December 20 12

It fills my heart with nerdy joy that I’m raising three voracious readers. It’s possible, actually, that I may have created monsters.

At first it was just Josh, my kid who would stay up all night to finish a book he had already read three times.


(Josh, circa midnight, any night of the week, any night of the year)

But now it’s all three of them.

They write me lists of new books they absolutely need. They circle their must-reads in the Scholastic flyers each months. Their rooms are covered in blankets of finished books. A bookmark is an excellent gift. They all put kindles on their holiday wishlists. We are constantly reading reviews and are on the hunt for high level/age appropriate books for 6th, 5th, and 2nd graders. We are praying that a library will open near us soon.

Every night, Isabella calls from her room, deep inside her newest chapter book, “Mama! What does e-s-t-a-b-l-i-s-h-m-e-n-t spell?”

Lather, rinse, repeat with other difficult words all night. Also, what the heck kind of books is my second grader reading? Establishment? REALLY? But I’m not prepared to discourage these children. How can I possibly say no to this before-bed activity? I cannot. With all of the mind-numbing activities kids are into these days, I am going to allow them the extra hours of mind-filling, even if it means that I have stop reading my own book to yell the words back to Isabella.

They get this from me, obviously, since their father has read exactly one book in 2012. Granted, it was 11/22/63 by Stephen King, which is no small feat, but still. I’m disappointed that I won’t reach my goal of 62 books read this year (one more book than I read in 2011). I will probably finish the year having read about 50, which I can blame on the fact that I don’t spend 2.5 hours on the subway every day anymore and on the fact that it took me way, way, way to long to get through some of the books this year. After all, this was the year that I read the Fifty Shades of Grey series.

That’s time I’ll truly never get back.

I really need to learn to stop reading books that I’m not enjoying. My to-read list grows way more quickly than I am able to read. To date, there are really only two books that I have completely given up on—The English Patient and The Forgotten Garden. I just…couldn’t. I tried, several times, and kept going back and then just plum realized that it was just not going to happen. These books brought me back to high school and The Odyssey, a book that no matter how bloody hard I tried to read and comprehend, my brain just wasn’t having any of it—and somehow I managed to get away with writing several papers about it without ever having read the book. High school, man. And that was the days before you could Google the Cliff’s Notes version, back when you just had to get lucky.

I was pretty lucky. Remind me one day to tell you about how I read only every other chapter in The Grapes of Wrath.

Just don’t tell my children, mmmkay?

I had a hard time getting through The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, but I kept going because everyone said that the first 300 pages were boring and annoying, but well worth it; that the end payoff would be good. That book one was essentially a set-up for book 2. And so I persevered, and the book turned out to be mostly decent. Mostly. And I have zero desire to read any more of his books. It seemed unfair to use me and my time to write an entire book that was set-up for me to buy his second book.

I had a hard time getting through Outlander (which I may have mentioned at least 1,100 times in the last few weeks), but I kept going because everyone said the first 300 pages were boring and annoying, but well worth it; that the end payoff would be good. And so I stuck it out, and the last 300 pages were actually quite good. In fact, I may consider reading the second book in the series, because I am now slightly in love with all of the characters in the book. MAYBE.

It’s interesting, though, this pattern.

I mean, I just picked up The Chaperone last night and I’m well over 100 pages in because it spoke to me from the very first page. I was in it; immersed in it, the way my kids get into their books. I was basically Josh last night at midnight, sitting on my fitness ball, reading away into the night.


It makes me wonder about this, of course. Are there books that you have abandoned because you just couldn’t get through them? Were you bored? Annoyed? Or are you someone who always reads to the end no matter what?

What have you given up on? Do you regret it? What have you persevered through? Was it worth it?

And while I have you here, thinking about books…what’s the best book you have read recently? Goodness knows I need even more books to add to my to-read list.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go buy a stack of books for my kids that they’ll never give up on.

