Some people HAVE to finish every single book they start. I’m looking at Mr Books here! I used to be like that, but that was before I started working in a bookshop. In fact, I can think of only two books I bailed on pre-bookshop.
One was Gillian Mears’ Grass Sister, which was given to me by a friend for my 34th birthday. I felt obligated to finish it, even though I didn’t enjoy the characters and found the pace too slow. I made it just past halfway before finally admitting that this book wasn’t for me.
The other DNF was Murray Bail’s Eucalyptus which I found tedious. The love affair that is, not the trees. His descriptions of the eucalypts were beautiful, but the rest felt old and tired and often sexist. I mostly skim read it in the end as it was a book club at the time.
Obviously there is another category of book where I read a page or two whilst standing in the library or in the bookshop wondering if I will borrow/buy this book. So, so, so many of these books get put straight back on the shelves as being ‘not my cup of tea’. A much smaller number get filed away in the back of my brain with the ‘one day, if I’m in the right mood’ tag. I guess you could technically call these a DNF, but I’m not sure I would call reading the first page of a book as a true sign of commitment or intent to finish. These books are more like an appetiser or a paint swatch or a first date – a sign of interest, waiting to see if that magic spark of compatibility comes through or not.
Because I take such care with the books I bring into my home, it is rare that I decide to DNF. Below are the latest two.
Captain Aubrey of the Royal Navy lived in a part of Hampshire well supplied with sea-officers, some of whom had reached flag-rank in Rodney’s day while others were still waiting for their first command.
I purchased my copy of The Mauritius Command on the 8th Jan 2004 in Orange and read it for the first time soon after. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying rereading the Master & Commander books with Nick but I have come to realise that it is just TOO MUCH right now.
I got to page 174 way back in February before stalling. What with all the other reading events I have commited to plus the new release books I
need want to read for work, I simply cannot take on anything else!
I will save the pleasure of rereading this series for a much later point in my life.
Title: The Mauritius Command (book 4) Author: Patrick O'Brian Imprint: Harper Collins Published: (originally published 1977) Format: paperback (I couldn't find a cover image for my edition, so I've used the 2010 40th anniversary cover that features the same illustration by Geoff Hunt) Pages: 332 Dates Read: 12th February 2022 - abandoned (for now, not forever) 24 August 2022
Master and Commander series of books:
I was approaching sixty when questions about what it means to be happy assumed a special significance in my life, setting me on a new path that led to a careful re-reading of Jane Austen’s six novels.
I had been saving Ruth Wilson’s The Jane Austen Remedy for Austen in August, but sadly we did not get on very well together.
Although we have read and loved many of the same books (The Jane Austen Remedy is an incredible list of good books to read if nothing else), I never really got on board with the idea of reading about Wilson’s experience of reading them. As a fellow Jane Austen devotee, I am happy to contemplate how JA has influenced and infiltrated every aspects of another person’s life, but something didn’t work for me here.
Perhaps I was expecting more of a literary critique and not so much personal reflection (of someone I had never heard of before this year. Who sounds like she has had an interesting life, but one I would have preferred to hear about over a coffee or a nice meal).
In the end, I realised I had too many other things I really wanted to read to continue with one that was barely working for me.
Title: The Jane Austen Society Author: Ruth Wilson ISBN: 9781761065989 Imprint: Allen & Unwin Published: 2022 Format: Hardback Pages: 309 Dates Read: 16 August 2022 - abandoned (pg 172) 24 August 2022
- This post was written on the traditional land of the Wangal clan, one of the 29 clans of the Eora Nation within the Sydney basin. This Reading Life acknowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are this land’s first storytellers.