My Un-scholarly Book Pile

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Our Tuesday fox posed this question: “Is there a book that you have always wanted to read but never have? What has stopped you from reading it?”

There are countless titles that I could list to answer the first question. Now that I’m retired and the kids and most of the grandkids are on their own, I have a lot more time than I did twenty years ago. And even though I keep busy with lots of hobbies as well as my writing, reading is what keeps me sane. Even when I was a busy working mom, I’d often spend the last few hours of the day reading. But my book choices were usually short (fewer than 200 pages) romances in which I could lose myself in someone else’s troubles and then rejoice in their triumphs. 

But there are many that I wish I could say I’ve read. Most of them are what are known as classic literature. My wish to read them is not because I’m truly interested in doing so; it’s because I am embarrassed that I am not as well-read as most people might think, due to my education and career as an educator. When Literature is the category on Jeopardy, I am rarely able to answer the clues because I simply have not read best-sellers and/or classics. So to answer the second question, it’s because because they usually fall into one of these categories:

Length of the book. I’m just not good at sitting down to do anything for an extended length of time, and unless there’s a lot of action and entertainment, I have difficulty focusing on a long story line. Gone With the Wind was probably the only book of its length that I’ve been able to read in its entirety. It’s very rare that I’ll complete a book over 300 pages. My daughter and son-in-law devoured the entire Harry Potter series, but I wasn’t able to do so. I suppose that’s why most of my own books tend to be on the shorter side. I simply can’t stick with it any longer than that.

Genre. I would love to say that I’ve read classics such as Dracula, Frankenstein, or books by Stephen King or Anne Rice. But I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to stomach them. I don’t want to stay awake all night because I’m afraid to close my eyes. I also have difficulty reading books in which nothing much happens. I don’t care to know every detail about the garden outside a house before a character walks through the door. I suppose that’s why I haven’t made work of reading regency romance written during the regency period, or those written in that style. Some of my granddaughters fell in love with the Twilight series, but it never appealed to me.

Difficulty. I do enjoy a mental challenge but like everything else in my life, I need to take things in short spurts. A long book full of vocabulary I need to look up (such as legal or medical thrillers) is one I won’t be able to stick with for long, so I’ve had to pass on books by Dean Koontz, Harlan Coben, and other well-recognized authors. Books with hundreds of names that are similar (either beginning or ending with the same sound), or with so many characters I can’t keep them straight just confuse me, and I stop reading.

Subject matter. I guess I view reading as a way to wind down and escape from my concerns and troubles. Even when I’m reading a murder mystery, I don’t care to “see” the gruesome details. I suppose that’s why I stick to cozy mysteries. Books with serious themes and endless suffering are important, but like the books I described under the Genre category above, I tend to limit myself to reading reviews about them, rather than reading the books themselves. 

So there are my excuses for not having read books that most people consider “must reads.” I checked out Time Magazine’s 100 Best English Language Novels from 1923 to 2005 on Goodreads and I’ve read only three. Two of them, 1984 and Lord of the Flies, were high school English class assignments! 

What keeps you from reading a book?

About Patricia Kiyono

During her first career, Patricia Kiyono taught elementary music, computer classes, elementary classrooms, and junior high social studies. She now teaches music education at the university level. She lives in southwest Michigan with her husband, not far from her five children, nine grandchildren (so far), and great-granddaughters. Current interests, aside from writing, include sewing, crocheting, scrapbooking, and music. A love of travel and an interest in faraway people inspires her to create stories about different cultures. Check out her sweet historical contemporary romances at her Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Patricia-Kiyono/e/B0067PSM5C/
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12 Responses to My Un-scholarly Book Pile

  1. I have to give this a great deal of thought. I already brought up a few fairly recently that I got my hands on, well, got downloaded; one I have read, one I have not delved into. I read a number of high school ‘required readings’ on my own, most were horrific. I believe that I have also mentioned that fact: Who chooses some of the garbage that they put into kids’ heads?

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    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      I couldn’t believe the books my daughters had to read in junior high! Some of them would definitely have kept me up all night.

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  2. Jeff Salter says:

    As has often occurred, I could take much of your blog, change a few words, and post it as my own.
    In particular, this quote: “…there are many that I wish I could say I’ve read. Most of them are what are known as classic literature. My wish to read them is not because I’m truly interested in doing so; it’s because I am embarrassed that I am not as well-read as most people might think, due to my education and career as…” a LIBRARIAN.
    See how I changed that final word?
    And for the other reasons you listed, I’m typically blocked from embarking on the journey of particular books.
    Wonder what titles I’ll come up with between now and Hound Day?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ann Kilter says:

    Well…My major in college was English Literature. I’ve read 7 of these books. And I am also amazed at how many books I haven’t read even though my major was Literature. Of the 7, I just read The Great Gatsby for the first time this weekend. It’s a short book. I read the Beloved and wished I hadn’t. Strange. I enjoyed the Lord of the Rings and have read it more than once. But I just couldn’t get into Narnia. I really don’t like allegory.

    When I was younger, I read a lot of long books. One summer, I read War & Peace by Tolstoy…just to do it. I don’t like horror books (or movies). Real life and real human monsters are scary enough. I read The Shining. That’s enough horror book for me. I don’t like looking out the window and being scared at 2 am. I’m not a fan of thrillers or mysteries. I seldom read self-improvement books any more, but I do enjoy thumbing through cookbooks. I used to read a lot of romances, but not so much anymore.

    The older I get, the more I leave books unfinished. If it doesn’t keep my interest, forget it.

    I like learning about history. And I like historical novels, or novels that are set in another country. I like novels (like Pachinko – although I didn’t like everything about that book.) I like to read about the struggles of people on a long term basis. So how they lived their lives. How they came to terms with the life they lived. I like romance as a part of a historical novel, but not necessarily the whole story. When I was younger, I read James Michener, Thomas Costain, etc. Lately, I’ve started reading some young adult books. So that’s how my reading has somewhat evolved.

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  4. Elaine Cantrell says:

    I haven’t read many so called classics myself. I don’t really regret it either. Reading for me is just for entertainment. I read enough educational books in college.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve only read 3 books off of that goodreads list. I also have a lot of books that I want to read but only because they are considered greats and I feel like I should have read them by now but when it comes down to it I would rather read something that catches my eye because it truly interests me.

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