Saturday, February 26, 2011

This one's a struggle

I returned to my local thriftstore yesterday in search of book #10. It wasn’t that long ago that I was in front of these bookshelves (illuminated by the lights that “weren’t for sale”!), looking for books numbers eight and nine. Having spent time browsing the shelves, I realised there weren’t too many new additions to the selection, so chances of picking up one of my reject books from a few days before were high.

After some time picking up and putting back other options (too old, too romantic, too western, too dusty, didn’t like the front cover, no synopsis on the back), I sure enough resorted to those I’d contemplated earlier in the week: one was about a women’s knitting club in New York City (doesn’t sound quite right to me – a cocktail club possibly, or a SATC fanclub, but a knitting club in one of the most cosmopolitan cities of the world?!); another was a futuristic tale of women’s roles in society (possibly a little too heavy for the beginning of the year at least!); so I finally settled on The Orchid Thief, by Susan Orlean. A New York Times bestseller the cover told me, a true story of beauty and obsession, and the inspiration for the movie Adaptation, starring Nicholas Cage and Meryl Streep. Not a bad recommendation if I was looking for one.

I’m now four chapters in, 50 pages later, and I’m in despair. I don’t like it! It’s boring, confusing, too many big words, technical and I can’t quite get my head around what is going on. I know the first few chapters set the story up, and usually I would persevere to page 100 at least, but something is holding me back on this one – and I’m wasting valuable reading time!

Why is it that a “runaway best seller”, obviously purchased by thousands of readers around the world, isn’t capturing my attention?  But a thought has occurred. It may be a runaway best seller, but how many of those buyers actually made it through the book to the last page? How many made it past chapter four and read page 51?

The Orchid Thief may be the first book of 2011 that I put down without finishing. That’s not to say I won’t return  - the competitor in me won’t be beaten – but I think I may need to go in search of another.

Any recommendations?


  1. The book is a thief of your valuable reading time.... lol.

    Have you read Stolen Lives (Le Prisoner) by Malika Oufkar? It's a pretty hard read (sad true story about a family imprisioned for 20years in Morocco) but it is definately worth reading. I cried. I'd recommend it if you are in the mood for a change from fiction books. Although it's a true story, it's very well writton and does not read like an autobiography would.

  2. That's an interesting though...Just because it's a best seller, doesn't mean the buyer actually finished it! Sometimes I feel guilty when I don't like/can't finish a book, but then I remember there are too many books out there to waste time on something that is a chore to read!

    Somer @ A Bird's Eye Review

  3. I feel the same..some books just aren't worth the time and struggle..that coming from someone who adores books and counts them as precious possessions.Even so..some books are just tedious..and life is what you like. Although a good challenge is valuable you still need to feel compelled to spend the time. It is funny..reminds me of when I listen to the oldies radio stations..just because it is an oldie doesn't mean it is good. With so many books out there..not all authors are good writers.