Not every book we read is a winner. Some books are hard for us to get through. There could be a variety of reasons for this, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. It doesn’t speak about the quality of the book or your character at all.
Today, in an act of full vulnerability, we’re going to talk about one of my DNFs. It’s a book that’s been recommended to me multiple times, put in my hands more than once, tried at least three times…. and I just can’t seem to finish this book. I’ve heard it’s wonderful, just the kind of book that I would like. But, alas and sigh, I think it’s just not for me.
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
A long-lost book reappears, mysteriously connecting an old man searching for his son and a girl seeking a cure for her widowed mother’s loneliness.Leo Gursky taps his radiator each evening to let his upstairs neighbor know he’s still alive. But it wasn’t always like this: in the Polish village of his youth, he fell in love and wrote a book…Sixty years later and half a world away, fourteen-year-old Alma, who was named after a character in that book, undertakes an adventure to find her namesake and save her family. With virtuosic skill and soaring imaginative power, Nicole Krauss gradually draws these stories together toward a climax of “extraordinary depth and beauty” (Newsday).
I have tried to read this book three different times. But I put it down in almost the exact same spot every time. I should love this book: Alternating stories between very different narrators. A compelling story. It’s even interesting on the page, as it add in some story elements that I find rather lovely, but still I can’t figure out how to finish it. Sigh. Maybe I’ll put it back on the shelf and try again in a few years.
I believe that the three C’s of book club conversations can still apply to the books that we did not finish. Imagine a conversation where we sat around and talked about the books that just didn’t work for us and why.
Conversation, Camaraderie & Compassion
All three of these are going to be present as we talk about the books we did not finish.
- We start our CONVERSATION talking about the book. Why didn’t we like it? Where did we get it? Why did we think it would be a good fit? And why was it not? (It is good to think about these things to help us better understand what we want from a book or what we like in one.)
- Listening to others describe their books grows CAMARADERIE. Imagine another person in your group didn’t like the same book you did!! How validating! But also, imagine another person loved it. What an excellent conversation about your differences. If done with grace, this part of the conversation could be a lot of fun.
- Finally, we offer COMPASSION to ourselves and others about the books they did not finish. There are millions of books in the world, it’s impossible to set a standard that we will like or finish every book we pick up. (I, myself, need that compassion, for some reason I don’t understand, I feel bad that I can’t finish this book.)
What About You?
I would love to talk to someone who loved The History of Love. Maybe their experience with the book could help me overcome whatever is keeping me from finishing?
What about you? Is there a book that you have started and never finished? Let me know in the comments below. Or, you can write me a note at Sammy@sammybeuker.com
Can’t wait to talk books with you,
P.S. Are you looking for your own next great read? Check out my Book Club in a Box. It’s a Prescription for your book club that has 10 excellent book recommendations that are great for book club or just your own personal reading. Find out more here: Book Club in a Box