The Books People Leave Unfinished from The Atlantic Wire

books unread

The Atlantic Wire has an article on a Goodreads list of the five books most GoodReaders started but didn’t finish.

I tried two of the books: Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling and Wicked by Gregory Maguire. I didn’t get more than a few pages into either of them before I had to give up. The article made me think “what are the reasons I go ahead and read a book that looked good or sounded good based on recommendations but it immediately was a no go?”

I should mention I have my own method of deciding to whether read a book or not. I read the dust jacket, I read a page or so and if I’m not immediately engaged, off with its head. I don’t understand the folks who force them selves to read the entire book if they start it, or they read 50 pages and then decide. Too many books await to waste time that way.

Five reasons not to read a book:

1. Written in present tense. There are very books few written in present tense that grab me and sustain me. I know these events happened to the character in the past, why on earth are you writing as if it is happening right now? Ack.

2. The character is immediately unlikeable. They’re arrogant, whiny, nasty, stoopid, they have no moral code, they’re a druggie. Yech.

3. The narrative begins with a history lesson…”in 1357 our home was owned by Baron Pigmeat Southbye”…. I want to be pulled immediately into the story of the narrator, not their ancestors.

4. The writing is terrible. “She put her hand on his knee and squeezed as if she were examining a vault in a faraway land”.

5. Nothing at all happens in the first page or so. Sometimes an author just likes to twirl words around their pen so the opening pages (and theoretically the whole thing) are an arch bit of allegorical play or alliteration or Lord knows what the author thinks is CLEVER WRITING. Back, I say, back.

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2 thoughts on “The Books People Leave Unfinished from The Atlantic Wire

  1. Oddly someone you know well reads the dust jacket last so as not to spoil the story, I don’t read the preface or introductions till the end for the same reason. He is a lucky guy who has a personal librarian feeding him books,

    • I know how you are! The preface adds to the story, and I never feel as if it gives anything away. There is just some point in the story where the meaning of the preface becomes clear and you go “ohhhhh I see”. Honored as always to be your personal librarian!

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