Monday, August 10, 2009

When Is It Time to Give Up?

You may have noted in the previous post that I planned to read two nonfiction books for my summer reading challenge. You may have also noted that that post was written on June 25. You may have further noted that I was a little unsure how having those nonfiction books on my list was going to affect my ability to complete the list.

It is as I feared - I've become bogged down in one of those nonfiction books. The Health of the Country is full of great historical information, things I want to know and need to know if I want to write historical fiction about the nineteenth century. But (insert sound of frustration here)! I am crawling through it, and I'm not especially enjoying the trip. Every night I pick it up to read when I go to bed (I forget about it during the day), and I get through about three paragraphs or maybe half a page before I'm dozing and the book is hitting me in the nose. Every night when I place it back on the nightstand, I glance at the position of the bookmark, and it never seems to move.

Is it time to quit? One of my librarian friends said he frequently "samples" books rather than reads them cover to cover, but I have a hard time doing that. I guess I have the "clean your plate" mentality instead. It's especially hard with this book, since I know its contents are so potentially valuable to me. But I'm really starting to long for the joy of reading again. You know the feeling - you are so swept up in a book that you can't put it down. You prop it on the cereal box at breakfast so you can read as you eat. You do only the most necessary household chores and you find a way to do them one-handed so you can hold the book in your other hand. You stay up far later than you really ought to since you have work tomorrow, and while you are at work, you are only half-listening to conversations because you are wondering what's going to happen next in this fictional world your mind is living in. When the book is over, you are happy and sad at the same time, and sometimes you start again, just so you can go more slowly this time and savor the journey. I want that. It's been far too long.

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