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I Am Not A Quitter

February 16, 2010

I have issues leaving things incomplete.  Only my mom can say for sure if I’ve always been this anal but as I get older I find myself even more obsessed with making sure everything is fully finished and checked off my list.

Example A: If I plan to run 30 minutes on the treadmill, you better believe that I won’t leave the gym until that machine reads an even 30 minutes.  I physically cannot stop, even if I’m nearing death until the timer hits 30.  29.59?  Not going to happen unless someone carries me out on a stretcher.  And in that event, knowing that I skipped a second of my workout will probably kill me quicker than my injuries will.

Example B: When I decide to organize or clean something (and this happens often) I won’t take a break until the project is completely finished.  Maya can attest to this after she helped organize my closet a few weeks ago. (Okay, I’ll admit she took a short, unauthorized break but I made allowances due to her age.  When she turns 5 next month?  There will be no more excuses for her behavior.)

Example C: A few years ago I had this great idea to channel my inner Christian Siriano by sewing Maya a dress to wear on Thanksgiving.  Easier said than done.  I was hunched over my mom’s sewing machine for so long that my mom likened conditions in my condo to those of a sweatshop.  But I was determined to finish it.  And finish it I did: 

Don’t worry Christian, I think it’s safe to say that I’m no competition.  Although my kid is pretty cute.

Anyway, so we’ve established that I can’t leave things undone.  That’s why it pains me to say that I could not finish Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan.

Since some of my favorite books are human interest stories this one seemed right up my alley, and I was thrilled to receive it for Christmas.  The book is comprised of five short stories all narrated by children, capturing the horrible and often painful realities of those living and struggling in Africa.  I started reading it right after Christmas and so it upsets me to admit that nearly two months later I am only finished with the first story.  And I simply cannot go on.

The main problem with this book is the author’s writing style.  Talk about confusing!  Uwem Akpan, a Jesuit priest from Nigeria utilizes an odd French-English hybrid that I find impossible to follow.  The fact that the author has an MFA in creative writing baffles me even further because the dialogue, the characters, and the timing is all very confusing and disjointed.  Frankly, I am amazed that this book received such kudos by the reading community.  How is this a bestseller?  Other than the fact that Oprah put her stamp of approval on it I have no idea. 

While I do believe the topic is relevant and important, I don’t understand how the average reader is supposed to make heads or tails of this book.  All I know is that I simply can’t. 

Per Ali the world will not come crashing down if I leave this book unfinished and for once I listened to his advice.  So I am now a quitter.  I hear that quitting one thing can result in a domino effect.  So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised if I stop finishing other books.  Or if I quit making dinner.  Or if I refrain from doing laundry.

I bet Ali will live to regret his advice.

Have you ever been excited to read a book but couldn’t get through it? 

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32 Comments leave one →
  1. February 17, 2010 3:41 am

    Once I start something, I can’t bring myself to stop until I’m done too! This is not very good, because I need alot of “inertia” to start and stop something. I remember I had a pretty tough time starting off the Harry Potter book, The Goblet of Fire. JK Rowling always starts off with “Number 4 Privet Drive” and is so longwinded before she finally gets into the action. But I perservered!!

    Awww, sorry bout that book. Hope your next read won;t be as confusing!

  2. February 17, 2010 4:26 am

    LOL. I am the same way too – a total finisher. In fact, it often hinders me – I cannot make it through the day without feeling I got certain things done.

    But I am SO SO lenient with books! If I am not into it – forget it. If I can not get lost in it – no way. This book sounds like a great subject mater but written awfully! Yuck!

  3. February 17, 2010 4:37 am

    I hate to quit things too, but with books, if I’m not enthralled, I move on. I probably only finish 15% of the books I pick up– but there are so many BAD books out there, and I just don’t want to waste my time on them!

  4. February 17, 2010 4:41 am

    I have a problem with quitting books. I get bored so easily… If it loses my attention I put it down and never pick it back up.

    My husband is the opposite. He says a bad book as a challenge and will force himself to finish it.

  5. February 17, 2010 5:14 am

    I hate quitting books too! And everything else, like you 😉 But back to books. I have had to make a rule where if I’m not really into a book by page 50 then I return it and pass on it. I tell myself there are too many other good books out there to enjoy.

  6. February 17, 2010 5:30 am

    Great post!

    Also, to answer your questions – I know bread crumbs are made by putting slices of bread in a food processor (about 1.5 slices for the recipe you commented on) – so if there was some type of gluten-free bread or start similar to it that you use, I’m sure that could be made into bread crumbs! I hope this helps!

