Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Books I Almost Put Down But Didn't

To make the cut for this post, I chose books that I had literally picked up and put back down and then picked up again.

The Book Thief
Yes, The Book Thief. Sorry. I can hear your gasps of horror. I tried this book at least three times before finally deciding to read the whole thing. And, of course, I loved it when I did. But it was something about the voice, about Death as narrator, that just hit me the wrong way time after time. You, my fellow readers, kept urging me on. Thank you.

John Green books
I gave up on John Green books after reading my first, Paper Towns. It was just...well, meh. I didn't see the John Green all my fellow bloggers were raving about. Then I read Fault in Our Stars. And it blew me away. Okay, John Green, apologies.

King of the Wind
My fourth grade teacher read King of the wind. And Misty of Chincoteague. And Sea Star. And everything else Marguerite Henry every wrote. Everything horse-ish that year. And I wasn't a Horse Girl. And then I decided to read all the Newbery winners. I put off King of the Wind as long as I could. What a surprise....a fabulous story. It must have been Horse Book Overload, I suppose.

Edith Wharton books
Our bookgroup decided to read Edith Wharton last month. When I was trying to choose one to read, I read review after review lambasting poor Edith. I almost put down House of Mirth before I really got into it, but then I read one more review and I read on. So glad I did.

We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow 
We Will Be Killed With Our Families
Who really wants to read about a massacre in Africa? I'd heard such good things about this book that I obtained a copy. Over the years I'd read a page or two and then put it down. Too troubling, I thought. Finally I resolved to read it or give it away. Whew. Not a happy read, but one I'm very glad I finished.

Haruki Murakami's Underground
I'm a big fan of Murakami's fiction. I got a copy of this book in a Bookcrossing trade years and years ago. I read a bit and put it down. I read a little more and put it down. Finally decided to read the whole thing during a Readathon in the middle of the night after reading for hours and hours. Let me say that again, with emphasis: "Finally decided to read the whole thing during a Readathon in the middle of the night after reading for hours and hours." Do you see anything wrong with this strategy? Do you see why I did not like this book after forcing myself to read it during the middle of the night, tired and restless? Yes, I think you do. 

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
This has to be my favorite story of Book I Almost Put Down But Didn't. I ran across a copy of this book in a cabin, left behind by a tourist, when I was working in Yellowstone Park in the summer of 1975. I read a few pages, was bored, and left it for someone else to find. Zoom forward to the fall of the same year. Now I'm taking Educational Philosophy in college and guess which book is the only book on the required reading list? Yes, ZAMM. Crazy, huh? This time I bought it and started reading it and couldn't put it down. Oddly, the class didn't make because of enrollment, but I read the book anyway. And reread it. And reread it. And recommended it and recommended it and recommended it. All to no avail. I've never had one person thank me for recommending it to them. Very strange.

Heart of Darkness
Assigned reading in high school. Read a few pages. Hated it. Read a few more. Loathed it. Read more. Continued to despise. Read to completion, desperately wanting to put it down, but didn't. Final assessment: Abhor completely.

War and Peace
I resolved to read WP last year. I read twenty pages. Nothing. Twenty more. Nothing. A hundred. Still nothing. I decided to give up. One of the few books that I have put down that I feel in my heart I should try again. I probably will. One day.

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  1. I cannot bring myself to start the Book Thief for the reasons you stated. The voice seems like it's going to be weird. I saw the film, and it wasn't too awful, but books are a different ball game. Also, and I have to say this in capitals, PAPER TOWNS IS THE WORST JOHN GREEN BOOK.
    I read (forced myself to read) 30% of it before I gave up. And it made me so mad that I haven't read anything by him since. Massive let down, since I read TFiOS and it was amazing, and Looking For Alaska which was an incredible read. Bad, John Green, bad!
    Aimes @ What Aimee Read Next

  2. TFIOS is definitely John Green's best book (or so I reckon, lol!) x) I was a bit frustrated in Looking for Alaska but I reeeally loved Paper Towns! Great list and thanks for stopping by mine. :)

  3. If I ever read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance I will be sure to come back and tell you about it and thank you. :)

  4. I see why you would 'give up' on John Green after Paper Towns... I liked it alright, but TFIOS is infinitely better! Glad you read that one :)

    I love Murakami too but still have to read Underground... I'll make sure to read it when I'm in the right mood ;-)

  5. I almost gave up on The Book Thief too. I'm glad that we both gave it another chance. I enjoyed TFiOS, but I'm still not overly fussed on John Green. I like his work, but don't love it.

  6. I read Heart of Darkness in high school too and hated every second of reading. It was tied for the worst book I ever read for school.

  7. I feel bad but I wanted to put down the Book Thief too. I started reading it for book club, but then watched the movie before finishing it and I already knew the story, so what was the point? But I'm glad that I finished because the book and the movie have some major differences and I truly appreciate both.

    Thanks for stopping by!
    Aly @ My Heart Hearts Books

  8. It would make me so happy if you would, Jess.

  9. Caitie, I'm so curious about the other awful book you read in high school.

  10. I never finished Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance as I could not get into it at all.

  11. Everyone I've ever recommended ZAMM to has told me the same thing. Sigh.

  12. The Book Thief was a big fat DNF for me. There were so many things that annoyed and angered me. I was glad to discover I'm far from the only person who hated it and found it massively overrated.

    I read War and Peace in 19 days, and was disappointed it didn't take a maximum of two weeks like I'd hoped going in. I read The Age of Innocence for a book report in my eighth grade social-studies class, but skipped just about all of the long, flowery descriptions that added absolutely nothing to the storyline. I got an A++ on the book report anyway, since the teacher adored my writing, and I guess I read enough of it to understand something.

  13. Same feelings about The Book Thief. I loved The Fault in Our Stars, too. I haven't read Paper Town, but I almost gave up on Looking For Alaska. I forgot about that one. Could have added that to my list too, lol.

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  15. War and Peace completely defeated me but I didn't manage anywhere near as many pages as you did.

  16. I agree The Book Thief can take a bit to get into. The narration is a bit different from the norm. But definitely, once you get through that initial phase and really delve into the book, it is absolutely stunning!

    New GFC follower :)

    Obsessive Compulsive Reader

  17. Love this post! I should do something like this... I'm happy to see a few titles on your list since I often start a book and wonder what all the fuss is about.


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