I’ve decided to drop two books that I started to read earlier this year. I have a hard time walking away from unfinished books, but, in order to avoid making reading a chore or something that stresses me out, I sometimes need to just walk away.
The Best American Travel Writing 2014 is a collection of stories about people’s experiences while travelling. When I found it, I thought it would be like a book I’d just finished reading – a collection of lighthearted stories about people’s trials and triumphs while travelling.
Nope. Of the ones I read, they were predominantly fairly serious and (at times) even a bit dry. Then, all of the sudden, I was reading a stressful story about a woman’s experience being kidnapped, held hostage and raped. I kept reading after that, but I think that was my breaking point. It was unexpected, so it felt really harsh.
The stories were very interesting (except for one that felt like a dry history lecture) and I would probably have read them with great relish had I been looking for (or even expecting) serious travel correspondence stories. I made a note of where I left off when I had to return it with the expectation of getting back into it later, but I just can’t bring myself to get back into it. I tried, but that unexpected slap in the face ruined the book for me.
“… it’s told from the perspective of an autistic man who’s frequently misunderstood, which seems to stress me out a great deal. I actually had to put it down and walk away from it the other night because my blood was boiling with outrage…”
We, the readers, know what’s going on. So, when a character (someone working in social services, at that) was very harsh towards the main character, it felt malicious and that made me mad. There are few things in the world that aggravate me more then people who misunderstood something but won’t let me explain what I really meant, so I think I took this a little personally. And, I can’t seem to let it go. Two months later, and I still got tense and agitated just thinking about the book. I couldn’t even bring myself to try and pick it back up, even though I was confident that all ended well.
Instead, I looked for spoilers, read a few Goodreads review, and found a scathing review of it that mentioned the jerk who was making me mad (spoiler: they eventually admit to being irrational and fall for one of the main character’s friends). After reading all about the book, I’m actually glad that I walked away from it. It was fun to read and I found the main character interesting, but it sounds like the author was just looking for ridiculous situations to throw the main character into and then finding ways for them to magically fix themselves. I should have seen that coming as soon as they moved into their to-good-to-be-true, new and conveniently available apartment.
There is a part of me that’s disappointed at myself for not finishing these two books, but I think that I’ll get over it pretty quickly now that I’ve removed them from my “currently reading” list. Instead, I can focus on other books that I want to read and one (Silently and Very Fast) that I still want to finish but haven’t touched since last August.