  7. fitandfortysomething permalink
    February 17, 2010 6:06 am

    Yes I tried to read a book all of my friends said was great and I could not get into it. In fact I can’t even remember the name now even though it was made into a movie!

    I have a tendency to work until the project is done too. It can make me a bit crazy…..

    Love the dress though!

  8. February 17, 2010 6:26 am

    I tried to read Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food” recently. I “quit” after 42 pages. The man has a wonderful philosophy, but his attitude pushed me to the limits of my tolerance. The government is the reason we’re unhealthy. The food industry is the reason we’re unhealthy. The scientists are the reason we’re unhealthy. Give me a break. If he hadn’t spent so much time making American citizens sound like pitiful victims of weak politicians and stupid scientists, I would have finished it. But I can’t. So it’s sitting on the floor until I have the time to dump it in the book drop at the library. Good riddance.

    • February 17, 2010 9:28 am

      Hi Tamara –

      I liked the premise of this book but I agree that Michael Pollan sort of dumbed things down for the general public. It definitely got irritating after a while. I kind of felt like that with French Women Don’t Get Fat…great message, irritating author.

  9. Danielle permalink
    February 17, 2010 6:37 am

    I’m the same way! If I set out to run 5 miles and my watch says I’ve ran 4.98, you better believe I turn around and do a weird little loop haha.

    Thanks for the honest review on the book. A lot of times I wonder why things become so popular…

  10. February 17, 2010 6:47 am

    I completely understand your need to get things done; I’m the exact same way. If, heaven forbid, I have to leave something unfinished, it will nag at me until I go back and complete it.

    The only book I’ve come across so far that I absolutely couldn’t finish, was Robinson Crusoe… I had to read it for a course in school, but hated the writing style and couldn’t force myself to suffer through it. It’s like a thorn in my side; some days I’m tempted to try my hand at it again, just to get it done…

  11. February 17, 2010 6:55 am

    I’m the same way girl. I’M OCD to a point with that… I HAVE to finish anything I’ve started.

    Too bad about the book. But thanks for being honest!! I was really excited to read Dear John but I couldn’t get into it. But sometimes if i put a book down for a couple weeks or months and I try it again, it’s better.

  12. February 17, 2010 7:06 am

    I’m like that, too. I feel like I’m letting myself down–and the author, too. The only book growing up that I never finished (I read the Cliff Notes instead since I was being graded on it after all) was Walden. I wanted to like it. I even visited Walden Pond, which is close to where I grew up. But once he started describing how much it cost to build the house and exactly where he put each nail, I couldn’t stay awake. As you can tell, leaving that undone still haunts me.

  13. February 17, 2010 7:31 am

    Good for you! I need to be more of a finisher rather than a good starter. Thanks for blogging about this.

  14. February 17, 2010 7:41 am

    I started reading the biography on Margaret Thatcher and I stopped after about 55 pages. I thought I’d like to learn more about the powerful women who used to live at 10 Downing Street. Now I don’t know what I did with it. I had dropped many books after 10 pages. Some writing styles or stories just don’t click. We need to say to ourselves it’s OK to drop it.

    • February 17, 2010 9:38 am

      I can absolutely see why you stopped! Margaret Thatcher isn’t interesting enough to fill a whole book. Maybe an article. 🙂

  15. February 17, 2010 8:09 am

    Oh I have such a problem not finishing books, no matter how horrid they are. I don’t know why – I have to finish it or else I feel crazy unfulfilled.

  16. February 17, 2010 8:15 am

    i can’t believer Her Majesty O would put her seal of approval on a shitty book! nothing pisses me off more than a book that is mumbly jumbly, where are the editors and what were they thinking?! i am quite the opposite about books: i have about 20 half-read ones, i get too excited about the next one i want to read and the others fall by the wayside. note to self: knowing the endings of books is probably important. i love that once maya turns 5 you won’t be taking any of those excuses no mo!

  17. February 17, 2010 9:24 am

    Hey sweetie! oh I hear ya..I am the same way. I for the life of me cannot stop something once I start it. Even if it pains me in some way i just have to finish for the sake of finishing. So I completely hear ya. I did have a book awhile ago that I jsut stopped but for the life of me I cant remember the name of it. It was some memoir but omg it was the most boring thing I have ever read. Ugh. Its ok about the books though. Totally happens! I hope you have an awesome day! (I so hope this weather stays! Ive been enjoying breaking out my tanks finally!)

