I have this annoying problem. I start reading a book. Usually I like it. But sometimes I don't. Sometimes I'm bored stiff. And the annoying problem is this: I have to finish every book I start, regardless of whether it moves me, challenges me, or puts me to sleep. On the positive side, it shows a dogged perseverence that I exhibit in virtually no other area of my life. Is something too hard? Give it up. Take a nap. Play a video game and shoot aliens or Nazis. But on the negative side, this is a form of idiocy. Who willfully chooses an experience whose emotional reward is roughly equivalent to a trip to the dentist? And who keeps going back, again and again and again?
Recently I forced my way through a collection of Henry James' novels -- to be specific, Daisy Miller, Washington Square, The Bostonians, The Ambassadors, Portrait of a Lady, and The Aspern Papers. They were all collected into one massive, 1,200 page volume full of tiny print. I'm told that Henry James is a great novelist. And maybe that's what kept me going; the idea that, like castor oil, this stuff didn't taste good, but it was supposed to be good for me. But it wasn't good for me. Henry never met a five-syllable word he didn't like. And I got thoroughly weary of the whole ordeal. I wanted to flog Henry James and his erudite, run-on sentences, sic Chuck Norris on him and have Chuck kick Henry's sorry literary butt. The guy is a crashing bore. He needed to be kidnapped from the literary salon and sent on a Secret-Ops mission with Chuck or Steven Seagal.
But I dutifully read every word. I do the same thing with the Bible. There are the occasional rough patches. I read something like, "from the tribe of Naphtali, 26,000 men." and I can see that every sentence for the next three pages conforms to the pattern, "from the tribe of x, y number of men." Do I skip ahead? Nope. I read every blasted tribe name, every blasted number.
What is wrong with me? What do you call this? And how do you cure it?