Posts Tagged ‘clouds’

29th May
written by Steph


I try really hard to give every book a fair chance before forsaking it, because I really am loathe to leave books unfinished.  But sometimes you just have to acknowledge that a book isn’t doing it for you and part ways.  One thing I really liked in Nancy Pearl’s Booklust series is the sentiment that it’s all well and good to give a book a fair shot, but there’s no point sticking it out to the bitter end if indeed the end will be bitter for you:
“One of my strongest-held beliefs is that no one should ever finish a book that they’re not enjoying, no matter how popular or well-reviewed the book is.  Believe me, nobody is going to get any points in heaven by slogging their way through a book they aren’t enjoying but think they ought to read.”
I feel I gave The Theory of Clouds a good run before deciding to put it down for good.  Rather than subscribing to the Rule of Fifty, I gave this book 75 pages before concluding it just wasn’t for me.  I had hoped for a book suffused with elegant poetry and thoughtful contemplation, but instead, the writing often felt trite and staid.  The back cover suggested the book would revolve around a Japanese designer living in Paris who has developed a fascination with clouds.  He hires a young librarian to track down a fabled tome that is rumored to exist but has never been seen, all the while bringing her up to speed with the history of cloudgazing as well as how clouds have fascinated and stimulated men over the years.  I suppose this synopsis isn’t really disingenuous, but I just felt myself bogged down in fairly uninteresting history a good portion of the time, and was failing to see any kind of coherent plot develop. The balance between non-fiction and fiction just felt too heavily weighted towards the former rather than the latter.  Maybe I just don’t care enough about clouds for them to serve as anything more than metaphors, or maybe contemporary French writing isn’t really my thing (I will say that the story did have a French vibe, which is fitting given the author)… The few sex scenes that were randomly scattered throughout the pages I read felt cerebral yet crude, and it seemed like they were thrown in there just because it’s French and how could the book not include some erotic tidbits? In the end, this just didn’t have enough of a plot to keep me interested, and neither the writing nor the ideas were sufficiently captivating to me either.  This book kind of gave me a similar vibe to The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, but without the thought-provoking philosophy and transcendence.  With that in mind, I wouldn’t say this is a terrible book, just that it wasn’t a good fit for me.  It’s a shame this didn’t live up to its gorgeous cover! Question: Do you feel compelled to finish every book you start, or are you willing to abandon ship?  How do you go about deciding to leave a book unfinished?