Set Aside For Now

On my Goodreads page, I have a category called “Set Aside For Now.” I sometimes start a book only to discover that it is not the right book for me or not the right time for me to be reading that book. I give it a good try and then move it into that category, without guilt. Later, I’ve given numerous set-asides another try and really enjoyed them. Some languish in that category for years before I give them another try or pronounce them a DNF.

This week I moved a book into that category. I love the books of D.E. Stevenson, in particular her “Miss Bunkle” books. I started the first book in her “Drumberley” series, Vittoria Cottage, and was enjoying it until some wording hit me hard. She started using the “N” word in conversations, and it stopped me.

I have read many books in which that word comes up, but this time it hit me harder. In the last few years, and on a daily basis, we have been inundated with blatant racism, misogyny, cruelty, bullying, unfairness, and manipulation in our daily lives through both news and personal encounters. I do not accept these encounters silently now, for there is too much at stake.

So I set that book aside for now…until I can put that part of the story into the historical/cultural context of the time, understand better the life of the author, and/or until I decide that the book is worthy of my time and emotional energy.

I am not trying to “escape” in my reading these days. I take on some pretty serious subjects, but I am very aware of my emotional vulnerabilities and the overwhelming amount of daily exposure to the negatives in life. I am trying to be more mindful in my choices…to choose things to read that honor the goodness, the strength, the resilience of the human spirit. To choose things to read that are beautifully written, especially if the subject is a difficult one. And to choose my “entertainments,” as Graham Greene called his own books, with care.

 

10 thoughts on “Set Aside For Now

  1. Jina Bazzar

    i have my set aside mode too, but it’s an invisible mode in my brain. i seldom pick books i set in there back up, but if the book in question had something that insulted me, that’d be a definitely dnf. I did that just a while back. I enjoy Jennifer Armentraut’s books, and although i noticed some stuff that made me frown ‘ in her more recent books, it wasn’t much to put me off. then i picked one ‘moonlight sins’ and on the last 10 pages, i had this wtf moment that had me putting the book aside and saying a noway am i finishing this.

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  2. Kay

    I think ‘setting aside’ a book (for whatever reason) is a good thing to do. And as I was reading (or rather listening) to Herman Wouk’s WWII saga recently, those terms for other races really jarred me. They were current with the time period and wasn’t gratuitous with them, but still…

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  3. iliana

    I just wiped my nightstand clear of books I just couldn’t finish for one reason or another. I am still carrying over a few from last year but I have no regret over books I set aside because I’m opening up myself to new books. I don’t blame you for putting this one to the side. I think that would have stopped me too.

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    1. Robin Post author

      Iliana, good for you for clearing those books from your nightstand! There are so many books I want to read! I just can’t spend the time on one that isn’t right for me at the time.

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  4. Les in OR

    I rarely ever go back to try a book that didn’t work for me, so kudos to you to give them a second chance. With regard to reading a book with that word in it, I know I would find it difficult to keep reading. I found myself cringing as I read Jodi Picoult’s Small Great Things. The white supremicist followers made it almost impossible for me to read those pages.

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    1. Robin Post author

      Les, I wouldn’t be able to read that one. For some of the books on my set-aside shelf, though, it just wasn’t the right time for me. Nothing offensive in them, just didn’t grab me. Those are the ones I go back to later on.

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  5. Cath

    I like the idea of a ‘set aside’ shelf on Goodreads. One book I started several years ago and just couldn’t get into was The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry. Sometimes I’ll just consign these books to the charity shop box but I didn’t with this and am so glad because when I tried again a year or so later, I absolutely loved its quiet, meandering, quirky storyline. I’m so sure it depends on your mood. I understand completely about those words, I read a lot of vintage crime stories and am brought up short quite a lot. Usually I can get through the book but like you, sometimes I can’t. I wonder if those authors ever considered how attitudes would so radically change that their books would be become unacceptable in years to come. I also wonder which attitudes we hold now that will also be unacceptable in 100 years time.

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    1. Robin Post author

      Cath, those are some interesting thoughts. When I think of what was acceptable 100 years ago and are not acceptable culturally today, I’m sure we can’t imagine the changes that will come. Hopefully, they will be more positive and more humane!

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