Confessions of a Guilty Book Reader

I read.  I’m not an avid reader per se.  I just enjoy fiction (especially) and I believe that reading a good novel can be a very worthwhile experience.   However I’m not a quick reader so it takes time for me to finish a book.  Maybe because of this, in my life I’ve sometimes stopped reading a book when I grow disillusioned with the story or the approach the author is taking.  Does this mean I’m a quitter or just have particular taste?  I’m not sure.

I guess what’s strange is I can remember fairly vividly the books I started and were not able to finish.  In some instances I also can recall precisely why I stopped reading the work.  Today I decided to make a list of these “unfinished” books.  This list goes back some years, and I have carried in me the guilt of stopping and never picking them up again to finish.

There is one peculiar instance where I started one of these books more than once and still never completed reading it.  I remain in awe of this book to this day.

Books I started to read and never finished:

Light in August by William Faulkner (I read his Go Down Moses)

V by Thomas Pynchon (read his The Crying of Lot 49)

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (read and “performed” his short story “The Last Voyage of the Ghost Ship” as a choral reading)

A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipal

Skinny Legs and All by Tom Robbins (read his first four novels – this was his fifth…)

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (this I tried to read twice and never made it to the end)

Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (read some of his short stories in college however I don’t remember their titles)

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

The Road by Cormac McCarthy (my older sister and I both read this at the same time – she finished it; I didn’t)

So that’s it.  I’m not asking for absolution.  Just wish I had more perseverance.

**this piece is dedicated to writer, Cathy Crimmins and her article “Confessions of a Guilty Shiksa,” that appeared in Philadelphia Magazine in the 1980s.  RIP Ms. Crimmins**


Credit: Graphic of novel War and Peace from the blog:



One thought on “Confessions of a Guilty Book Reader

  1. ABE says:

    This entry intrigued me, as a writer.

    I would love to know WHY you stopped reading each one – especially if you could remember why (rather than going back and figuring it out).

    I read the full Huckleberry Finn as a child of ten, and, after I figured out his style (which would be politically incorrect today – but neither he nor I knew that), found it a fascinating story. I tried reading it again at my parents’ house the last time I visited, and it still has the ability to captivate me – but I didn’t get very far because of lack of time (they had a set of the Great Books from a reader’s group, so I couldn’t just borrow it).

    I am a lot pickier now, and wary of new writers, but I have just discovered the short stories of Octavia Butler – and savored every odd word of them.

    It is the writing: good reader experience for YOU, you keep reading. Not for you, throw against the wall.

    My paperback copy of Gone With the Wind is 1448 pages – so don’t feel too bad.

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