So you've seen my current 'in progress' pile of books that I would love to finish reading this month. I've got another secret pile that I keep hidden away (okay, next to my bed where I see them each and every night and feel ever-so-slightly guilty about) but rarely mention. It's my 'I'm not quite in the mood for this book anymore, so I'm going to set it aside for a while' pile. I have a hard time giving up entirely on books. Sometimes I just get distracted and my mood changes and the book I want to read changes and then I am left with a massive pile of current reads that must be weeded every so often. So the books that get removed from the nightstand get relegated to the pile on the floor by my bed. Now and then I will truly weed and return books to their shelves, but some books I really do want to finish, but with so many other books started it becomes difficult rotating them back into the reading stack.
I was thinking that instead of coming up with a list of books I want to read in 2014 (which I make with great relish at the end of the year thinking ahead to the new reading year coming up), but that I tend to ignore once the year really gets rolling. Maybe I should return to the books I started with so much happy anticipation and read my way through them over the course of the new year?
I've got ten (well, ten with one extra thrown in for good measure) books that have languished far too long, but that I really would love to read/finish reading. In some cases I am very close to finishing. In others I want to give them one more good chance before giving up on them with a clear conscience. Since I am trying to clean things up for the end of the year, I might as well go all the way.
Westwood by Stella Gibbons -- It probably doesn't hurt that I love the new Vintage reissues of Stella Gibbons's books. I want to love her work and by all indications she is right up my alley, but I sort of lost the thread on this one somewhere in the middle.
East of Eden by John Steinbeck -- It's an absolute crime that I have not finished this book. I was so thoroughly loving it and I suspect that if I were to pick it up again right now I could easily fall back into the story. It suffers from 'big book syndrome'. I, in previous years particularly, like to pick a 'big book' to read each year. Sometimes even more than one. This was one of them. But somewhere along the way my attention span seems to have shrunk--or something else weird is going on, but I cannot seem to stick out really long books lately (case in point The Quincunx, which has been a struggle to read/finish this year).
History by Elsa Morante -- See above. Same story for this rather lengthy Italian novel. And I have read close to half of it.
An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser -- See above (and above that). Ditto for Dreiser's hefty work. This was another big book for the year (now several years ago). I put these three books on this list as I hate to think that I cannot set a task for myself and follow through. While I am all for setting aside books that simply don't work for a reader--timing, interest, mood, whatever . . . I also hate the idea that I cannot follow through sometimes.
Black Out by John Lawton --I want to read all of Lawton's Inspector Troy novels. This is a book which simply suffers from too many books on the go at once and not enough reading time.
Light of the Moon by Elizabeth Buchan -- Another book I was happily reading but the tension (it is a WWII story) got to me. How silly is that. And I've just not been able to drop it back into the reading pile.
Faces of Angels by Lucretia Grindle -- Despite an Italian setting was just feeling a little 'meh' about this one. Am thinking I just didn't give it enough time.
Lumen by Ben Pastor -- Another WWII crime novel that was just feeling a little so-so. It deserves another chance and closer attention.
Peking Picnic by Ann Bridge --This was one of my Postal Reading Group books a few years ago (years, yes!). I've read Ann Bridge and like her, but as shallow as this is going to sound--the main character was so often criticizing the US that it was getting on my nerves. She was irking me and so I set her aside. I wonder if the same character will annoy me or if I've 'gotten over it' by now.
The Lie by Petra Hammesfahr -- I should probably really just give up on this one, but I want to know how it ends. You know I love a good crime novel and this one even has doppelgangers, which I find sort of fascinating. Alas, the writing is not so good (and I am very generous when it comes to expectations in terms of writing and execution ), or maybe it is the translation?
The Heat of the Day by Elizabeth Bowen -- This is one of this year's Literature and War Readalong books. I like Bowen and think she is well worth the challenge, but her writing does require a certain amount of attention that I lately haven't seemed able to give.
So, there you have it. A 2014 reading project in the making. I think one of my goals--maybe even my one big goal for next year is to stick books out better, and not start them so pell mell--on whims and fancies. Or to try at least (I make not guarantees!).
There is no time like the present. I think I'll pick one of these books now to read. The fine art of finishing what I start. A concept I need to improve on.