Sunday, June 2, 2013


I often tell people to feel free to stop reading a book that is a chore to read.  Since most people have been trained by their parents and schooling to do a good job on whatever is being done, many adults seem to forget they are in charge, that they are free to face the fact that a given book is obscure, upsetting, boring, repetitious or simply not doing what is needed or desired.  When a person reaches 70 or more, the years left to explore new ideas and enjoy new heroes and literary challenges are probably somewhat limited.  Why not toss aside something that has turned into a time-waster or a depressor?

It is probably harder for a work to please two readers than just one.  When we read aloud, we find, maybe a quarter of the time, that the book we started isn't doing it.  We have both experienced the limits of being the narrator, where sometimes reading aloud seems to prevent full digestion of what is being read.  We have both found that rapidly decoding the writing on the page can interfere with grasping the import of the meaning.  So, as happened the other day with Deepak Chopra's "The Book of Secrets", Lynn said she had come to feel that the book would be better for her to read by herself.  I found that interesting since when I first read the book, I found it both shallow and unclear.  Then, with the book aside, I started pondering some of it in my head, to the point that I went back and took it up again.  The second time, I found the book wonderful and one that I wanted to return to.  About that time, I listened to the whole thing read aloud by the author, who has a wonderful Indian accent.

We have rejected other books in midstream.  We both found "Olive Kitteridge" to be quietly charming, more and more so as we read on.  My New England heritage and relatives furnished me with experience of the person with a gruff exterior who is gentle, sensitive and alive inside, but doesn't like much of that to show at first or at second.  Through the book, I felt closer and closer, more and more sympathetic to Olive.  So, when "The Burgess Boys" came out, we were enthusiastic. 

But the book (at least up to where we stopped) puts me in mind of some people I have known who have a "dry" sense of humor.  I have found that there are limits to dryness and that if a person is too insulting or too ironic, no amount of confessing that one was kidding or chuckling or smiling will turn a sharp comment into a friendly one.  Our experience of The Burgess Boys was too long a period of regret and sadness and irritation and defeat and depression.  It may be that the book does climb to sunnier heights later on but I doubt that I will ever actually know about that.

Main blog: Fear, Fun and Filoz
Main web site: Kirbyvariety

Popular Posts

Follow @olderkirby