Books I Couldn’t Finish: Masters Of The Air by Donald Miller

masters-of-the-air-coverBook: Masters Of The Air by Donald Miller

Published October 2006 by Simon & Schuster|671 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: Adult Non-Fiction/History/World War 2/Military History

Blog Graphic-What It's About

Masters of the Air is the deeply personal story of the American bomber boys in World War II who brought the war to Hitler’s doorstep. With the narrative power of fiction, Donald Miller takes readers on a harrowing ride through the fire-filled skies over Berlin, Hanover, and Dresden and describes the terrible cost of bombing for the German people.

Fighting at 25,000 feet in thin, freezing air that no warriors had ever encountered before, bomber crews battled new kinds of assaults on body and mind. Air combat was deadly but intermittent: periods of inactivity and anxiety were followed by short bursts of fire and fear. Unlike infantrymen, bomber boys slept on clean sheets, drank beer in local pubs, and danced to the swing music of Glenn Miller’s Air Force band, which toured U.S. air bases in England. But they had a much greater chance of dying than ground soldiers. In 1943, an American bomber crewman stood only a one-in-five chance of surviving his tour of duty, twenty-five missions. The Eighth Air Force lost more men in the war than the U.S. Marine Corps.

The bomber crews were an elite group of warriors who were a microcosm of America — white America, anyway. (African-Americans could not serve in the Eighth Air Force except in a support capacity.) The actor Jimmy Stewart was a bomber boy, and so was the “King of Hollywood,” Clark Gable. And the air war was filmed by Oscar-winning director William Wyler and covered by reporters like Andy Rooney and Walter Cronkite, all of whom flew combat missions with the men. The Anglo-American bombing campaign against Nazi Germany was the longest military campaign of World War II, a war within a war. Until Allied soldiers crossed into Germany in the final months of the war, it was the only battle fought inside the German homeland.

Strategic bombing did not win the war, but the war could not have been won without it. American airpower destroyed the rail facilities and oil refineries that supplied the German war machine. The bombing campaign was a shared enterprise: the British flew under the cover of night while American bombers attacked by day, a technique that British commanders thought was suicidal.

Masters of the Air is a story, as well, of life in wartime England and in the German prison camps, where tens of thousands of airmen spent part of the war. It ends with a vivid description of the grisly hunger marches captured airmen were forced to make near the end of the war through the country their bombs destroyed.

Drawn from recent interviews, oral histories, and American, British, German, and other archives, Masters of the Air is an authoritative, deeply moving account of the world’s first and only bomber war.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

I really love history, and thought Masters Of The Air looked really interesting.  It’s a book I’ve been reading off and on for a while, but I had a hard time getting through it.

I only got about 100 pages in before deciding that this book isn’t for me.  It’s not that it’s uninteresting, because I did think it was a pretty informative book.  Before I picked this book up, I never thought about the Air Force not being its own entity.  For me, it’s always been separate branch of the U.S. military.  But it seems like there were different incarnations under the Army- at least from what I could tell.  There’s this guy, William Mitchell, and he fought hard for an independent Air Force.

Another interesting thing was that a lot of the pilots experienced some form of oxygen deprivation- very few died from it, but something 50 to 60% experienced it.  A lot of it was because of poor planning- there was such a focus on getting the planes (and men) into the air that they didn’t think about little things.  There was a bigger focus on bombing strategy and not a lot on preparing the crews to survive in the conditions necessary to actually executing that strategy.

So why didn’t I finish it?  I had a really hard time getting through it.  It’s very detailed, and just from the 100 pages or so I read, it was clear to me that Miller put a lot of research and time into this book.  Even randomly picking up the book and reading a chapter didn’t help- I felt like I was struggling to get through it.  Since it also focuses more on military history, it’s more technical than what I’m used to reading, and that was a contributing factor in my inability to get through it.   It’s not for lack of trying, and as much as I wanted to get through it, I knew it was time to put it down and walk away.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

DNF.  I don’t feel like it’s fair to give a star rating for something I didn’t get very far into before deciding to not finish it.

Books I Couldn’t Finish: Breathe and Gated

Books I Couldn’t Finish is a sporadic feature where I talk about books I couldn’t finish.

Today’s books are Breathe and Gated.  For some reason, they seem to come in bunches, so I have a couple more!

