I Tackled “The Goldfinch” and Won

 

I posted the above tweet last week. You see, I’m not the quickest reader out there. I like to absorb a book’s details. But I can usually polish off a novel in a week. At most, two weeks. But three and a half weeks? That’s a slogfest.

So I was happy to finally finish The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I shared my review of it on Book Club Mom so I won’t rehash it here. Just know finishing it has left me too weary to write a longer blog post.

And that’s a win in your column.

Image from Microsoft Clip Art

Image from Microsoft Clip Art

What book took you forever to finish? Any long tomes on your to-be-read list?

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Rubin4Carrie Rubin is the author of Eating Bull and The Seneca Scourge. For full bio, click here.

272 Responses to “I Tackled “The Goldfinch” and Won”

  1. Kate Johnston

    I haven’t read this. I’m a slow reader too, but mainly because I can’t read for more than 15 minutes without getting interrupted! I probably should skip this one, eh?

    I just got through the first 4 books of George RR Martin’s Ice and Fire series. He is an amazing storyteller. I really got hooked, and that is not my usual genre. But they were worth investing the time. How he kept all of those characters and details straight is beyond me!

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      I haven’t read those, but I’ve heard he has lots of characters. He must keep meticulous notes.

      Overall The Goldfinch is good, and I’m glad I finished it, but if it weren’t for my book club, I’m not sure I would have.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. L. Marie

    Congrats! You did what I could not do. I was not engaged enough, so I put it down. Oddly enough, the length was not the daunting aspect. I’ve read longer books. Still, I have to give the author props for the writing. It was beautifully written.

    That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis took me about a year to finish. I finished it because a friend told me it was worth the struggle to get through. And after awhile, I got over the 100+ page patch that stopped me and loved it all the way through.

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      Long books don’t put me off either. There are some long Stephen King books that I hardly noticed the length in because I was so absorbed. But The Goldfinch had so much to absorb, and its paragraphs were dense. Phew.

      Like

  3. hilarycustancegreen

    Hmm, I agree with most of your assessment. I felt it was thriller dressed as a literary tome. Thrillers are meant to be anxiety-inducing, which I don’t happen to like, but I persisted. The tome aspect was heavily overdone, with all her research thrown in. The ending was unbelievable. I’ve just gone back to read my own review http://greenwritingroom.com/2014/09/21/the-goldfinch-writer-versus-reader-reviews/. I can see that I was trying hard to be even handed.

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      Interesting to see the similarities in our reviews! I love thrillers–they’re what I write, after all–but I found this one too slow to be a thriller. But I agree–the end was not realistic. I’ve heard her other one (The Secret History I think it’s called) is really good. So I might give that a try. Maybe…

      Like

  4. Britt Skrabanek

    Congrats, honey! I remember seeing that tweet and thinking…if Carrie’s struggling with this book, I better skip it! Your reading consumption puts mine to shame.

    This month I’ve been going a little nuts. I’m reading four books simultaneously (something I never do). It started off okay, but now I’m feeling stuck with them! Too many things at once. 🙂

    Like

  5. J.B. Whitmore

    Agree about the Goldfinch. In fact, when portagonist returned to NYC — I skimmed to the end. Wondered if she’d had to write that book by hand rather than on a computer if it would have been so long. Cheers —

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      I admit if it wasn’t for book club, I might have given up. But I figure it’s good for me to get my monthly social interaction so I plowed through. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Shel Harrington

    I used to have this thing about finishing a book no matter how long it was taking. A second self-imposed rule was I only allowed myself to read fiction on weekends because of the mountains of reading I have to plow through for my job and class prep. So you can only imagine how long it took my slow-reading self to get through a book I wasn’t enthusiastic about! I finally cut myself some slack – there’s too many books calling my name to push through one I’m not enjoying. Because, while no longer a “rule,” fiction-reading is still generally reserved for weekends, I believe my cries of “TGIF!!” are heartier than most!

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      I was just like you as well–always thought I had to finish a book. Felt guilty if I didn’t. Now I throw in the towel and put it down if I don’t like it. But if it’s a book club read like this was, I’ll plow through. But I did like this one. There was just a lot to absorb.

      Like

  7. Andrea Stephenson

    The Goldfinch isn’t really on my list – one of those you think maybe you should, but…I read fast and a big book doesn’t faze me, but these days I don’t finish books I’m not into – once upon a time I had to, but I’ve evolved 🙂

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      I usually don’t either, not anymore. But if they’re for my book club, I plow on. It’s good for me to have that monthly social interaction. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Sean

    As Jay will confirm, I am the slowest for-pleasure reader in the world. It’s strange. I can read a 100 page case in an hour but give me a 300 page book and it often takes me a month to get through it.

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      I know the feeling. I’ve read complicated medical journals more quickly than I read The Goldfinch! Probably because it’s a world I know about. The art world, on the other hand, I do not (the theme of The Goldfinch). Which is probably why we read.

      Like

  9. A @ moylomenterprises

    Yep. I’m reading the Bible from cover to cover. I’m only at Numbers Chap 26 for I too am a slow reader thanks to my dyslexia (letters appear mixed up or sentences make no sense requiring a reread). But I like the learning process of reading the Word firsthand.

    Congrats on your win!

    Like

  10. Jilanne Hoffmann

    It took me longer than that to read the Goldfinch. Although I loved Tartt’s earlier book, The Secret History, I had a difficult time with the GF for many reasons. I admire your tenacity. 😀

    Like

  11. RobinLK

    At the request of my (then) middle school students, I read the first Harry Potter book. Though I’m not much of a fiction reader (as I’ve mentioned before), I really like Young Adult Fiction. That book seemed enormous, but I read it in a few days…. absolutely loved it!!!

