I've tried reading Before You Know Kindness by Chris Bohjalian twice before this, never getting past page 25. The characters didn't grab me, the short amount of plot I got through didn't grab me... nothing. I have heard so many good things about this book that when I signed up for The Spring Read Thing challenge, I added it to my list in hopes that I could actually get to the good part of the novel and understand just what everyone was talking about. Big, fat, NOPE there. This time I made it to page 48, or the end of chapter 4, before I gave up and put the book in my "to be returned" pile. I just can't get into that book! So, I have failed on one of my challenge selections, but quickly substituted it with another rather delightful book I had sitting around, waiting to be read.
Used and Rare: Travels in the Book World by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone was quite the surprise. I just picked it up off the shelf one day while at work and brought it home with me, already having renewed it twice before finally cracking it open yesterday. It has a simple premise, really. Nancy and her husband break into the art of collecting books by accident, but over the course of about a year make it a passion. It was fun to read about their quest for certain works (and editions of those books), all while trying to be frugal about their purchases. It was also very interesting to view the perspective of collector's that make their libraries out of books of value. Most of you understand what I mean when I say I collect books that I like, rather than books that are worth something or will one day be worth something. I've never looked at an edition before making a purchase or checked the spine label to make sure the bookstore isn't hiding something from me. I collect what I've read and liked or authors that never fail to please me. The Goldstones started out this way, but quickly branched off into collecting based on value.
I read this book in about 2 hours, but silly me started it at around 11 (after the 3rd failed Bohjalian attempt), thinking I would read a chapter before bed, but for some reason it was one of those I just couldn't put down. I finally closed my eyes around 1am, satisfied with my reading choice for that evening, and happy with at least completing something for the challenge, even if it was a substitution.
Though I don't think I ever will complete Before You Know Kindness, I did love Bohjalian's first book Midwives and am on the hold list for his newest The Double Bind, also a Spring Reading Thing challenge book. Let's hope I have better luck with that one. So all in all, I didn't complete one of my challenge books, but I did find a great substitute!