Unfinished Books and Other Natterings

Reasons why one might not finish a book:

  • It’s poorly written
  • Title includes words “shades of”
  • Not in the mood for it
  • Voices in my head keep arguing over subtext
  • Story is not interesting
  • Nocturnal proclivities leave little time for legal endeavors

Lately as I find my reading habits changing, i.e. I read a palette of books simultaneously rather than a single title at a time, I find myself not finishing more books than ever. I used to abide by an unwritten code that once a book was started it would be finished, no matter how horrid it be. Now I subscribe to the pasta-cooking-method of book choice: Throw a bunch against the wall and see what sticks.

So today I will present some books that I started but did not finish, as well as the reason(s) behind this lack of follow-through. Since my goal in general is to get people excited about reading, not to write scathing reviews that lead to paper-related nightmares (or electron-related for the more tech-savvy), I approach this task more as an exercise in why we stop reading certain books, not as a critique of the titles discussed. And, if you the reader have enjoyed one of these stories, I encourage you to prove me wrong and to publicly humiliate me.

It won’t be the first time.

 Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart  
This is a book that I actually enjoyed quite a bit, the only strike against it being its depressive atmosphere. The main character is a bit of a loser, has trouble with relationships, and the America he lives in is scary in a just-a-small-sideways-step-from-our-current-country way. I have to be in just the right mood for gloomy, and at the time I was reading this book I was not. Someday I do plan on finishing this title and I would recommend it to others.

The Great Typo Hunt: Two Friends Changing the World, One Correction at a Time by Jeff Deck  
I had high hopes for this title. The premise, one that I’m finding in an increasing number of books, is that a young man graduates from college, realizes that he has no employable skills, and so decides to have an adventure and write a book about it. His quest: traversing the United States looking for typos in signs, menus, etc., and confronting those responsible in an attempt to correct the typos. Having a soft spot for humorous travel books, I thought this would be right in my reading wheelhouse. Unfortunately, I found that the premise wore thin quickly, the author often avoided confrontation (thereby losing opportunities for humor), and thus the book failed for me.

And Another Thing… by Eoin Colfer  
As I write this I realize that I treat the sanctity of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker trilogy as some treat the veracity of the Bible: One simply doesn’t mess with it. To take this ridiculous analogy farther (or further), God would not ask, for example, an atheist (let’s call him Ned) to write The Book of Ned, Newest Book in the Bible! Now I don’t mean to pick on Mr. Colfer; I’ve never read any of his other works. But to attempt an addition to Adams’ series, one must have an enormous wit, one that at least rivals that of Adams. Here Colfer falls flat with humor that seems quite forced and not so clever. Having said that, this book probably stood no chance with me as I view it as an effrontery to all that is good and moral (don’t mess with my canon!).

So  overall we’re left with a good book that I read at the wrong time, a disappointing book that didn’t live up to its expectations, and an abomination that should not have seen the light of day (again, apologies to Mr. Colfer; this is just my psychotic prattling). If you enjoyed any of these titles, defend them! Convince other readers that these tomes are worth their precious time.

As a final point of moralizing and sermonizing, this is one of the beauties of libraries: one can check out books for no cost, books that one would never dream of purchasing, and see if redeeming qualities exist within their pages. Or, on the other side of the coin, find some good talking points to scathingly rip apart the latest Paris Hilton of literature.

And please, whatever you do, keep reading, stretch yourself, seek out books you might not like. Then write about them in your own blog.

Ron

2 thoughts on “Unfinished Books and Other Natterings

  1. Funny you should mention Super Sad True Love Story. That’s a book that I did manage to finish, but (at the time) didn’t really care for. The interesting thing about it is, the longer it’s been since I’ve read it, the more I like it in hindsight. I can’t think of another book that I’ve reacted to similarly, where my entire opinion has done a 180 without having re-read it. I often find myself recommending it to other people now.

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  2. I haven’t been able to finish the last 3 Tom Clancy books (the Jack Ryan series). There was too much repetition – how many times is it necessary to repeat the title of the book in the text? It was a big disappointment to me, as I have enjoyed the Jack Ryan series from the beginning.

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