In the High Peaks

Friday, May 7, 2010

Setting Books Aside: No Guilt, No Self-Blame

Some free time tomorrow! Coming up: My take on the brilliant journalist and author Janet Malcolm, whose work I adore, even when she is provoking me to spout furious diatribes. &%*$!

Tonight, a word about my struggles getting into Sue Miller's new novel, Lake Shore Limited (2010).

I have a theory: When one has been regularly reading one book after another, and then dives into a new book, only to hit one's head on the proverbial swimming pool bottom, the problem is with the book, not the reader. People blame themselves unnecessarily for these "falling outs," and it's a shame, really. Such a stalemate can leave you not reading for days, as you try to figure out what's wrong with you and this book.

My advice to my fellow readers? Set aside the book that has you stuck. Do not over-analyze the problem.

1. Take a book tour of your home from top to bottom. A cup of tea in hand, a cookie, or a wee glass of wine can be comforting in such difficult circumstances.

2. Search for a book that leaps out at you lovingly and shouts, "Read me!"

3. Stroll amongst all of your piles of books--on the floor, beside the desk, (watch out for your ankles and don't stub a toe!), the side-tables, and even on the bookshelves, if you're lucky enough to own some. I guarantee you, a book that you are dying to read will fall into your hands.

4. Grab it and read it immediately.

This week I started Lake Shore Limited and stopped dead at page 33. Why? I kept asking myself for several days as I substituted The New Yorker magazine for a book. Finally, yesterday, I told myself that Miller's characters are not compelling--by page 33 they are still FLAT. I can't go on in this state. So, farewell to Lake Shore Limited.

Too bad--I loved Miller's While I Was Gone. Now that is a stellar read. Check out the link for an interview with Miller.

Stay tuned to the report of my Home Book Tour--Saturday!

No comments:

Post a Comment