Monday, July 13, 2009

Call Me a Quitter

How do you decide whether or not to give up on a book?

A congregant recently shared this formula with my husband: Subtract your age from 100. This is the number of pages of the book you have to read before you ditch it. Checking in at 39, that means I have to give a book 61 pages to do it justice. The younger you are, the more time you have, and the more time you have to invest in middling books.

Even with such a handy formula, I can't always abide by it. Lately I've been quitting on lots of books.

I gave up on ROOFTOPS OF TEHRAN after about 50 pages. It was a little bit MY LIFE AS A TRAITOR crossed with THE KITE RUNNER, and I didn't absolutely love either of those books either, although I finished them.

I quit on THE EDUCATION OF LITTLE TREE after a couple hundred pages. It was the heavy-handed, we-are-the-world, Confederate-and-Union-black-and-white-and-Indian, imagine-all-the-people farming chapter that did me in. That and Little Tree's six-year-old view of the world, which for some reason was reminding me of Junie B. Jones this time around!

I gave Sherman Alexie's THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN only ten pages, despite the many awards it's garnered. Really, this is hardly better than just reading the back cover copy, so I can't even give a reason for quitting, except that I wasn't in the mood.

When I'm quitting on so many books, I think that means it's time to re-read a tried-and-true favorite. Dickens may be calling. When I caught twenty minutes of the latest LITTLE DORRIT production last week, I couldn't remember jack about the plot, but after about five minutes of watching I'd seen enough to know I didn't actually want to re-read. Could the problem be me?

On the plus side, I'm keeping going with David Benioff's THE 25TH HOUR after loving his CITY OF THIEVES. Of course, that could just be because, on the back cover is just about the handsomest stock photo of an author I've ever seen. I'll bet that guy didn't even send agents query letters--he just printed up a hundred head shots and sent those out instead. Whenever my mind wanders, I can flip to the back cover and find my interest renewed.

How's your summer reading going? Any new favorites or dislikes?

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