By Vita Forest
So, for a few weeks now I have been reading The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton.
The Luminaries… winner of the 2013 Booker Prize,
The Luminaries… set in the goldfields of New Zealand in the 1860s,
The Luminaries… over seven hundred pages long,
The Luminaries… which I am now about halfway through and which I am going to stop reading.
When do you give up on a book? I used to struggle through, grinding my teeth if I found it excruciating. Reading on til the bitter end. Sometimes I still do. If the book is two hundred pages long. But this is a brick of a book. I think if it hasn’t grabbed me yet, it is not going to. And I’ve given it a goodly chance. I’ve given it a few weeks of my life, as a pile of books I want to read sit unread on my shelf…
It’s not the length. (Although that is not helping). I relish spending as long as possible in certain books. And sometimes do it again and again (Possession by A.S. Byatt, or WolfHall by Hilary Mantel, The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta). But the story and the characters have not grabbed me beyond a very limp handshake. I can let go without feeling loss. I don’t really care what happens…
I am supposed to be reading it for a bookish meeting you see. This is the good and bad thing about book clubs. The good thing – you read books you wouldn’t normally read and discover wonderful authors you may not have come across before – Wallace Stegner, Diane Setterfield, Hilary Mantel. The bad thing is – you read books you wouldn’t normally read and discover authors you never want to read again (not naming names, but
- there was a certain book about a certain time travelling stone that involved a lot of very badly written caveman sex… Yes, there is such a thing. The girl who suggested it left the country soon after, we like to think it was due to the shame of having picked such a book.
- And the very bad vampire romance with the main characters with the hilarious names with very bad spelling. (Actually some of the club loved this one and went on to read the series, peopled with more vampires with mothers who couldn’t spell).
So I guess I will be one of those people who go to a book club without reading the book. Someone who can add something to the conversation about the book, just not a whole lot.
Not that having read the book always matters. We had a very spirited and funny book club meeting last night (another book club – you can never belong to too many), where a good portion of the attendees hadn’t read the book (All the Light we cannot see by Anthony Doerr – now make sure you read that one!)
How long do you give a book?
I’m letting this one go.