Breathe CoverBook One: Breathe by Sarah Crossan

What’s It About? Years after the Switch, life inside the Pod has moved on. A poor Auxiliary class cannot afford the oxygen tax which supplies extra air for running, dancing and sports. The rich Premiums, by contrast, are healthy and strong. Anyone who opposes the regime is labelled a terrorist and ejected from the Pod to die.Sixteen-year-old Alina is part of the secret resistance, but when a mission goes wrong she is forced to escape from the Pod. With only two days of oxygen in her tank, she too faces the terrifying prospect of death by suffocation. Her only hope is to find the mythical Grove, a small enclave of trees protected by a hardcore band of rebels. Does it even exist, and if so, what or who are they protecting the trees from?A dystopian thriller about courage and freedom, with a love story at its heart.

Why I Couldn’t Finish It: I honestly don’t remember why I couldn’t finish it- well, mostly.  I remember being pretty disinterested (well, obviously, since I couldn’t finish it) but I just couldn’t care about any of the characters or what was going on.  And I remember being kind of confused about what was going on, because it wasn’t really explained.  I had no idea what the Switch was, or why the oxygen levels changed so dramatically, and I didn’t care enough to see what had happened years before.  It kind of made me feel like I was missing something some essential piece of knowledge that was needed to know what was going on with the book.  And it does make me sad, since the whole premise of the book is actually REALLY interesting.  I just wish it were for me.

Gated CoverBook Two: Gated by Amy Christine Parker

What’s It About?  A fast-paced, nerve-fraying contemporary thriller that questions loyalties and twists truths.

Appearances can be deceiving.

Lyla Hamilton is a loyal member of the Community. Her family was happy to be chosen by Pioneer to join such an lovely gated neighborhood. Here, life seems perfect.

But after meeting Cody, an outsider boy, Lyla starts questioning Pioneer, her friends, her family–everything. And if there’s one thing not allowed in the Community, it’s doubt. As Pioneer cleverly manipulates his flock toward disaster, the real question is: Will Lyla follow her heart or follow Pioneer over the edge?

From the outside looking in, it’s hard to understand why anyone would join a cult. But Gated tells the story from the inside looking out, and from behind the gates things are not quite so simple. Amy Christine Parker’s beautiful writing creates a chilling, utterly unique YA story. Perfect for fans of creepy thrillers and contemporary fiction alike.

Why I Couldn’t Finish It: The thing with Gated is that I wanted to like it.  It really is interesting that after 9/11, the guy in charge of the Community started to put this group together.  I really was reminded of a cult, but as I kept listening…well, this group is really messed up.  I get why they joined the Community (but hated how Lyla blamed herself, even though she was 5 at the time of a family tragedy).  I hated that she was in need of rehabilitation because she can’t shoot a gun- and it’s even worse that the outside world is full of people who will harm them, so you need to show no hesitation to kill.  The people outside this community are already seen as ghosts, because their destiny is to die, and Lyla is wrong in that she still sees them as people.  I get that this is a cult, and that seems pretty typical for cults, but it just got to where I was so angry at Pioneer that I really couldn’t listen anymore.  He’s just such a horrible person, and he made the book hard to get through.

My General Thoughts:

I like the idea of both books, and I wish I liked them!  I just couldn’t get into either book.  Because a world where oxygen is regulated is really scary, and a book about a doomsday cult are books I’d be into…these 2 just didn’t happen to work out for me.

Books I Couldn’t Finish: The Random Edition #2

Books I Couldn’t Finish is a sporadic feature where I talk about the books I couldn’t finish!

It’s time for another round of books I couldn’t finish!  I feel like I just posted a couple, and now I’m posting another one! Granted, I waited a while before posting those two posts, but still…I have had a few more books that just didn’t work for me.

Silence CoverBook One: Silence by Natasha Preston

What’s It About? For eleven years, Oakley Farrell has been silent. At the age of five, she stopped talking, and no one seems to know why. Refusing to communicate beyond a few physical actions, Oakley remains in her own little world. 

Bullied at school, she has just one friend, Cole Benson. Cole stands by her, refusing to believe that she is not perfect the way she is. Over the years, they have developed their own version of a normal friendship. However, will it still work as they start to grow even closer? 

When Oakley is forced to face someone from her past, can she hold her secret in any longer?

