Sunday, March 6, 2016

Book Thoughts - on genres that I can never finish, and giving up

Have you ever found a genre that you really, really THINK you should read, but every time you try it winds up stalling your reading in its tracks? For me, it appears that genre is the political memoir.

These are the actual words of people who have shaped our world, for good or ill, during some of the most important events we have seen. These are people whose lives are, in reality, fascinating. They have made some genuinely good, and genuinely horrible, choices - everything about these books should be completely engrossing to me.

And yet EVERY.SINGLE.TIME without fail, these books bring me to a grinding halt. I find myself actually choosing to clean my house! (GASP!) rather than sit down and read. The most recent book that has had this effect, that got me thinking about this genre as a whole -

My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

She's a goo writer - I mean, she's a journalist, so she should be - she has lived this completely unique life, and had a front-row seat to some defining moments of the 20th century, and yet I just could barely force myself to sit down and read.

Some other political memoirs that have had the same effect on me include....

All of these books, written by intelligent, interesting, influential people, were nearly impossible for me to finish. In fact, I'm not sure I finished any of them. What it is about these memoirs that are so challenging for me? I generally enjoy a good memoir, and I've read political biographies that have been fascinating. So why is the political memoir SO much of a challenge? I think because, in general, these authors seem to have little to no ability to laugh at themselves. They take everything that has happened SO seriously - is this because they are trying to protect their legacy? Keep their public persona intact? Or have they honestly just lost the ability to laugh at themselves? To see some of the crazy things that happened as truly funny, and not just an anecdote to their bigger "story".

I'm not sure. I'm not even quite sure, yet, that this is the thing that inhibits me from reading these books. But there is definitely something.

Reading friends, am I wrong here? Do you have a title that will change my mind? In the meantime, I think this is a genre I am happy to leave on the "Not For This Girl" shelf....


bermudaonion said...

I HATE politics so I don't like political memoirs either which is odd because I love memoirs in general.

Kristen M. said...

Yeah, I have no desire to even start political memoirs so you have that advantage on me! I am actually very picky about memoirs and lately have only been reading ones by comedians. Maybe it's the sense of humor that really makes reading such a self-centered endeavor possible.