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Monday, August 1, 2022


It’s hard to give myself the OK to set a book aside. This is especially difficult when it’s gotten rave reviews, I’m enjoying the author’s style, the storyline is intriguing and I’m digging the characters. Given all this, WHY am I thinking of, at least temporarily, shelving this story? The tale? N.K. Jemisin’s The City We Became.

In Manhattan, a young grad student gets off the train and realizes he doesn't remember who he is, where he's from, or even his own name. But he can sense the beating heart of the city, see its history, and feel its power.

In the Bronx, a Lenape gallery director discovers strange graffiti scattered throughout the city, so beautiful and powerful it's as if the paint is literally calling to her.

In Brooklyn, a politician and mother finds she can hear the songs of her city, pulsing to the beat of her Louboutin heels.

And they're not the only ones

Fascinating, no? So, what’s my goddamn problem? Eh, I have the concentration of a coke addled hummingbird. This has been the case, more or less, for the past few (alright…honestly? 63) years. I blame, emmm, life (or maybe just my fucked up health challenges) for this lack of focus.

Possibly what I need right now is a light, silly tale. Something that’ll be the reading equivalent of popcorn and episodes of Buffy. Just a fun, not terribly deep story.

There are other glowingly recommended books that I’ve put down with no intention of picking up again. Why?

I’ve thought, I’m just not smart enough to appreciate this. Such was the case with Thomas Pynchon’s V. All my work buddies were utterly transported by it. My roommate read it in one night. Me? I never got past page 127 despite repeated attempts.

Then there’s Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon, which an acquaintance loaned me on hearing that I was a HUGE fan of Stephenson’s Snow Crash. Again, I read the first hundred or so pages multiple times and just couldn’t get further. This time, I didn’t fault my lack of brain power. Nope. I just didn’t find the book interesting enough to keep going. And that’s OK.

What's the difference between the time of reading/not reading V. and Cryptonomicon? About 20 years worth of growth—I'm no longer horrifically insecure. I don't assume I'm dim just because I don't necessarily care for the same books, films, art or music as my chums.

An aside: getting old isn't all bad when you pick up a few nifty bits of wisdom along the way.
Now that I’m exclusively using the library versus buying, I feel slightly less guilty about setting a book down. If I spent money, I’d just HAVE to read to the end no matter what. Without the outlay of buckos AND knowing I can borrow again later, I should be totally fine with walking away from The City We Became. Right? Eh, I’m afraid I’ll forget all about it. 

I should actually purchase the damn book so I’ll keep tripping over it, thereby remembering that I wanted to try it again. Right?


  1. It took me three tries to finish The City We Became. Third time was a charm; I had a hard time putting it down and the reveal of the force behind…well, no spoilers but the whole thing made sense and I loved it. Libby will allow you to put books on a wish list so you might want to try again later.

    1. Thank you. I'm gonna set it aside for now. Since it stays in my "title I've borrowed" list, hopefully, I'll remeber to try it again. I'm moving on to another Ben Aaronovitch and a Martha Wells Murderbot now :-)

  2. Full disclosure: I bought the book on Kindle. Maybe that’s why I went back twice, long enough that the story gripped me.

  3. I could have sworn Libby had a wish list but no. Sorry.

    1. There's a page where you can 'tag' books. I guess that basically functions as a wish list. Dunno.