Mark Twain laughs at me


Book image courtesy of genieslot on Morguefile

Have you ever experienced one of those novels that is difficult to get through? For me, there are two books that fit this description. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy is the first one. Although it’s a great classic, I found it hard to read. I attempted it many years ago and stopped, meaning to return shortly. Ten years later, “shortly” ended. I made up my mind to plow through it, no matter what, and finally got it done.

The other book is the Autobiography of Mark Twain, which a relative gave to me as a Christmas gift. Mostly, it’s the sheer size of this book that I find daunting. The book is about two and a half inches thick and 680 pages long. Arrrgh. Who has TIME to read 680 pages?

(Okay, people, technically the book is 736 pages, but I’m skipping the reference and index sections. There is only so much I can do in my quest for knowledge and keep my sanity at the same time.)

And this book is only Volume 1. I dread to think that Volume 2 could be even bigger.

Mark Twain photo

Stop staring at me like that, Mark! I’ll conquer you one of these days! (Image courtesy of A.F. Bradley, Wikimedia Commons)

So for the moment, Mark sits on a shelf, looking at me with his half-glare in the cover photo taken by William Vander Weyde in 1906. I’ve found some other uses for him in the meantime; he is a dandy support for other books and I use his weight to straighten out wrinkled papers. I guess one of these days I’ll be in the mood to tackle him. Right now, I think Mark Twain’s spirit is looking down at me, laughing his head off.

Readers, what book (or books) have you found difficult to finish?



Filed under Writing

7 responses to “Mark Twain laughs at me

  1. I have to say that while I understand the daunting size of War & Peace, it really is a wonderful epic worth reading.

  2. Well, I can say that I read three-quarters of the way through Les Miserables. It was good, and I meant to finish it, but because of the length…I don’t know what came up, but I stopped reading it for a bit. And then didn’t get back to it. By then, I felt like I’d have to start over, and couldn’t make myself do it.

    But when I tell people this, that I never intended to stop, and was just daunted by starting over, they always ignore the fact that I did read almost the whole book. “Oh, it’s awesome, you should read it!” “Rachel, you don’t know what you’re missing, it’s fabulous!” My cries of, “Well, duh, I know that! I read most of it!”, all fall on deaf ears.

    Now, it’s somewhere in my storage unit, with a bookmark still in it. I could never read it on Kindle, though, because I feel the need to SEE how far I’ve read.

  3. I wonder if that was part of his intent. I pick a day of the week and read a chapter or two of that one. Sometimes though, in a fact-centered book with names and dates, I have a harder time with recall. The gist of this book is very funny!

    • Maybe that’s the way to attack this autobiography. One chapter per week. I’ve leafed through the book so far and discovered some interesting tidbits, including a letter created by Helen Keller. I suppose that one of these days my curiosity will be too much for me to stand and I’ll actually start reading it.

  4. Yep, know all about those books that can’t seem to be finished, although can’t recall an exact title right now. I do have a Mark Twain story. Used to go to the library when I was a young ‘un and pick out tons of different kinds of books. Once I picked up an autobiography of Mark Twain–certainly it couldn’t be the same one–no, a 12-year-old would not have picked this off the shelf–and the librarian peered over her glasses and announced “You are an eclectic reader.” I ran home lickedy-split to find out what “eclectic” was. It still feels like the supreme compliment, even though I may never have read more than six pages of the book.


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