I used to think I was committing sacrilege if I didn’t finish a book. Part of it was because I’m cheap and it just seemed wasteful. But mostly it was the sheer principle of the thing. Abandoning a book was dishonorable! I’m not a quitter!
I know better now. Life’s too short to read bad books. Plus, library ebooks make it really easy (and free!) to sample books and throw them back if I don’t like them.
I’ve become quite ruthless at abandoning bad books. I’ve even quit some recent bestsellers, and now I feel it’s my duty to warn you about them.
First up is The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. This one won a Pulitzer, so I’m risking sounding like a rube by criticizing it, but I sure didn’t like it. The first part was ok, but then the story took a turn and became page after page of how awful this kid’s life became after his mom died. Really depressing. No thanks.
Next up is The Circle by Dave Eggers. All I remember about this book is that I was extremely bored by it. I just couldn’t get into it, so I quit. Some things can’t be forced!
Then there was Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. This is the book that “Hamilton” the musical is based on. It’s actually quite good and Hamilton was an extremely interesting man. But the book is so freaking long that the library yanked it back from me when I was only 1/3 of the way through. I’ll get back to the book at some point, but this is one that I’ll buy so I can take my time with it.
I’ve saved the worst for last – Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James. Curiosity finally got the best of me and I checked it out a couple of months ago to see what all the hype is about. The main characters were so annoying that I returned it about 40 pages in. The girl was chronically blushing and tripping over things and the guy perpetually had a creepy smirk on his face. Yuck. Sometimes it’s baffling which books become bestsellers.
I’m glad I’ve gotten over my issues with abandoning books. It’s made reading even more enjoyable.
Now it’s your turn. Which bestsellers have you abandoned?
18 thoughts on “Bestsellers I’ve Abandoned”
The Goldfinch for sure. The Circle, because it read distressingly like a few other utopianesque (is that a word?) fiction books I’ve read in the last few years, and I didn’t think the writing was exceptional. I usually stop reading things that use the devices introduced by A.S. Byatt in “Possession”…tired of keeping multiple centuries straight. “The Romonovs”…not only was it 800+ pages and it was on three week loan…but it was impossible to keep all the names straight…however, the history is amazing, and I’ll go back to it once we’re allowed to renew it.
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I’m glad I wasn’t alone in my opinion about The Goldfinch. The Romonovs sounds interesting, and all respectable Russian-themed books are excessively long and full of characters with confusing names that no reader can keep straight.:-)
Reading Lolita in Tehran. It’s the only book in the 17 years of our book club, that no one finished — including the facilitator. It probably didn’t help that none of us had read Nabokov’s Lolita…but perhaps we all would have abandoned that one as well. 🙂
I do have a handful of books that I’ve designated “not worth finishing.” — the ones I did finish in the hope that “surely this will get better” or “it may all tie together at the end.”
I’m glad to hear your thoughts on Goldfinch. I’ve avoided selecting it a few times, and can now put it firmly in my “don’t want to read” list!
Noted: stay away from Reading Lolita in Tehran!
I am done with James Lee Burke. Too much preaching and short on story. His first books were great but then—??
I am about done with Stephen King after reading his last three I am not ready to buy any more.
W. Somerset Maugham is always good, light and fun so I have his works around to fill in when I am between books.
Thanks for the warning, and the suggestion! It’s been a long time since I’ve read anything by Maugham.
I feel so much better after hearing that I am not the only person who has abandoned books. I usually blame myself for not taking the time and dedication to read. The truth really may be that the books just aren’t that good.
When a book is truly engaging I can’t put it down. Sometimes literally. I have lost entire weekends, leaving the dishes piling in the sink and laundry unfolded, just to finish a book.
No longer will I feel guilty for not finishing a book.
It is okay to be selective on what I read and don’t read.
Thanks for your comments! You are definitely not alone!
I really think it’s important to read what you like. It’s a big time investment, so it needs to be worth it. Plus, I think the sweet spot is when you find a book that’s educational, thought provoking and engaging (like forget your dirty dishes engaging). If the engagement part is missing, personally, I find it becomes an exercise in forcing myself to read and I’m just not interested in doing that anymore.
I loved The Circle. Loved it. Creepy at the ending. Had to get thru orientation to let the circle beginning take shape.
Maybe it just wasn’t my genre?
I’m undisciplined in a lot of ways but being an undisciplined reader is not something I’ll ever feel bad about. Books have a way of finding us at the right moment. If we’re plowing through something that’s not meaningful to us, we’re missing out on something that would be.
By the way, I never read Reading Lolita in Tehran but I loved the book Lolita. Nabokov is a genius with the English language–and it wasn’t even his mother tongue.
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I haven’t read Lolita, but now that song by The Police is stuck in my head.
Tried to read “The Wiregrass” by Pam Webb. Beautifully written, descriptive, great characters, but so depressing. Descriptions of people and events lengthy. Just couldn’t stay with the book. Gave up.
Thanks for the comment, Elizabeth!
Honestly, I rarely read bestsellers, because my tastes aren’t necessarily “refined” in reading. I love young adult books, love a good trashy romance, love Stephen King and other similar books. I had no idea what The Circle was about, even though I work in a bookstore, and had no desire to read Eggers because I’d heard his writing was pretentious. But when I saw a preview for the movie, I was definitely intrigued enough to want to see it, and considered reading it before. But like you, I am pretty ruthless now with giving up or DNFing a book. There are too many out there that I want to read, that I might like better, to waste time on one that I’m not enjoying. I finished the whole first book in the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, but it was one of the most poorly written books I’d ever had the bad luck to pick up. I was pretty sure the 7th graders I was teaching at the time could have done just as well in a story they wrote (although hopefully not on the same topic). I’m of the mind though, that there was still good in that book as horrible as it was, because it brought so many people back to reading. And that is such a good thing in my opinion.
I just wanted to stop by and say hello after reading an article in the Kansas City Star about you today. My co-librarian shared it with me because I am also a book blogger, and your story is very inspiring. I’m a new follower now! I don’t read anywhere near as good of books as you do, but if you’re ever interested in checking out my book blog, it is called Lisa Loves Literature and is at http://misclisa.blogspot.com/ I look forward to continuing to follow your reviews!
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Thanks for the comments, Lisa! Good point about 50 Shades – at least it got people reading. I really like your blog and you’ll have a new follower soon.
I know I’m late to the game here and this is an older book, but The Bridges of Madison County was a huge bestseller and one of the worst books I’ve ever read. I’m glad a friend loaned it to me and I didn’t waste any money on it. I probably wouldn’t have finished it but I didn’t want to offend her because she loved it.
I’ll be sure to avoid that one!