…as evidenced by these well-reviewed, widely recommended books that I started months (years) ago and just can’t seem to finish. Each boasts a heady subject, complex characters, beautiful writing. Yet there they sit on my shelf, heads hung and dust collecting while they are not being read and then not being read again. A solitary and hopeful blue post-it pops up from the middle pages of each title, catching my eye and mind as I breeze in and out of the room, day after day. That’s a really good book, I tell myself, pulling on capri pants and blow drying my hair. Everybody loved it. My friends loved it, my sisters loved it, it got five stars on goodreads, it’s All The Rage. And so, come nighttime, I suit up and sigh and open the book once more. I just need to let myself get into it, I think as I floss my teeth and file my nails (two activities I have yet to concede are impossible to do while reading.) I read five pages, maybe ten. Then the phone rings or the text dings and I immediately answer, guilty that the interruption is so welcome. My innocuous chatter betrays the swift, deft hands that close the book and place it silently back on the shelf, where it will stand for another six months until I rope myself into this ridiculous charade all over again.
I love–love–to read a good book. So tell me: why can’t I finish any of these? (That’s not a rhetorical question. I really want you to tell me.)
- Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. Sweeping family saga set against revolutionary Ethiopia. Author is a senior asssociate chair at the Stanford University School of Medicine and the winner of bazillion literary awards. He’s obviously got chops. And I can’t get into this book.
- Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder. True story of a Harvard M.D./professor who foregoes a life of wealth and prestige in America to care for the “poorest of the poor” in rural Haiti. Author is a Pulitzer Prize Winner. Tempting, but. I can’t get into this book.
- The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. Richly woven tale than spans generations and continents, unlocking the keys to a family’s mysterious past. This novel is a huge bestseller and all of my brilliant girlfriends have raved to me about it. I’ve started it nineteen times and the blue post-it has barely inched to the right. Darn it if I can’t get into this book.
- Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling by Richard Lyman Bushman. An thorough and unprecedented account of Joseph Smith Jr., written by one of the “esteemed cultural historians of our time.” Don’t know why I can’t get into this book.*
Now that’s a pretty impressive list of failed attempts, if I do say so myself. What do you say? Have you read–no, finished–any of the above? And if so, can you tell me what I’m missing? Thoughtful readers love these books, and I so want to be a Thoughtful Reader. But even my desperation to sit at the cool kids’ table cannot will me to finish these books. Can you? If so, please do. I’m starting to actually feel bad for those little blue post-its. (They call to me at night.) (It’s sad.) (And kind of creepy.)