The Pickwick Papers: It’s not me, it’s you
Before I get into this post, there are a few things that I think are relevant facts that we should all put to the front of our minds before we gear up to the rotten fruit throwing:
1. At this precise moment in time, I own 256 books that I haven’t read. 256. That might not be as many some of you but it’s a lot.
2. I usually read about a book a week, which I know isn’t many but is about all I can fit in around the long hours that I work, the house that needs keeping clean and generally pleasant to be in and the boyfriend that I like to spend time with. Not including audiobooks, I haven’t finished reading a book since 18 November.
3. A couple of years ago, I saw fit to remind myself that reading is supposed to be about love and that life is too short for it to be about anything less and, heaven forbid, for it to become a chore.
4. In the time since I started this blog in July 2010, I’ve only given up and put aside one book. I wrote a whole post about just how hard I find putting aside books that I’ve started in June 2011. I hate it. I don’t feel like a failure or anything overly stressful like that but I do worry that I’m going to miss something great later on that would have made the earlier tedium worthwhile.
And so it is with no small amount of disappointment but with a feeling overall of…lightness that I make this confession: I’m no longer reading The Pickwick Papers.
The most important factor in me making this bold move is that reading The Pickwick Papers was making me not want to read at all. I didn’t want to read about the Pickwickians’ antics but couldn’t settle with anything else because I felt as though I should be reading about them. So I just avoided reading altogether. I’ve been incredibly busy at work too which obviously hasn’t helped but I’ve spent much more time in the past few weeks playing games on my phone and watching TV than I ordinarily would do. Normally I read a couple of chapters before I go to sleep. For the past few weeks, I’ve been just reading a page or two before falling asleep.
It’s hard to say quite why I find the damn book so bloody awful. Before this, I’d have said that I don’t need a strong plot to enjoy a book. That I like a character-focussed novel just as much as I like action-packed ones. Maybe I love a good plot more than I thought. Or maybe the Pickwickians aren’t enough to entertain me without an overarching story to get into. Whatever it is, I find The Pickwick Papers completely and utterly painful. When I was messing with my Kindle while pretending to read it a little while ago, its estimate of the amount of time that would drag by before I’d finished the whole terrible experience was 20 hours. 20 hours. The thought made me want to cry. It was looking devastatingly likely that I would get nothing else at all read before Christmas. And that was when I really broke. Not reading any of the other potentially fabulous books that I own and am excited about before the end of the year? Inconceivable. Even before Christmas, I have upward of 250 books that I’m excited about. That’s far too many for me to spend any longer on one that I paid 38p for and can’t bear.
So I’m sorry to my fellow read-alongers (although, really, all I’ve managed to contribute is one rather negative post and the occasional negative tweet), particularly Hanna, with whom I have exchanged many a distress-filled text, and Bex, who organised this read-along and is a super person that does not deserve to have readers dropping out of her lovely events. I’m grateful to her for making me realise that this is one Dickens that is just not for me.
I’m ridiculously not sorry, however, to Dickens. This is one stinker of a book. Its characters are sanctimonious. Its plot is non-existent. Its witticisms are funny for a little while but rapidly become less and less so. I have absolutely no interest in where the book is going because I’m fairly confident that the answer is nowhere.
Onward and upward.