A busy month = just one book and a trail of abandoned books. Do you give up on novels?

As a child of the 80s, I grew up during the Cold War, which sounds dramatic, but this simply meant that the enemy in films and television were almost always the Russians. I’m not sure if this was supposed to instill fear in me, but it had the opposite effect. Instead, I became fascinated with all things Russian ~ short stories and Russian history in particular.

I remember reading about the famous Romanov family, their house arrest and execution by Bolshevik revolutionaries  — and of course, the mysterious disappearance of the Crown Prince Alexei and daughter Anastasia in other fictionalized accounts, so I’m not sure what made me read another. It might have been the appealing book cover.

After learning about The Great Depression in last month‘s The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah, the fantasy spin that Nadine Brandes puts on Romanov seemed quite silly at first. But I let myself be led into a world where Grigori Rasputin was a spell master and the Bolsheviks were killing all spell keepers. So that by second half of the book, I couldn’t put it down and ended up staying up late.

At the end, the author explained what was true and what she fictionalized which I really like. Ann Rinaldi did this with her YA American historical fiction books, too. In any case, loved Romanov and highly recommend.

Since I only completed one book this month due to getting settled in a new city and ready to teach Grade 3 at a young international school, I thought I’d take a look at a few books I never finished for various reasons — and I’d like to hear your thoughts as well.

Bespoke Traveler wanted to know what I thought about this experimental novel, so I gave it a-go, as I like a challenge.

And as you can tell, I failed. The “main character” Sarah was almost impossible to relate to or like, but because I, too, did high school (and college) theatre, it was entertaining in a personal way and that’s what kept me going.

But halfway through, the book changes direction and I think this is where it gets either confusing or fascinating, depending on who you are. If I was reading this at another time in my life, it might be the latter but because life has undergone an absolute 180, it’s too much for me.

Choi is a very talented writer though. It speaks volumes that I read half a novel about a protagonist that I didn’t like. Maybe in the future I’ll pick it back up again, but for now… I don’t have the brainpower.

Have you read it? Or are there other books you found too heady?

A Thousand Ships was another recommended book which seemed right up my Parthenon alley since I adore Greek myths.

But I disliked this collection of perspectives from goddesses, wives, and mothers so much that I started to write a rant about all the things I found wrong with it. Don’t worry though. I won’t share them now.

I think because I’ve been reading Greek myths since I was a child, I expect so much more — like Madeline Miller was able to deliver in The Song of Achilles.

Miller raised the bar, and if you’re going to retell one of the oldest tales in the world, The Trojan War, it’s gotta sing, but hey, A Thousand Ships was shortlisted for the Women’s Fiction Prize, so what the hell do I know?

My favorite genre is historical fiction and if you go searching for those must-read lists, this one’s on it.

I read about 70% of the story, and then I got bored. It seems crazy to abandon a book after reading so much of it, but I did the same thing with Stephen King’s The Stand.

The novel was obviously great until I got to the part where Katherine is hanging about the castle waiting for her true love to show up, and I kept reading to get to the part when he does (?), but it never seemed to arrive, she kept waiting and waiting and waiting, so I closed the book for good.

This is probably one the main reasons why I give up on a story. I stop caring. Much earlier in my reading life, I used to force myself to finish a book, but then someone told me they never did. It was a game-changer.

I figure there are too many great books out there to waste my time reading something I don’t enjoy. At this point, I wonder how many books I’ve left behind — hopefully, the list isn’t as long as the ones I’ve read.

Do you finish books you don’t like?

How was your August??

36 replies on “πŸ“š Reading Roundup: August 2021

  1. I almost never give up on a book, so I’m usually very choosy before I start one. I have given up on a book or two, though. And I agree with you that there are so many good books out there, that I should do it more often. It helps to have a book waiting for me on my Kindle. I’m just finishing up Thomas Wolfe’s very long book, “You Can’t Go Home Again.” Not my favorite book, but I actually have enjoyed it. Now I’m really looking forward to starting Michael Pollan’s new book, “This Is Your Mind on Plants.” It should be fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pollan’s book sounds AMAZING. I might have to check that one out.

      I’m super impulsive so that’s why I probably get into trouble, but if I wasn’t I don’t think it would make much of a difference. I used to really take my time in bookstores and read first chapters, etc, but now I don’t want to bother. I like the ‘blind read’ surprise. Well, most of the time!

