I once asked Andy McGuire, who at that time was editing Latter-day Cipher, for a book recommendation. He told me that I should read P. D. James because she wrote literary mysteries; and also because she was a Christian.
So I selected a James novel, Original Sin, for airplane reading since I am traveling to present seminars a lot recently (I’ve been on three trips in the last three weeks.) I say airplane reading because of those rules against portable electronics – you can’t use a computer, e-reader or even audiobook player unless a plane is over 10,000 feet in altitude. So it’s low-tech reading for those of us who want to continue reading while the airplane attendants describe how to use your seat cushion for a flotation device and then take your drink orders.
On the second leg of my trip to Montana I grew so impatient with the book that I stuffed it down into the seatback pocket along with the airsickness bag. I was going to leave it on the plane. Too many characters, I thought, action too slow; and though there were some delicious murders and some yummy descriptions, the whole thing seemed pedantic.
But someone I respected had recommended this book, and so I trudged on. Little by little the plot began to both thicken and engage.
By the time I neared the denouement, I was re-reading each paragraph, then going back and re-reading the last chapters. It was like a dessert whose last bite I did not want to take – instead I scraped around the dish, licked the spoon, smelled the last wafting aromas, searched between my teeth for morsels before finishing it off.
It was one of the most memorable climactic scenes I have ever read. I was so glad I gave the book a chance. It deserves every accolade it has received.
Have you ever been tempted to dump a book that you nonetheless went ahead to finish? What made you want to abandon it? What kept you reading? Are you glad you did? Why?