Actually, two questions.
Do you feel you have to finish a book once you start it, or are you okay with sometimes quitting on a book?
If the latter, what are your criteria? How much of a chance do you give it?
I’m at this very crossroads with Richard Powers’s The Overstory, winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for fiction and “sylvan tour de force” (Booklist).
Here are some of the factors I’m weighing.
- The Overstory is 512 pages long. To take in the plot and all the characters’ relationships, I would have to (at some point) reread the book. That prospect is discouraging when you’ve been stalled for at least a week.
- I’m not reading anything else right now, because I think I should be reading The Overstory.
- I put the book aside for days at a time, and when I pick it up I’ve forgotten who Ray is.
- The Overstory is about environmental degradation, and that can be very depressing. And I already know about environmental degradation.
- Much of the novel is beautifully written.
- The Overstory overlaps with and relies on Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest by Suzanne Simard and other similar works. I already know and appreciate these ideas.
- The narrative is clever in the most positive sense. You don’t know how it ties together at first. Weaving it all together creates a tour de force, as Booklist says.
- Once you see how it’s all tying together, however, some of the pleasure wanes.
- I’m 271 pages in and maybe shouldn’t give up now? Or is persevering an example of the sunk cost fallacy?
I’m sorry if some of you loved The Overstory and are disappointed in me. I’m certainly not saying it’s a bad book. Ann Patchett, whom I love, loved The Overstory. Maybe it’s just not the book for me at this point in time.
Answer my initial questions, please. And give examples. Feel free to advise me.