Why Couldn’t I Finish It?  I couldn’t relate to Oakley at all, and I found that her unwillingness to talk was just really grating.  You know there’s some really big reason why she isn’t talking, and I hated how whatever got her to stop talking was just hinted at. I’m sure it’s explained later on in the book, but I just couldn’t bring myself to care.  And it seems like no one else cares that she’s not talking.  Everyone just accepted it as normal, and it was like no one even bothered to figure out why she didn’t talk.  Plus, I didn’t like Cole, and thought he was kind of a jerk.  Like, the way he started to freak out because she didn’t text him back right away…it just didn’t seem right to me, and it seemed unwarranted.  Coming from someone who doesn’t pay attention to these kinds of things…you know something’s up when I notice it.

Anywhere But Here CoverBook Two: Anywhere With You by Kaylee Ryan

What’s It About: Allison Hagan has not lived the life of a normal teenager. Her parents died in a car crash when she was ten, and she has been living with her elderly grandmother who happens to be her only living relative ever since. Allison became best friends with the boy next door, Aiden. Aiden’s family has taken her in as part of their own, which is why when her gran insists that she live in the dorms at college, Allison chooses to attend the same school as Aiden.

Liam MacCoy is a college senior and quarterback of his college football team. Liam is rumored to be first round draft pick for the NFL following graduation, as is his best friend, Aiden. Liam has one focus and that’s football, that is until his little sister introduces him to her roommate Allison. Since he met her, he hasn’t been able to think of anything else.

Liam is not a relationship kind of guy, and Allison wants it all. She wants the romance and the family that she grew up without. Will Liam overcome his fear of relationships as well as the tangle of friendships to give Allison everything she wants?

Why Couldn’t I Finish It? I normally relate a lot to characters like Allison, but I felt like she forgot about her grandma way too fast after going to college.  For someone who was so worried about her grandma, and who didn’t want to go away to college, her transition to college life was a little too unbelievable, especially for someone who seemed really shy, sheltered and studious.  Seriously, it seemed weird that she would shed that image as quick as she did.

Book Three: A Dangerous Inheritance by Alison Weir

A Dangerous Inheritance CoverWhat’s It About? In this engrossing novel of historical suspense, New York Timesbestselling author Alison Weir tells the dramatic intertwined stories of two women—Katherine Grey and Kate Plantagenet—separated by time but linked by twin destinies . . . . involving the mysterious tragic fate of the young Princes in the Tower.

When her older sister, Lady Jane Grey, the Nine Days’ Queen, is executed in 1554 for unlawfully accepting the English crown, Lady Katherine Grey’s world falls apart. Barely recovered from this tragic loss she risks all for love, only to incur the wrath of her formidable cousin Queen Elizabeth I, who sees Katherine as a rival for her insecure throne.

Interlaced with Katherine’s story is that of her distant kinswoman Kate Plantagenet, the bastard daughter of Richard III, the last Plantagenet king. In 1483, Kate travels to London for Richard’s coronation, and her world changes forever.

Kate loves her father, but before long she hears terrible rumors about him that threaten all she holds dear. Like Katherine Grey, she falls in love with a man who is forbidden to her. Then Kate embarks on what will become a perilous quest, covertly seeking the truth about what befell her cousins the Princes in the Tower, who may have been victims of Richard III’s lust for power. But time is not on Kate’s side, or on Katherine’s.

Katherine finds herself a prisoner in the Tower of London, the sinister fortress that overshadowed the lives of so many royal figures, including the boy princes. Will Elizabeth demand the full penalty for treason? And what secrets will Katherine find hidden within the Tower walls?

Alison Weir’s new novel is a page-turning story set within a framework of fascinating historical authenticity. In this rich and layered tapestry, Katherine and Kate discover that possessing royal blood can prove to be a dangerous inheritance.

Why Couldn’t I Finish It?  I was really overwhelmed by the amount of information!  As much as I love Alison Weir, I just couldn’t get into it.  I love her non-fiction, and what’s really cool about her historical fiction is that it comes from people she’s researched a lot for her non-fiction.  So her historical fiction is always pretty historically accurate/authentic, because she’s done all the research.  (By the way, I definitely recommend her historical fiction if you’re a stickler for historical accuracy). Katherine Grey’s story wasn’t that bad in terms of the details, but Kate Plantagent’s story was.  Part of it is that I’m not too familiar with the Wars Of The Roses, and the events that lead to the Tudor Monarchy.  Which might be why Kate’s story felt so overwhelming.

