F. Scott Fitzgerald has triggered a bookish existential crisis and if he weren’t already dead I would kick his swarmy ass. All year I’ve planned on reading a rather lovely copy of This Side of Paradise. I worked it into a half-dozen challenges to ensure that I would get to this book. Get to it I did and I hate it with every fiber of my being. Amory Blaine is an over-privileged twit. I get that I’m supposed to be both appalled and sympathetic to his behavior, but all I’m coming up with is utter disdain. I’ve read 100 pages and I just cannot do it. Like I told my friend, Melissa, I’m fine with unlikeable characters (hi, Tom Ripley!) but then I need really beautiful writing or an engaging plot to propel me through the book. To be quite honest, I find it a lazily written book. It is more like chapters of assembled vignettes and so there isn’t a plot hook to keep me reading and the writing is okay, but it certainly isn’t like a difficult Woolf novel where the poetry sustains me. I find it flat and overblown at the same time. Bad book nerd, hating on a classic! Since I had this book figured into gobs of challenges I find myself fed up.
I am absolutely kicking myself right now. Once again it is the middle of the year and I am so OVER my reading challenges. I do this to myself every year, I say “never again” then go to “maybe a few” and before I know it I have signed-up, mapped, listed, and planned every minute of the year’s reading. I’m sick of the challenges and I’m even sick of the challenges I created — like the Truth in Fiction challenge — and I’m so done. I want to throw in the towel and read whatever the hell I want.
Why do I do this? Oh, I know. My love of lists and organization and coming up with all manner of literary connections. By the end of December I’m full of lists and plans for the new year (add to that a grand sense of optimism).
Now I have noticed that I do well with some “planned” reading. Weekly or monthly celebrations (like Virago week), themed author months, loose challenges like Carl’s RIP challenge, format challenges like the Chunkster Challenge or a Short Story Challenge, and super long term challenges like the Classics Club. Next year I swear ON MY VINTAGE OWL LAMP that I will not sign-up and I will not create challenges that are not like the ones listed above. You know, the make a list of 5-12 books that link in some sort of larger theme. I suck at those challenges.
But what to do right now? I’m thinking here are my options:
- Chuck everything out the non-literal window including my promise to not read library books until September 1st. Re-integrate ALL my books from my TBR pile and visit the library. Read a mish-mash of “new” books off my shelves and visit the library. Go crazy.
- Keep my current July TBR pile, but chuck the challenges. Stay off the library books until August 1st.
- Get rid of most of the challenges except for a few, stay off the library books until September 1st.
- Put on my big girl panties, bite the bullet, and finish the challenges …. or at the very least keep going until the end of the year.
I feel a bit ridiculous asking for opinions, but I’ve put so much time into organizing and listing and stacking. I don’t want to take recanting my bookish promises lightly. After all, what if I change my mind again?
Okay, wise nerds, leave me some feed back.
Sorry it can’t be more money (daycare is super expensive). I’ll alert the winner by noon on Monday 07/09.
I’m all ears… erm… eyes… let me know what you think!