Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Year of Abandoned Books

Years ago, my husband had a bookmark listing “The Rights of the Reader.” Along with the right to skip, to dip in, and to mistake fiction for real life, was the all-important right to give up. No one likes to, but sometimes it is a worse decision to press on.

For me, it was a year of abandoned books. True to my half-hearted promise of giving up on books that --given a fair trial-- look like they won't pay off, I drop-kicked a number of titles in 2013. 

“Songs for the Missing,” a novel of a suburban girl who goes missing, failed to make me care. The word ‘boring’ comes to mind. 

My "Lost Illusions" experience was sad and disappointing. I'd really wanted to read the book this year, but the typo/error/major screw-up on p. 1 left me shell-shocked.

“Fatal Vision,” sorry, was just badly written. Good try, true crime. 

Ditto “No Apology” by Mitt Romney, which came off as a self-celebratory and poorly written campaign speech. 

At Good Reads, I ranted about “Galileo’s Daughter,” which turned me off as a feminist, and drew a comment from a fellow reader about what a shallow and immature person I am. I was sorry to get dragged into that, but hey, after much soul-searching I still agree with everything I said. Smile. 

"Birdsong," a WWI novel that had been on my to-read pile for years, was a disappointment I ditched. The ooey-gooey sex did me in - how Isabelle realized she was "born" to have sex with Stephen, to be "impaled" by him, and to feel his "sticky seed" between her legs. Oh, come ON

Richard Brautigan’s “In Watermelon Sugar,” a classic of hippie America, was written in a little boy voice that got my eyes rolling. “I get that it's supposed to be simple and innocent, but it would be helpful if it were also good,” I said in a brief review. 

There was a faint odor of something foul lurking through the pages of “The Tiger’s Wife,” which was only fully revealed after I gave up a good lick through and discovered the schmalzy acknowledgements.

Alas! I abandoned a couple others that are not worth noting. I read a lot of worthwhile books, too, which I’ll highlight as part of my year-end list in the next couple days.


Anne Higgins said...

Sarah - Great idea to talk about the books you ditched. I'm going to copy and do the same... the only one of the ones on your list that I ever read was Fatal Vision - the one about the Marine doctor who murdered his family? - and I read that so many years ago I don't remember. It was badly written, but I confess that I read it all, every trashy word of it.

See my blog for my list of ditched books!


Anonymous said...

So glad I never got past the first couple of pages of "Birdsong" which I started twice.

I've found the older you get the less patience you have for being "hooked". There are so many others


SarahJane said...

Hi Anne,
Yes, I mean Fatal Vision the doctor murderer book. For a long time I've looked in vain for a worthwhile true crime book. They just tend to stink.

Hi Johanna - Birdsong is supposed to have some great war scenes. Too bad they're delayed by some bad sex! laugh.

Kathleen said...

I hope I remember to not try to read these! I read a book I WISH I had abandoned. Sigh... And this gives me comfort and validation for all the times I set books aside.

But I have joyfully resumed Team of Rivals, set aside for various reasons during busy times. It's a good one.

SarahJane said...

My failure to read "Lost Illusions" is not Balzac's fault, but the publisher's!

I know many people loved "Birdsong," but I couldn't stomach THE LOVE.

If my prose bar were a tad lower, I probably would have loved "Fatal Vision." Alas, the writing was very pulpy.

drew said...

A list of abandoned books! This is such a good idea, and I'm happy to see that I am not alone — and that you are actually proud of the courage to toss a book in search of better books. Bravo!

SarahJane said...

More sorry than proud, but better off in any case!

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