The past week when I've gone into the bedroom, my husband is propped up against the headboard, book in hand, glasses perched on his nose...eyes shut tight. I know what he's reading....because I was reading the same book a week before. Karl Marx by Julius Smulkstys. After two nights of doing just as my husband and falling asleep mid-sentence, I gave up and instead devoured Stately Pursuits by Katie Fforde. Now before you think that I'm just into chic lit, I went on to read another of Fforde's books--Life Skills--and fell asleep right next to my husband.
It's not the subject matter. It's the presentation.
Three things that make me quit reading--or work "better than sleep medicine" as my husband would say:
1)The description of the world I'm being asked to occupy is confusing and I can't stand up. In fact, I feel brain dead. With Marx it was Dialectic, Hegelian Method, Negation of the Negation etc. With Fforde it was Locks and Windlasses.
2) The author skips all the conflict/drama. Marx, the father of the communist doctrine who stated that "religion is an opiate of the masses" came from a long line of rabbis. In fact, his own father was a rabbi! How did Marx get out of this? What family struggles were there? I want to read this.
3) I don't have enough invested in the character to want to turn the page. Now I'm fascinated by Marx--so it's hard to turn me off. With most books, however, I only know the character from the description provided. I only care about the character because the author is asking me to. In Fforde's book, the main character is an unmarried woman getting up there in age--and surrounded by people telling her she needs to have children before it's too late. But she doesn't care. She's not afraid of anything, not inhibited by anything. In fact, every scrape she gets into, she easily gets out of---even when she turns up pregnant. It's hard to care about a teflon-coated character. I want my character to feel fear and anger and sadness and longing. Or I think, "So what?"
I haven't given up on Fforde (who is amazing with dialogue, and humorous to boot) nor on Marx. However, please--if you know of a good book on Marx--let me know. We've had enough sleeping medicine.