to read books you don’t like.

That’s been my motto ever since I forced myself to finish George Eliot’s Middlemarch. Yes, I know it’s a classic and yes, I personally know and like people who adore it, but I found it to be positively unreadable.  I thought the characters were unlikable, the prose was turgid and the plot was boring.  But I struggled through and finished it.  But afterwards it hit me that I could have read several other books in the time it took to suffer through Middlemarch.

It was a lesson I remembered last night when I found myself putting 3 unfinished books into the Goodwill pile (there are 2 Goodwill bookstores, as well as several paperback book exchanges, in the Sarasota/Manatee area).  I don’t know if 3 books in 2 days is a new personal record, but it’s got to be close.

I’d started Nanny Returns with high hopes because I loved the original.  But I got halfway through the sequel and simply could not continue.  The story got so bizarre that it became even less believable than it already was.  I have a relatively high tolerance for ridiculousness, but this more than even I could take.

Book #2 on the Goodwill pile is The Two Lives of Miss Charlotte Merryweather, by Alexandra Potter.  It’s another book I really wanted to like.  Unlike most of my friends, I don’t dislike chick lit, and this one seemed as if it would be entertaining.  The idea of meeting and interacting with one’s 10-years-ago self was intriguing, so I took the plunge.  I put it down after about 50 pages because it was, sadly, rather boring.  Charlotte is a ditz in the “Shopaholic” and “Bridget Jones” mold, and I couldn’t suspend my disbelief enough to accept that she was an independent, successful businesswoman.   As an aside, I liked the first Shopaholic book, but the second was less entertaining, and third was derivative and silly, so I put that down too.  And Helen Fielding was smart enough to stop after 2 Bridget Jones books.  But nobody would ever call Bridget Jones a successful businesswoman, so her books didn’t bother me as much as this one did.

Book #3 is Friday’s impulse purchase, Cheerful Money, by Tad Friend.  I recently finished 2 memoirs that I enjoyed (Mennonite in a Little Black Dress and The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance) but this one was dull.  Not bad, necessarily, just dull.  Some people’s families simply aren’t more interesting than mine.  So I put it down and am trying to decide what to read next.

I think I’m going to try The Devlin Diary by Christi Phillips.  I’m a sucker for good historical fiction, and this one looks as if it could be fun. Phillips tells two stories — one about Hannah Devlin, a woman in 17th-century London, and the other about Claire Donovan, a woman in present-day Cambridge.  Hopefully this one won’t go on the Goodwill pile.