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
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
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
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
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
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.
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?