Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I Recently Quit

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers share their own bookish top ten lists based on the topic of the week.  You can check out Ten Tuesdays here.

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Ten Books I (Sort of) Recently Quit

One of the things that I really started doing after starting the blog was either not finishing books I wasn’t into or putting them aside to finish at some other point.  There are all sorts of reasons why, but I thought it would be fun to split the list between books I stopped reading and will never pick up again, and books I stopped reading that I do want to finish.

Books I Temporarily Quit:

  1. Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier.  I tried listening to it back in February, but I was so stressed and unable to focus on anything that I zoned out for massive chunks of the book.  I really liked the parts I actually remember, so I’m hoping to pick it up again soon.
  2. Days Of Blood And Starlight by Laini Taylor.  I’ve tried reading it a few times, and also had to put it down because I wasn’t in the mood for it.  I want to finish it, though, but I’m really leaning towards the audio, especially since it’s narrated by one of my favorite narrators, Khristine Hvam.
  3. The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives Of The Daughters Of Nicholas And Alexandra by Helen Rappaport.  I can’t remember why I put it down in the first place, but I really need to pick it up.
  4. By The Light Of My Father’s Smile by Alice Walker.  I really liked it, but I was just reading it at the wrong time, so I put it aside for another time.
  5. Winter King: Henry VII And The Dawn Of Tudor England by Thomas Penn.  I love Tudor-era England and picked up this one because I didn’t know much about the events leading up to that point.  I can’t remember why I put it down, but one day, I will go back to it.

Books I Permanently Quit:

  1. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel.  Recently, I’ve decided I needed to read more graphic novels, and since this is one of the few I know about, I thought I’d pick it up.  Unfortunately, I was bored out of my mind reading it and gave up a quarter of the way through, but just based on that, I can see why people love it so much.
  2. Confessions Of The Sullivan Sisters by Natalie Standiford.  I loved How To Say Goodbye In Robot, and thought I’d give this one a try.  The sisters were spoiled, and I could care less about what happened to them, or what they did to get cut out of their grandma’s will.
  3. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson.  I know people love it, but I had a hard time with it.  Mostly because of the verse.  It made each chapter feel like a random, disjointed memory instead of something more cohesive.
  4. The Grace Of Kings by Ken Liu.  I wanted to like it, and it does seem like a really interesting, epic fantasy.  It was a little too detailed for me, and I couldn’t stay interested long enough to keep reading.
  5. The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith.  The Alex Crow seemed really intriguing, but I didn’t care about the one expedition, I hated the relationship between the two brothers, and overall, the story made no sense to me.  At all.

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.