I have a problem with did-not-finish-ing books. I'm one of those people that just can't do it. I'm completely serious. In the years I've been recording my reading (just over 6) I've not-finished two books. TWO. Both of which I picked up at times when I really should have gone for something lighter. One was an extremely dry work about lost and stolen art, which I started in the waiting room for surgery and ended up abandoning in favour of trashy magazines. The other was The Blind Assassin, by Margaret Atwood, which made its way to the top of my to-read pile last October while I was:
1. Working full time
2. Study two post-grad papers and preparing to sit finals
3. Packing to move to the other side of the world
Needless to say really, I got less than 50 pages in. But now I'm reading it again. It's on my Classics Club list and came up as my result in the recent Classics club spin. To be honest I'd forgotten it had made it onto my spin list and hadn't even thought about the possibility I'd have to pick it up again so soon after it was added to my very small list of DNF.
But this week I've bit the bullet and picked it up. I figure it deserved a second chance. To be fair to it, I picked it up in a time where my mindset just wasn't right for reading it. And it was sitting on the bookshelf staring at me.
Right now, I'm on page 301. I'm keeping most of my thoughts for a review, though will say its certainly still not a favourite book. But this time around I'm finding the language a lot easier to read, I'm getting more of the metaphors and it's flowing in my head. So even though the story's not my favourite, I think I can say that first time around it wasn't The Blind Assassin's fault, it was mine.
So now I'm wondering whether there's lots of DNF books out there that deserve a second chance. To be honest, I don't think I'm going to track down the art book I tried to read before surgery anytime soon. But in future if there's a book that doesn't work for me, especially a classic, I'd be more tempted to pick it up again some other time. When I was less tired, or more tired, or just . . . different. Give it a few years and really it's a different 'me' that would be picking it up.
I'm not advocating trying to re-read terrible books, because there's some truly TERRIBLE books out there. But have you ever given a classic a second chance? Tried reading it at a different stage of life and found yourself finishing it, or just enjoying it more? I'd love to know.