Third Book Not A Charm (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius review)

100 books to read

Written by The Mom

I just finished the third book from the list I’m reading: 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime. The book was A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, by Dave Eggers.

It wasn’t my favorite.

There were a few clever things about it. I haven’t read many books that were just a long stream of consciousness, for example, which was both funny and disturbing in turns. A few parts here and there made me laugh out loud.

Mostly, though, I complained quite a bit about the book while I was reading it. Which is ironic, since I chose to read it. About the seventeenth time I grumbled something, my husband impatiently interrogated, “Then why are you reading it??”

I didn’t have a good answer for him.

It’s a question I’ve been pondering ever since, though. Sure, the list looks fun… There are nonfiction books, classics, more recent fiction books (like the one I just finished), and old favorites such as Charlotte’s Web and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But why not just pick and choose the books that I like and skip the ones that aren’t clicking? And why read them in order?

Maybe it’s because of how crazy my life is right now. Maybe I need something orderly, something predictable. Something I can check off, that makes me feel like I’ve tangibly accomplished something.

Being a mom is crazy and unpredictable on normal days. When things are… Off (any mom will know what I mean by this), it’s even more challenging.

Things were definitely off during the time I read this book.

The kids had colds, twice. We got in a car accident that, while minor, added a lot of extra appointments, stress, and stuff to our schedule (car fixes, carseat shopping, chiropractic adjustments). The newness of having a new baby has been wearing off and the “big kids” (4 and 2.5 years old) have been feeling the shift in life that comes with having another person in the family.

Or, maybe it’s because I don’t have to think very hard. I love reading, it’s how I relax. But finding a book to read can be difficult. It’s not like watching a show or a movie, which only takes a few hours at most, so if it’s not any good, no harm done. With a book, you want to make sure you aren’t wasting your time. You want to make sure it’s going to be worth it. By following a list, at least if you don’t like one of the books you can immediately move on to the next.

Also, I have some weird personal goal to write a blog post about each book after I’ve finished it.

I guess I just need something for me. Something I can say that I’ve done. Time alone to myself. Part of my recipe for relaxation.

Here is my entire recipe for relaxation, in case you were wondering:

  • A book (as noted above). Normally I would define this as a good book but if you’re following a list, I guess that doesn’t matter as much.
  • A hot bath
  • Something to munch on that makes you feel like you’re getting away with something. Like chocolate, or french fries.
  • A pair of eyes to watch the kids and answer endless questions while you are in the tub. Preferably they will be in bed but realistically they won’t be asleep; they’ll be calling loudly for something once or twice every minute for two hours. My pair of eyes is my husband. A mother or a friend would work.
  • Music or a door that locks.

So ultimately, maybe my list is an excuse. “Honey, can you do bedtime tonight? I have to take a bath, I have to read this book from my list. If I don’t finish it it’s going to take me five years to get through my list. I need to read tonight.”

Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Maybe by the time my five years is up they’ll have added another 100 books to the list…

Meanwhile, my son is calling for me for the 100th time since we put him to bed (probably to tell me he wants ice in his water or wants me to tuck him in yet again) so I have to go take a bath now.

Oh, and if you are wondering why this post is rambly and rather pointless, just read A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.


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