Abandoned Books


It’s generally very difficult for me to give up on a book, especially if I had a particular reason for reading it. But sometimes I have to let myself, and these are some I couldn’t get through.

I attempted to read Angela’s Ashes in the months just after I got married. It was a weird, exciting, stressful, distracting time in my life, and though I’m pretty sure I was giving it up permanently at the time, I’ve since felt that I’d like to try it again someday.

Wyrd Sisters is the only Terry Pratchett novel I’ve ever struggled with, and I can’t say why; I just know that it was dragging interminably, and with two discs left of the book I just needed to move on to something else.

I picked up Size 12 is Not Fat in one of my few attempts to read the mystery genre, but it didn’t go well.

I checked out a paperback copy to make sure that it wasn’t just the audio narration I hated, but it wasn’t. The writing is too gimmicky, the main character sounds like she’s still a teen pop star (which is such an unlikely plot point in the first place), and the body-shaming of skinny girls was getting out of control. The side characters—Magda, ugh—are all absurdly annoying except Cooper, who is such obvious chick bait (for lack of a better term). And frankly, I didn’t find the protagonist’s reasons for suspecting foul play remotely believable. “It’s like the uncoolest cartoon character ever. No one who likes Ziggy is going to elevator surf, Coop. No one.” Hey, good point. That is solid evidence right there. I’m totally convinced.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is another one I’ll probably try again someday, but it was too abstract when I was trying to read it. I didn’t have the patience at the time.

I loved the setting of The Heretic’s Wife, but around halfway through I just got really bored. The characters weren’t very compelling and little seemed to be happening, though I gave it another two or three discs hoping it’d pick back up. It didn’t, so I bailed.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell was a difficult one to give up. If it were shorter, I would probably have kept going, but . . .

I’m very surprised by the total lack of spark I felt with this book, because I’ve heard exclusively good things about it and the premise sounded great to me. I don’t need fast-paced action, plot twists, or suspense to be thrilled by a book, and I have no problem with books of several hundred pages. The audio narration was excellent, and the writing itself is elegant and often funny. So I am completely at a loss to explain how bored I was. I made it halfway through disc four thinking oh my god did any of this really need to be said? before deciding I wasn’t going to sit through another twenty-two discs. Maybe I’ll try again someday, especially if people keep telling me how much they loved it. But for now, I give up.

I couldn’t stand The Eyre Affair, but it’s one of those books that so many people like, I keep thinking maybe I was wrong about it somehow. For that reason, I can see myself trying it again someday—not because I think I’ll love it but just to make sure I don’t.

I’ve been meaning to read it for a long time because the plot sounds like EVERYTHING I SHOULD LOVE—but it wasn’t. The writing was pretty sad in a lot of places, and there was too much of that incredibly lame alternate-reality slang you often get when writers try and imagine how we’ll talk about technology in the future. It was a bust from the beginning, and I kept going because I desperately wanted it to get amazing . . . But shortly after the introduction of a character named Jack Schitt, I knew it was time to call it a day.

I loved Brene Brown’s TED Talk on shame, but when I picked up The Gifts of Imperfection, I lost interest almost immediately. I was getting a religiousy sort of feeling from it, I think, and there’s very little in a book that can make me lose interest faster.

I really enjoyed The Amulet of Samarkand, the first book in the Bartimaeus trilogy, but when I got to The Golem’s Eye I couldn’t stand what an asshole the protagonist had become. He’s like twelve years old, so there’s a chance he grows up, and the first book was so much fun that I’ve considered many times giving this series another chance.

I have adored every other comic I’ve read by Kelly Sue DeConnick, and Pretty Deadly just looks so ridiculously cool that I was really reluctant to put it down. I’ve never been good with gore, though, and as much as I wanted to be able to read this one, it was too much for me.

Check out everyone else’s Top Ten Tuesday at The Broke and the Bookish.

10 Comments Add yours

  1. I’ve wanted to read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, but am intimated by its length!

    Here’s a link to my TTT post this week:

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I meant intimidated by its length,,, Ugh typos!!


  3. I don’t think Ive heard any of these titles before! The Herectic Wife has such a pretty cover though! Shame it didn’t work out!


    1. Gwen says:

      Thinking back, I’m sure I would have been able to finish if I’d read the print copy instead of listening to audio—if nothing else, because I was already more than halfway through and I would have skimmed the dull parts. I would still recommend trying it out, if you’re interested in Tudor England!


  4. Kyra says:

    I’ve heard quite good things about Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell but it’s such a thick book, I am intimidated to read it!

    My TTT post!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jan Hicks says:

    I only know three of these. I liked Wyrd Sisters. I enjoyed the way Pratchett plays with Shakespeare, and the way Granny Fairfax and Nanny Ogg get so annoyed by Magrat’s keenness.

    Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is worth another try, but in book form not audio, I’d say. It’s such a magical, intricate, wistful book.

    Angela’s Ashes is also worth going back to. It’s gritty but very wry. I didn’t enjoy ‘Tis as much, but it’s an interesting insight into teaching at a Staten Island high school.

    I gave up on Tristram Shandy twice before I finally got it. Sometimes you have to be ready for a book. Where you are in life, as you say, can have a big impact. The only book I’ve abandoned recently is The Map that Changed the World. I was so excited to read it, because I love maps and find geology fascinating, but Simon Winchester made a really important story crushingly dull. I was furious at him!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gwen says:

      How disappointing! I love maps, too, and that’s one I’ve had on my list for a while.

      The first time I tried to read The Poisonwood Bible was in my freshman year of college, and I only got a few pages in. When I tried it again five years later, it became one of my all-time favorite books, and Barbara Kingsolver became my favorite writer (tied with Haruki Murakami now, although she came first). You’re right, sometimes you can just tell you weren’t ready for something.

      Interestingly, the reverse has happened to me in one instance: I read Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson, five or ten years late. If I’d come across it while I was still religious, I’m sure it would have been incredibly important to me, and part of me is sad that we missed our chance together.


      1. Jan Hicks says:

        My review of The Map that Changed the World on LT is scathing! I was really disgruntled at having to abandon it. I much preferred Map of a Nation, which is about the development of the Ordnance Survey in Britain.

        I read a bunch of Barbara Kingsolver books 15-20 years ago. I read The Poisonwood Bible, The Bean Trees, Pigs in Heaven, and Prodigal Summer. The Bean Trees and Pigs in Heaven were my favourites. I gave them away in a clear out and regret it now, because I’d like to read them again to see how my reaction to them has changed. I enjoyed them first time around, but they didn’t stay with me.

        I think I put off reading some of the books on my to read pile because I bought them when I was in a different headspace and I have a feeling that if I read them now I’ll wonder at my earlier self!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Gwen says:

        I do that, too—in fact I do it so often that I just generally don’t trust my own opinions past a year or so. That’s why I write these things, so I can look back and either reassure myself that I still feel the same way, or realize I was talking nonsense. 🙂

        Oh, The Bean Trees was so lovely, and Pigs in Heaven was such an upsetting sequel. I remember feeling very emotional about it. Have you read The Lacuna or Flight Behavior? Those two, along with Poisonwood, are my favorites.

        I read your review on LibraryThing and totally feel your frustration. I’m a very stubborn reader, too; if I do abandon a book, it’s almost never before the halfway point, which often means I’ve read 150 or 200 pages, or even more. If a book is bad enough that I have to give it up, I end up sort of resenting it as well, because I gave it so many chances to get better and it just would not!


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