I found that I just couldn’t care about Kate or Katherine- it was hard to care when I felt like facts were being thrown at me.  I just wasn’t a point where I wanted to get past all of the details to get to the rest of the story. And while Kate and Katherine both narrate, I felt like it was a little clunky- it felt like the book was randomly switching between the two women.  It changed frequently enough that I couldn’t really get into either character.  Just as I was getting into one narrative, it would switch to the other.  After about 50-60 pages, I got frustrated and knew it was time to just walk away.

My Overall Thoughts About All Three Books:

These books just weren’t for me.  I really wish that I liked them, particularly A Dangerous Inheritance, but they are definitely great books for other people.

Books I Couldn’t Finish: The Princess Bride

Books I Couldn’t Finish is a very sporadic feature where I talk about the books I couldn’t finish.

Today’s book is The Princess Bride, which I was going to include in my last Books I Couldn’t Finish post.  I decided not to (well, clearly, because it is its own post) because 1- that post was getting a bit lengthy, and 2- I actually have some things to say about why I couldn’t finish it, so it definitely warranted its own post.

The Princess Bride CoverWhat’s It About?

The Princess Bride is a true fantasy classic. William Goldman describes it as a “good parts version” of “S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure.” Morgenstern’s original was filled with details of Florinese history, court etiquette, and Mrs. Morgenstern’s mostly complimentary views of the text. Much admired by academics, the “Classic Tale” nonetheless obscured what Mr. Goldman feels is a story that has everything: “Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautifulest ladies. Snakes. Spiders. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles.”

Why I Couldn’t Finish It:

First, I have to start off why I read it.  It was basically a required reading that some friends “assigned” to me back in May, and since I’ll read pretty much anything someone recommends, I figured I’d at least try it.

And promptly failed.  I did give it a good effort, and actually kept going a bit longer than I really wanted to.  I really wanted to like it, especially since it’s a favorite of one friend.  And actually, I’ve seen it on a bunch of Top Ten Tuesdays, so that was another reason why I wanted to read it.

The biggest problem is that I’ve seen the movie.  I actually didn’t know there was a book.  I don’t remember how I found out there was a book, but somehow I did.

Seeing the movie isn’t a problem.  Well, normally, it’s not a problem.  I try to see the movie first and then read the book whenever possible.  That did not work with The Princess Bride.  I haven’t seen the movie in forever, but I found that a lot of the book made it into the movie.  I kept picturing the movie whenever I was reading the book.  I just found myself skimming…and skimming…and skimming to get to the parts that I didn’t remember from the movie.  I dreaded picking up, and pretty much had to force myself into reading it.  I was bored…and I had my moments where I was wondering why I was reading the book when I had seen the movie- to me, that’s how closely they matched.  The two did seem identical, but please take that with a grain of salt, as I haven’t seen the movie in a while.  But that really is how it seemed to me.

And…the book really seemed like it came after the movie, so I was quite surprised to learn that the movie was based on the book.  To me, it read like a cute tie-in.  Like, with the t.v. show Castle.  Now, I don’t watch Castle, but I remember something about an actual book written by the fictional character.  Or even Meg Cabot writing a romance novel as Mia Thermopolis. That’s kind of the feel I got from the book- let’s write the book the grandpa was reading in the movie.  And it’s not a bad thing at all, that’s just my impression of what I read.

I will say that I like the idea of the book- a guy hunting down his favorite childhood book and re-writing it so that only the good parts are in the book.  It’s an interesting way to tell a story, but I could have done without the side-notes.  And, I kind of hate to say this (but not really) but The Princess Bride worked so much better as a movie than a book.

To Sum Up:

The Princess Bride didn’t work as a book for me, and I think the structure of it worked better in the movie than in the book. Even though I couldn’t get into, I’m still glad I gave it a try.

Books I Couldn’t Finish: The Random Edition

Books I Couldn’t Finish is a very sporadic feature where I talk about the books I start to read and then have to abandon for a multitude of reasons.

And today is one of those days, because I actually have a few books I want to talk about.  So let’s get started.

Book One: Uninvited by Sophie Jordan

Uninvited coverWhat’s It About?  The Scarlet Letter meets Minority Report in bestselling author Sophie Jordan’s chilling new novel about a teenage girl who is ostracized when her genetic test proves she’s destined to become a murderer.