      Yes, too many books, too little time!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I abandon books (reading them anyway) more often than I finish them these days – I think because of scatty & distracted focus, and partly because I pick up books from my online library service, and I don’t select them as carefully as if I were buying them or actually carrying books home.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, me too, when you have that freedom, you’re not as financially committed. πŸ˜› That being said, it really irks me when I do put down the money and the book disappoints.

      For me, books are so so closely related to what I’m doing in my life and where I’m “at” so to speak. I can’t really predict that either. xo

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So, just like the rest of life, it’s a bit of a gamble & excitement with each book we pick up.

        I hear you about a book being closely related to what you are doing in your life. There have been many occasions when I re-pick up an abandoned book & found it deeply moving & absorbing – just because my mindspace was different. A particular example is Jasper Fforde’s β€œShades of Grey”. It took me no less than 5 attempts (can you tell we bought the book) before I could get past Chapter 1. But at attempt # 6?, I couldn’t put it down and was thrilled with it!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you for your example! Yes. It took me several attempts to enter Lord of the Rings, but when I did I read all three tomes straight in a row! xo

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m the same as you Lani it is so liberating to just stop reading a book when you don’t enjoy it! It also means you don’t waste time on it when it’s not interesting. Thanks so much for these book reviews I think I will avoid these if I see them. Yes Madeline Miller did set the bar high I agree. Hope you are well my friend big hugs 😽

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, a fellow reader after my own heart! I hate to not recommend books, but sometimes it’s just not my cuppa and I have to wonder if I’m the only one. The good thing is when you go to Amazon or Goodreads and see how many other ppl can relate to your feelings as well.

      Hugs back!


      1. Yes I love Good Reads for that. If I am ever pissed off by a book, or feel confused or cheated by it…guaranteed someone on Good Reads feels just the same hehe

        Liked by 1 person

  4. The older I get, the more easily I give up on books, Lani. I would like to think I give them a fair chance, but life really is too short, and there are too many books out there to waste time on a book that is a bad fit for me.
    The only book I read since your last roundup is a lovely nonfiction book called Borges and Me by Jay Parini. I loved it.
    I hope you are enjoying your new surroundings and job, and that you will settle into a comfortable rhythm soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much. Just survived the first day of school and I’m POOPED. So your words really hit home. xo

      And after all, I need to get back on the newsletter train again! Egats!

      Hope life’s treating you exceptionally well, J. xo


      1. I love those newsletters of yours, Lani. And I’m glad to hear that you survived your first day. Third graders are a different kettle of fish! May you build up some special stamina quickly.
        Life is good here, especially as the worst of the summer heat seems to be over.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hey, thanks so much. I need to get my next one ready!

        Ah, right. Good, good. The changing seasons will be exciting! We’re enjoying rainy days and cooler temperatures right now. I wonder how long that will last? πŸ˜›


  5. I give up on so many books these days; possibly because (until this latest lockdown has kept me at home) I tend to do a trawl of library shelves for what looks superficially interesting. I’m also finding that recommendations don’t hit the spot as often as they used to. Or maybe I’m just getting old, fussy and set in my ways ☹️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think there have been periods of my life where nothing seems to be a good fit. I used to go to the library (when I could) and just borrow a huge stack of books to listlessly pick through later on. It’s probably just a season or two – and who cares, right? I’m sure one day the right book will come along again πŸ™‚ xo


  6. Yes, there are way too many good books out there to suffer through. I say this, and yet I’m suffering through one right now. Characters I don’t care about! Yet…I’m still curious to know what happens. Really, I just need to go to the library. And, as it happens, my current lackluster read is a Book of the Month club pick–the second one I’ve picked up (I got BOTM for a Xmas gift) that’s been pretty meh. Whose month is that boring, I’d like to know.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahahaha. That’s tough. A nice gift idea though in theory… These days, I’m so tired from adjusting to my new life that I can barely keep my eyes open to read. It’s not yet Sept but I’m afraid it will be another ‘one book’ month – ah, well. We’ll see! Hope the novel gets better!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I hope you’ve settled in to the new town, new digs and new school, Lani. That first book does sound interesting.
    I abandoned one book last month. It was a fun one but turns out I’m not such a bird nerd after all so I moved on from all the detail about the life of a birder. As I’ve mentioned, I don’t read so much anymore. When I worked I read a lot more. Probably because I traveled a lot and there is no better bookshop IMO then a bookshop in an airport. Plus now, I need to floodlight a room before I can see text at outside of daylight hours.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhh, the ‘ol reader on the road — sometimes I find it difficult to read when I’m traveling, but other times, you really can get into a reading large chunks from all that waiting time.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Historical fiction is not really my thing. I must admit I don’t read much novels, which is ironic. I guess literary novels/quality novels I find too much intellectual effort for me. So I have read alot of non-fiction.

