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Books I Did Not Finish

I used to see my way to the bitter end of books, even the ones I couldn’t get into. After many years, I decided life’s too short to be reading books I hate. I wouldn’t force myself to eat food I didn’t like, or spend time with people who make me a worse person, so why am I forcing myself to read books that aren’t adding value to my life? And so, I entered the world of “did not finish” books.

The Merry Spinster, by Mallory Ortberg

The Merry Spinster, by Mallory Ortberg
I love fairytale retellings. They allow me to see old tales from different points of view, they show how creative authors can get. And it’s always good fun to hear a new version of an old tale. The Merry Spinster, by Mallory Ortberg, is supposed to be a horror retelling of classic fairytales. BUT. There was no horror. And I also felt like they weren’t exactly retellings.

I read the first story, which was based on the Little Mermaid. It wasn’t too different from the original, but I was confused because there was no horror (one paragraph towards the end doesn’t count). I didn’t want to read another one (the first was that bad), but I flipped to the back and found that one of the stories was based on Beauty and the Beast, which I LOVE. So I skipped ahead to it (which I NEVER do – I’m a bit OCD about reading pages in order, unless it’s a choose-your-own-adventure). I didn’t hate this one as much, there were humorous elements scattered throughout that made me chuckle a bit. BUT THERE WAS STILL NO HORROR. So I gave up.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by John Tiffany & Jack Thorne

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by John Tiffany & Jack Thorne
I was in London when Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was playing (is it still playing?), but decided not to watch it. I like Harry Potter, but I’m not as crazy a fan as some of my friends. I’m also not a huge fan of theatre. Which is surprising, given my undying love for and devotion to dance and musicals. But I don’t think I’ve read a single play that wasn’t required for class. So what I’m trying to say is, this whole endeavor was set up for failure.

And fail I did. Not only was I not invested in any of the characters, EVERY SCENE IS THREE PAGES LONG. Granted, I haven’t been involved in theatre in over a decade, but THIS IS SO ANNOYING. I’m imagining this playing out on stage, and I would so hate to be the stage manager! A 3-page scene on paper is like 2 minutes of stage time! I don’t want to watch a constant changing of scenes!

I got to Scene 17 of Act 1 and just could not take it anymore. There are 19 scenes in Act 1, 20 in Act 2, 21 in Act 3, and a measly 15 scenes in Act 4. I’m not that big a Harry Potter fan, fuck this shit. I’ll just go read spoilers on Wikipedia or something. (Which I did. And I’m glad I gave up.)

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer
I saw that there was a movie version of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and I always try to read the book before watching the movie. I’m not sure I even knew the synopsis of this book before I went ahead and picked it up. Might have been a good idea to check.

I gave it a good try for about 1/3 of the book, and there wasn’t anything wrong with it. There are times when the book isn’t a good match for your life at the moment, and this was one of those times. I do enjoy epistolary novels; you have to read between the lines to see what the characters aren’t saying. There’s also a nostalgic feeling to the letters I did read. Maybe I’ll have better luck when I try it again in the future.

 

Hope Never Dies, by Andrew Shaffer

Hope Never Dies, by Andrew Shaffer
“Part action thriller, part mystery, part bromance, and (just to be clear) 100 percent fiction” – from the back of the book.

I wanted to read Hope Never Dies because, like most Americans, we were amused by the bromance in the White House. But I gave up about 1/4 of the way in. It tried to do too much, and wasn’t able to deliver. It wasn’t so much a bromance as it was a fling that ended with the girl, Biden in this story, wanting more (in a “if you don’t know what you did wrong, I’m not going to tell you” way) and the guy, Obama, being too cool and rebel-without-a-cause to notice or care. Maybe this type of humor isn’t for me. It isn’t even that I have certain images of Obama and Biden in my head; the characters in and of themselves were annoying stereotypes I wouldn’t enjoy reading in any book.

The Beast’s Heart, by Liefe Shallcross

The Beast's Heart, by Leife Shallcross
I got an advanced copy of The Beast’s Heart from First to Read, and I was super excited because Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney princess movie (as I’ve already mentioned above lol). The fairytale I can take or leave, but because I have such positive feels about the Disney animation and later the Emma Watson live action, I generally like to check out other adaptations as well. This was interesting because it’s a retelling of the original French fairytale, told from the Beast’s point of view. (And look at the cover!)

I wanted to like this so bad, for all of the above reasons. But there was so much description and so little action to progress the story. It felt like the author was trying to portray the slow, distorted passage of time the Beast felt under the curse. And sometimes, reading it DID feel like a curse; very rarely do I dread reading a book, but I went a whole month without touching this because every time I tried to read a chapter, I didn’t want to do it. Then, I realized I only had a week left before my access expired so I forced myself to read like 15 chapters. Then the book expired. And I’m not even mad about it.

I do want to go back and finish it one day, only because the author did a very nice job with telling the stories of her sisters. I think it would have been a much stronger book if the author had decided to focus on the people left behind.

Thoughts

Obviously, different people have different tastes. These are just my opinions. You might’ve read one of these books and loved it (in that case, please let me know so I can give it another shot!), or you might be intrigued by all the things I hate about them. (I do have reviews on books I liked, here and here.) If you’re interested, you can get your copies here:

 

What books do you have on your did not finish list?

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