When Davy Hamilton’s tests come back positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome (HTS)-aka the kill gene-she loses everything. Her boyfriend ditches her, her parents are scared of her, and she can forget about her bright future at Juilliard. Davy doesn’t feel any different, but genes don’t lie. One day she will kill someone.

Only Sean, a fellow HTS carrier, can relate to her new life. Davy wants to trust him; maybe he’s not as dangerous as he seems. Or maybe Davy is just as deadly.

The first in a two-book series, Uninvited tackles intriguing questions about free will, identity, and human nature. Steeped in New York Times bestselling author Sophie Jordan’s trademark mix of gripping action and breathless romance, this suspenseful tale is perfect for fans of James Patterson, Michelle Hodkin, and Lisa McMann.

Why I Couldn’t Finish It: Here’s the thing about Uninvited.  I LOVE the idea of the book, because it’s such an interesting idea.  But in the part I read, I felt a little confused about what was going on, and HTS didn’t seem to be explained well, and I have no idea why it was such a big problem, or how they figured out that there is a kill gene.  It’s entirely possible that I didn’t actually get to that part of the book, given I didn’t actually finish it, but I was bored and uninterested.  Which is a shame, because it could have been really interesting.  On a random note, there are snippets of articles and interviews and statistics, which is really cool, and it gave you a sense of what was going on.  Just in the part I read, I could see the connection to The Scarlet Letter, and it’s kind of a modern-day version of it…but with a kill gene instead of adultery.  I’m not sure about the connection to Minority Report, since the only thing I actually know about is that it’s a movie.  Still, I did like the connection to The Scarlet Letter, and it would have been interesting to see if that continued throughout the book. Overall, I wanted to like Uninvited, since I did like the overall idea, and random snippets about HTS, but I just couldn’t get into it.

Book Two: After The End by Amy Plum

After The End CoverWhat’s It About? She’s searching for answers to her past. They’re hunting her to save their future.

World War III has left the world ravaged by nuclear radiation. A lucky few escaped to the Alaskan wilderness. They’ve survived for the last thirty years by living off the land, being one with nature, and hiding from whoever else might still be out there.

At least, this is what Juneau has been told her entire life.

When Juneau returns from a hunting trip to discover that everyone in her clan has vanished, she sets off to find them. Leaving the boundaries of their land for the very first time, she learns something horrifying: There never was a war. Cities were never destroyed. The world is intact. Everything was a lie.

Now Juneau is adrift in a modern-day world she never knew existed. But while she’s trying to find a way to rescue her friends and family, someone else is looking for her. Someone who knows the extraordinary truth about the secrets of her past.

Why I Couldn’t Finish It: It’s another book with an interesting idea.  Escaping to Alaska because of World War III, and a group of people who apparently have supernatural powers.  It wasn’t until I read the summary that I realized that Juneau’s clan vanished, which led her to go find them…so I don’t know if it wasn’t explained well, or I just wasn’t paying attention (although I suspect it’s the latter).  And she finds out that everything she was told growing up was a lie.  I don’t know how I feel about that, because I was expecting something more post-apocalyptic…and didn’t get it.  Which is my own fault for not reading the summary.  Part of me was intrigued by the idea of survivors in Alaska, since you don’t normally read about people escaping there.  At the same time, I kind of like that it was a lie, because you’re left wondering what happened.

Personally, I didn’t care enough to keep going, and After The End also seemed slightly confusing.  There are hints that something’s going on, and that Juneau is the key to something, but you don’t know what.   It just felt like the things I wanted to know weren’t going to be revealed anytime soon, if at all.  Also: Juneau narrates part of the book, while Miles narrates the other half of the novel, and I found that I didn’t care about either narrator, who seemed very much the same to me.  I honestly couldn’t tell you anything about Miles, since his chapters were only a page or two.  And the only thing I remember about Juneau is that she seems to have a supernatural ability.  Interesting idea, but not for me.

Another Little Piece CoverBook Three: Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn

What’s It About? The spine-tingling horror of Stephen King meets an eerie mystery worthy of Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars series in Kate Karyus Quinn’s haunting debut.

On a cool autumn night, Annaliese Rose Gordon stumbled out of the woods and into a high school party. She was screaming. Drenched in blood. Then she vanished.

