Gone with the Wind: A Surprising DNF

To be honest, guys, I have no idea what happened with this book. I felt like I was in love with it from the beginning – the sweeping settings and the emotionalism that Mitchell gave to the land and her characters and the nature of the pre- Civil War south. And I was undecided about Scarlett, but was having fun making up my mind. But then I got busy for a weekend, didn’t pick the book up for a few days, and when I came back, something had changed. The book and I just weren’t clicking. Now it feels like every time I open the book it gets closed in exactly the same spot. And I’m not sure what happened.

After Sherman burns Atlanta and Scarlett makes her way back to Tara, suddenly she’s this different woman, and if I didn’t like her before hand I sure hated her now. Gone was what I felt was the fear and uncertainty of the Scarlett in the early parts of the book, and here was this woman who was nothing but shrewd and calculating and, to be honest, mean. And the more I got in to this character’s head, the easier it was to make up my mind that I didn’t necessarily want to be there anymore. But it wasn’t just that. I mean, I still love Mitchell’s writing and many of the other characters she creates – I still adore Melanie and Rhett, and am heartbroken every time the broken Mr. O’Hara makes his reappearance on the page. But that’s not enough. I kind of wonder if perhaps my adoration of the movie doomed my ability to love the book from the beginning. Not that the movie is better than the book or visa versa, but I think in this case my familiarity with one (and by familiarity, I of course mean obsessive knowledge of) kind of preempted any ability to create this world or these characters in my own way. As much as I love Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable, they are the Scarlett and the Rhett that I know, and I can’t seem to be able to separate them in my mind.

I’m not saying that this is a book that I won’t return to. I’m hoping to. But I think that this is one of those times and books that, for whatever reason, I just don’t think that right now is the time that I should be reading this book. I kind of believe in the kismet nature of reading, and that if a book really isn’t working, it isn’t necessarily the book as much as the environment surrounding me as I’m reading the book. And right now, with summer and graduation and moving are all looming on the horizon (as well as the fact that I’ve got summer classes approaching), it’s just not the time for this book. I feel like I need something lighter, something thinner, something that I can dig in to and be in, but that won’t require weeks and weeks on end of me doing that. I’ve got some Ray Bradbury short story books on the list, as well as some more Fitzgerald, and there really is nothing like F. Scott to pull me out of a bit of a reading funk and remind me why I love reading and why I’m undertaking this whole process in the first place! I also recently downloaded some non-fiction books on sustainable farming and eating (none of which are new reads, but books that I adore and have checked out from the library umpteenth times) which I’m looking forward to talking about more this Friday!

I’m kind of sad and disappointed that I wasn’t able to get through all of Gone with the Wind. It’s only the second or third book I’ve taken on for this project, and it’s a little disheartening that the whole experience is ending this way. But c’est la vie! Such is life, and I’m one of those readers who tries to never dwell on the DNF for long – there is still a whole universe of plots, characters, and experiences out there waiting to be absorbed! How about you? Do you let yourself DNF, or do you have to finish whatever you pick up? Are you a sprint-reader, or down for the marathon haul, regardless?

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7 thoughts on “Gone with the Wind: A Surprising DNF

  1. I think there are simply times where we are not ready for a particular book. If we force the issue we wind up hating it. I think putting away for a while is the best thing you can do.

    I think the only book I ever wanted to put away was Hannibal Rising. Somehow I found the way to read it through, but it wasn’t a very fun book at all.

    • Joe – I couldn’t agree more! I really do think that the way we feel about a book has so much to do with the circumstances our reading of it – which is why I’m such a big supporter of re-reading books, both those you enjoyed and those you struggled with!

      • Well then there you go! And I’ve never read the Hannibal books, but the movies were more than enough for me, although my mom can’t seem to get enough of them!

  2. I had to quit recently Clarissa due to it’s INSANE length recently. I agree: read as you’re pulled to the book. Right now I’m definitely wanting some light stuff. πŸ™‚

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