Books that I could never finish

Since I finished reading The Princess Bride, it was time to start reading something new. The next book in my reading queue, probably thanks to its imposing size, was The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. I picked it up at a used bookstore several years ago thanks to its title and thought it sounded interesting. What I didn’t think of was my track record.

See, I can usually finish most books that I begin, even if it involves forcing myself to the end and bribing myself with cookies. The desire to know what happens at the end keeps me going. So I started this book today with the knowledge that it probably wouldn’t be my favorite book ever.

And promptly tossed it aside after the first scene.

Yes, it was that boring. Nothing happened in the first scene, and I found myself wondering when something was going to happen with every paragraph. Normally I can wait it out for a few pages, but the book was five hundred pages long. There was no way I planned on waiting five hundred pages for something to happen, especially if a whole lot of nothing was happening in the first five. So I did the only thing I could do. I tossed the book aside and grabbed a different book to read. Life is short. There’s no need to waste it on crappy books.

I should have known I wouldn’t like it. For those who don’t know, the book is about a Baptist family who moves from Georgia to the Congo in 1959 and the politics within the country and the family issues following that move. I always struggle to finish stories that take place in Africa. The only reason I finished Cry, the Beloved Country was because it was required reading for school, and even then I skimmed the book and remembered only the ending. I started Things Fall Apart but got only sixty pages in.

Since there are few books with different settings that I’ve been unable to finish, this makes me wonder whether I really do have a thing against stories that take place in Africa. Maybe it’s not the setting; maybe it’s the style of those writer that turns me off. All three writers have really heavy styles, and I want more action in my stories. Books should get better as you keep reading, but they should also be great right away.

But if it does turn out to be the setting alone that turns me off, that means I’m missing out on a lot of stories because of that alone. I want to expose myself to lots of stories, partly because books are a way to explore new things without leaving my chair. But my inability to finish such a book makes me feel like I’m discriminating against a story just because of its setting, and it’s a reason that could make me look like a jerk. “Sorry, that story takes place in Africa. I probably won’t like it.” Bet that would go over well.

So what am I to do?

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