Thursday December 11, 2003

To read... or not to read?

Do you feel funny if you start a book but don't finish it? If you don't want to finish it? If you don't like it? How about if the book is by an author you usually enjoy reading?

I've been reading S. J. Rozan's series featuring detectives Lydia Chin and Bill Smith. The first book, China Trade, is written from Lydia's perspective. I liked it a lot. The second book, Concourse, is from Bill's perspective. While I'd like to know "whodunit" and why... I couldn't finish the book. I stopped about a third of the way in (maybe a quarter).

The third book, Mandarin Plaid, is again from Lydia's perspective. I'm enjoying this one as much as the first. Is it the perspective? Do I prefer the way Ms. Rozan writes when she's "channeling" Lydia? Or is it the subject matter? Concourse involves the investigation of a beating death in the Bronx (not the nicest setting), the Bronx Home for the Aged (even less nice a setting), a neighborhood gang of thugs, more low-socioeconomic dialect than I would prefer and an antagonistic cop with a mouth like a sewer. Maybe that's what I didn't like. I prefer my (mystery) fiction a little less... gritty.

In some ways, I'm looking forward to the fourth book which will, again, be from the perspective of Bill Smith. Will I find one of Bill's cases to be something I want to read?

Dec 15, 2003


I just read chapter 7 in So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading by Sara Nelson. The chapter title is "The Clean Plate Book Club".

So I did something I have only in my maturity learned how to do: I stopped reading. Right there, on page 71,... I might pick it up again, I told myself. And I might. But I doubt it.

Allowing yourself to stop reading a book — at page 25, 50, or even, less frequently, a few chapters from the end — is a rite of passage in a reader's life, the literary equivalent of a bar mitzvah or a communion, the moment at which you look at yourself and announce: Today I am an adult. I can make my own decisions.
Now, thanks to maturity, or psychotherapy, or the simple fact that as I get older I have a lot less time and even less patience, I have given up my membership in the book equivalent of the Clean Plate Club. If I don't like it, I stop reading.

To read... or not to read? ( in category Books, Movies, Music ) - posted at Thu, 11 Dec, 23:54 Pacific | «e»