Book Lists

Books That Broke My Spirit: 2011

I try not to just give up on books. In fact, I probably ought to quit more books and not waste my time, but. . . I just don’t.

Still, every once in a while, a book just doesn’t do it for me. These are the fifteen books I gave up on in 2011 (theses are books that I was committed enough to put in Goodreads as “currently reading” and then finally gave up. There are, I’m sure, other books that I picked up, read a page or two, and never picked up again. But they aren’t on this list).

  • The Chronicles of Harris Burdick – Someday I will just learn that I hate short story collections and to stop wasting my time on them. Amen. 
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – I was listening to this and I think this is one that might need to be read instead of listened to. But it’s hard to pick up a paper copy of a book you already have bad feelings toward. So, despite this being on all of the best-of lists this year, it might just be one I skip forever. 
  • Girls in White Dresses – I tried. It annoyed me. I gave up. 
  • The Last Anniversary – I loved What Alice Forgot so much that I immediately picked up another book by the author, got confused by the number of characters in the first chapter and didn’t bother to return. I am lazy. 
  • The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism and Treachery – I renewed this one six times but I just never actually finished it. It was interesting, but not the one I was dying to finish. Clearly. 
  • Walden, or Life in the Woods – My goal was to read four classics this year and this was going to be on of them. I picked something less dense and with more of a storyline instead. 
  • Work Hard, Be Nice: How Two Inspired Teachers Created America’s Best Schools – I listened to this (it’s about the KIPP schools and how they started) and I just couldn’t make any progress. It went on and on. 
  • The Time-Traveling Fashionista – This is one I actually might come back to. But I just haven’t been hooked yet. 
  • One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street – I tried so hard on this book (which I got from The Picnic Basket) but. . . I couldn’t do it. 
  • The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels – My tolerance for the number of times an author can describe how weak her knees went is about 3 times. I listened to this at double speed while I was on the treadmill for 30 minutes (so about 60 minutes of listening) and I heard it no less than 15 times. It was absurd. It embarrassed me too much to continue. 
  • The Cinderella Society – I can remember exactly nothing about this book except a keychain. It was due back at the library and I sent it back without hesitation. 
  • The Replacement – This book gave me the creeps. I don’t do books like this.
  • The True Meaning of Smekday – Everyone raved about how amazing this book was, especially the audio version, but it did nothing for me. I guess I don’t like weird alien voices? 
  • Juliet – Too long and too silly. I gave up after 50 pages. My mom read it and said that giving up was a good plan. 
Anybody else toss a book (or twenty) to the curb this year? 

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  • Reply RA December 30, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    I think Miss Peregrine is definitely a reader, mostly because of the photographs. I don't think it even made sense to produce an audio version.

    I left 4 books unfinished this year:

    Major Pettigrew's Last Stand (audio)
    As Always, Julia
    The War of the Worlds (audio)

    I'll probably try Lamb again and dip into the Julia Child book if I can get a cheap copy, but the other two are lost causes.

  • Reply Sherry December 30, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    Wikinomics. So boring, and already outdated, even though it's only a few years old.

  • Reply Elizabeth December 30, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    Well, Girls in White Dresses was one of my favorite books of the year, but I didn't like that Peculiar Children book either. And everyone loved it! But it was not for me.

  • Reply Kayla December 30, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    Oh sad, I loved Miss Peregrine's. Although, the title is long and unwieldy and annoys me when I have to say it or type it.

  • Reply Laura H December 30, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    I love that you kept track of the ones you gave up on. I'm definitely doing that in 2012.

    I'm sad to hear that The Last Anniversary wasnt good. I really liked What Alice Forgot too.

  • Reply Tina's Blog December 30, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    The more I read the more I seem to be able to give up on books that don't work for me. Who has time to read something not enjoyable. I did enjoy Girls in White Dresses, but your list looks like many I would also never read. Next year I will keep track of all of the books I quit on.

  • Reply Shalini December 30, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    I loved Girls in White Dresses on audio. Definitely my favorite book of December. But Smekday–I couldn't get into either. I think I need to give it more time, though.

  • Reply Jenny December 31, 2011 at 2:21 am

    I gave up on a few books this year too. This year is the first time I've decided it's just not worth it and set the book aside. It's a relief.

  • Reply Katie Rich December 31, 2011 at 6:40 am

    I couldn't finish Uglies by Scott Westerfield. . . it did nothing for me and I was annoyed by the language (sky the color of cat vomit? I will take my humor in other ways please). I also gave up on Gilead by Marilyn Robinson. I am sure it is worth reading, but I was not in the mood for father/son relationship stories at the time.

  • Reply Gretchen December 31, 2011 at 7:18 am

    Thanks for admitting that there are books that you gave up on. I have such a hard time doing that. I usually keep reading because I'm thinking "This has got to get better, right?"

    I'm intrigued by The Chronicles of Harris Burdick, not because I'm really a fan of short stories myself, but because I use the book that these are based on (The Mysteries of Harris Burdick) in the creative writing class I teach. The students have to write stories to go along with the pictures, which it seems is exactly what the authors did in The Chronicles of Harris Burdick.

