Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Books I read this year, but just couldn't bring myself to finish

Because today is the second to last day of 2008, I thought I would do my first year end wrap-up post. In this post I would like to talk about the books that I began but was simply unable to finish. There are a variety of reasons why this is the case - it really depends on the book.
The first book on this list is God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens. I have to begin by saying that I do believe in God, but I went into this book with an open mind, because I do agree with some of Hitchens's main points (religion can be bad, after all). And I actually got through more than 70% of the book. But I just had to stop. Hitchens just kept restating his point over and over, and many of his examples did not even seem to apply to the issue. He was just mad and wanted to rant and rave a little bit. I had had enough.
This next book I actually almost finished. But then I couldn't keep reading. I honestly am not sure exactly what it was, but even after reading 80% of Call Me by Your Name, by Andre Aciman, I just did not care, and did not even want to know what happened to the characters. This happens to me sometimes - I put in a great deal of effort to read a book, hoping it will make it worth my while, but I just give up if it doesn't seem to be going that way. Sometimes I'll stick it out, and sometimes not, and this just happened to be one of those that I did not.
Mothers and Sons, by Colm Toibin, is another book that I probably could have stuck with, but I could not really find a reason to. I think part of it was my frame of mind at the time I was reading it. The stories tended to depress me, and I could not seem to find any redemption from any of them. I probably only read two or three, so I may have missed a very good story or two, but the initial stories did not keep me reading long enough to find out.
Rose of No Man's Land, by Michelle Tea, was one of those books where I was just looking for a chance to put down. I had no good reason for why I didn't like it, I simply was not enjoying the book, but I continued to read it. Right up until Rose did something completely disgusting that, while it was definitely an excellent way to characterize her, fully put me off of this book for good. It may seem petty, but I will quit reading a book if the characters continually make decisions that I have a difficult time reading about. This was one of those books.
A Walk Through Time, by Stanley Liebes, seemed like an interesting book, but I found after reading about a quarter of it that I just didn't feel like slogging through to the end. It was written based on a display at a museum, one that showed the timeline of the universe and Earth's history over a mile-long walk. It is a very intriguing idea, and I'm sure it made for a fascinating live display, but reading a book based off of it was slow and disjointed.
Poor Carlo Chuchio, I just could not make myself care about his story. In The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio, by Lloyd Alexander, Carlo sets out on a grand adventure, meets all sorts of interesting characters, and, presumably, finds what he seeks and learns about life in the process. This is the only children's book on this list, because typically I will give books written for kids a little bit more leeway when it comes to keeping me interested. But in this case, I gave this book a good chance, and just could not complete it.
The final book on this list, Wizard of the Crow by Ngugi Wa Thiong'o, is interesting because it is the only book on the list that I am not sure why I stopped reading. I think it was simply moving too slowly for me, and it was such a large book that I feared I would never finish it. But I think that I will be giving it another try. This one has officially been added to my to-be-read list, and will be given another chance.
I would be interested to know if anyone else has read any of these books, or has any opinions on them. Did you love or hate any of the books listed here? You may be able to convince me to give others a second chance as well.

1 comment:

Charley said...

I have not read any of those books, and some titles are unfamiliar. I try not to feel guilty about setting books aside. Sometimes I think it's just timing. Two months later I might pick up the same book and see it with new eyes.