A year later, Annaliese is found wandering down a road hundreds of miles away. She doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t know how she got there. She only knows one thing: She is not the real Annaliese Rose Gordon.

Now Annaliese is haunted by strange visions and broken memories. Memories of a reckless, desperate wish . . . a bloody razor…and the faces of other girls who disappeared. Piece by piece, Annaliese’s fractured memories come together to reveal a violent, endless cycle that she will never escape—unless she can unlock the twisted secrets of her past.

Why I Couldn’t Finish It: I felt like the story was really confusing.  I get she remembers nothing from that night, but the way she refered to herself and to her family just didn’t work for me.  I didn’t really get a Stephen King or Pretty Little Liars vibe from the book, so I’m not really sure where those comparisons are coming from.  Unless they just happen to show up after I stopped reading…

It’s been a while since I attempted to read it back in June, so my memory of this book is really fuzzy, and I have to desire to go back and try to read it again.  Another Little Piece seems like one of those books where you have to stick with it to the end for everything to come together and make sense, and I just wasn’t willing to stick it out to the end.  I think it had the potential to be an interesting horror/mystery, but it just didn’t work for me.  Still, other people might find it interesting, so if it seems like your thing, don’t hesitate to give it a try.

To Wrap Up:

The general theme for today seems to be a general confusion about the different worlds and a general disinterest in the three books mentioned.  Clearly, they’re not for me, but I will say that if they seem like something you’d want to try, go for it!

Books I Couldn’t Finish: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief CoverEarlier this month, I decided it was time to read The Book Thief.  I’ve seen so many good reviews about The Book Thief, and I’ve seen it pop up on so many Top Ten Tuesdays that I finally starting reading it…only to not be able to get through it.  It’s rare for me to not finish a book, and even rarer for me to talk about the books I don’t finish.  But The Book Thief is such a big book in YA that I felt like I really needed to talk about why I had to not finish it.

I think I’d like to start off by saying that I got to page 155 in the Nook edition of the book.  I know numbering can be a little weird depending on what edition you’re reading, but the best I can tell, I got about a third of the way through.

I think the biggest problem for me is that I went in with such high expectations of The Book Thief that it was likely not going to live up to.  It definitely suffered from me really hyping it up.  I’ve seen so many raves that I wanted to love it.  And, of course, be able to finish it.

Here’s what it really comes down to.  The Book Thief is just not the book for me.  It definitely seems like it would be something I would like.  In fact, let’s start off with what The Book Thief is about, since that is one of the reasons why I didn’t finish it.

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

By her brother’s graveside, Liesel Meminger’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Grave Digger’s Handbook, left there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordion-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.

But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up and closed down.”

So, I honestly thought that books would have a much bigger role than they really did.  Granted, I really didn’t look at the summary before I started reading.  And all I knew was that it was set during World War Two.  Keeping in mind I got through a third of the book before giving up, I really felt like books were much more important in the summary than they were in the part I read.  I have no problem admitting that I put it down, and that book thievery played a bigger role later on in the book.  But I really didn’t get a sense of a love affair with books.

Another thing that didn’t work for me was Death, who narrated the book.  It’s definitely different and unique, but not a different and unique that worked for me.  It felt like I was passively observing what was going on, instead of actively participating.  And because I felt like I was casually observing, I felt very disconnected from what was going on…and something about it seemed a little clinical to me.

Death as a narrator wasn’t completely horrible, but I felt like he went off on some random tangents that had nothing to do with the story, and the random bolded headlines and lists throughout the novel broke up the flow of the novel for me.  It was something I found really distracting.

When I was deciding whether or not I should DNF The Book Thief, I considered whether it was a book that I wasn’t reading at the right time.  Because sometimes, when I’m reading a book, I’m totally reading it at the wrong time, and need to read it when I’m in the right frame of mind for it.  And The Book Thief was not one of those books.  I usually know when that happens- I don’t know how, but I just do.

And I also considered whether I was reading in the right format: sometimes, print books or e-books don’t work for me, but I’ll totally listen to something on audio book.  However, The Book Thief was also not one of those books.

What I came to realize was that I was dreading having to read it and didn’t want to pick it up.  I was also forcing myself to read something I wasn’t into because seemingly everyone under the sun seems to love this book.  That was really when I knew I had to not finish it.  Yes, everyone seems to love it, and that’s okay, because I don’t have to love something just because everyone else does, you know?

