It’s okay to not finish a book or, less drastic, shelve it for a while until you’re in a better place to receive or even understand it. Life is too short…and yet a book you’re not in to can make it feel interminable. Both are good reasons to take a break. I’ve found, e.g. with Toni Morrison’s Jazz, that you might not only come back to it, it could become a favourite. But if you don’t and it doesn’t, that’s okay too. Having said that, I don’t give up on books easy (though I’ve increasingly given myself permission to DNF) but I did shelve (well, it’s an ebook, so put aside) one this week. It’s one I was asked to read for review (and nothing against the book which seems well written but I was just going through the motions) and that’s why I’m careful to manage expectations when I’m asked to read books because it’s a commitment, and I’m not interested at this point in my reading life in reading something because I have to. Read what you want when you want and in your own time – and stop if you feel like. That’s it, that’s my TED talk.
(Me, not giving a TED Talk)
Something I continue to read and enjoy (and it really shouldn’t be taking me this long to finish it) is Greyborn Rising by Derry Sandy, which delves with each new character in to the darkly fantastical and specifically southern Caribbean. So far there are secret societies, deviners, clairvoyants, superpowered self-healing fighters, zombies, soucouyant, vampires, and since these are things the normal mind cannot easily process, perceptions of mental illness…because this is a world where these things exist, but have become historically adept at staying in the shadows.
“When the moon shone on the trio, they doubled in height, their bony reptilian bodies were covered in scabs and weeping sores.”
Vivid detail and despite the plethora of characters who are only beginning to interweave 116 pages in, not at all confusing; wholly absorbing. Reading on and continuing to really enjoy this book.
I’m also still enjoying the Margaret Busby edited global anthology, a mix of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction, (of which I am a part) New Daughters of Africa. I am currently up to p. 287 of 800-ish (ooh, I wish I hadn’t checked that). I like the book, some entries more than others, but the book as a whole, but whooo it’s long. Right now I’m reading one of my favourite authors Edwidge Dandicat writing on her visit to Grenada to collect an honourary degree from the University of the West Indies open campus there in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria which so devastated the Caribbean in 2017.
“I was told the story of one graduate from Trinidad who stayed home because she had donated her plane ticket money to relief efforts in Dominica, which was UWI’s most devastated campus.”
I’ve also been inching through Susan Lowes research paper on the social history of Antigua (The Peculiar Class: The Formation, Collapse, and Reformation of the Middle Class in Antigua, West Indies 1834-1940), which is available (officially, I believe) online. It is very scholarly and so the reading is slower still but I’m interested in learning more about the social history of my island/country. Speaking of, I’m actually supposed to be reading To Shoot Hard Labour by Keithlyn and Fernando Smith on the life and times of their grandfather Papa Sammy Smith for a monthlong radio book club discussion I’ve been asked to participate in on the, for me, definitive history of Antigua and Barbuda (despite being anecdotal because it is from the perspective of one of the folk, and spans 100 years of my country’s transformation from a post-slavery colony to an independent nation). I actually didn’t commit to re-reading the book, because I’m not doing that (remember?) and I knew I wouldn’t have the time but I did say I’d share my favourite bits…the problem is having picked it up to scan for those bits, I kind of do want to re-read it. Sigh.
I’ll link this up with the Caffeinated Reviewer’s Sunday Post. I also invite you to read a very interesting series in which I interview three Caribbean authors, with recent or pending US publications, about their publishing journey including lessons learned – the series is called Caribbean Writers Discuss Publishing: Lessons, Breakthroughs, and Rights.
How about you, what are you reading? and what’s your take on finishing?