Tuesday, December 29, 2015
10 Minutes About The Books I ALMOST Read in 2015
I'll begin with the first set of
The Ones I Didn't Bother Finishing:
One of the things I realized as I made this list was how awesome most of the books on the list were. The fact that some are near the bottom of the list doesn't mean they were bad, it just means that in comparison to the other books they didn't finish as high. "Someone's gotta be last, right?" -- every gym teacher I ever had, by way of... encouragement? Sure let's go with that.
The reason the books are almost uniformly good is that I mostly get my books from the library on my Kindle, so they're free -- and hence I can start reading almost anything, but because I didn't pay for it, I can stop if it's not interesting to me without feeling I wasted my money. Which means the books I did finish were a higher grade of book overall.
Here are the bottom-ranked ones I stopped reading:
35. Dissident Gardens, Jonathan Lethem: Lethem appears on here three times and he has written a book I am dying (almost literally) to read: As She Climbed Across The Table, which is about a woman in love with a black hole. This wasn't the FIRST book I read by him; it was actually the third and it was the first I gave up on. The story starts off so slowly, with so much blather. It's something about communists or something. Pleh. There's better books by him, two on this list.
33. An Arsonist's Guide to Writers Homes In New England, Brock Clarke: Stephen King said that readers look for voice, that the actual first line or chapter of a story, even the story, isn't as important as the voice, the way the story is told. I don't think that's 100% true, but this book suffered from the voice problem, among others. I picked it up because of the title, but the book goes downhill from there. It's like the author had this great title and then had to pack a story into it. The first chapter or two whip through the guy burning down Emily Dickinson's house, going to prison, getting out, going to college, getting married, having the son of the people who died in the fire show up, and him getting kicked out of his house. I had no idea where the rest of the story would go, but the book felt like a summary of 10 other books. And the main character was just sort of drifting through. You know how in third-person narrator stories, the narrator is kind of there with the characters but not really there? That's how this book felt -- only the story was told in the first person. So it had the feeling of the narrator watching a short film that summarized his life, and explaining it. I gave up on it about where he goes home to find his dad had a stroke.
"The Chicken Problem" stems from an episode of the Kardashians where they decided that they would raise chickens in the house, for some reason they gave on the show but the real reason being that it was presumably fun to watch rich vapid people chase chickens around their house. Chickens have showed up on lots of other reality shows since then, or their equivalent. Reality shows tend to encourage people to do dumb/interesting stuff because honestly most of our lives are interesting only to ourselves. I have no doubt this blog would get better hits if I bought a chicken and chased it around.
So this book began with a fairly interesting essay about why the author had a bunch of toy ponies (it has to do with a line she says on dates), and then sort of drifted off. I think I listened to the second essay but I gave up pretty quickly thereafter. It was both uninteresting and trying too hard.
That's it for this time. more to come.