    “Interior Chinatown” by Charles Yu isn’t historic fiction. It is a novel written in the style of movie scripts that combines film stereotypes of Chinese-North Americans, other stock movie stereotypes plus just ordinary life in low-income Chinatown. I enjoyed it and it was first novel I read in about a few decades. (And I have an English lit. degree).

    Another recent read is: “Indians on VAcation”, by Cree-Objiway-Greek Canadian writer, Thomas King. It’s light but is weaves vacationing in Europe for 2 First Nations (native Indians). Right now in Canada in the past year which has been going on for years, is the controversy of the historic and terrible practice of shipping native Indian kids to residential schools run by the Catholic church in CAnada ..where kids were stripped of their language, abuse, and some died/never escaped to come back to their parents. I think the U.S. is just beginning to open the barn door on this terrible history at their end. Canada has a federal goven’t commission on this matter about 20 yrs. ago.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, wow. Sounds like some serious reading. The title almost eludes to it being a humorous book.

      Yeah, I need to be in the mood for non-fict and there have been stretches where I’m reading only that, but lately, I like the entertaining reads. I also think because of CV that I’ve been reading tons of non-fict online and it’s already part of the daily practice. But good for you on digging deeper on issues.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I almost never leave a book unfinished, unless I seriously cannot go on with it. It happened with James Joyce’s Ulysses a long time ago… Maybe I should also start leaving more books. But I can’t recall any that I found unbearable lately…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi! I just found my back here, after a few years! πŸ™‚ So glad to see you’re still blogging.

    I was sad to see that “A Thousand Ships” wasn’t very good. I named my daughter Iliana, and she definitely looks the part (and she actually was Helen of Troy for Halloween one year!), so we both enjoy Greek mythology!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello again πŸ™‚ Thanks.

      As far as A Thousand Ships, don’t worry, there are so many excellent inspired Greek myth books out there. Check out Madeline Miller’s books!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi Lani! How are you these days?
    Ooh! I like the sound of Romanov and will see if I can get a copy of it! Funnily enough the fantasy spin makes it more appealing to me. πŸ˜‰
    By the way, you will be pleased to hear that I’ve just started reading “Siege& Storm” after devouring “Shadow & Bone”!! πŸ˜€ I’ve also read to short stories by Leigh Bardugo that I loved, “The With of Duva” and “The Demon in the Wood”, especially the latter is an eye-opener!
    As you can guess from all the exclamation marks I totally love it. πŸ˜‰
    Ha! I used to do the same thing, that is force myself to finish reading a book even if I didn’t enjoy it much – but not anymore! I don’t remember when I started to be more rigorous and to abandon books if they didn’t hook me after the first 50 to 100 pages but it has been a while and I’m glad I do it because frankly there’s only so much time and far too many good books that need to be read, so it would be a waste of time to stick to the ones that don’t deserve it.
    There were quite a few so far this year that I didn’t finish reading, like “Between a Rock and a Hard Place” by Aron Ralston (maybe it was wrong to watch the movie a couple of years ago), or “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” – I know, shame on me! but I really couldn’t go on at the time, it pulled me down too much.
    That’s awesome that you mention Madeline Miller, I’ve just read “The Song of Achilles”a couple of weeks ago and loved it! Already have put in a reservation for “Circe”. πŸ˜€ Since I also love Greek mythology and history – hell, I even studied the stuff! – I was very hesitant about whether I’d like this new interpretation of The Trojan War, as I quite enjoyed reading the original – and in Ancient Greek too! πŸ˜‰ But she really did a wonderful job and has indeed set the bar very high. So thanks for warning me about “A Thousand Ships”. πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Sarah. It’s nice to hear from you. Glad you took to Leigh Bardugo. Have FUN. OMG. I love all her stuff, but I haven’t read her shorts yet, will do.

      I liked Song of Achilles more than Circe, so I’ll be curious to see which one you like better. I liked Circe, don’t get me wrong, but Achilles was really something special in my book – HA. Pun indented.

      Hope you are well, miss you, xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Leigh Bardugo is awesome, I’m so glad you recommended her to me. 😍
        Have to wait a couple of weeks until I can read Circe, will let you know which one I like better. πŸ˜‰
        Miss you too and hope there’s going to be a new newsletter soon! Hugs! xoxo

        Liked by 1 person

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