Monday Check-in: One DNF, One Full of Hope, Two Thumbs Up

Catch-22 was my current Classic Club spin book.

This was my third attempt at reading Catch-22.  According to my e-reader I read 23% of the book. It started out okay, but my enthusiasm waned. My inner cheerleader pumped me up several times and I recommitted to finishing the book about a dozen times.

But then yesterday morning I awoke with the loud, clear voice of my conscience telling me to let it go. I won’t even pretend that I’ll give it another try in the future.

Yes, I laughed several times. Yes, Heller captures the ridiculousness of military life and bureaucratic systems.

However, the repetition and relentless absurdism made me start dreading reading time. It’s one thing to push through a challenging book, but this was beyond that for me.

I also couldn’t get into A Confederacy of Dunces.

So, while I like some satire, I think it’s safe to say I am not a fan of absurdist fiction. Although I do adore Franz Kafka, whose writing often gets dumped in that camp, so go figure.

Goodbye, Joseph Heller, I don’t think we shall meet again.

Here’s hoping that my fellow Classic Clubbers enjoyed their spin books much, much more!

I’m moving on to A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. Many people have not only praised this novel, but consider it among their favorites. As a former bookseller I am, of course, familiar with this popular novel and late last year saw it on a list of uplifting books, which is something I can use these days. Tomorrow will be exactly one month since we lost our beloved dog, Lola. While I love the 11″ of snow that fell on us over the weekend here on the CT shoreline, I must say that there’s nothing sadder for me to look at right now then our backyard covered in undisturbed snow.

A Prayer for Owen Meany will be my first read for the Reading New England challenge. The novel is set in New Hampshire and John Irving is also from New Hampshire. I just purchased it last week from a local indy, so it won’t qualify for #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks.

I’m also reading A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra) by Barbara Oakley. It is supplementary reading for the Coursera course I’m taking called Learning How to Learn: Powerful Mental Tools to Help You Master Tough Subjects. It’s a fascinating and potentially life-changing course. I’m on week three of four and highly recommend both the course and the book.

There’s one more book I’ve been reading around in, a review copy of Why We Write About Ourselves: Twenty Memoirists on Why They Expose Themselves (and Others) in the Name of Literature, edited by Meredith Maran. This book comes out tomorrow (1/26/16) and if you’re into memoir as a reader or a writer you’ll want to get your hands on it.

What are you reading this week? Tell me about the good, the bad, the ugly.


  1. OMG I knew we were friends for a reason! I did not get/like/appreciate A Confederacy of Dunces! I would rather have read a story about Toole, his mother and the search for a publisher than the actual work.

  2. I will be so interested to hear what you think of A Prayer for Owen Meany. I”m nearly done with it and I hesitate to influence you with my opinions…I will say I am glad I read it.

  3. Your comments on Lola brought tears to my eyes.

    I hated Catch-22 for the same reasons you put it down. It is a one-note joke that goes on way too long. On my third attempt I forced myself to finish it. Painful. I did, however, like Dunces.

    Irving was a book I thought I would hate. But when I read it in 1995 (at about 26 years old) it was kind of a revelation for me. Not sure how I would feel about it now.

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