Thursday, April 1, 2010

Books I Couldn't Finish!

I'm an avid reader...I love reading a book so much just because it's like being transported to an alternate world - something of a stay-cation of sorts. I'm the type who doesn't mind taking a chance on buying books - although I usually only buy them on sale at Borders (my bookstore of choice since I have a rewards card there). Of course, there are some books by specific authors that I don't want to wait for a sale - I buy them ASAP because I know that the author is that good of a writer.

And then...there are books that I take a chance on that just fall flat. I'm pretty open minded in what I read (except for sci-fi or fantasy fiction), but sometimes...the book is so boring or so obnoxious that I can't even force myself to read the whole thing. Usually if the book can't hook me by page 100, then it's officially a bomb in my opinion. So...I felt like since I love to write about my fave was time to write about the books I couldn't stand - and why:

Alexander Dumas' "The Man In the Iron Mask":
Yes, I know, it's a classic. And unfortunately I saw the movie first. However, I only made it to page 68 before I couldn't take it anymore. Don't get me wrong, I've read many a weighty classic novel where the author spends far too much time being descriptive...but this book was pretty excessive in it - maybe 2nd only to "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" (a novel I was actually forced to read in my high school English Lit course...a serious yawn IMO). And if it wasn't the excessive descriptions, it was the odd back and forth dialogue between the condemned man and one of the Musketeers. I'm a quick study but it was hard to follow...

Ian McEwan's "Atonement":
I DID NOT watch the movie first, and still haven't to this day. I got to about page 125 before I lost total interest in it. Once again...the action took so long (and actually even by chapter 9 the action still hasn't picked up momentum) to get to the point that I decided that I had lost interest in both the book and movie version. At some point, I'll pick this read up again, but it was a plod - and I've been known to read a 500 page book in a week if I like it.

Charles Dickens' "Bleak House":
I have to admit, I'm not a huge Dickens fan, but I bought this book when I was on a classics kick. I had just finished reading "Anna Karenina" and a ton of Jane Austin novels and was excited to delve into the social commentary that makes Charles Dickens so amazing. Plus, I remembered how much I loved "A Tale of Two Cities" in high school. Sadly, poor Charles couldn't keep my attention past page 160. It was well written but just terribly boring...I remember reading this book on my morning commute when I used to work a 9-5 and falling asleep on the train because it was that slow...& dry.

Richard Yates' "Revolutionary Road":
I originally avoided watching the movie and just bought the book to attempt to read it first. I got up to about 10 pages and gave up. Then I watched the movie and actually found the movie interesting so I decided to give the book another try. Personally, I'm glad I watched the movie first, just so I could get an idea of where the book was trying to go - and to be honest the movie is equally slow with a "where are they taking this plot" kind of feel. Most of the action in the book happens in everyone's minds since "Revolutionary Road" is more of a social commentary on the whole "idealized vs. reality" of the 1950s era in the US. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but if there's very little real interaction between can make for a tortuously slow and painful read. Such is the case with "Revolutionary Road". After trying again to read the book, I made it about halfway to page 236 before becoming too bored to finish it.

Alyssa Brooks' "Hard to Get":
Normally, I love romance novels - historical or otherwise. Of course I love classics and "thinking" books, but there are times when nothing is better than a mindless read with handsomely perfect male characters & damsel in distress leading ladies. And I love romance novels with awesome love scenes in them. If you read my book "Mind Games" you would know this is true! However, this novel bordered on cheap tawdry porn style dialogue, descriptions and sex scenes. I can't even see the last page I dog eared in this book because I'm pretty sure I gave up after chapter 1 (which couldn't have taken me far past pg 10). The plot even for a romance novel was pretty thin from what I remember and the lead character acted more like a man than anything else...grabbing guys in their crotches and just being entirely unappealing IMO.

Elizabeth Brundage's "The Doctor's Wife":
There's something about taking too long to get to the point of a novel that irritates me. And once again, this was the cause of my ditching this novel for something more appealing. I almost made it to page 85 before I decided that the good doctor and his wife were too obnoxious for me to even want to care enough to finish reading their story.

Umberto Eco's "The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana"
This one was really my fault! I should have avoided buying a novel that's cover looked like a comic strip. I'm not into graphic novels at all, and although this novel is nothing of that was just too much to keep reading. All I remember of it before I did a giant eye roll and shoved it back onto my bookshelf was that the lead character had lost his memory and I was being forced along a roller coaster of BS with him as he tried to regain it. Once again, around page 55, I gave up.

Seriously I have a bookshelf that is overflowing with these few ones that didn't make the grade doesn't even equal 1% of all the books that I've read for pleasure. For the most part, slow or no action was the culprit in draining my interest. But even though I didn't like these novels, it doesn't take away from the author. And ultimately, I'm just glad that I buy most of my books for a bargain...I can't be upset if I only spent up to $10 at the most for a book that ended up being a dud.

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