Four Books That Would Totally Change My Life ... If I Could Only Bring Myself to Finish Them

When I was a kid, I'd never start a book without finishing it -- I thought it would make me a failure or something. Oh, how the times have changed.

Aug 25, 2013 at 3:00pm | Leave a comment

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One of my chaotic bookshelves.

I own a lot of books. A LOT a lot. Which is great, on one level, because books are great, and reading is fun and fulfilling and enlightening and makes you smarter (and side note: buying books has become almost problematically easy, thanks to Amazon and Kindle).

The problem is actually READING the books. I get all excited; I purchase them; I read some of them. But others -- a decent amount of others -- I'll have every intention of reading, and I enjoy beholding them on my bookshelf, and yet ... There they sit, wasting away, tragically neglected. I'll start them, but lose patience if they don't suck me in right away. Or I'll get a wandering eye and float off when a hot new number flounces in, parading its treasures before me, vowing to change my life EVEN MORE AND EVEN BETTER than that other Hugely Important, World-Shattering Tome I'd been trying to force myself to get through until then.

Anyway, here are four of the many books that would probably make an impact on my life ... if only I followed through and finished them. (Fine, two of them are vaguely embarrassing new-age books -- I'm sober and I live in the Bay Area, people, what do you expect?)

THE POWER OF NOW by Eckhart Tolle

This one's a bit hippie-dippie, but whatever -- I'm not (that) ashamed to admit that I have a sick love for self-help and spirituality stuff. Ahhh, all that pretty shiny hope, even before you've cracked open those first few pages! Ahhh, that vague sense of promise that this one will finally MAKE IT ALL BETTER and show you the way. FINALLY! The way! Yes, I have quite the embarrassing little collection of self-help books hiding in boxes under my bed (with my true crime reads, of course). The Power of Now is one I keep telling myself I'll finish. Last summer, a friend gave me the audiotape; I listened to about half of it, and it actually really helped as I was going through a painful pseudo-breakup. It didn't show me the way completely, but it kind of nudged me in the direction of being more alive and more centered and living less in my "pain body." Of course, I still haven't gotten through the second half, despite all that promise and hope. Bah.

EATING ANIMALS by Jonathan Safran Foer

Jonathan Safran Foer was in my graduating class in high school in Washington DC, and I admittedly bear just a sliiight twinge of jealousy at his extraordinary success. Anyway, he was a decent guy and that's petty of me, so pardon. In any case, I own all his books but have read none of them, mainly because of that tiny little resentment situation; I worry I'll just sit there stewing and sweating through a fog of self-pity. But I HAVE heard amazing things about "Eating Animals," and I am a die-hard animal lover, as well as a former vegetarian hoping to return to full-on vegetarianism at some point in the very near future. I just need a little push, a nudge in the right direction, and I KNOW this book would do that for me ... If only I could motivate to read it.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS STYLEBOOK

I've worked as a copy editor for two big media companies, but I've never actually read the AP Stylebook. I OWN it, and I USE it, but I haven't, like, sat down and read it from front to back. Actually, I don't know if anyone reads it that way. Do they? I know people sometimes read the dictionary like that, just to broaden their horizons and expand their vocabularies and be annoying/pretentious or whatever, so I thought maybe people do that with style guides, too...? Anyway, maybe one day I'll feel compelled to sit down and peruse the AP Stylebook as if it were as engaging and lovely as, like, Jonathan Safran Foer. Or, more likely, not.

A RETURN TO LOVE by Marianne Williamson

Yesssss, it's another hippie new-age situation here. This is another one I bought on audiotape, because I thought maybe that would make me more inclined to get through it in a reasonably timely fashion. Alas, that was not the case, and I've made it through about fifteen minutes of the first chapter so far. I do not know what's hindering me. I've heard incredible things about it from a wide array of friends and acquaintances. I own other recordings of lectures by Williamson and they've blown me away, or at least comforted me somewhat and made me feel better about my human shortcomings with intimacy and food and self-love. I highly suspect that A Return to Love would do the same. So why in the mother-loving hell can't I read it/listen to it/whatever?

Any books you've been meaning to finish but ... can't?

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