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Chapter 22 - Wrong Place, Wrong Time


I put a book, by a favorite author, down last week, 50 pages into it. I felt discouraged, like a quitter. I went online and read the reviews of it and most were really good, which made me feel even worse about giving up on the book. A few reviews said the book did not grab the reviewer's atention at the start which is how I felt. I found myself actively avoiding the book which I can only remember doing a few times (Love In the Time of Cholera comes to mind).


My usual rule of thumb when it comes to giving books up is 100 pages minus my age. As I grow older the number of pages I read to give a book a fair chance obviously decreases. Often I just jettison the book at the magic number of pages figuring it was just not for me. There are some books which I feel deserve a second chance though. This is because they have been critically acclaimed or because someone I trust has told me I need to read the book. I tuck these away for later and often find that in a different mood, at a different time, they are finally enjoyable.


Here are my second chance books.


The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett – Prior to the publication of this book I had read pretty much everything Follett had written. Most of his books were World War II thrillers or espionage, so what was not to like? I read about The Pillars of the Earth and it sounded like a winning premise. Historical fiction/family saga is very much a go-to for me. I got the book from the library when it first came out in hardback in 1989. It was not a light book weighing in at 992 pages so I was thrilled to have something big to dig into. I started to read it and…the prologue of the book starts off with a hanging. I read that and decided almost immediately this was not for me. I sat on the book until it was time to return it to the library and really didn’t think of it again. In 2007 the second book in this series World Without End came out. I was intrigued by the reviews and decided to pick up a mass market paperback copy of The Pillars of the Earth to take with me on a trip to Hawaii. I dove into the book on the plane and finished it before we reached our destination. I loved it and am glad I read it when I did.


All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr - This was an interesting second chance book. I picked up the book when it was first published (2014). I will often pick up books without the intention of reading them immediately but rather allow them to join the motley crew on my TBR pile. After a few months where I hadn't read World War II books, I decided to give this a try. I couldn't get into it. I believe the problem was with the extremely short chapters. I put it down, read a few reviews, and many months later, tried again. I found that once I got into the rhythm of the book, I sailed through it. Again I was happy I read it and when I recommended the book, advised customers and friends that it takes about 30 pages to get into the rhythm.


Still Life by Louise Penny - I can't tell you how many customers and friends told me I had to read Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache series. I heard this from both American and Canadian customers. So one cold, rainy afternoon at the store I picked up a copy of Still Life and settled in for a read. I couldn't do it. For whatever reason it just didn't sing for me. Last year in the Myrtle Beach Book Club, we picked an around the world theme reading books from various countries. I chose Still Life knowing I would plow through it because it was for book club. I loved it! I have since then gone on to read many more of the series but being somewhat anal, I have to read them in the order they were written!


Isaac's Storm by Erik Lawson - I have enjoyed every single Erik Lawson book I've read starting with Devil in the White City. I picked this up several times, read the first chapter and put it down. I bought the book originally because I heard an interview with Larson about the book which is the story of the 1900 Galveston hurricane. I finally suggested it for book club so I would actually sit down and read it. I'll be honest, it was not my favorite book of his but I did enjoy it and it gave me great insight into the founding of NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).


In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune is the book that I recently put down. Klune has become a favorite author of mine and while I know authors can't necessarily hit it out of the park with every book, the first two (The House on the Cerulean Sea and Under the Whispering Door) were wonderful. I like the premise that a human living with robots finds a robot which he puts back together. Unbeknownst to him, the robot was a human hunter. I tried but I just couldn't keep at it. I am letting my daughter read it and will get it back after that. Hopefully she will tell me it is worth the read!


Are there any books that you have given a second chance? Let me know.


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