Last year I had a lot of DNFs (books that I did-not-finish), but I don’t know exactly how many because I didn’t keep track. This year I’m keeping track on Goodreads, and here on the blog. Last month was my first one for this year: IQ by Joe Ide. This month comes my second one: Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, translated by Edith Grossman.
I read an abridged version of the book, translated by Walter Starkie, when I was in high school or in college and remember enjoying it, although I don’t remember anything specific about it other than I enjoyed it. So when this new translation came up as a Kindle deal at the end of last year, I picked up this one. Then two weeks ago on Facebook, when I saw that Nancy of the blog Bookfoolery and Ryan of the blog Wordsmithonia were going to read it together. I mentioned to Nancy on Facebook that I might be interested, and then thought I’d probably consider it and not do it. But then when I got an invitation from her to join the Facebook group, called “Tilting at Windmills,” I went ahead and joined. After all, I figured why did I purchase a copy of the book if I wasn’t planning to read it.
A part of me knew I wasn’t going to make it through this, especially after two sentences that were within one paragraph that went on forever. I even said reading the book was going to be a long haul here on the blog and in the group. Instead of giving up then, I continued on, because I was finding the interplay between Don Quixote and his companion, Sancho Panza, entertaining enough. Then the story turned to other stories, about other characters that seemed to have nothing to do with the story at hand, of Don Quixote and Sancho on their adventures. Again, instead of giving up, I decided to continue on, in hopes that Cervantes would get back to Don Quixote and Sancho, which he did, but then he diverted again. After skimming ahead to see that he was going to do it yet at least once, probably a hundred times for all I know, and the overuse of unending sentences, connected by semicolons, I decided it was time to let this book go.
I have tried at least one other readalong, 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, and failed. Do I feel bad for failing at two readalongs? Nope. Sometimes books don’t work for me, for one reason or another, or for several reasons, and I’m okay with that. I still have plenty of books from which to choose to read. For now, I’m going back to my reread of The Lord of the Rings, where I’m nearing the end of The Two Towers. I do feel bad for having joined a readalong when I knew I probably shouldn’t, or might not make it through. For that, I apologize to Nancy and Ryan, but for not finishing the book, I make no apologies, not to myself or Miguel. After all, the book was an immediate success when first published and has gone on to be the second most published and translated book in the world. My not reading it is not going to affect that.