"[I] read books because I love them, not because I think I should read them." – Simon Van Booy
While on a recent bargain table binge at a local bookstore, a certain cover jumped out at me: shades of blue, the Eiffel Tower, the name Christopher Moore. I’m a fan of Moore’s Lamb, so I grabbed one of the multiple copies of his Sacre Bleu that lined the table. The fact that Vincent Van Gogh factored into the plot of this “Comedy d’Art” sold me.
I made it halfway through before closing the book for good. Why? Oh, a few reasons: a sluggish pace, boring characters and a plot that never really grabbed me like the jacket did. These tend to be the reoccurring factors in my recent move toward abandoning books that aren’t really sucking me in.
I never used to give up on a book without completing it. Maybe it was some need to finish what I started or the dread of not knowing what happens to the characters I was introduced to, even if I didn’t really care one way or the other. But then, somewhere along the way, I realized two things.
- I’ve always been a quitter: piano lessons, the school band, P90X, a notebook full of loosely sketched story ideas and plot outlines. Quitting is in my blood!
- There are simply far too many wonderful books out there to waste my time and energy on one I don't enjoy.
Goodreads recently posed the question, “What makes you put down a book?” along with an informative infographic of five contemporary and five classic books that have been most abandoned by readers. The results were quite interesting…and, in some cases, familiar.
Sacre Bleu aside, here are 6 more books that make up my Abandoned Book List.
1. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling. This one topped the Goodreads list, too. Make no mistake, I love Rowling. And also make no mistake, I’m not one of those readers who dove into this one expecting anything remotely like Harry Potter. But I did expect a riveting read based on the interesting plot, paired with Rowling’s skilled writing. But the long roster of characters was confusing and the story just wasn’t going anywhere I wanted it to go. (I did give Rowling another try with her Cuckoo’s Calling mystery, released under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. Much better, J.K.)
2. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. Another Goodreads lister. I actually had no interest in this book in the first place. And a friend who read it said the writing was weak at best. But I found myself at a conference surrounded by coworkers who talked endlessly about it, so far be it from me to be left out of a conversation! I downloaded it then and there…and didn’t make it very far. The conference ended. I got away from the conversation. Interest gone.
3. Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire. Ha! Finally one not on the Goodreads list…although it was close. This is the sequel to Wicked, which is on the list. As loyal blog readers know, I’m an Oz nut, so I loved the idea of Wicked back when it was released (long before the musical, to all you Johnny-come-latelies). While an interesting idea, it was slow paced and tough to get through…but I did it! However, I did not fare as well with this sequel. A couple more followed in the series, one of which is collecting dust on my shelf. Maybe someday…
4. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I do love a good classic, but I have to be in the right mind for them. I have a friend who despises Charles Dickens, but I wouldn’t say I dislike him necessarily. I just got a little bogged down in this book and put it aside for break…which is still ongoing.
5. Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness. This is the second installment in Harkness’s All Souls Trilogy. I adored A Discovery of Witches, the first of the three, so my hopes were high for the follow-up. Again, pacing and plot did me in. A friend who also likes the series kept telling me “it gets better right after that part” whenever I’d update him on my progress. But, at least for me, it never did.
6. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. This one still has hope. I picked it up on the recommendation of a friend, and I always hear good things about it if the subject comes up, but it’s been on my nightstand for several weeks while I keep moving on to other books. Occasionally I’ll pick it up and read a few paragraphs so I don’t forget where I am in the story. It’s not that I dislike it. It’s enjoyable enough. But I haven’t yet begun to care enough about Walls and her family to find out what happens to them.
I could list other books I’ve given up on…but I give up. What about you? What are some books you’ve started and never finished? Have you read any of the ones I’ve discussed? If so, convince me to pick it back up!