Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Guilt of the Unfinished Book

I am feeling a little depressed about going to the library tonight. Why? Because I am returning Jared Diamond’s Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed ~ and I have not finished it. This is distressing to me for several reasons.

1) I finish EVERYTHING that I read. Everything. Even junky mysteries or predictable romances or Stephen King. The general rule is, if I start it, I finish it.
2) I loved the first book I read by Diamond, Guns, Germs and Steel. I mean, I own it and have re-read it multiple times. Every time I re-read it, I feel like I am learning something vital and important and so “common sense-ish” that I can’t believe I didn’t think of it on my own.

And yet, despite reasons one and two, I am returning Collapse unfinished. I just lost interest at the transition from ancient to modern times. Story of how the ancient Easter Islanders destroyed their environment, leading to their demise: Fascinating. Story of how the modern Haitians live in poverty and despair because of environmental concerns: Depressing.

This probably shows a lot about my character. I love history and science (especially wrapped up together... like how scientists use pollen samples in ice cores in Greenland to figure out what the ancient Norse ate: cool!) but only at several degrees removed. I don’t want ‘in my backyard’ environmental science. It just makes me feel rotten.

So the book goes back only half-read, and I stew in guilt, and wait for my book club book to come in (Broken For You ~ it’s fiction so I will be able to indulge in some pleasant escapism)....



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm the same way. If I start it, I have to finish it. (FYI - I totally started typing that as "If I finished it, I have to start it. lol) There have been two exceptions to the rule: Animal Farm & The Scarlet Letter. I hated both of those books with a passion, and we had to read them during HS English classes.

(your secret pal)

8:11 PM  

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