Monday, December 03, 2007

One of My Many Personality Disorders

You wouldn't know, to look at my slacker, procrastinating, half-assed self, but I think I have a perfectionism problem. One way I control myself is to break things down into tiny tiny baby steps. Another way is to make explicit rules for myself, or to give myself firm permission for things that go against my unfortunate all-or-nothing tendencies. This is the source of the Personal Library Renaissance.

I think I have to enter a period of explicit permission to give up on lousy books. It usually takes something pretty awful for me to give up on a book. When I really can't get into something in the first 10% of the book, I can usually give it up without too much of a fuss. But, though the Ten Percent Rule is the one on the books, I rarely put it into practice. And after ten percent, the book has to be pretty lousy, really almost offensive (aesthetically, if not morally) to quit.

But right now, I'm feeling overwhelmed by to-reads, and I'm really not enjoying all of them. And I can't really figure out why I'm reading some of these books--or why I'm continuing to read them. I need to stop thinking of this as my job, and start looking at it as a pleasure again.

So, Kris, I'm sorry to say that I'm giving up on Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading. It reads too much like a really, really long entry on this blog--and I can't say for sure that I'd find this blog interesting if I wasn't writing it myself.

I'm also giving up on Mary, Bloody Mary, which is a YA novelization of the life of guess which British monarch? I blame the writing style for everything that's wrong with this book; it's told in first person, but it reads like a very distant, almost journalistic account of someone else's life.

Example: "Scarcely two days had passed when I began to complain of a pain in my head. This was nothing unusual, for I frequently suffered from headaches. But the pain worsened and I developed a fever and a squeezing in my chest. Within hours I tossed in my bed, clutching my head and moaning with pain. Perspiration poured from my armpits and groin, and my hair, soaked with the poisonous sweat, lay matted on my pillow."

Does this sound like someone's experience? There are a lot of physical details, but not ONE of them describes the actual experience. In fact, if this was told in the third person, from the point of view of a maidservant standing in the corner, it could be just fine, but if you were describing writhing in pain in your bed, would you explain how you began to complain about pain, or would you describe the pain? Would you explain how your hair lay matted on the pillow, or how it felt, clinging damply to your forehead?

You see my problem?

So I'm going to give up on this book, and forgive myself. And what that means is that I will have ZERO library books checked out. I wonder how long that will last.

Ugh. It feels slightly wrong. Let's see how that goes.

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