2024 Reading Challenge

2024 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 1 book toward her goal of 285 books.

2023 Reading Challenge

2023 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 5 books toward her goal of 265 books.

I GIVE UP! (Literally)

Ok, this may seem like an exceedingly random post, but I’m going to do it anyway. I’m VERY curious to hear what other people think, so definitely hope someone, somewhere comments on this one…

If you read a lot, like me, you know that you will inevitably run into books that just don’t cut it for you. For some strange reason, this seems to happen to me in stretches – I will all of a sudden realize I’ve picked up and then put down a slew of books in a row, without realizing it until some critical mass (five or more books) is reached in a relatively short time. I get really depressed then (well, depressed for me, which doesn’t last very long and is never so bad that a toddler hug won’t yank me out of it, thankfully), and worry that my reading mojo is broken or there are no good books left in the world… (Yes, a tendency toward the dramatic is rather a Jill-Elizabeth thing.) Then, just as suddenly as the bad books hit, I will find myself on a good books streak, where it seems like everything I pick up is A-MA-ZING. It’s rather inexplicable, but keeps things interesting (especially for The Husband who has to listen to me bitch about the bad ones and gush about the good).

Everyone (including me) writes about good books. I thought it’d be interesting to share the bad ones – or, maybe more aptly, the ones that just weren’t for me. I have this theory (actually, I have a LOT of theories – just ask The Poor Beleagured Husband referenced above- but i’m only telling you about this one right now): not all books are meant for all readers. Which means that sometimes even an interesting premise/beginning doesn’t resonate. That isn’t to say that all books are good – they most definitely are not. There are poorly written, poorly edited, poorly conceived books. LOTS OF THEM. But every book I don’t finish doesn’t fall into that category. Some just aren’t for me. Or aren’t for me at the point in time/space in which I picked them up. This list is mostly about the latter. Thankfully, I don’t run into the former all that often – often enough to know it’s a real category, but not often enough that I have a vast collection of them on the tip of my tongue. Mostly, I think, because I’ve gotten pretty good at figuring out which books fall into said category after a few lines/paragraphs, which means they never leave the library/store/kindle download page with me.

So the following books aren’t so much bad as they were not good for me when I picked them up. I’d love to know if anyone has different opinions on any of them. I would never have read the Dragon Tattoo books if not for The Best Friend’s instruction that I skim the first 50 pages, THEN start reading, and I wound up really engaged by the entire series, which just goes to show that sometimes you need someone to tell you it’s worth pushing past the parts you can’t seem to slog through… Here are five of the most recent books I gave up on and why – I’d love to hear if anyone feels strongly about any of these, or has recommendations for skimming/pushing through. If not, and you agree that they were rough-going, I’d love to hear that too. Mostly, I’d just like to know if anyone, anywhere is actually reading any of these posts teehee… Thanks!!

  • House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski – This seems to be a cult classic – which usually works for me, but in this instance most emphatically did NOT.  I’m with the reviewer on GoodReads who wanted a sigh to count as a review… I tried. I really did. Maybe I spoiled it by reading reviews, but the gimmick feel (Blair Witch was how many years ago now?) never left me and I just couldn’t do it and gave up. I give the author credit for creating something that has generated this much discussion and reading controversy – I don’t think there’s anything poorly done here, it’s a clever bit of construction if you are looking for that, and I do think it’s cool that he pushed the boundaries of narrative.  I just don’t think the format and execution are for me. I have waaaaay too many books on my to-read list and just wasn’t feeling this one.
  • Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye – I wanted to like it – I REALLY liked the author’s Sherlock Holmes story and this one sounded so intriguing, but it just couldn’t hold me… I can’t seem to gin up interest in books where everyone is cruel to children these days, and suddenly it seems like they’re everywhere. (The books, not people being cruel to children in front of me, teehee…)  There was nothing wrong with the writing or plot or anything, I just could not get past the sad doll nature of poor Jane’s life…  I KNOW Jane Eyre is not exactly a light-hearted romp through the Fatherland, but it still never felt as dark and pathetic a tale as this one did…  I should probably consider this a “come back to at another time” book, but that list is growing almost as fast as my To Be Read list these days, so I’m calling this one a loss and moving on.
  • Circus (Insanity Book 3) by Cameron Jace – I want to like these books so much, but somehow they just fall flat for me…  The series is a fun contrivance. There are some really strong elements – more than a handful of clever one-liners, an engaging reality/insanity (and is there really a difference) discussions, a fun spin on the Alice in Wonderland mythology – and the stories will click right along then suddenly veer off into nonsense. And not good Wonderland nonsense to my mind, but meandering, unfollow-able nonsense – like the author suddenly realized he had a couple of points he wanted to get in/set up and he was running out of time and had to jam then in whether they fit or not. It’s too bad, but after 2.25 books I’m going to have to call this series a wash for me.
  • The Curious Case of the Black Swan Song (A Holmes and Garden Story #1) by Andrea Frazer – I’ve NEVER before gotten 2/3 of the way through a book and then given up – but there’s a first time for nearly everything… I kept reading because of the premise – and promise – but stopped when I realized I literally dreaded seeing it on my Kindle. I liked the idea and the beginning – but it went SOOOO far afield of that liking that there really isn’t much to say!  I just could not care even a tiny bit less what happened to the characters, where the plot went, or what would happen next – which pretty much marks a book as dead to me…
  • Auntie Mame: An Irreverent Escapade by Patrick Dennis – iI’s not that I didn’t like it, per se – I don’t know what it is, exactly, but it just refused to hold me like I expected it to… I LOVE the Rosalind Russell movie and flew through the opening couple of chapters – it felt just like the movie, rollicking and light-hearted and delightfully cheeky, but then it just, well, lost me. I still have no idea how or why, it just did. The writing style stayed the same, as did the personalities, yet somehow it just started to feel like I was reading the same pages over again… Perhaps this is one to come back to another time, or perhaps I am too lost in the movie – who knows? Regardless, I found myself all too eager to set the incomparable Mame aside.


So what about you?  What books just didn’t work for you – and either explain why, or why you can’t explain why…

3 comments to I GIVE UP! (Literally)

  • Linda Kish

    I had to try Room three times before I was able to actually read it. I couldn’t get past the name thing for each item. It drove me crazy. The first time, I got through about 50 pages. The second, about five. Then I put it aside for maybe six months. The third time, I loved it. Go figure.

    • Thank you so much for commenting Linda – it really does help immensely to know someone is reading… 🙂

      I actually tried Room also, but put it down – again, with the cruelty to children (and women) thing… I wanted to try again – I really enjoyed a couple of her earlier books (Slammerkin and Life Mask) and actually met her/saw her read at the Philadelphia Free Library a number of years ago when she was promoting Slammerkin. But I have had a hard time getting past the beginning. If it’s worth it though, I will try again!

  • […] may be another of those House of Leaves instances where the point is not so much the story as the art and cleverness of it all. (I […]

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