16 February 2014

Bart, we would like you to see a special talking doctor...

With these words, Marge Simpson convinced Bart that he should talk to a psychiatrist. I could use that right now.
My streak of not being able to finish books continues. For some reason it doesn't feel like a typical reading rut. It feels more complicated than that. I have some thoughts about why I am having such a difficult time.

I have too many books started. Normally this isn't an issue for me, but for some reason when I think about picking up one of the books I am currently reading I am overwhelmed by the need to make progress which paralyzes me somewhat.

I took on too many worthy books. Middlemarch and Out of Africa are both good, enjoyable books, but their literary 'importance' has fooled my brain into thinking they are challenging. Like telling a kid that a food they would otherwise love is good for them. Suddenly they don't want to finish it.

I accepted an advance review copy that I no longer care much about reading. I almost never accept advanced copies of books from publishers. The only one I have ever accepted was a Maggie O'Brien novel. In that instance I couldn't wait to read the book and ended up loving it. But then recently I was approached by a publicist for a Real Housewife of New York. Being a RHONY fan and the novel being written by Carole Radziwill, easily the most intelligent of all the Real Housewife shows--I know that is a low bar, a really low bar--I thought I would find it a bit of a romp. Candace Bushnell gave it a blurb. I figured it would be an easy read in any case, and it is, but just the fact that I am somewhat obligated to read it makes me a little nutso.

The TBR Triple Dog Dare is kind of kicking my butt. Even though I have over 300 books to choose from, I think my participation in the TBR Triple Dog Dare has me feeling somewhat trapped in my reading choices. I think I need to shuffle my stack and pull out something that makes me squeal.

I'm having a bad reaction to last year's competition to read 100 books. Last year the contest with my friend Roz to see who could read 100 books first is haunting my reading pattern this year. Since I am racing no one this year, I think I have gone to the opposite extreme.

Life is happening. I have been busy for the past month and half, but I'm not sure that is much of an excuse.

Now that I have all that out of my system I see two ways out: Either 1) choose one book that I have already started and put the rest away until it is finished; or 2) go find something fabulous that I know I will enjoy and put the rest of them away.

Thanks for listening. The patient always has the cure within.


  1. I always have a stack of books going. Each day I read a little bit from a number of them. I try not to read more than one novel at a time - unless they are radically different, like Proust and Hammett, say. I too easily get different plots mixed together, whereas a biography of Ben Franklin is unlikely to be confused with a book about dolphins. More than one book of poems is in my pile.

    It can take me months to get through fat book of poems. I stalled in Emily Dickinson's Complete until I figured out that I could read two pages every time I picked it up. What hung me up was that I was reading a poem or two, then putting the book down; when I would pick the book up again I would reread the same poem or two, finding them vaguely familiar ... If I read two pages, it meant I would have to turn the page. When I came back to the book I would have to read a new poem because I was on a new page.

    I figure this goes nowhere to solving your particular issues, but I decided to share. Cheers!

  2. Are you sure this doesn't have to do with your relocating (although I love your temporary digs) and your house renovations? I find myself in pretty much the same reading situation and I think mine is due to the imminent (I hope) safe (I hope) demolition of an illegally built 4-story structure that could damage my house and family if not done properly, which is questionable. It's like living with the forecast of a tornado. When will it strike? Will it strike? Every time I try to lose myself in a book, my mind wanders. It's my opinion that everyone needs a safe place, even if it's just in one's head. And I don't have one right now. And it's hurting my reading. And when I don't read, I go crazy. Thank you. Here's my 5 cents.

  3. I think with Joan that the disruptions of relocating and renovating may be a big part of this. When I was packing & moving last year, I found myself unable to read more than a page or two - even of my usual comfort books, the ones I carefully didn't pack, to have close at hand. And I had three books going at the time, which is very unusual for me, I am pretty much a book monogamist. And I hated that feeling of being disconnected from books & reading. I don't know what to prescribe :) but it does sound like you're feeling like you have too many books open.

  4. I agree with Joan and Lisa, I wouldn't be surprised if it has something to do with your house renovation -- you certainly have a lot on your mind! I'd recommend an extremely relaxing read. In my case an Agatha Christie or a reread of a favorite might do the trick.

    I'm currently reading one of the longest Persephones, Few Eggs and No Oranges, and it seems like it's taking forever! Of course, it's a WWII diary that spans about six years, but I find I can only do a few pages a day. Hopefully it won't take me six years to finish it.

  5. It's the renovations. No doubt. Too much on your mind. Ditch all the books. Put them in boxes. Get rid of them. Start fresh. One nice clean book next to a very comfortable chair. Allow yourself to forget the house, make a cup of tea and read! My 2 cents.

  6. I'm certain this can all be attributed to your renovations. Not sure if you know we did a MAJOR project here 2002-2003 and ended up living with my parents for 11 months...it's tough going home with a husband, 3 kids and a dog! It was also hard to concentrate on anything during that period, so I just let myself read whatever caught my attention. That was the year I discovered audiobooks (you wouldn't believe the amount of time I spent in the car!) Be kind to yourself, Thomas.

    BTW, I'm enjoying your renovation blog very much!

  7. I'm jumping on the renovation/moving bandwagon. When I see the pictures of the renovation I get excited and freaked out and it's not even my house. Maybe re-reading a novel you love will bring you some comfort.

  8. In my own weird organized fashion this is why I insist on reading only one book at a time; It motivates me to finish a book I'm not particularly enjoying so I can move onto the next. Of course I've grown up enough to realize that I don't HAVE to finish the book if I don't want to; life is too short and there are too many book options.

  9. Glenn: I was following a reading pattern similar to the one you describe (except mine were all novels) but then I find myself wanting to finish something and I end up reading nothing. I think I need to have one that reads fast in addition to the slower ones.

    Joan: Crazy about the illegal 40 story structure! I kind of want you to blog about that. I know what you mean about your mind wandering to practical matters--its just too bad it is often things out of our control.

    Lisa: I think you are on to something. In the past when I have moved to new surroundings I used to pick up one of the Mapp and Lucia books which totally calmed me done. And once when my life was all topsy turvy I would read On the Road on the subway. I didn't really like the book and the kind of writing allowed my mind to wander and think about all sorts of things while still managing to read. Doesn't say much for the book.

    Karen: That is one Persephone I don't have much interest in. Not sure why. I did read a DE Stevenson which is my means of escape. I think I need to admit that I need more escape reading and not feel bad about it.

    Pam: I think I do need to start fresh with something I haven't considered up until now. Put the others in the deep freeze until I am ready.

    JoAnn: Ooh, you lived with your parents. That would be distracting. I can't even read when I stay with my parent's. And I really shouldn't complain, I have no kids to take care of.

    Chris: The trouble is all of my already read books are packed away. The nice thing about this house project is not living on top of the chaos. I went over there today and was crazy glad I only had to be there for 15 minutes.

    Stefan: I should try that for a while. But that might bring problems of its own.

  10. So much change and chaos in your life recently - let yourself off the hook(s) and go visit a bookshop. If possible, stay for a few hours. Always calms me right down. ;O)

  11. Actually, it's only a 4-story building, but it feels like a 40-story building. It's a real horror story, starting with the 'accidental' collapse of two row houses on the site back in 2005 while being 'renovated'. Here's link to an article about another Philly fiasco to give you a general idea of how Philly works (or doesn't work): http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/city/20140219_Report_on_fire_that_killed_2_firefighters_indicts_city.html

  12. Sarah: Oddly I have no patience for bookstores these days.

    Joan: Sorry, that was a typo. I meant to write 4.


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