This week I did something that I only do very rarely -- I gave up on a book.
I'd asked Alice to choose which book from the tottering pile beside my bed I should read next, and she chose the volume at the very bottom of the pile, which already tells you I wasn't exactly ganting to read it. This was a book by a very well known and prolific American author (who is also a favourite of a good friend, though I haven't actually read any of her books before).
Perhaps the way I acquired it had an influence as well. I picked it up at the library book sale as part of a friendly exchange with a stranger. This woman had picked up a Carol Shields book and exclaimed over it, and I pointed out another Carol Shields she hadn't noticed and said how much I loved her books. So then she recommended The Abandoned Book to me, and I didn't feel as if I had any choice but to take it home with me, even though it didn't instantly appeal.
And sure enough, about eighty pages in, I was struggling badly. I can't put my finger on what exactly wasn't working for me. The writing was fine, but I just wasn't interested. And it was really long, too. Perhaps if I hadn't had another fifteen books on my pile, all of which I was more keen to read than this one, I might have persisted.
Oh, well. It was worth a mis-spent dollar to have a friendly chat with a stranger over rows of pre-owned books; a reminder that book-lovers are everywhere.