Books I DNFd in 2019

Tuesday 21 April 2020

Quarantining has given me a lot of time to do other stuff. So I decided to look at the blog posts I never finished and lo and behold, here's this one from last year. I thought to myself: "self, why don't you post it anyway?" to which I replied: "Great idea me! You're so smart!" So here's an unpublished blog from last year about all the books I DNF'd.

One of the downsides of expanding my reading horizons has been finding some of the books on my most hated book in 2019 list. A downside of doing a year long reading challenge is sometimes feeling like you don't have a choice in what you read. When both of those things combine I found these books, books I DNFd. Though I didn't "did not finish" these because they're all bad. For some it just wasn't the right time and for others I just couldn't get interested.

Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire By J.K. Rowling
Premise: Come on, you know it.

I love me some Harry Potter. I've loved the series since I first picked it up back in 2000 with the release of Goblet of Fire. Back in 2018 I said that 2019 would be the year I reread Harry Potter. Not only that, but I would marathon all of the books, something I haven't done since 2007 when The Deathly Hallows came out. So September rolls around and I still haven't picked up the first book and I felt like I had to. So I forced myself into a series I just wasn't in the mood for and I made it to book 4 before I gave up.

My DNFing of The Goblet of Fire has nothing to do with it's quality. It's still a great book. But I forced myself into a marathon of the Harry Potter books, and that was the wrong move. What should have been a fun and enjoyable reread turned into a boring chore and an old favorite book should never be a chore. So I put this down and will pick it back up later. When I try the reread again, I won't do the first three books as I'm super familiar with them. I'll just start with this one.

Gil's All Fright Diner by A Lee Martinez
Premise: Duke and Earl are just passing through Rockwood county in their pick-up when the stop at Gil's All Night Diner right before a zombie horde attacks. Loretta, the diner's owner, asks Duke and Earl to stay and help. But what she doesn't know is that Duke is a werewolf and Earl is a vampire, so this is right up their ally.

On the opposite end of the spectrum from The Goblet of Fire is this book. Let me start out by saying that I've read two other books by A Lee Martinez and liked them quite a bit. I think he's very funny and a good writer. What's his trick? Maybe he took every bad idea he was ever going to have and put it into one book just to get rid of it. Gil's All Fright Diner has none of the humor or enjoyability that his other books have. The jokes felt forced, the characters are more wooden than Lincoln's cabin, and the pacing is slower than a stoned sloth. The story was contrived and the two main characters were just awful.

Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter by Ben Goldfarb
Premise: Ben Goldfarb reveals that our modern idea of what a healthy landscape looks like and how it functions is wrong, distorted by the fur trade that once trapped out millions of beavers from North America's lakes and rivers.

I didn't hate this book. I just couldn't focus. This was an audio book I picked up during a sale on Audible and was very interested in the history and current status of the beaver. However I just couldn't concentrate on it. I would have to rewind entire chapters because it would finish and I wouldn't remember what had just happened. I don't think it was the audio book's fault. I think I had too many mental distractions so I had to change to a different book. I want to revisit this next year though. We'll see if 2020 is the year of the beaver.

The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
Premise: Set against the backdrop of China's Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome or fight the invasion.

I had been in the market for a new sci-fi book and this had been at the top of all the lists. This was a highly rated and highly recommended book so I thought it was a sure-fire win. As I got farther and farther into it, I was getting more and more lost. I thought that maybe I was too used to lighter toned book and that this book was deeper than I was giving it credit for. So I tried to be a more active reader, but that wasn't what the problem was. It was just a meandering and pointless book. I got about halfway through and I still had no idea what it was about. All I knew is that the main character was trying to get into some sort of secret society and one of the keys to that was a virtual reality game called "Thee Body" which was more confusing than D&D to a toddler.  There may be promise in this book. Maybe it gets better after the first half. But I didn't want to stick around to find out. There was even supposed to be an alien invasion but the story was so slow that there wasn't even a hint of it up to halfway through.

The Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers by Sara Ackerman
Premise: Violet's husband disappears just before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He gives no clue as to why he left or where he's going and the only person who may know is Violet's daughter Ella, but she' not saying a word.  As the war in the Pacific escalates, more and more soldiers come to their small Hawaiian town. As a way to make ends meet, Violet and her friends start to make pies to sell to the soldiers.

If you've read any of my past book blogs you may have noticed that I'm taking part in the 2019 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge. I have since completed the challenge but my final prompt was "read a book with sweet, salty, bitter, or spicy in the title." I was having a hard time with it. I stumbled upon this book while enjoying a free trial for Scribd, an app that has ebooks and audio books. I gave this book the "old college try," but just couldn't get into it. I just didn't find it interesting even though it seems like a book right up my alley. A slice of life book set during WWII and involves Japanese people and culture. But I found that I just couldn't wait to put this book down.

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