Friday, 9 August 2013

Life's Too Short to Read Bad Books

Whenever I pick up a book I make a commitment to see it through to the end. No matter if I hate it or find it tedious or boring, I've got to read it right up until the very last page. I don't know whether this is because I feel like I'm doing a disservice to the author by just giving up, or I just enjoy the satisfaction of adding another book to my 'Read' pile. I actually think it's a combination of the two, although the fact that a book is a chore to continue should really be a slight on the writer and not the reader.

In a bid to break this habit, which definitely inhibits my enjoyment of reading, I've decided to share with you some of the books that I've wasted time finishing. The enjoyment of a book or a particular genre is of course subjective, but alongside some great works of fiction there are definitely some questionable pieces. And there's no point wasting time on a bad book.

Life's too short to read bad books














The Painter of Shanghai by Jennifer Cody Epstein

I picked this one up from the 'Free Books Shelf' on my work experience at DK Books - it's basically a bookcase where press copies, misprints and other unwanted books go to be picked up by others. It looked interesting as it's a historical fiction piece set in 20th Century China, but I found it really tedious. And this is not a thin book! At almost 500 pages long I battled through it, and followed the journey of Chinese painter Pan Yuliang through her life as a concubine and then an art student. Whilst I enjoyed some of Epstein's poetic descriptions and quotes, I found the romantic aspect of it quite dry. I'm not really one for romantic epics at all


The Island by Victoria Hislop

I remember someone recommending a book of the same name to me, but it turns out that I bought the wrong one. I think I was supposed to buy this one by Aldous Huxley instead, which is definitely more my cup of tea. The one I read however, really dragged and I found it incredibly boring. It's basically a love story set on a Greek island at the time when those suffering from leprosy were banished from mainland Greece. It managed to win an award from Richard & Judy's Book Club in 2006 (wooo!) and sold lots of copies, but I spent most of it thinking 'It's got to get better at some point. It's got to get better'. It spans four generations through wars and various tragedies but it felt clunky and cliched. This is also a 500 page-er. *whelp*


A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon

This is by the same author who wrote The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, which I read in school and must read again, but it didn't live up to expectations. The main character is George, a 57 year-old who has just begun his retirement and starts to lose grip on reality after finding a suspicious lesion on his hip. The prose is boring and monotonous and flits about from scene to scene. Not a patch on his previous work and definitely a spot of don't bother.


This Book Will Save Your Life by A.M. Homes

I really want to say something scathing like 'This Book Will Make You Want to End Your Life Just So You Don't Have to Read it Anymore', but that's a little too harsh. Haha. It wasn't that bad, but with such a strong title you expect the story to be a little more life affirming. It's hard to relate to a wealthy LA man who's main problem is that his dietitian doesn't allow him to eat anything nice at all. Maybe I'm remembering it wrong, but it didn't have much to give aside from the usual 'money is bad, people are good' adage.


Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Don't believe the hype. Or do, if that's what you're into. I don't even like crime/detective novels, but I LOVE watching them, but only the good ones like Luther that pop up once in a while. I read this because my boyfriend bought it and everyone was reading it. I got bored after THAT middle part but I did want to know how it ended. Very unsatisfying.


And this is why I tend to stay away from award lists and shortlists and nominations and all of that. Just because a small awards panel deems it a 'must-read', doesn't mean that it's going to be the same for everyone - or am I stating the obvious? Although I have wrongly shied away from over hyped books in the past, such as the first Harry Potter book and the Hunger Games - both of which I thoroughly enjoyed! My best bet for book recommendations is from friends who know which type of book I enjoy, but then I don't want to get stuck in one genre.

From now on I'll definitely put down a book I'm not enjoying. It's not worth wasting time on a bad book, don't you agree?

16 comments:

  1. good reviews here x
    http://jadegillett.blogspot.co.uk/

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  2. Love your reviews I liked gone girl though
    NRC ♥

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    1. Thanks :) yeah a lot of people did but it just wasn't to my taste! x

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  3. oh crap. I definitely already bought "this book will save your life". Oh well, at least it was on offer!

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    1. Haha don't read it. You'll definitely hate it!

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  4. Abandoning bad books is so satisfying once you get over the guilt. It's a shame you didn't enjoy A Spot of Bother though, I loved it! However I didn't really think much of Curious Incident so perhaps therein lies the difference.

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    1. Yes! I just need to brave it one time and I'm sure I'll get out of the habit. It was ok, but wasn't that taken with it. Ah yes :)

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  5. I loved Gone Girl, I enjoy reading other people's take on novels as everyone's taste's differ so much. xxx

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  7. I love Mark Haddon - thought A Spot of Bother was funny and it made great train reading, and I loved Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time! There's nothing worse than feeling you have to finish a book you really don't like though.

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    1. Meh, it was funny in parts but as it was so long it just felt a bit tiresome! Yeah, I've had that feeling far too much with uni books.

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  8. I can see how the ending of Gone Girl was divisive, but i enjoyed it still - but then I thought A Spot Of Bother was alright as well! The first two don't sound much like my cup of tea though!

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    1. I really didn't like it! I think I just felt deceived by her too! Yeah don't bother with the other two at all.

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  9. I know what you mean.... I always have to tough a book out even if I hate it, which has meant I've read some shockers over the year. I disliked the Island too but this caused a little drama when I told my English teacher during my A-Levels. Poor Mr Lewis. Haha!
    I love how honest this review is - a lot of people always feel they have to say they love everything on their blog! Definitely following you now :)
    Keep in touch!
    Andrea
    www.lanouvellenoire.com
    xxx

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    1. It's so strange isn't it - why waste time reading a bad book?! Haha really? I remember my English teaching almost kicking off when someone blankly stated that they hated Shakespeare.
      Oh thank you that's nice as I'd like to try and do something a little different. Thanks :) I'll check your blog out too x

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Let me know what you think!

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