Wednesday, October 7, 2009


I suppose I have an innate need to finish what I start, so I've always felt bad when I've abandoned a partially-read book. A teacher at my high school emphasizes that if you start a book and hate it, put it down. Don't waste time on something you don't enjoy. You'll just end up avoiding it and missing out on the chance to read something you do like. I've been trying to take her advice although I did grudgingly work through some terrors (notably One Hundred Years of Solitude). It doesn't feel right to blog about a book I haven't finished, but I did think perhaps it was worthwhile to mention the rejects and my reason for rejecting them.

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie (October 7, 2009)
- I loved Alexie's young adult novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, so I thought I'd try one of his early adult works. Although the themes (and, truthfully, many of the same events and conversations) are the same, this novel, for me, had less poignancy and humor than True Diary. The metaphors and "deep thinking" were hit-me-in-the-head-with-a-frying-pan obvious (particularly in the first chapter, in which two Indians fighting is compared to a hurricaine). I just wasn't interested.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (September 2, 2009)
- Stuck in the library with no specific titles in mind, I came across this book. The fantasy elements and recommendations made it seem like a good choice. This very simply written book has a message - follow your dreams and you will succeed. Trust in omens, which are sent by God, to lead you to achieve your goals (called your Personal Legend). This basic premise (endlessly promoted by self-help books, most recently The Promise) is repeated endlessly, and endlessly, and endlessly. Did you forget you should listen to omens? Coelho reminds you through dull and dimwitted Santiago every page or two. Follow omens! Achieve your Personal Legend! You can do it! Ugh, I'm bored. Let's go ruin someone's self-esteem.

Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs (July 23, 2009)
- This book had been on my "to-read" list for awhile. I had heard it was funny and imagined it would be along the lines of a David Sedaris book. Instead, I found a poorly written book (and that's being kind) that was sensational and disgusting for the sake of being sensational and disgusting. Burroughs has not a shred of literary talent, but he does have a litany of outlandish stories. Take this gem of prose (written in response to the young Burroughs walking in on his mother and neighbor sexually engaged together): "I felt like, ick" (86). What skill. Events pop up and out without any continuation, and there is no sense of time's passage (at some point it seemed two years had passed since the book began, but there was no way of really knowing). I never laughed or even cracked a smile. I read about half of the piece of rubbish, but since the book was a laughably easy read, at least I didn't waste too much of my time.

Trail of Crumbs by Kim Sunee (May 11, 2009)
- Another book club pick. Kim lives in France with her fabulously rich boyfriend where she enjoys luxurious trips around Europe and impeccable food. Kim spends her days cooking extravagant meals and being very French. But, oh, boo-hoo, Kim was adopted by an American couple when she was three from Korea, and she has identity issues. Every few pages (in between eating truffles and drinking wine), Kim stops to muse about how unhappy she is because she doesn't belong. The concept is interesting (an American raised, Korean girl, living in France), but Sunee comes off whiny rather than contemplative. Stopped reading half-way through.

Firefly Lane
by Kristin Hannah (May 9, 2009)
- I would never willingly pick up this book and did so kicking and screaming when my book club chose it. A 500+ page Lifetime movie, Firefly Lane follows Tully and Kate, your typical contrasting BFFs. Tully is crazy, sexually open, and devoted to work; Kate is solid, quiet, timid, and only wants to be a mom. The book follows their friendship over the decades, throwing in obvious time period references along the way. And then Kate dies of cancer. It's an innocuous enough beach read, but there's nothing new or interesting in the tired story line and characters. Stopped reading half-way through (but skimmed the last three chapters).

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (April 27, 2009)
- This novel appeared on many lists when I was searching for popular current books. I wasn't convinced myself, but it was at the library, so I grabbed it. I don't know that I read enough to really give it a fair chance, but the mystery set-up and plight of the journalist didn't grab my attention.

The Known World by Edward P. Jones (April 2009)
- This was the case of me picking a book largely because it was on many notable book lists. The premise was interesting, centering on a freed slave (paid out of slavery by his parents) who is now a slaveowner himself and "friends" with his former owner. Unique plot, but I found the story terribly boring. I didn't feel or care for any of the characters, and the atrocities associated with slavery and racism felt like annoying plot devices rather than moving commentary. I got about half-way through before bailing out.

by Marilynne Robinson (April 5, 2009)
- I did blog about this one, so I won't repeat what I already said.

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