Friday, January 17, 2020

Why Can't I Finish a Book All of a Sudden?

I've read several books already this year, but now I am finding it harder to focus on any individual book than it normally is for me. With a couple of exceptions, I find myself struggling to get into the individual rhythm of any of the books I've started in the last few days, and while I haven't completely abandoned any of them, I now find myself with a tidy little stack of books that are are all ten to twenty-five percent read. And none of them are particularly crying out to me to pick them back up. 

It's not like I'm reading only one type of book right now, either. Almost the opposite seems, in fact, to be true:

I mentioned a while ago that I want to read a few "modern classics" this year, books from the 1920s through 1970, and this one fits that bill. It was published in 1921, and I'm reading its 1932 Modern Library printing, which is kind of fun. But, for some reason, this World War I novel is so far not arousing much emotion in me. I do find it's structure to be very similar to the more modern war novels I've read over the years, so maybe that's the problem.

I have an ARC of Growing Old, a book that will be published in April, and I really expected to get some insights from it because its author is herself 87 years old. Nothing like a little preview of the future, I figured. I'm just a quarter of the way through the book now, and I'm still waiting to learn something I didn't already know about "growing old." So far, there are no real surprises here - but that may be as much my fault as it is the book's. After all, the author is only 16 years older than me

I only learned of this Tom Wolfe book when it was referenced to in something else I was reading, but it sounded fascinating enough for me to pick it up. In it, Wolfe critiques Darwin's theory of evolution and makes the argument that speech, and not evolution, is "responsible for humanity's complex societies and achievements." Wolfe has been highly criticized for the book's contents, but I'm still finding enough in it to keep me coming back to it every so often.

This is another ARC for a book that is to be published in April. I haven't read any of this one yet, but have thumbed through it enough to know what to expect. It seems to be a very serious look at the priesthood by an insider who is ready now to tell his personal story about what it is like to be a gay priest in a church that still largely condemns homosexuality. I'm finding it harder and harder to start reading this one because I don't want to come away from it more disillusioned about all of organized religion than I already am.  But I'll get to it eventually.

This is another ARC (mine doesn't even have a finished cover on it) that I've put off for so long that it was published ten months ago. I've been reading Civil War history since the sixties and have collected over 100 books on the subject now. I just don't buy the book's premise that northern soldiers saw their mission as one to liberate the masses of common southerners from the slave-holding class that controlled the region. I find it impossible to believe that soldiers were that sophisticated in the 1860s - or now, for that matter. But I'll give Varon the chance to convince me sooner or later. I'm only a few pages in right now. 

You know, I think writing this post may have helped me figure out why I'm struggling so hard to stay focused. This is a pretty dark set of books to have on my plate all at the same time, so maybe adding something lighter (perhaps a mystery) to the stack will make it easier to keep returning to the darker books. I sure hope that works because I really don't want to abandon any of these.

10 comments:

  1. It's a difficult one. I'm the same sometimes, nothing seems to appeal, and I can find myself actually abandoning 3 or 4 books one after the other even though, like you, I do actually want to read them. How about setting them aside for a time until your mood is different?

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    1. The discouraging thing is that I really want to finish these because either interested in the subject matter or curious about the particular book. And I know that if I officially abandon one of them, the others are likely to fall like dominoes.

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  2. I've started three nonfiction books that I expected to love, but so far, I'm mostly irritated by them. Maybe it isn't always about focus, but more about the author. One of these I'll finish, maybe two, but the third one I discarded because the author is so snarky. And Sam, I almost always lighten things up with a mystery that will read fast and keep me entertained. :)

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    1. I just finished writing and posting a review of Safe Houses, a book I finished a few days ago but hadn't written about yet. Reminding myself how much I enjoyed that audiobook seems to have lightened my reading-mood a little. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

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  3. Fingers crossed that fixes the problem. I hate when I get stuck in a book and can't seem to read my way out.

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    1. I like the way you put that. It really is a bit like being trapped and searching for an escape.

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  4. None of them appeals to me, either. Just let 'em go, and find the book where you really want to be is my advice! What is Nancy Pearl's advice? Subtract your age from 100, and that's how many pages to read before you quit if it just doesn't interest you!! A real advantage of getting older.

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    1. LOL That means I only have to read 29 pages before I can give up on them with a clear conscious now!

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  5. Oh no, I hate when this happens, but, it's common with us readers from time to time. I generally find that a good NF or a lighter, easier to follow fiction title really helps me out of my slump.

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    1. I'm hoping it works for me, too, Diane. I did finish "Growing Old" today because it's only about 220 pages long. Now I need to find something a whole lot lighter as my next book.

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