It has come to my attention recently that I just simply no longer have the time to finish every nonfiction book I start. This realization has been a long time in coming, and it still bugs me. But what can you do?
Well, you can offer posts explaining what you're putting down and why. For the month of October, these were the books I picked up for some reason or other, tried a few pages or chapters of, and then just put down (or, more accurately, took back to the library):
Steven Rinella: Meat Eater: Adventures from the Life of an American Hunter
This one hurts me, because I LOVE Steven Rinella. I totally enjoyed his book The Scavenger's Guide to Haute Cuisine, and I even read and liked American Buffalo, which I expected to be totally bored by--I just like Rinella's writing, and it doesn't hurt that he's a nice little piece of eye candy.* This new book is an examination of his childhood and development as a hunter, and his continuing lifestyle of killing the meat his family eats, even though he lives in Brooklyn. There's a great section of pictures in the middle, all of which I perused, and the writing is good (I still managed to read about 50 pages, even though I knew I probably wouldn't stick with the whole thing). But I'm just not interested in hunting (as such) and never will be. I am a meat eater and am all for knowing more about where your food comes from, but I grew up on a farm and have actually taken part in the butchering** of animals, so I already KNOW, trust me. Oh, that is something else to mention: don't give this one to readers you suspect might be squeamish about the details of butchering animals--Rinella doesn't skimp on any of the details.
Janet Groth, The Receptionist
Groth's memoir relates her many years of service as a receptionist at The New Yorker magazine. I just couldn't get into her story, and found her voice kind of boring, although I did read the chapter about her and Joseph Mitchell (the author of Up In the Old Hotel, and an author I love).
One funny anecdote Groth related was from her initial interview with Miss Daise Terry (who was in charge of secretarial personnel): "She said, 'Now, as a midwesterner, you have better sense than the Westchester County and Connecticut girls who come through this office. I always have to take them in hand and give them a stern talking-to about their behavior and conduct." p. 3. Ha. But the amusing bits were just too few and far between to keep me reading this one.
Davy Rothbart, My Heart Is an Idiot: Essays
Just couldn't get past the first essay, where he and his brother take advantage of phone calls to their deaf mother, which they have to interpret for her, although she has her laugh at them in the end. I've read mixed reviews of this one, and just couldn't get into it, although I enjoy Rothbart's FOUND! collections. Also: I think the publicity photo of him at the right is just ridiculous.
So: My question for you is, has anyone out there read any of these, and care to share your opinions?
*Damn--later pictures in the book reveal both his wedding ring and his wife. What Mr. CR would make of my habit of scanning left hands for wedding rings, I don't know.
**"Butchering" is such a scary word. Please be assured my family did all they could to make the process as quick and humane for the animals (if not for us--it's hard work, and scary, when all of the members of your family are in one place, tired, punchy, and holding sharp knives) as possible.