  1. I couldn’t finish the first Twilight book, the writing was just too bad. I also had a REALLY hard time finishing The Sound and the Fury, but I hear most people say that, which makes me feel a little better.



    Comment by heidikins on December 20, 2012
  2. I used to be proud of my “never give up” attitude when it came to finishing books. As my amount of free time in which to read has decreased, my attitude has shifted to “life is too short to read crappy books”. I bought several books a few years ago that I felt I should read (Grapes of wrath being one of them) and I just couldnt do it. Perhaps it was that I also got hooked on the True Blood series around the same time and baby blue vampire porn was more exciting? Who knows. But yes, it is ok to give up…reading should be a joy not a chore. Lately I have read “Gurnsey literary and potato peel pie society” which I ADORED. (think I am behind on that one as my Mum read it a few years ago) I have been reading “We need to talk about Kevin” but after last Friday I am putting it aside for a little while. Not sure what is next!


    Comment by Jules on December 20, 2012
  3. Ali, I love that you said that there are books that you just couldn’t ‘do’. I couldn’t get through the english patient either.
    Get your kids ANY Gordon Kormon books, especially the original four Bruno and Boots…they will LOVE them, and they’re at the perfect age for them.

    And hey, anytime you want one of my books to read, say the word (shoot me an email) and I will send you one!! Merry Ho ho and happy Dredle-ing.


    Comment by Nuala Reilly on December 20, 2012
  4. It will come as no shock to you that I do not give up on books. I can only think of one – The Lonely Polygamist. I couldn’t get into it. Everyone said it got better. I never got there. And then it was due back at the library and I couldn’t renew it anymore so I just stopped. I still think about it sometimes. Not enough to actually pick it up.

    I wonder how many books I’ve read this year. I’m currently reading The Passage, which I LOVE, but it is 800 pages. So it is taking me awhile.


    Comment by Kristabella on December 20, 2012
  5. Unless it is a book I have heard great things about, in which case I will persevere to see what I’m missing… I will dump a book I don’t like very quickly. Too many books I want to read and not enough time to get it done… Why waste it one bombs. There are just too many good books out there. Speaking of which I know a great book for your second grader. :-)


    Comment by Corey Feldman on December 20, 2012
  6. Mrs. Dalloway. A Room of One’s Own. Between the Acts. I have yet to read more than 50 pages of a Virginia Woolf novel without falling asleep.


    Comment by Audrey on December 20, 2012
  7. “Remind me one day to tell you about how I read only every other chapter in The Grapes of Wrath.” I am SO with you on that one. I re-read it that way too.

    I used to push myself through books because of the money spent. I felt guilty, if you can believe that. No more. Thankfully, the iBookstore provides good length samples so I can really decide if I can go for it!


    ali replied on

    Long samples? THAT’S BRILLIANT


    Comment by Chantal on December 20, 2012
  8. Is there a chance of a new library? Just thinking of your mayor… or your former mayor?

    I feel badly admitting to giving up. It’s more like I just put Love in the Time of Cholera back on the shelf and haven’t picked it up in about 3 years.


    Comment by Heather on December 20, 2012
  9. It took me three tries to read the first Hunger Games book, and I’m so glad that I persevered because I really enjoyed it and the second book. The third … was okay.

    I finally gave in and read the Twilight series two weeks ago. They are completely addicting, but I wanted to throw at least two of them across the room after reading the endings because they were so dumb. (The only reason I didn’t throw them was because they were not mine.)

    Have you read The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers? I guess it’s kind of Christian-y, but it’s one of my very favourites. Also, have you read The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman? Or anything by Rainbow Rowell?


    Comment by Mrs. Wilson on December 20, 2012
  10. I am actually really difficult when it comes to books. I usually give them only a few pages. I

    get a feeling right away about whether I like the style. I sometimes think I am too harsh, but I just can’t stick with them if I don’t get a “certain feeling” right away.

    Amazingly, I read a lot and have since I was a kid, so I guess there are still enough that work for me!


