Second Attempt

Over the last two years, there were two books that didn’t make it past my 50-page rule that I still really wanted to have read: Reza Aslan’s Zealot and Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America. In both cases I was able to go back and complete them thanks to their audio book versions.

For Zealot, it was my professor friend who encouraged me to give it another go. I wrote about my first attempt to read this book before.


Having that book read to me was like an invigorating college lecture. In listening to it, I could simultaneously understand why reading it had been a challenge and be fully enthralled by the story. The book made me want to talk about the topic after the lecture. Unfortunately, there was no one to hang out with at the student union, or even a student union to hang out in. (Yes, I am ending that sentence with two prepositions! What a grammar rebel!)

I received The Plot Against America through paperbackswap a couple years ago. It is an alternative history, a genre I love, in which Charles Lindbergh becomes president of the United States.

The Plot Against America

I had finished my first Roth novel, Portnoy’s Complaint, a few months prior. Plot was nothing like that. There was a lot of tension. I didn’t like it. It was after listening to Zealot that I realized I was interested in Roth’s story and that the audio book format was the way to go.

I rather enjoyed the book on the second attempt. I can’t read suspenseful stories before bed, but while I’m driving around it worked great. I’ve listened to several of Roths’ books, and I love the way he crafts a story. This book did not disappoint. I even found it to have a much faster moving story line than his other works.

I’m so glad I gave these books a second chance.

What books were you able to get through on a second attempt? or How did I get to the end of this post before I realized that both these books dealt with religion?!?!

5 thoughts on “Second Attempt”

  1. Know what’s funny? I put Zealot on my to be read list based on your post back then aaaaaand…couldn’t get myself to pick it up. No reason, really, except when I would look through my list of things to read, that one did not grab me like I thought I would. I still want to give it a try, so maybe now I will since you’ve given it another go.
    What is your 50 page rule? Is it that you have to read at least 50 pages to give a book a fair try? Good rule.
    I have never not finished a book. Ever. Except one…and that would be Maguire’s Wicked. Hated. It. I tried and tried and pushed and pushed…couldn’t do it. It plagues me. I hate to abandon books – even the tough or slow reads, I always come back and finish. So this one bothers me. But I am going to give it another shot this year – it’s on my list! Hopefully I’ll be able to at least get through and appreciate it.


    1. Hi Lisa, So glad to hear that I’m not the only one feeling challenged by that book. The audio version is really the way to go. You guessed my 50 page rule perfectly. My thought is that reading is supposed to be fun, and unless it is for a class, if I don’t like it after 50 pages, I have permission to put it down. Only twice did I break that rule and keep going (for Lean In and a disappointing scifi book called “Artemis”), and I regretting it because reading became a chore and I didn’t want to read any more. More power to you for being able to finish virtually all the books you start.


      1. It’s just a think I have…it’s probably my OCD that does it. And I’ll admit that getting through some has been less fun and more struggle, but honestly not many. That Maguire, though – UGH! Had to quit.
        I’ll give the audio version a shot on the other – maybe it will be good treadmill listening!


  2. That’s funny because I want to read Zealot. Although I imagine it’s rather technical and academic so it can be rather dry at times. I can get into books like that sometimes, but it takes some effort. I’ll tell you a book I tried reading that I just had to stop. It was Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Nietzsche. I thought it was going to be great due to his influence, but it was so ambigious and difficult to understand that I just threw it down in frustration. I’d rather read other people’s ideas of his ideas than his actual book.


    1. I normally love religious history, so I was surprised I got stuck in it. So glad I listened to it, though. He is a very animated reader of his own work. You can tell he is an excellent professor.


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