January 5, 2017

Books I Did Not Finish (2016)


2016 was a banner year for me in reading, largely due to the OverDrive app and access to free audiobooks and e-books. I still prefer reading print over e-books, but audiobooks are delightful and I've found them to be far more enjoyable than listening to music or watching reruns on TV.

According to Goodreads (follow me at goodreads.com/jactionary), last year I read 175 books (!) and attempted but did not finish an additional 18 titles. Granted this includes a large number of picture books as well as children's literature, but it's still an impressive number. I'll post a recap soon, but for now here are the books I started but decided to set aside. It used to be really difficult for me not to finish a book, but graduating and getting to once again control my reading list has been empowering. I'm usually open to giving books a try if they look at all appealing, but I've also learned that there's no shame in deciding a book is not worth my time.

Here they are in chronological order of when I started them over the course of last year:

Talk Like TED: The 9 Public Speaking Secrets of the World's Top Minds

by Carmine Gallo

Reads like an annoying person's sales pitch.

Alone on the Ice: The Greatest Survival Story in the History of Exploration

by David Roberts

I thought I'd love this (I've been on such a big historical nonfiction kick lately), but it never fully engaged me.

Secret Survivors: Real-Life Stories to Give You Hope for Healing

by Jen Howver

A lesson in what you'll attempt to read when nothing else is available for check out on OverDrive.

Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad

by M.T. Anderson

This book is YA historical account of the life of Russian classical music composer Shostakovich and his life in Leningrad during Stalin's reign in Russia. I didn't finish the book when I became distracted, but I really enjoyed what I'd read this far and I would pick it up again.

The Goldfinch

by Donna Tartt

For being a long novel, I read a full third before stopping. Derivative of Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Everything is Illuminated and, in my opinion, not executed half as well.

All the Bright Places

by Jennifer Niven

A YA novel that tries to foster a dramatic love story by romanticizing attempted suicide.

Everything, Everything

by Nicola Yoon

Interesting premise but it quickly turns into a Nicholas Sparks novel which is not my jam. 

Be Frank With Me

by Julia Claiborne Johnson

Adventures in babysitting minus anything funny or interesting.

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl

by Carrie Brownstein

I was enjoying what I was listening to thus far in the audiobook, but then I was playing around on my phone and accidentally returned the title to the library because apparently sometimes I forget how to use a smart phone. For a moment, I considered renewing my request on the title, but my queue was full and my to-read/to-listen wish list was packed. Oh, well. Didn't finish because I didn't feel compelled enough to try again.

You're Never Weird on the Internet

by Felicia Day

I thought it would make me laugh but after fifty pages with not a single chuckle or pathetic half-smile, I gave up.

Second Star to the Right

by Mary Alice Monroe

I wanted to like this book but the writing was just OK. I chose not to finish it after a privileged white character makes a joke about slavery and then the story proceeds as if that was completely normal. How did an editor approve this?

Smoke

by Dan Vyleta

The premise for this YA historical fiction novel had me more excited than almost any other book announcement this year: in Victorian England, sin emits smoke, dirtying the city until two teenagers fight the system. Unfortunately, the writing is poor, jumbled, and ultimately the story is just unbelievably boring.

Hamilton: The Revolution

by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Ignorantly, I thought this was the play's script but it's actually the story of how Lin Manuel Miranda adapted Ron Chernow's biography of Alexander Hamilton to the stage. That's an interesting, worthwhile read but not what I was looking for at the time.

Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History

by Erik Larson

I've read and really enjoyed four of Erik Larson's books (The Devil in the White City, Thunderstruck, In the Garden of Beasts, and Dead Wake), but this earlier historical nonfiction book about one of history's deadliest hurricanes just wasn't keeping my interest. The narrative seems to struggle to hit the ground running and instead after setting up the disaster that would follow flounders as it backtracks through the history of weather analysis. I gave up after sixty pages but still wholeheartedly recommend his other titles mentioned above. I would consider trying this one again but only as an audiobook since Edward Herrmann is the narrator.

Me & Earl & the Dying Girl

by Jesse Andrews

I wanted to read this book after hearing the film was enjoyable, but after a handful of chapters I just couldn't tolerate the narrator any longer. I also don't find the term "gangbangers" and racial stereotypes to be at all humorous.

Anna and the French Kiss

by Stephanie Perkins

From the looks of it, I'm one of the only people who didn't immediately fall in love with this book. It was okay, but after a couple of chapters it wasn't good enough to keep reading. The main character felt a bit shallow and was kind of annoying.

The Woman in Cabin 10

by Ruth Ware

The book is trying very hard to be Agatha Christie, The Girl on the Train, and Gone Girl all in one. Aside from its wannabe nature, I gave up after eight chapters because the main character was annoying me.

The Thousandth Floor

by Katharine McGee

This is seriously a YA soap opera novel--drug use, lies, rehab, affairs, disappearances, sex, and even a girl in love with her adopted brother. Yikes. I felt like I was reading a script for The Young and the Restless.

Which books did you read and not finish during 2016?

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