Impulse Books…When They Should Work But Don’t (Is It Me?)

After dropping off and distributing my ‘World Book Night’ books I found myself in that awful position of not having anything to read and a long journey ahead of me. You see my family had dropped me off and my friend needed to get back into town and so I found myself with a 30 minute bus journey and not a word to read. Naturally I headed for the nearest second hand shop (which happened to be an Oxfam Bookshop) and scoured the shelves… nothing took my fancy, and believe me there were loads to choose from.

Four more second hand shops down and still nothing. The idea of travelling and simply watching the world from the window didn’t appeal but I thought I was going to have to grin and bear it. Then I spotted a sneaky Cancer Research (my second hand shop of choice anyway at the moment for obvious reasons) shop and dived in, I didn’t care what it was but I had to leave with a book. After toying between ‘Trust Me, I’m A Junior Doctor’ by Max Pemberton and ‘The Yiddish Policemen’s Union’ by Michael Chabon for quite some time I went with the latter. After all Chabon is one of the many ‘authors I need to get a wriggle on and read’ and would reading about hospitals in rather a too honest way be a good idea at the moment?

I got to the bus stop, where I had a twenty minute wait ahead, and started reading. I got on the bus and carried on reading. I got home and stopped. Well, I say stopped… I actually tried to pick the book up several times but for some reason it simply wasn’t holding me anymore. The writing was great, the plot interesting (if a little confusing) and even all the chess stuff wasn’t bothering me. Yet I was no longer held, fifty pages in and I was floundering… but why so suddenly?

It could possibly be in part due to the pile of advance books that have suddenly arrived, which I will be discussing later in the week, or it could be the fact that I had been so desperate for a read that anything would do. Yet is was well written, it was interesting at first and I did, sort of as the plot hadn’t full got rolling, want to know what was going on. Is it one of life’s great mysteries or do I just have to resign myself to the fact maybe this wasn’t a book for me or a book for me right now? Is it because I bought it on impulse?

Any thoughts? Has this ever happened to you? Do you get as cross with yourself as I have over the whole thing? I feel a bit of a failure reader to be honest, and so far having picked up anything since… help!

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24 Comments

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24 responses to “Impulse Books…When They Should Work But Don’t (Is It Me?)

  1. Corinna

    Funnily enough that happened to me with another of Chabon’s books – Kavalier and Clay. I went halfway and I did actually really like the story and the premise and the way he writes; but at the end of the day, it just didn’t grip me enough and without really realising it I stopped reading it.

    • You see I am expecting to absolutely love Kavalier and Clay because I know soooooo many people who have said – ooh you will love that. After this initial incident with Chabon I am not so sure. I have The Mysteries of Pittsburgh which is much shorter so I might try that as my next Chabon and see if I get on any better.

  2. Impulse reads rarely work for me as I need to be in a particular mood to read a book. If my concentration levels are low or family stuff is intruding then I reach for a YA or lighter read. Even though I have 600+ books TBR I still have difficulty in choosing the right book for me at a particular moment in time. You’re not a failure, you’re human which is a good thing!! 🙂

    • I have just under 600 books in the house and I still never know what I fancy next. I do love the fact I feel I can browse though without having to actually leave the house.

  3. My husband recently put down The Yiddish Policemen’s Union recently (which funnily enough he found in a charity shop) maybe its just that book, he couldnt really put his finger on it either.

    • Thats a bit spooky the way both your husband and I did that and then felt the way we felt. I was actually in another charity shop the other day with someone and they reached for it but I cut in with a ‘NOOOOOOOOO’ before they had pulled it from the shelf.

  4. Bet

    I used to think I would be content to read cereal boxes if there was nothing else, but it isn’t the case. It’s the simple premise of a book, the short blurb about the plot that causes me to start a book. But if the writing style bothers me or for some reason I can’t make myself care about the characters, I put it aside. There are too many truly good and absorbing books out there to waste time on something you don’t like, even when you can’t quite put your finger on why you don’t like it. I don’t beat myself up over it– nor should you, Simon! Hope your reading doldrums are over soon. I imagine you’re a bit distracted by having to focus so much on your heatlth at the moment.

    • Hahaha you made me laugh Bet because I have been known to read crisp or chocolate wrappers in detail on public transport if I am without a book. Naturally the eating of those two substances is part of the grieving process too.

      The reading doldrums are semi over, its peaks and troughs rather like my health too actually.

  5. I sometimes have trouble finding the right book to suit my mood at the time, whether it’s an impulse read or not. Over the weekend I started and abandoned two books before deciding to try something different and picking up some nonfiction. And I’m always annoyed when I try something I expect to like and find myself underwhelmed and uninterested.

    On the other hand, I’m always so pleased when I pick up a book with no particular expectations and really enjoy it.

    I also gave up on The Yiddish Policeman’s Union. As I recall (this was 3 or 4 years ago) it was a bit too dark and slow-moving for me at the time, though I still hope to get back to it some day when I am in the right mood.

    • I think you have hit part of the problem on the head. I had no expectations and so initially it was all fine, then once I was home and had several books to choose from it became quite a different story.

      Slow moving I would definitley agree with on this book.

  6. kimbofo

    It’s not just you… it happened to me recently. Prior to my flight back to London from Oz I decided to treat myself, on impulse, to a new book, preferably a thick one, to read on my Kindle. I spent £10 on a book that had been on my wishlist forever. I read about 10% of the book before I boarded the plane, thinking that would get me into the mood to keep reading during the flight. But what happens? I just lost complete and utter interest in it. I didn’t even switch my Kindle on. I read magazines and then watched movies instead. I still haven’t gone back to that book… but maybe, one day, I’ll give it another whirl.

    • Do you think the fact it had been on your wishlist forever was part of the issue? You know how when you are excited by a book you can unwittingly subconciously over hype it in your head? I do that a lot.

  7. katrina

    I do that with books a lot, love them then lose interest and I always blame myself not the book. I do it with films and TV series especially if I don’t value them high on the intellectual scale

  8. Annabel (gaskella)

    It was the right book at the time for the journey. One day you may pick it up again – Don’t worry. I haven’t read it, but did enjoy ‘Wonder Boys’.

  9. Sophie

    It’s that book, Simon! It tried to ruin my holiday by being the only book I took with me. Ugh.

    • Hahahaha I love how you have said the book tried to ruin your holiday, thats brilliant. Its really tickled me. The thing is Sophie, why did you only take one? Thats pure madness lol.

  10. Nope, not just you. I do it ALL the time! I am a complete swine for starting books and then sidelining them for something shinier, even if I’m enjoying them. In fact, I reckon if there was a world record for this – I would win it! I have asked myself so many time – WHY DO I DO THIS? The grass is always greener…..sigh.

    • Hahaha, I dont do this that often so I think thats also why I was surprised. Weirdly one thing all the madness and uncertainty of my health at the moment is teaching me it that if I dont love it I shouldnt feel bad if I can’t finish it!

  11. Can’t offer an opinion on Michael Chabon – just wanted to comment on your use of the phrase “get a wriggle on” – I’ve only ever heard Australians use it!

  12. I don’t like quitting on books. I actually persevered with this and did end up enjoying it. That said, I wouldn’t recommend it to people though; it’s not an easy read by any stretch and a somewhat strange tale that won’t appeal to all. By contrast, while I enjoyed Kavalier and Klay initially,finding the whole comic book thing being interesting and amusing, I was really disappointed by the ending. Perhaps you could start a debate on frustrating endings to novels!

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