The Book Life

Surrender

June 20, 2009
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I do my very obssessive-compulsive best to finish books, once I’ve started them. Even when I don’t like them, I push through to the end. Sometimes there’s something worthwhile at the end, and I hate leaving things unfinished.

However.

I cannot get through Then We Came to the End, by Joshua Ferris. I cannot come to the end, much as I’d like to. This book was recommended by Nick Hornby, in one of his Believer columns, and I have to say, I disagree.

The entire novel is told in the collective first person; i.e. “we.” This is fun for one chapter, and less so from there on out, and is too close to the gimmick line for me. And I think, because of this collective voice, I cannot distinguish, remember, or care about any of the characters, which is sort of essential to enjoying a book. It’s set in an office, and is meant to be humorous, sort of in the style of Office Space or The Office – and it’s occassionally funny. But the thing is, offices are actually really boring. And I work in one. So reading about it in a novel was the opposite of interesting. If this was a “classic” or required, I would put more effort forth.

But it’s not, so I can’t finish it.

And I’m weirdly proud of myself, as I take the bookmark out, and place the book in the to-be-returned pile.

I’m not good at not finishing things, which is usually a good trait. But not all things must be finished. In general, if you don’t like a book that you’re reading on you own time, you can stop reading it. Put it down and find something better.

This is applicable to life outside of reading. Things in your life you don’t like? Put them down, and find something better. How’s that for profundity? Profundity is probably the least profound-sounding of all words.

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