Solid Goldfinch: Fear of a book only increases fear of reading itself

I’m writing this post ahead of time because on Wednesday night I’m going to the theatre. A guy I work with is starring in an amateur production of Sweet Charity and a load of us are going to watch him. As a huge fan of musical theatre I’m really excited but I will miss my usual Wednesday night routine. I normally have the house to myself so I can just do whatever I want. Plus, I had to start to think about this post way before I normally would. I mean is it really a Wednesday if I’m not madly typing a bookish post at about 32:46? It’s also an issue for another reason. By the time this post goes on the blog I will have finally finished a book. I know I know. It’s a fucking miracle and it’s only taken about 3 months to do it. This slump has killed me, man. But I should be able to finish Frankenstein in Baghdad this evening. If this had been a normal week then I could have cobbled together a book review this week but, thanks to my unusually busy schedule, that’ll have to wait until next Wednesday. So, it does beg the question of what I’m going to discuss tonight.

 

And I have the perfect topic: my next read. Or one of my next reads. A few weeks ago I made a vow with a couple of fellow Bookstagrammers to finally get round to reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. It was the book of 2013/2014 but I just couldn’t bring myself to read it. I made the mistake of buying the hardback and it’s just so bloody big. Every time I looked at it I just thought “how the fuck am I going to carry that to work?” And when you do most of your reading on your commute or in the staff room then size really is an issue. I like big books and I cannot lie… but sometimes there is such a thing as too big. And The Goldfinch is far too big. So it’s been sat, unloved, on my bookshelf. In fact on my secondary bookshelf where I keep the things I’ve long since read and forgotten or never plan on reading.

So I’m a bit nervous about starting it. Which is probably why doing a buddy read is a great thing but, to be honest, that’s making me more nervous. I realise that it’s basically going to be someone else who can encourage me to carry on and help push me through the slump. However, it’s also someone I can let down by being shit at reading again. At least when I don’t read at the moment I’m only letting myself down… and I do that all the frickin’ time. I’m fully aware that I’m reading way too much into this but it just feels like an added pressure. It’s why I don’t borrow other people’s books or use the library. As much I’d love to I always feel that there is more of a deadline to finish and that just makes me want to do anything but reading.

And it doesn’t help that it’s been so long since I bought this book. There is so much hype around it now. It’s the book that everyone celebrates and I put it off for so long. How can it ever live up to its reputation now? At least if I’d read it earlier then I wouldn’t have been so impacted by other people. Now I’m just going to worry that I won’t appreciate it. I mean, if I don’t like it does that mean I just didn’t get it? It wouldn’t be the first time that I hated a super popular book (*cough* Gone Girl *cough*). That would definitely mean it’s time to start reevaluating myself and the way I read, wouldn’t it?

Plus, what if I don’t like it? Do I stop and just abandon my fellow readers? Or do I keep going with a book I hate? If I do keep going won’t that just make it slower? Especially considering this is supposed to be the year that I stop reading books I don’t want to. What started as a simple throwaway suggestion on Bookstagram has created such a well of fear inside me. I don’t understand it and my instinct is to hide from it. To read something easy. Something fun that will take me a few days to finish. Or maybe something I know well enough to not even have to think about.

But, am I not a reader? I’ve grown up reading books like Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia where we’re encouraged to face our fears. To have courage and ignore that voice in your head telling you to turn around and run. As much as I don’t want to be one of those inspirational quote guys, I’m reminded of a Yann Martel quotation:

I must say a word about fear. It is life’s only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unerring ease. It begins in your mind, always.

The only thing stopping us live is fear. The only reason that my TBR is so fucking huge is fear… and laziness but I can’t find any inspirational quotes about overcoming laziness right now. So give me a break. I have a large collection of books that I haven’t read for years and there is, almost, nothing but fear stopping me from trying. So, to quote Clara Oswald, “let me be brave” when I start reading the Goldfinch. After all, as Ned Stark once told Bran, the only time a man can be brave is when he’s afraid. Off I go to embrace my secret, inner Gryffindor.

 

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