I will say that there are a couple things I appreciate about The Book Thief.

I really like that it’s actually SET IN GERMANY.  I don’t read much historical fiction set during World War 2, but I feel like something set in Germany, about a German girl is rare.  Then again, I’m not too familiar with that part of historical fiction so I could be wrong.  I like that it focuses on what life was like in Germany during that time.

Overall, I did like the idea of Death narrating the novel- and especially narrating something during World War 2.  While I didn’t like it in this case, it’s an interesting way to narrate the novel.

While it didn’t resonate with me at all, I’d definitely recommend it if you haven’t read it yet.

Books I Couldn’t Finish: The Classics Edition

Remember last month, when I did that one Top 10 Tuesday about my bookish goals for the year?  Well, I’m (sort of) talking about how that’s going!

Some things I wanted to do: read more classics/vary my reading and listen to more audiobooks, while using the library more.  I’m doing well with using the library more.  I’m doing okay with the varying of the reading material and the listening of more audiobooks- not as much as I’d like, but better than I expected.  And classics…well…that’s not really happening.

However, the only classic I’ve actually read this year has been The Outsiders…and while I have oodles of time to read more classics, I’m in this weird needing to read classics kind of mood.  I figured that listening would work out better on the classics front, because, more often than not, reading them is a big struggle.

What has brought this post on?  Well, last week, I tried AND FAILED MISERABLY to listen to some classics.  So tonight, I am sharing those classics, and why they ended up in my DNF-pile.

Book One: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Brave New World

Why I Wanted To Read It: It’s obviously a classic, but it’s also a dystopic novel, and I love dystopic novels.  I was definitely intrigued by the genetics and creating people to fit the roles that particular society needed.

Why I Couldn’t Finish: I was bored 5 minutes in, and decided to wait a day to see if it was just me not being in the right mood for it.  That didn’t happen, and after a very torturous hour of listening, I knew I had to give up on it.  I was hoping that listening to it would make it easier to get through the book but…considering I could barely listen to 5 minutes, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t last very long reading it.

Book Two: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina Cover

Why I Wanted To Read It: I haven’t seen the movie, but since I knew it was a movie, I thought I would give the audiobook a try.  Really, the only thing I know about this book (besides it being a movie, of course) is that it was mentioned on Gilmore Girls and that Anna throws herself under a train or something.

Why I Could Finish: I didn’t even make it to an hour!  I gave up after 20 minutes because of sheer boredom.  Plus, the dang book is 33 hours long, so the length is/was intimidating.  Probably less so because I tried to listen, and didn’t have to look at how long of a book it is.  Again, my attempt to listen to a classic because it would be easier to get through completely failed.  I think I’ll stick with the movie…assuming I get around to watching it, of course.

Book Three: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby

Why I Wanted To Read It: I read it in high school, and figured that listening to it would fulfill pretty much half of the goals I set for myself.  And…since the movie is coming out sometime this year, I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to re-read a book I HAD to read for school, and actually liked.

Why I Couldn’t Finish: To be fair, it’s not the story itself.  It’s just…20 or 30 minutes in, I realized I didn’t like the narrator.  I’ll probably give it another try, but will stick to a physical or digital copy.

Here’s a freebie: Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

Les Miserables Cover

Why I Wanted To Read It: Well, my reasons for wanting to read it are really similar to my reasons for wanting to read Anna Karenina-  a classic turned into a movie I have yet to see.  And like Anna Karenina and Brave New World, I ACTUALLY THOUGHT LISTENING TO IT would make it easier to take in.  But I decided to cancel the request because I figured it was another book that would bore me to tears, and because my previous attempts to listen to classics didn’t work out so well.  I might give it a try sometime in the future.

So while I couldn’t make it through Anna Karenina or Brave New World, and while I decided I didn’t even want to try with Les Miserables, it wasn’t a complete loss.  Here’s why:

  • I did try, which is super-important.  Because you don’t know if you’ll like something unless you try.
  • I’m not going to like every book read, especially with how much I read.  These classics didn’t happen to work.
  • I am willing to read The Great Gatsby, because I would like to read it again.  Listening isn’t always going to work for me, just like holding the book in my hands isn’t always going to work.

I have to admit, it was kind of fun to talk about the books that I couldn’t finish, so I may do it again should I come across a book I can’t finish.