This is not a post about lascivious, sensual reading matter: instead it’s the title of a list of books many readers have given up put together by Goodreads. Given my recent disappointments mentioned in Friday’s post I headed off to have a look and found many all too familiar titles – Moby Dick, Gravity’s Rainbow (both raved about by H), Finnegans Wake, The Naked Lunch to name but a few of my own abandonments – plus several I doggedly ploughed through before seeing the light including Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Master and On the Road, read when I was a teenager so I’m letting myself off the hook for that one. There’s an infographic associated with the list which analyses readers’ reasons for abandoning books but which also reveals that a stonking 38.1 % of us determinedly continue reading books we aren’t enjoying. Please stop now – there are so many other excellent books out there just waiting to be picked up.
I’m not giving up Jean Kwok’s Girl in Translation narrated by Kimberly Chang, a bright young Chinese girl who has emigrated with her mother to the States from Hong Kong. The jealous, exploitative Aunt Paula installs them in a filthy, cockroach infested apartment in a derelict district of Brooklyn with only an oven to see them through the freezing New York winter. Paula extracts rent and debt repayments from their pitiful wages earned in her clothing factory, leaving a pittance for Kimberly and her mother to live on. It’s cleverly written – Kwok scatters phonetics through the American characters’ dialogue giving us an inkling of what it feels like struggling to understand a language which isn’t your own. My own aunt and uncle have been staying with us over the past few days which has been a delight, both being the polar opposite of Kimberly’s ghastly relatives. They left this morning, M having abandoned Gone Girl which she wasn’t enjoying after I pressed a copy of Antoine Laurain’s wonderful The President’s Hat on her.