Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Too Many Books, Too Little Time!

I love reading. Have I mentioned this? Only one, two hundred times? I love really good books. I love getting to know the characters, feeling a part of an exciting story, falling under the spell of words that a really great author can cast. A couple of weeks ago I finished reading Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, a book that had been on my reading list for years, and I finally took the time to read it for my book club. At nearly 1000 pages it was like a mountain to me that I was determined to climb. I'm not a fast reader, but I am a voracious reader. When I find a book that I love, I can't get enough of it. This was one of those books. I spent as much of my time reading it as I could, and when I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it. It was like a rich tapestry, one that only a really gifted author could weave. I couldn't wait to get through it, but when I did, I was so sad. I missed the characters, I missed the atmosphere, I missed the feeling I had reading it. So I started a new book.

My friends, Julie and Denise (my NaBloPoMo buddy), and I are meeting in Toronto this month for a girls weekend together. The catalyst for this planned getaway was the Tony award winning Broadway show Wicked, which is playing in Toronto for just a few weeks. We made our plans last spring and got tickets the week they went on sale. We've all heard wonderful things about this play, which is about the life of the Wicked Witch of the West, basically a prequel to The Wizard of Oz. Julie had read the book by Gregory Maguire and suggested that Denise and I read it before we see the play, so I picked it up a couple of months ago, but just got a chance to fit it into my reading list last week. When I finished Pillars, I decided to dive into Wicked. I was looking forward to it. I love The Wizard of Oz, and I usually love fairy tale type stories, so I expected this to be right up my alley. Julie warned me, however, that this was not going to be an easy read. One of the ladies in my book club had told me that her father, who loves the play and has seen it multiple times, hated the book. They were both right. After 50 pages, I still wasn't drawn into the story, I didn't care about the characters. Not a good sign. After 100 pages I was getting frustrated. I still didn't feel any connection to the story. After 200 pages, despite tremendous feelings of guilt, I decided to quit.

My dear friend and fellow book-lover, Joy and I have always had a saying: "Too many books, too little time". It is so true! There are a million books out there that I want to read — I don't have time to waste on books I'm not enjoying! I'm not in university anymore, where I had to read three or four books a week that were someone else's choice. Now I get to choose, and there is really nothing compelling me to continue a book that I am not enjoying. I decided a few months ago, after finishing a book that left me feeling like I had just wasted a great chunk of my time, that from now on I am not going to read books that I don't like. Not even for my book club. I'll give them a try — I think 200 pages is a really good try! — but if after even 50 pages there is nothing there to make me want to keep reading, I'm closing the book and moving on. I even told my kids about this decision last week — to which Connor responded that he had given up on a book at school that very day! I'm not sure he quite got the message I was trying to convey. Oh, well, he knows a good book when he reads it. He still loves reading Harry Potter with me!

Despite this revelatory decision, I still feel guilty about giving up on Wicked. I think the problem is that I'm not quite sure how to articulate exactly what it was that I didn't like about the book. And in the back of my mind I do think I'll come back to it after I see the play. I'm just not good at being a quitter! At least not where books are concerned.

But I have moved on. I started reading The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill, which my book club read last year before I was a part of it, and which has been on my shelf waiting to be read for over a year. It had been highly recommended by a number of friends, and I decided that it was time I found out what all the fuss is about. I've read about 60 pages, and I am enraptured. It is wonderful! I already love everything about it. The voice of the narrator is just endearing, and I already find myself carried away on her journey. So quitting Wicked was worth it. I don't feel like going back at all.

At least not for a couple of weeks...


  1. RYN - yes Julia is looking a lot like me in that costume but I didn't even see it until you mentioned it!
    I want to read that book - Pillars of the Earth. Your description makes me want to and now I'll probably never pick up Wicked! You'll have to bring me some good books on your next visit. My library moved with you!!

  2. Oh, yes the little boy with Randy fell in love with him while Randy worked on the Graham's house this past summer. Isn't he sweet?

  3. And a second oh...Julia loves your star and moon pumpkin!

  4. I loved, loved, loved "Pillars of the Earth" and I too was sad when I finished reading it. In fact, while reading I found myself cheering for the book. The author is a master craftsman and it is no wonder this novel made Oprah's Book Club! I'm in the middle of the sequel "World Without End" and I jokingly call it book without end. However, I know I'll be equally sad when I finish this one too because it's just as good. In fact, it might even be better!