Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sorry, I'm just not that into you...

For the past couple of years, my policy has been to complete every book I start. True, I may abandon a book after a few pages, but if I make it to page 50, I’m going to finish the book.

The sheer amount of books in my towering TBR pile has made me rethink that policy. So today, I am going to talk about 2 books I abandoned recently. I’d love for someone to convince me it’s worth it to pick them up again!

First off, there is The Anatomy of Wings by Karen Foxlee. It is about a girl named Jennifer who is mourning the loss of her older sister Beth and tries to figure out why Beth died using clues found in a box of her sister’s things. Ok, so the premise isn’t that exciting, but Markus Zusak, author of The Book Thief and my writing hero gave it an awesome blurb:

“Sometimes you read a book so special that you want to carry it around with you for months after you’ve finished, just to stay near it. The Anatomy of Wings is one of those books.”

I started this one with high hopes which were quickly dashed. The first 20 pages or so are about Beth’s funeral and frankly, it’s tedious. There are far too many character introductions including tons of random cousins and aunties who travelled from afar to attend the event.

The second chapter starts with promise:

“This is the story of Elizabeth Day. I have pieced it together with my own two hands. I have made it from things I saw and things I did not see but later knew. It is made from the tatters of terrible things and the remnants of wonderful things. I have sewn it together before it fades.” (p. 22)

However, by page 50, I still wasn’t engaged and didn’t feel like reading more. So I put it down and started something else.

The Anatomy of Wings came out on Tuesday.

Then there is The Believers by Zoe Heller. I really enjoyed Notes on a Scandal so when I saw that Barnes & Noble was offering this as part of their First Look book club, I signed up immediately. The Believers is about a woman named Audrey who uncovers a secret about her husband Joel after he has a stroke. Both she and her grown children have to come to terms with the “unsettling discovery” during the course of the novel.

The novel starts with a prologue set in 1962 where Audrey meets Joel and agrees to marry him on their first date. Ok.

Fast forward 40 years and Audrey is a bitter woman set in her convictions and combative about everything. After a couple of chapters of her bad attitude, I didn’t really relish more of the same. Not even the “secret” could compel me to read further. I put it down at page 46.

The Believers comes out March 3rd.

Anyone else read these and think I should pick them up again? Or maybe you are struggling with a book or books that you just can't seem to finish?

32 comments:

Alea said...

I haven't read either but The Anatomy of Wings sounds a little better than it did a few days ago. I'd say put them down for now and if in a month or so you feel like it try again? Or maybe don't? Sorry that was very unhelpful i know!

Yan said...

I'm on page 144 and I'm tearing my hair out trying to read this book. It's hard...to continue...again (abandoned once before...)

The Ravenous Reader said...

I totally feel what your going thru. I too have many books in my ever growing TBR pile and I have book that I cannot seem to get past the 4th chapter. I try and try and am soo puzzled over my lack of enthusiasm for this book. The writing is good, the story amazing, but it is not enough for me at the moment. I had to finally move onto another book. I will keep the book in question on the back burner and I hope to get back to it soon :) but if it does not get me when I get back to it, I am not sure what I would do next?

Kristen M. said...

You know it's bad when there's a big secret to be revealed and you don't even care to continue and find out what it is ... I say that you should move on ... (said from the point of view of someone who knows nothing about either of these books).

Jill said...

Ooh...that's disappointing about The Believers. I've had this one on my list. I'll check back to see if anyone who has read it encourages you to continue...

Lauren said...

I'm reading The Anatomy Of Wings right now, too, and I agree with you a ton. I just find it so dull and she adds the most random things in. I keep having to put it down and read something else. If I didn't have to review this for Flamingnet, I would have stopped after the first chapter, probably. Since, I have so many other awesome books in my TBR pile waiting to be read.

bermudaonion said...

I haven't read either one of those books, but I know a lot of people didn't like The Believers. Leave them be and don't worry about them.

GreenBeanTeenQueen said...

I haven't read either one, and after everyone's comments on Teh Anatomy of Wings, I think I'll pass. I don't finish every book I start (unless I promised a review for it) and even then it's sometimes a struggle. I think you should give a book a set amount of pages and if you're still not interested, go on to something else. This might be easier for me to do since I read multiple books at a time! But I always tell my teens life's too short to read books you don't like!
-Sarah

The Not So Closet Geeks said...

I have to finish everything I read. Regardless of whether I like it or not. It's actually a bit of a curse.

~bella aire~

Luanne said...

At one point in time, I felt I had to finish every book I started, regardless. Why though? There are too many books to experience and if one doesn't strike you, why waste time. It may not be a book for you, but it may be loved by someone else...

sharonanne said...

I got Queens of Freeville from the barnes first look program and now I don't regret passing up believers either. Carol is sending me a copy of Wings she must really hate me. lol It looks like such a good book too. How sad!

