What to do when your summer reading has been a dud? For months, my room was littered with half a dozen partly-read books.
The poet Chairil Anwar and I did not get along. Some choice poems from his Complete Works I enjoyed but I gave up halfway through. Despite being widely praised for revolutionizing Indonesian poetry, I got the feeling that the man became (in)famous more for his lifestyle than his poems. The bio pages at the start of my Complete Works copy described a man who was pale, unkempt, and wild, with a devil-may-care attitude and is syphilitic to boot. And what is up with all the blood and pus imagery?
To be fair, though, I’m simply not knowledgeable enough about poetry. Sure, I took poetry courses at uni and learned the technicalities but when it comes to poetry, I’m left with whether the words made an emotional impact or not. Chairil Anwar will affect others deeply, I’m sure. Others of the brooding, nicotine-stained persuasion.
Other books on the pile weren’t even bad. I had been rereading my favorite Indonesian novel ever: Ronggeng Dukuh Paruk and for some unidentifiable reason, two-thirds of the way, the pages stopped turning. I read a hundred pages of The Time Traveler’s Wife and just stopped. Other books suffered the same fate. And because I’m an “endure ‘till the last” reader, I kept them languishing on chairs and sofas, hoping that I would get the inspiration (that never came) to finish them
What to do when your summer reading has been a dud? You do a reading reboot.
In a flush of epiphany, I decided “Screw this!” and shelved back all the half-read books with a vow to read them properly when I’m in the mood for them. I don’t think I’ll ever be in the mood for Anwar, though, so he went to the ‘Maybe Donate’ pile.
Perhaps I’m growing older and less patient but the “endure ‘till the last” method is clearly not working. My reading habits should change. I purchased so many new books during the summer that I’m excited for and I don’t see why I should delay my enjoyment of them. After my room and my conscience were cleared, I picked up the book I had been looking forward to the most: Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates.
Reboot successful. I have only 90 pages left of Revolutionary Road to read. It’s exactly the type of book I needed. A page-turner, yet gives you a lot to think about. Despite being marketed as this grand tragedy, I found Rev Road pretty funny mostly. More on that on the review that should be up soon.
Anyway, I should ask you: have you ever had to reboot your reading?