Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Books I Didn't Finish

I think long and hard before picking up a book to read. My free time is precious and I want to make sure I’m using it wisely. Since I choose my books carefully, I rarely pick up one that I don’t finish. But this year I’ve made a few miscalculations.

The Book of God by Walter Wangerin came highly recommended. Wangerin is a gifted writer whose books have blessed me in the past, but I only made it to page 300 of this bible-as-a-novel before I gave it up. I love any book that gives fresh understanding of the Bible and I am not opposed to paraphrases. The problem with this one was that I found it uninspiring. Instead of focusing on God, I found myself reading each story with an eye to how I would have re-written it for better flow. My attention was directed toward word choices more often than toward eternal truths. Because I was giving it too much time with too little nourishment in return, I put it aside.

Sometimes when a classic doesn’t interest me much, I’ll get the audio version, a painless way to become familiar with it. Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne was just such a book. Yet in spite of the excellent narrator (3rd version at Librivox) and the intriguing opening chapters, the middle of the book dragged so much that I felt I couldn’t sacrifice any more time to it.

I have read only positive reviews of Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield so I was very surprised at my dislike for it. Yes, it’s British and witty, but those qualities weren’t enough to salvage it for me. I love beautiful prose and the truncated sentences almost sent me into a panic.

I often say that really good writers have ruined me for the average ones. Once exposed to banquet tables of sumptuous words and unforgettable characters, it’s very difficult to be satisfied with fast food. I blame it on Trollope!


GretchenJoanna said...

Thanks very much for these reviews. I find that I, too, am getting so picky in my older age. I'm sure I don't finish twice as many books as I do complete.

Anonymous said...

I have this book! Bought it years ago and read it halfway through, and never finished it.. I do have a problem finishing books though, I don't know what it is...

Kristen said...

Oh no! The Provincial Lady book is one that I have sitting here to read.

Carol in Oregon said...

"Blame it on Trollope" ...made me smile!

Carol in Oregon