The guilty pile

I always feel vaguely guilty when I fail to finish a book, as if the fault must lie with my application, concentration or (lack of) brains and cannot possibly be the fault of the writer and/or their prose, theme etc. One thing maintaining this blog is making clear to me, though, is that I must become more ruthless. If I’m not getting anywhere with a book, if it sits in my bag or by my bed (or next to the bath) for months and the bookmark never shifts, I should acknowledge my abandonment of it. My to.be.read pile is nearly at 50 books so I must accept that some times I can’t read a book.

Often I buy a book, get a few pages in and promptly abandon it for something else. I just read Silverfin, for example, which languished at the bottom of my bag for the entire London/Paris holiday whilst I read a copy of The West End Horror found in a flea market. I eventually picked Silvefin back up and read it on a trip to Bournemouth. It was great fun and rather enjoyable but it just clearly wasn’t right for my mood in Paris (“Silverfin is a great novel for reading in Bournemouth” isn’t really a selling review, is it?). The Gabriel Garcia Marquez Collected Stories has been lurking first in my bag then on my coffee table for upwards of three months, however, so I think the time has come to admit it has been abandoned. I might pick it back up again in a few years, I might not.

Right now I’m reading Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell. An Eng. Lit. friend called her “b-list” in terms of the classics of Victorian literature and I’m not sure I’d disagree. What struck me about Cranford, however, was that it was a mid-Victorian version of Desperate Housewives. Obviously, there is rather less sex with gardeners/plumbers/hookers and so far no one has murdered anyone, but it did come out serially and it does involve a group of middle-class wives and the gossipy microcosm they inhabit.

If a married couple come to settle in the town, somehow the gentleman disappears; he is either fairly frightened to death by being the only man in the Cranford evening parties, or he is accounted for by being with his regiment, his ship, or closely engaged in business all the week in the great neighbouring commercial town of Drumble.

The book may yet become abandoned, as a trawl around the local charity shops today produced another five books for the to.be.read pile.

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One Response to “The guilty pile”

  1. moosifer jones’ grouch » Blog Archive » Say hello, wave goodbye… Says:

    [...] be forgotten and am making a swift pass through it. Far too many typos. My favourite post so far is the guilty pile from 2005, where I admit to feeling bad if I don’t finish a book. I also describe Cranford [...]


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