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Unfinished book guilt

Posted by Lotg (OZ) on August 27, 2004

In Reply to: Great books posted by ESC on August 27, 2004

: : : : : : : Recently * Danger Kitty * on July 15, 2004 asked for the exact meaning of "jump ship".

: : : : : : : It means to to abandon one's post and desert the ship.

: : : : : : : Sailors when joining a ship are required to "sign on" for the duration of the voyage. They are "bound" to the ship and ordinarily cannot leave it until the voyage ends or the ship returns to home port.

: : : : : : : This is to ensure the safety of a ship at sea and prevent its safety being jeopardized by irresponsible crew. There is a "statute of limitations" which has a legal binding for I believe 2 years, after which a sailor must be granted leave if requested. This was certainly the case during my times of "signing on".

: : : : : : : In ancient times a sailor wishing to leave without authorization would jump over the side when near to land (hopefully unnoticed) and swim for it, hence the expression to jump ship, meaning to abandon your post and desert the ship.

: : : : : : Lewis the Lubber replied in the same vein - pointing out that it involved 'swimming for it' rather than simply abandoning the post. my intention was to indicate that there was a destination to make for.

: : : : : : Did anybody else find the dilemma of the character in the Umberto Eco novel (forgotten nautical title - "Island of the day before" or something?) a bit perplexing? I couldn't understand how a person with so many resources to fail to work out how to get to land. I must say it lays unfinished in my dormant book pile.
: : : : : : Could anybody clue me in as to why I should bother trying to finish it.

: : : : : I know I know - pick me, pick me! I find such a dilemma in many of Ecos novels. And why should you finish it? Just to prove you can. I have had one of his books on the go for 2 years now. I read some, get exhausted, switch to a fast paced murder mystery thriller jobbie, then return to it and repeat the process. I must have read a hundred other books while continuing to traul through Eco's. It's the only way to handle him I reckon. I find I enjoy him in small doses.

: : : : Phew! I thought it was just me - my side of the bedroom has a stack of unread, partly-read and read books from which I choose my nightly read. I really enjoyed Faucault's Pendulum first time round - finding it a bit scary rather than funny and The Name of the Rose was excellent and, like the film, menacing. However, that Island book - I think it is the "Island of the Day Before" just frustrated me and gathered dust - I just don't feel bothered to finish it. It is not like some other books where I don't mind leaving them part-read - some authors appear to run out of steam anyhow - Eco normally impressed me, so I didn't want to consign one of his novels unfinished to the shelves. Perhaps I might feel free to do so.
: : : : I am a tremendous fan of Iain (M) Banks, but "Feersum Enjin" had to be re-started to get the oomph together to finish and "Song of Stone" has been gathering dust along with Eco. I can't put my finger on what went wrong with Song, whereas the phonetic content of Feersum got annoying (text-speak b4 its time). Mandela's Long Walk is so weighty that I accepted when I bought it that I'd take it in doses, so I don't feel any guilt about that one. Unfortunately Waterstones had a 3 for 2 offer, so I ended up with six books to add to the pile. If Catherine M had been a man, she'd have been a footballer, not an art critic... A 'stimulating' read, easily transfered from the 'unread' to 'read' piles.
: : : : Despite that, the lack of shelf space to remove the 'read' pile to means I must have 25 plus in the bedside pile, so it does not shrink. Perhaps I should have learned how to use a library...

: : : I solved the problem when struggling through "Gravity's Rainbow." (It had been enthusiastically recommended to me by a friend who later confessed he had given up after 100 pages or so.) I disposed of it so I would never be tempted to renew the battle.

: : Someone on this site (I think it was Bob) once said --if theres a reader and a writer, someone has to work hard. And thats a wise statement. I once had a book about the Duke of Wellington that I used as my travel book. Whenever I was in a place where the time zones had my sleep system screwed up, out would come the Duke of Wellington book, and zam --I was asleep. Took me about 6 years to finish it.
: : I would take all the books that fit this category and either trash them or put them on the bed reading file.

: Same here. I acquire books that I feel I "should" read. Then I let them gather dust while I read murder mysteries. I noticed my son has "Gravity's Rainbow" and a guide to same. Maybe I'll just get him to explain it to him. I did read one of the books that my son left around the house: "A Prayer Before Dying" by Stewart O'Nan. It was excellent but a BUMMER. No happy ending there.

Well I'd like to know how to overcome that 'unfinished book' guilt. I really have a serious problem dealing with unfinished books. My books don't sit beside my bed - they line my walls. BUT there are 5 currently that remain a work in progress.

Whenever I start a new book, I feel a pang of guilt about any one of these outstandings. So I tend to occasionally find an opportunity to force myself to read a little more of each. There is one I positively hate - The Elder Gods by David & Leigh Eddings. I remember buying it an airport somewhere, but I wish I'd left it there. I think part of my dilemma is that some books start off very badly or slowly then evolve into something you can't put down. I've only gone a few chapters into this Elder Gods book, so I suppose I'm wondering whether I've given it a fair chance.

So why do I feel this guilt? I'm not even catholic. And does anyone else have this problem, or should I just rush off to counselling and be done with it?

Oh - pardon me, but I actually have to rush off and smack a few cockies - the damned hooligan birds are ripping up my primulas and begonias. Bye!