    Comment by Abigail on December 20, 2012
  11. i couldn’t get through “the girl with the dragon tattoo.” everyone said it got good eventually but i just did not have the patience. i will definitely abandon books if i dont like them – i dont have that much extra time that i’ll spend my time reading books i dont like! reading is supposed to be fun…im not in high school anymore! Did recently read “The Street Sweeper” and “American Wife” and loved both of them.


    Comment by shosh on December 20, 2012
  12. …. flat-out, no contest, the best books I have read in years, Still Alice and Left Neglected by Lisa Genova. I could NOT put them down, and can’t stop recommending them to people… :)


    Comment by Nicole on December 20, 2012
  13. I used to force myself to finish a book if I started it. After I became a parent and my free time became more precious I decided it was to put something down if I am not enjoying it. Sometimes I will try a book again and find that I like it on a second try. I could not get past the first page of Fifty Shades of Grey though.


    Comment by Paige on December 20, 2012
  14. It took me three tries t get through The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, but I’m glad I did. You need to read the other two, Ali. They fly by.

    I couldn’t finish Eat, Pray, Love. Just, no.


    Comment by Angella on December 20, 2012
  15. You can totally get away with skipping every other chapter of Grapes of Wrath. They’re intercalary- they’re almost asking to be skipped, really.

    I have tried, and failed, to read the Old Man and the Sea, several times. I feel like I should, but I simply cannot.


    Comment by pseudostoops on December 20, 2012
  16. I’ve failed to finish many books, but usually it’s because they don’t grab me right away and I feel like something better is waiting to be read. Right now I am having a hard time getting through Kate Morton’s The Distant Hours but I refuse to give up because I bought the dumb thing. The Forgotten Garden? Loved from page one. My very favorite book this year.


    Comment by Alison on December 21, 2012
  17. I just finished “Where We Belong”, by Emily Griffin. Wonderful read. Immersed, as you said.


    Comment by Devon Pavan on December 24, 2012
  18. I feel absolutely no guilt about giving up on books. I give it a few pages and if I don’t have a good feeling about it, I’m done. My time is way too precious and there are way too many great books to waste on the ones that don’t work. I’m also in a book club which meets once a month so there’s one ‘obligatory’ monthly read already (although I usually do end up enjoying book club books, or have enough to say about why I didn’t like it to make for a great discussion), and so on my own time I absolutely won’t slog through a book I don’t enjoy. That said, I have read some totally amazing books this past year – Don’t Look Now and Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier being top picks.


    Comment by Jen on December 24, 2012
  19. I seriously considered abandoning and really wish that I HAD abandoned “Atonement”, but nope, I stuck it out and finished that sucker.


    Comment by Cindy on December 24, 2012
  20. It gives me pure joy to see my girls read. My son loves to pretend and he loves to be read too, so I’m hoping as he gets older he is a reader as well. We need to make lists of kids books somewhere. ha. We are constantly looking for new ones.

    I am a book put downer. If I can’t get through the first two chapters I will likely never finish it. I used to go back and try again, but I’ve since give that up. I have limited time and their are a zillion books out there. Why waste time on ones I don’t like?

    I haven’t read Dragon Tattoo. I will probably never read the last two Hunger Games books. I have others that I’ve not finished. I have books I’ve finally deleted from my Kindle because they were a waste of space.

    Oooohhhh and? If there is a big library somewhere near-ish to you and you buy the kids Kindles? You can borrow books from the library on the Kindle. It’s a newer thing, so not all libraries have it. But it’s awesome.


    Comment by Issa on December 27, 2012
  21. […] enough, uh, patience to get through The English Patient and I’m still kicking myself over it. I’ve written before about giving up on books, and needing to learn to do that. And I have! I have given up on several books this year alone, because my to-read list is long and […]

    Pingback by Ten Books In Ten Minutes | Cheaper Than Therapy on December 18, 2013

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