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The Unbearable Lightness of Being – First Attempt

May 4, 2010

It’s rare for me to not finish a book once I’ve started reading it – we’re talking transit-of-venus, Honus-Wagner-baseball-card kind of rare. I can probably count on both hands the number of books I’ve given up on in my lifetime. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera is one of them.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being I made a concerted effort to slog through it last summer, forcing myself to keep reading in the hope that it would get better. The plot includes all manner of action that should keep the reader interested—politics, adultery, suicidal angst—but somehow none of it really grabbed me. The characters seemed like zombies and I couldn’t bring myself to care about any of them.

I was halfway through when I finally packed it in. The deciding factor wasn’t that I had maxed out my renewals at the library, or that I wasn’t enjoying it – I have encountered both of those scenarios before and soldiered on. I quit when I realized that the book had been making me avoid reading altogether. I hadn’t read for a stretch of two weeks or more when it dawned on me that I’d been finding other things to fill my time to avoid this dull book. 

Anyone who knows me can recognize the extremity of this situation. To say I’m an avid reader is like saying Isaac Newton had an interest in mathematics. Reading is hardwired into me, as instinctive as breathing or eating. Something had to have been very wrong in this scenario for this book to keep me from this obsession for so long. Others may think The Unbearable Lightness of Being is a work of genius, but I found it a complete yawnfest at this point in time. When you’d rather mow the lawn than read a novel, it’s time to move on. Perhaps I’ll take another run at it in a few decades.

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