Friday, February 6, 2009

Still following my teacher's advice

Recently, I was listening to the radio and a fellow listener called in to say that he had been attempting to read and re-read (and re-read!!) James Joyces's Ulysses for the last...wait for it...42 years! He starts and re-starts it in June every year. This led me to thinking about the books that I have attempted, stopped reading but returned to read. One particular book for me (which I have started three times over the past year) is Catch 22 by Joseph Heller. This book is regarded as one of the greatest English language novels of the twentieth century and I cannot get past page 20.

Which brings me to another point. My senior school English teacher (Mr Eton, who I credit with having introduced me to the world of literature and to whom I am ever grateful) once said to his class of 30-odd year 11 English students, that one way of knowing whether to continue with a book, is to subtract your age from the number 100. The resultant number you get is the page number you should reach before deciding to give up on a book. At the time he had a bit of a chuckle saying that the older you get the less time you have left and so the 'cop-out' page number gets smaller and smaller. Oh, Mr Eton, may you rest in peace!

Maybe if I wait long enough (i.e. when I turn eighty) I will be able to give up on the book, heeding my year 11 teacher's advice...and no guilt! Or, will I give it another go, glutton for punishment that I am?

What books have you attempted and re-attempted, etc, etc?

Take care,


MyHijab said...


Pride and Prejudice

Road to Paradise: Paullina Simons

and Bastard of Istanbul: Elif Shafak

I have opened and re-opened the above 3 over and over (esp P&P just to see what the hullabaloo was all about!) but with no success.

Shafak's novel drove me insane and Simon's was just plain boring.

typing with 1 hand (breastfeeding) so excuse me!!

glad to see u back! love the new layout too! (the only time i have seen u wear black recently is ur profile pic)

MyHijab said...

oh and ur not even following my blog :p

Jane said...

I started reading Captain Corelli's Mandolin three times before I continued and loved it.
I couldn't get beyond the first few chapters of the Da Vinci Code.

The Writing Instinct said...

Houda: Thanks honey. It's good to be back. I am surprised to hear you say that you didn't like a work of Paullina Simons, knowing how much you loved her other novels! And, as you know, I liked the Bastard of Istanbul, as predictable as it was.

Jane: I felt exactly the same way about the Da Vinci Code...I couldn't even sit through the movie! Captain Corelli's Mandolin is on my 'to read' list.

gigiofca said...

Catch 22 - It is a great book and I cannot get past 1/3 of it.

The Writing Instinct said...

Welcome gigofca! I am glad someone shares my sentiments about this 'brilliant' book!

MyHijab said...

I loved The Da Vinci Code!

And the movie ruined it for me.

Although I must admit I only wanted to know what happened (of couse knowing the Holy Grail would never be found!)

Anonymous said...

I think I've attempted Ulysses something like 3 times... I don't know that I'll try again. It's sitting on my bookcase, all new and shiny!

I've also attempted The Brothers Kamarazov a few times, with my most recent stab being the most successful. I don't think I'm even halfway through.

Sometimes, persistence pays off - I had to give Lord of The Rings a couple of tries, when I was in my teens, and was glad I stuck with it after some 200 pages.

Middlemarch also took a couple of tries, and in the end I was enthralled.

Thanks for commenting on my blog, I really appreaciate your kind words. :)


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