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      I normally don’t read YA fiction, but I agree those books were wonderful. Read them aloud to my oldest son when he was young. It was our special time together.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. pegoleg

    I am in the middle of Stephen King’s 11/22/63, and it is loooooong. I listen to books on CD while I do other things, cuz that’s how I roll, and I’m on CD 12 of 30 something – 880 pages! The problem is I like to take a break and just listen to music sometime.

    If I finish this bad boy, I’ll wind up with a whopping big overdue fine at the library.

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      That would be a long one for audiobook, for sure. I read the hardcover. I really enjoyed it, but there were times I found myself wondering where his editor was. Entire chunks of passages that didn’t move the story forward. King can get away with that. Most of us can’t. 🙂

      Like

  13. heylookawriterfellow

    I admit I’ve started quite a few tomes I’ve never bothered to finish.

    There are too many great books out there and — dangit — life is too short to stare bleary-eyed at the ramblings of James Joyce.

    Like

  14. roughwighting

    I confess – if a book takes me that long to ‘tackle’ – I won’t continue it. Thus, I never started The Goldfinch (having heard from many readers the same ‘complaint’…? as yours). Thus, I don’t belong to a book club. I wanna read the books I wanna read, and hate being pushed to ‘tackle’ something. I do, however, listen to/read reviews of books that normally wouldn’t be up my alley, and try them if recommended. Just finished EUPHORIA which was recommended by a friend – wow what an excellent book and an excellent book club read.

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      Thanks for the rec! I’ll look Euphoria up.

      I normally don’t like struggling through something either. Life’s too short. But my book club has been a good means of getting me to read things I normally wouldn’t and some I really love. Plus it forces me to socialize once a month. That’s good for this stay-at-home introvert. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • roughwighting

        True. I’ve been having a great time visiting book clubs, whose members ask me to come talk about writing, publishing, and my books. I hope you do that with YOUR books – great way to mingle and promote.

        Like

        • Carrie Rubin

          I saw it yesterday! Thank you so much! I sent you a direct message on Twitter yesterday to thank you, but I realized you might not check those. I really appreciate you taking the time to leave a review. I’m so glad you enjoyed the book. Thank you again!

          Liked by 1 person

          • roughwighting

            Not expecting a thanks, just wanted you to know it was there. Yeah, I’m bad about looking at Twitter. Anyway, the point is, you really brought alive those who suffer with obesity and bullying and the difficult path they walk. Well done.

            Like

  15. BunKaryudo

    Actually, I had the same problem as The Lonely Author a little earlier in your comment thread, although strictly speaking it’s not a book that has taken me forever to finish so much as one that has taken forever to start. I’ve had Don Quixote on my shelf for a year or so now and I’m still trying to pluck up the courage to open it.

    Like

      • BunKaryudo

        I’m afraid that’s a book I will likely never read. I’ve heard a little bit too much about Ayn Rand to have the slightest interest in her views.

        Sorry if that last paragraph sounded a bit angry. It’s really not meant to. I’m typing this with a smiling face and a cheerful heart.

        It’s really just a question of protecting my health, you see. From what I know of her opinions (based on what I’ve read and also on some interviews with her on YouTube), her worldview is so diametrically opposed to mine, I could never get through her entire book without having some kind of seizure.

        Like

  16. Dawn Quyle Landau

    It took me forever to finish Goldfinch, and as I tweeted to you, I really think there could have been about 200 fewer pages–– give or take. I haven’t won a Pulitzer yet, so I guess Donna Tartt gets the last word on that. For the record: I’ve read all 3 of her books, loved them all, but thought each one needed some editing. Again… Pulitzer.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Dawn Quyle Landau

        That was her first, and I loved it when it came out. I re-read it a few months ago, and while I still liked it, it didn’t impress me quite as much. A bit like Lord of the Flies. The Little Friend, her 2nd, is quite compelling. Very well done… but again, all 3 were longer than they needed to be… says the expert editor. 😉

        Like

  17. paywindow7

    This is an easy one for me. I’m a reader. Licensed and certified. From “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran to Shakespeare’s work to an ancient copy of “Sea and Land” by J. W. Buel and all points in between. But my favorite book of all time is “Catch 22” hands down. Written by Joseph Heller, It was famous for it’s humor at the time and that humor was exponentially increased for me because I read it while I was in the Navy and each character in that book could be matched up with a living character in my squadron. A couple of buddies of mine happened to be reading the thing at the same time as myself. We spent many work breaks sitting on an aircraft wing together watching flight line and hanger operations while matching some of our beer drinking brothers with characters in that wild crazy book and laughing our asses off.
    Loved it and re-read it many times.
    Bob Cloud

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      What a wonderful memory you have with that book. That’s really cool. It’s wonderful to find a book that gets into our soul like that.

      I tend to avoid really heavy books, but I’ll read them if the story is engaging. I like substance, but I also like a page-turner.

      Thanks and Happy 2016 to you!

      Like

  18. philosophermouseofthehedge

    Over three weeks? Why by then you are part of the crowd in the book . Actually sometimes I like reading long books and taking time to do so – and a bit sad when they are done. You sort of become part of the story or one with the tale with a long read.
    Actually it sounds like you were reading like an author and not just as a reader -time spent looking at the structure/appreciating the wording. Must have been good to lure you into savoring it.

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      I wish I could say it was that, but it was more feeling I had to finish it for book club. 😉

      But I don’t mind long books. If they engage me, I love getting lost in their pages. Stephen King has certainly had some long ones that captivated me.

      Liked by 1 person

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