  18. February 17, 2010 9:43 am

    I’m like you, determined to a fault. When I start something, I will keep at it until it’s done. I don’t understand the concept of breaks, or stretching a project out over a couple days when it could be done in one.

    Also, I hate not finishing books. Currently, I’m reading “Hawaii,” which my mom insists is a classic. I hate it. I’m gritting my teeth as I read, and I’m only on page 250 (of 900!). I’m not sure whether or not to keep going. For Christmas, my Russian boss gave me this book (translated to English from Russian) which he says is so amazing. I got to page 50 and I was totally confused. I put that one down. I can’t bring myself to tell him and he’s constantly asking me if I’ve read it. Advice?

    Anyway, hope your next reading adventure is better 😉

  19. whydeprive permalink
    February 17, 2010 10:13 am

    Its so funny that you said that about your workouts. Im the same when it comes to my stationary bike. I will either decide on distance or time, and I WILL go until Ive reached my goal.

    I started reading The Secret Life of a Slummy Mummy by Fiona Neill – I had wanted it FOREVER and it got great reviews. I could not get through it. I found it SO boring!

  20. February 17, 2010 1:35 pm

    I wish I had your gym concentration!

    Unfortunately I have this problem all the time with books… but it’s part of my job to keep reading!

  21. February 17, 2010 2:05 pm

    Good for you! lol I maybe the only person that would say this.. but I have been having the same problem with The Kind Diet… although the problem here is not Alicia’s english or lack of.. but the problem is I am really bugged out about the use of words “Weight Loss” a lot in the preface.. to the point that I am having a hard time finishing it.. I grab the book every night when I go to bed to read.. then just put it back and say “maybe tomrrow”…

  22. louisianagrown permalink
    February 17, 2010 2:09 pm

    I used to refuse to throw a good on the side until I had finished it. Then one day, I realized that there are SO many good books out there that wasting my time on a bad one is probably more of a sin than leaving it incomplete. Don’t feel too guilty about it. Think of all those people who have never finished a book in their life.

    On the other hand, I know exactly what you mean about running for 30 minutes. I do the exact same thing, but you better believe that I’m not running for 30:01. I quit ON THE DOT.

  23. louisianagrown permalink
    February 17, 2010 2:10 pm

    Type alert: a BOOK on the side. I should re-read these things BEFORE I post them.

  24. February 17, 2010 2:42 pm

    I hate not accomplishing what I set out to do…but it seems life is forcing me to either make easier goals or be okay with less than perfect ME.

    grrrr… some lessons stink.

    Life with a toddler and a full time job means everything else is second fiddle some days.

    Maybe not finishing a mediocre book can free you up some time for other things youll love MORE.

    Life is too short to sweat it
    xoxo

  25. February 17, 2010 4:11 pm

    Love in the Time of Cholera. SO wanted to read it, but just couldnt stick with it

  26. February 17, 2010 4:28 pm

    Call me a slacker, but I have no issues about taking breaks! I pace myself but I would love to have a little off the finisher attitude!

    I have an award for you on the blog Ameena!

  27. February 17, 2010 4:42 pm

    Girl,
    This post was meant for me. I suffered to get through Nights in Rodanthe….Nicolas Sparks and romance is not my thang..suffered…

    It also took me ungodly long to “get into” two others books: The Time Travellers Wife & The Davinci COde….but I did “get into” them at about halfway — and at that point, could not put them down…so it got better 🙂

    I tried to read this chick-lit “Chasing Harry Winston”…but it wasnt going good, so i stopped reading it…i might try again in future…but i wont push it

    there are WAY too many books out there to suffer reading something u cannot tolerate..hard call though cause sometimes they can “get” better, etc…

    • February 17, 2010 7:38 pm

      I thought I was the only one who felt that way about The Da Vinci Code! So glad I’m not the only one!!

  28. February 21, 2010 3:43 am

    Yeah, I know that feeling… Have to finish a book, no matter what. Yet, there’s one book I never finished. Was by an Indian author, not sure what it was called but I just couldn’t go on. After dawdling for days and finishing 3 other books by the side of this, I decided to give up. It was a hard!

  29. March 14, 2010 11:34 pm

    Joe, you are absolutely correct, it shows that you’re an authority on the subject. I admire someone that takes the pride you have and with your projecton of information. oSo when i actually do sit down to read material, I appreciate well written and organized blogs like this one. I have it bookmarked and will be back. Thanks.

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