Yan said...

I finished it! And I reviewed it ;P

Staci said...

I say life is to short to be spend precious time on something you're getting no joy from...I'd move on.

Beth Kephart said...

Darling, life is short.....

Liviania said...

I agree with setting them down. I've got to be more harsh about putting down books I don't like. Don't trudge through something when you could be discovering a gem.

Lisa said...

I'll do the opposite - I'll try to convince you to put them down for good and give them away. I am a firm believer that I will give a book 100 pages - a couple of hours of reading - and if I'm not caught up in it, away it goes. There are so many books out there to be read! Besides, it's not like you haven't read enough books to know a good one when you start it - trust your gut and let them go.

jaxxxx said...

Hard to read because it is so sad? Imagine what the person writing it went through.. I don't agree. Who knows what our attitude would be like if we went through such a terrible (for most) loss?

Ravenous reader: This happens for me and then some books just grow on you. It is weird.

bookfool said...

I remember that it took me three tries to get through Jean Auel's Clan of the Cave Bear. Once I got into the right frame of mind, I really liked it.

On the other hand, I've tried to read Stephen King's TommyKnockers, at least 4 times and just can't get past page 40.

I sort of like your idea, my TBR pile is so tall, and I find myself slogging through a skinny little book I just don't much like. I think I'll adopt your rule!

Christina Farley said...

I haven't read either so I was interested in your comments. Interesting that you had a hard time finishing them.

H said...

If I have to review a book, I'll finish it, and if I have actually bought it, I'll finish it. Sometimes if it's really good I have trouble finishing it too as I keep putting it down, not sure if I'm going to like what happens next. I'll wander round thinking about it for a while and do something else, but I'll always finish them - it just takes me longer than normal. Strange, I know.

caite said...

I know not everyone felt the same way, but I liked The Believers. It was not GREAT..but I thought it was pretty good. None of the characters are very likable and in fact some are quite unpleasant...but I still liked the book...lol
I have to go back and re-read my REVIEW to see if I can figure out why.

But I do agree that sometimes you just have to give yourself permission not to finish something that is doing nothing for you.

Alea said...

You know, if any of those books aren't doing it for you, you could always try Rowan of the Wood... I heard it was great....

I'm sorry I couldn't resist! Those comments are annoying beyond belief! And I'm cracking myself up over here! :P

Keri Mikulski said...

Very interesting. Thanks for sharing what makes you abandon a book.. As a writer, I value opinions on what makes a person continue reading and what doesn't. Good post. :)

Ali said...

I have no problem putting a book down if it's not engaging me. I normally try to read to page 50 or beyond before making that decision. Sometimes I'll go back later and I can get into it, or at least get through another 50 pages. I don't figure I'm doing the author any favors by slogging through a book so I can give it a negative review--it's a lot easier for me to write a "this wasn't for me, but you might like it" review if I actually didn't finish the book!

Marie said...

I support your decision to abandon The Believers. I found it almost unreadable. this topic would make a great meme!

Lenore said...

Thanks everyone for your advice. I guess I was just feeling a bit guilty for not finishing these.

I may go back to them later.

And Marie - I hope I don't run across too many more books that I want to put down - but I agree that it would make a great meme.

valentina said...

I've read The Anatomy of wings, and unlike you I quite enjoyed the start (ok, not the first few pages, but after then it takes off). I liked the writing, so delicate and sensuous. I also really liked the secondary characters stories. But I don't think the story was good enough, and I was left a bit unsatisfied at the end.
like you, I read it only because of what mark Zusak said on the back of my ARC. But I dind't feel the same.

Thanks for pointing it out that it's published already, my ARC saud it was out in March so I was waiting to review it...

Alyce said...

I posted on my Sunday Salon post today about a book I couldn't finish. I was wondering if I should give a review even though I haven't finished the book. I'm leaning towards just giving the book away. I might list it on LibraryThing's new Member Giveaway page.

I haven't read either of the two that you stopped reading, so I couldn't give you an opinion on them.

Anna said...

There have only been a few books for me where struggling through the first 100 pages has been worth it. I've decide life's too short to read bad books, so if I'm not digging them by page 50, I'm done.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Ladytink_534 said...

I may feel guilty afterward but if I can't get into a book and find my attention wandering too often (which causes me to have to spend more time on the book re-reading sections), I will put a book down.

J. Kaye said...

I admire that you've felt so passionately about this. I can't say that I have. I feel no guilt whatsoever. Life is too short for books that don't move me. Also, no author wants me to write a review that will reflex those feelings.

I have a 25 page rule. If an author sent me a book, I'll give it a bit more time.

Jen - devourer of books said...

I sort of wish I'd ditched The Believers. The writing was good, but I just really didn't care for the book. The characters were (to me) unsympathetic and annoying at best, terrible human beings at worst.