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On Giving Up


So I recently gave up on a book in the middle of reading it. I don’t very often do this – usually I tend to plough through even if I don’t particularly enjoy it or if it’s a difficult read. The last time was Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections because the German translation (which I’d borrowed from my mum) was awful.

This time I gave up on Augusto Roa Bastos’s Yo el Supremo. It was just too much – I have a lot on my mind right now and I realised about 100 pages into the book that I really wasn’t following the story. You have to know that I generally read on the train to and from work, about 30 minutes a day, and then sometimes a bit more in bed.

So you’ll probably understand that with a thesis on my mind I’m finding it hard to follow a half-crazy Paraguayan dictator’s fictional train of thought. I have also found the perfect replacement: Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionists is just right – a collection of relatively short chapters, each about a different character. It’s kind of like reading a collection of connected short stories, not too taxing on my poor mind. (I promise a review is to follow at some point.)

But at the same time, I feel a bit like a cheat. Silly, I know, but I hate to give up on books, especially if I’ve wanted to read them for ages, like with Yo el Supremo, and even if I have a good reason, like a thesis that’s sucking a few thousand brain cells out of my head into my computer with every word I type. I think by the end of this endeavour there will be a big empty space where my brain was previously housed.

So for now, Yo el Supremo is going back on the reading list, with the promise to get him back out once my poor little brain has recovered and is once more able to deal with Latin American dictators.

Have you ever given up on a book? Which one? And did you feel guilty about it?


Author: bettinathenomad

Nomad. International Relations geek. Reader. Feminist. Swimmer. Boulderer. Runner. Hiker. Not necessarily in that order.

7 thoughts on “On Giving Up

  1. I gave up on The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver). I kept trying to read it, and would get a chapter in and realise I wasn’t paying attention. I felt guilty, with extra guilt when I spoke to people who gushed about how fabulous it was. Also have given up on Siddhartha quite a few times.

  2. Thanks for commenting Em! I’ve not tried The Poisonwood Bible, but regarding Siddharta, I think there’s only so much Hesse one person can stomach. I read three of his novels (Steppenwolf, The Glass Bead Game, and Narcissus and Goldmund) within quite a short time period at some point, and I have to say that I’m not tempted to take up another one any time soon. The man has his value, but then you get over it and move on ;-).

  3. Thanks for the honesty. Speaking of Fuentes I’ve given up on Christopher no nato and Nuestra Tierra. Mostly because they are huge and I get destracted. The same has happened with Don Quijote, which I really want to read, but 600 pages always seems so long when you start and I read kind of like you do on the bus, at lunch, before bed, so it is very fragmented. Not the best ways for a big work.

  4. Bettina, I’ve temporarily abandoned Roa Bastos’ novel twice (bad timing, and it’s not the easiest book as you mention). However, I’m giving it another try next month because I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read of it and I’ve heard so many great things about it from the few people I know that actually have read it! Anyway, very nice to “meet” you and your fine blog–look forward to hearing about more Spanish language literature from you in the future. P.S. have you been to La Central or just shopped from them online? I hope to visit them the next time I’m in the Barcelona area, but unfortunately it wasn’t until after my last trip there that I started hearing so much about the bookstore. ¡Saludos!

  5. Hi Richard, thanks for visiting! It’s good to hear that there are fellow Roa Bastos abandoners out there. I also want to give it another try soon.
    And yes, I did buy it at La Central. You absolutely have to go there! They seem to have several branches, but I went to the one on Carrer d’Elisabets, which is housed in a gorgeous old building, I just wanted to move in and live there.

  6. Pingback: Tom Rachman: The Imperfectionists (2010) | Liburuak

  7. Pingback: Advent with Austen Excitement | Liburuak

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