  • Reply Jennifer Lee December 31, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    I did not give up on Three Bags Full (in international best seller? what?) but I totally should have. I wish I had. I'll never get that day back.

  • Reply Lisa C December 31, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    I had the same experience with Walden. I loved it at first, but it just got a little repetitive for awhile. This year, I think I only bailed on 1…that I can remember: Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. A little dense and long to begin with, but even worse in audio form, which is what I tried. Have you read Pavilion of Women? Just read it and LOVED it! The Good Earth (also good) is more of the classic by Pearl S. Buck, but I really loved this one too.

  • Reply Creole Wisdom December 31, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    Haha, I love the garbage can picture, nice choice!

    I could not do "Little Bee" for the life of me. It was so sloooowwwww.

    "Rebecca," was too hard for me to read. I wanted to love it, maybe I would have in HS when I read more challenging stuff, but my brain has gone to Emily Giffin mush 🙂

    "Tallgrass" was also too difficult for me to figure out what was going on. I really wanted a good story about the Japanese internment camps.

  • Reply bethany December 31, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    I gave up on Reading Lolita in Tehran. I wanted to like it, I tried to like it, but gave up liking it. Also Red: The Next Generation of American Writers. Thought it would be more creative/new that it was. Bored me to death. And Libba Bray's Beauty Queens. Just didn't love the humor…

    I'm not getting a grade to read books anymore (or their Cliff Notes) so why waste my time on something I don't like?

  • Reply Amy December 31, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    I stuck with Juliet and I'm not sure why. It was so painful. And I honestly didn't get very far into Miss Peregrine's, because for some reason, a few of the pictures freaked me out.

  • Reply Camille December 31, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    Just yesterday I gave up on Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof. I tried so hard. The stories were so sad and the "facts" didn't seem to be well researched. *sigh*

    I've also never managed to get through Beowulf or Canterbury Tales. The urge to gauge my eyeballs out before turning another page always wins and I'm forced to give up before that happens.

  • Reply Camille December 31, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    You know what else I've given up on about a hundred times? The Old Testament.

    I have no shame, I'll admit it. I know I'm not the only one…

  • Reply Elsha January 1, 2012 at 12:27 am

    I have a rather unfortunate compulsion to finish books that I start whether I like them or not, so I think the only one I quit reading this year was Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth. And I still think of that as "in progress" even though it's been like 6 months.

  • Reply Melinda January 1, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Laughed out loud on this!!! You are so awesome! And I'm surprised I didn't give up on more books this year. Although I didn't read nearly what I did last year. Sort of petered out these last couple of months…hmmmm…

  • Reply Jessica January 1, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    I wish I had the luxury to abandon some of the books I read this year… I also didn't get through Smekday – ran out of time before class – and wasn't charmed. I liked the alien character a lot and liked the jokes, but wasn't otherwise impressed.

  • Reply Jessamy January 1, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    I admit its been awhile since I perused blogland so I don't even know how long you've had this new look…. but I LOVE it!

  • Reply Lisa January 1, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    Hey! I just noticed you changed your blog! I like it, very clean.

  • Reply Jillian January 1, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    I gave up on Love in the Time of Cholera and it took me about 2 years to fully get through Wicked. Once I got to the middle, I loved it, but some parts were just so blah to me.

  • Reply heidikins January 1, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    A) Love the new blog layout/format/look. Tres chic!!

    B) I have the Pioneer Woman book, but I also hate repetition of adjectives/adjective phrases…hrm…something to think about. Moving it down on my "To Read" pile.


  • Reply lifeofadoctorswife January 2, 2012 at 2:35 am

    I adored you for many reasons, but your willingness to admit to NOT finishing books clinches the deal. There are just some books that are NOT WORTH IT.

    Of course, I did take your "I should just learn I don't like short story collections…" comment as a challenge.

    Here are three short story collections I HIGHLY recommend. Perhaps you have read them/tried to read them and decided they sucked, but I am hoping you haven't and that you DO read them and love them as I did:

    Civilwarland in Bad Decline by George Saunders
    The Girl in the Flammable Skirt by Aimee Bender
    A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor

  • Reply Peaceful Reader January 2, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    I tried to read The Great Gatsby this year and just got to bogged down. I want to, I really do but I may not be a classics girl.

  • Reply Emily January 2, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    Aww, I loved Juliet! But the three people I recommended it to all thought it was silly, so I might be alone in that.

    The Pioneer Woman's book was better when it was just a series of posts on her blog. I'm a lot more forgiving of repetitive goofiness in a blog post than in something published and professionally edited.

    And according to Goodreads, I gave up on 46 books this year, which is a lot more than I thought! The worst was Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg, which tries too hard to reproduce P&P in a modern Gossip Girl setting and ends up making Lizzy a shrew and Darcy a pushover.

  • Reply melissa @ 1lbr January 4, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    I try so hard not to give up too. I think it was 5 or 6 this year, but I probably should have given up on more 🙂

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