This is a tale of books that I wish I had skipped. This is about the flip side of books I love. This is about the books that annoyed me, insulted me, or I merely couldn’t finish.
It take a lot for me to give up on a book. For the Book Lust challenge, I often struggle through books. Some have taken me forever to read. For others, the fact that I bought the book makes me struggle to give it up. Even when I realize I am out of my depth, I will keep chugging along.
I developed rules over time to help me deal with my reluctance. First, if I can’t get into it after 50 pages, I give it up. This gets harder with Ebooks and audiobooks. The more often are measured in percentage. Do I wait for 10%? That may be a lot of pages. I have yet to figure out the answer. Second, I purchase far fewer books than previously. Giving up on a library books is far easier than a book I bought. I typically have books that come with long waiting lists. If I give up a book I don’t enjoy, I let someone else have it faster. If I struggle to finish, I don’t have to wait to get it renewed. If I love it, then I buy it.
There are books I finished, painfully, before I openly admitted: I wish I had skipped that book. Here is that list:
- It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life – I read this before the doping scandal, but it took me 10 pages to realized Armstrong was… a jerk (to put it nicely). He came off as a narcissistic jerk in the book.
- Bedbugs – I should have known I would not care for Ben Winters as a writer of his original work. I had disliked Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, but credited that to my dislike of Sense and Sensibility. Turns out, the author, when writing his own work, spent more time talking about hot spots in NYC than building characters.
- The Dinner – This was a book for my real-life book club. I love an unreliable narrator, especially with suspense and mystery novels. When Christi and I talked about this book recently I told her what irritated me was the willful ignorance of the parents when it came to their kid, the father’s complete indulgence of his son, and the father’s willful ignorance of his own issues. This seems to be a trend as Defending Jacob does the same thing, except better.
- Sense and Sensibility/ Sense & Sensibility (modern retelling)- I love Austen, but I so dislike this one. Between the martyrdom of Elinor and the brainlessness of Marianne… ugh. There is no character in this book that I like. It gets even worse when you put on a modern twist. Originally you have a family forced into privileged poverty by society’s rules as much as the people around them. In a modern re-telling you have people, except for Elinor, totally disconnected from any sense of a work-ethic and awareness that they are jerks.
- The Martian Chronicles – I first tried to read this in middle school as a class assignment. I couldn’t get through it. Years later I managed to finally finish it, but I didn’t enjoy it. For me it was just too weird. I prefer my science fiction to have a cohesive story. Slightly connected short stories just didn’t work for me.
- Breaking Dawn – Of all the Twilight books, this is the one I disliked the most. This is the won that made me want to detox from the entire series. The vampire baby was bad enough, but what pissed me off was the lack of delivery on the building vampire war. The movie tries to give viewers the pay off by imagining the fight, but I was so angry that all this tension fizzled out that I turned on the entire series.
- On the Road – To dislike Kerouac in Lowell is a weird thing. I have read quite a few Kerouac books and Visions of Gerard is my favorite. What I dislike about On The Road is actually Dean Moriarty AKA Neal Cassady. Since Kerouac writes about Cassady so often (using different aliases), you get to see him over and over. I believe the man was bipolar and that is the extent of my sympathy for him. Cassady is the Pied Piper for Kerouac and you are suppose to be proud of Keoruac at the end of this book because the reader understands this. I don’t have any sympathy for Kerouac or any of them…
- The Red Badge of Courage – another book from middle school and the one that taught me I dislike war. War books, war movies, war stories, war. I just can’t.
- The Hours/Mrs. Dalloway – I don’t even know why I couldn’t read this. I think it’s because I don’t care for slow moving stories about the inanities of one’s day. The lack of context for the Hours made the book totally disconnected. I gave up both after 50 pages.
- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – This is when the Jesus message took over the Narnia series. I spent a lot of time cursing at Lewis… When I read it as a kid I didn’t understand what put me off the series after this book. As an adult, when I tried to re-read it, I realized it was because I was already questioning god through a judaic filter. There was no way I would/could ever turn to Jesus. I didn’t even bother finishing the series.
What books do you wish you had skipped?