I think I have a problem.
“Maggie Cassidy” by Jack Kerouac; “Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoevsky; “Notes From The Underground” by Fyodor Dostoevsky; “Post Office” by Charles Bukowski; “Love In The Time of Cholera” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez; “Then We Came To The End” by Joshua Ferris; “The Unnamed” by Joshua Ferris; “Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen; “The Winner Stands Alone” by Paulo Coelho; “The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway; “Everyone In Silico” by Jim Munroe; “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” by Milan Kundera; “Chronic City” by Jonathan Lethem; “Lamb” by Christopher Moore; “Super, Sad, True, Love Story” by Gary Shteyngart
The preceding is a list of books I have started but not finished reading over the last year and a half. That’s not to say I haven’t completed the devouring of other books during that time but these books in particular sit on my bookshelf with their conclusions still undiscovered. I can’t help but ask myself, “why?”
Some of these books are deemed “classics” and revered as champions of the written word. Some are by upstart authors whose words and stories capture the hearts and minds of thousands or millions of other readers. And some are by my favourite writers, whose previous works I have salivated over, eschewing all other aspects of my life to get to the final paragraph and upon closing the back cover, I flip the book in my hands with a smile on my face, sad that I have finished the work, but finding solace in the fact that it is now a part of me.
The one conclusion I have come to with certainty is that I am an emotional reader. I need to be in the mood for a certain story, certain characters and certain genres. That’s not to say I won’t ever find out what happens to Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley, or enjoy the rest of Biff and his best friend Joshua’s tale, but I know I’ll have to be in the proper head space and mood to pick it off the bookshelf and delve into life in Paris in the 1920’s, or the Bible-era Middle East, or the dystopian New York of Gary Shteyngart’s Super, Sad, True, Love Story.
Until then, I’ll try to find solace in the fact that I will read these books and enjoy them. When? As is the answer to many of life’s mysteries: who knows?