Three Books I Can’t Read Anymore
As I get older, I find myself getting more patient in some areas and less patient in others. I don’t get as angry in traffic jams as I used to. I am much better at avoiding pointless political arguing (I pretend to be tolerant of others’ ideas, but I’m not; I just don’t argue). But I’m becoming less patient with books. I find myself putting down books that I would have finished (or actually did finish) 30 years ago. I don’t know if I’m losing the ability to concentrate or if I’m just losing interest.
To give you an idea what I’m talking about, below are three books that I’ve tried reading recently and failed:
A Clockwork Orange– by Anthony Burgess
I was looking forward to reading this. I haven’t seen the movie in 30 years, and I only remember a few scenes. I was really interested in the story, and I started to read the novel, and… and… Nadsat? I have to learn Nadsat?
I appreciate the time that the author put in to create a new slang language, but I don’t have the energy to figure it out. I don’t even pay attention to text lingo. I still type out “Haha” instead of LOL (and I actually will laugh out loud sometimes). Maybe 30 years ago, I would have had the patience to figure out the Nadsat, but I don’t even feel like learning real languages people around me speak.
30 years ago, I probably could have read A Clockwork Orange, but not anymore.
The Brothers Karamazov– by Fydor Dostoyevsky
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
I know this includes two books, but I count them as one because I have the same problems with both of them.
I must have some old guy’s reading impairment when it comes to long Russian names. Sometimes the letters in long Russian names start to move around, and it gives me a headache. For all I know, the word “dyslexia” could have come from a Russian name except it’s not long enough. I’m not making fun of long Russian names; I’m making fun of my inability to read them anymore.
25 years ago I almost read The Brothers Karamazov. It was work, but I nearly finished it (I read it too slowly and then academic stuff got in the way). 25 years ago I read Crime and Punishment. It was easier than The Brothers Karamazov, and I finished it. 20 years ago I almost read War and Peace. I would have finished War and Peace if it hadn’t been over 500 pages long.
500 pages has almost always been my limit. After 500 pages, I’m ready for the story to be over. I’ve read some of Leo Tolstoy’s short stories (and they’re actually short). I can get through Russian names when there are only two or three of them and the story is short. But I can’t get through over 500 pages with dozens of Russian names.
There was a time when I could have read long Russian novels with lots of Russian names. 25 years ago, I almost did it. But now? I’m pretty sure I can’t read a long Russian novel anymore.
The Iliad by Homer… if he really existed
I’ve read two versions of The Iliad. The first was a prose translation that I read for fun (in 6th grade… yet I didn’t get beat up by my peers). To be honest, I wouldn’t have understood it if I hadn’t been familiar with the old Classics Illustrated comic book. The second version was a translation in verse that I had to read in college. I read it… only because my grade depended on it. But I did it.
The problem with The Iliad is that there’s too much killing. I normally don’t have a problem with killing in literature (I read sword & sorcery after all). But in The Iliad, it’s page after page of who slew whom and who got slain by whom (though whom usually got the worst of the deal). It’s overkill. Take out all the who-killed-whom (Homer and his editor probably argued about that all the time, but it’s clear Homer never saw his editor’s point of view), and maybe I’d read it again.
There was a time when I could read The Iliad in verse. I know because I did it. But I looked at that translation recently, and I don’t think I could read it again.
I know that as we get older our tastes change, but I wasn’t expecting my tolerance for literature to decline like this. I thought it would get easier (to an extent) as I aged. I also figure I’m not the only one going through this. If you’re going through the same thing, what books (or kinds of books) can’t you read anymore?