like it’s right up my alley.

Not sure this challenge is for you, but interested in learning about some others? Check out this blog, one of my favorite literature-based reads, for some more ideas.

Completed Reads

CLASSICS

The Great Gatsby by F. Scot Fitzgerald

BIOGRAPHY

Half-Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls

COOKERY, FOOD AND WINE

Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell

HISTORY

Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure: The True Story of a Great American Road Trip by Matthew Algeo

MODERN FICTION

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

GRAPHIC NOVELS AND MANGA

Homecoming by Meg Cabot

CRIME AND MYSTERY

The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

HORROR

ROMANCE

The Villa by Nora Roberts

SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

TRAVEL

POETRY AND DRAMA

JOURNALISM AND HUMOUR

Drop Dead Healthy by A. J. Jacobs

SCIENCE AND NATURAL HISTORY

CHILDREN’S AND YOUNG ADULT
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

SOCIAL SCIENCES AND PHILOSOPHY

Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived by Rob Bell