Truth: I am not good at abandoning books. In fact, up until about two years ago, I basically never abandoned any book I started (unless you count the ones I was assigned in school that I didn’t finish before the deadline and just never bothered to get around to finishing).
In fact, it was/is such a problem that I even wrote a post all about it: Bookworm Confession–I Feel Guilty Abandoning Books.
However, as my time to read has become more and more limited with the arrival of small humans in our home, I finally realized that it wasn’t worth it to plow through books that I wasn’t excited about, as it meant I wasn’t reading as much as I could (just because I wasn’t excited about it) AND it meant that I wasn’t that happy when I WAS reading. Totally not worth it.
Thus, in the last two years or so, I’ve abandoned nine books. NINE BOOKS! I know that some people abandon that many in any given month, but for me, this represents a huge step forward in my reading life.
Curious as to which I abandoned (and why)?
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9 Books I’ve Abandoned + Why
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
Confession: I’ve never read a Jodi Picoult book. This is probably shocking, I know, just because she’s such a big name in publishing, but I’d just never had any interest in her work until this book was published and I started seeing it raved about nearly everywhere.
So I eagerly awaited my hold to come in at the library, and I think I started it the day I picked it up.
And…I had no idea her writing was so brutal. I mean, I knew this book dealt with some heavy topics (racial discrimination, hate crimes, etc.), but reading descriptions of the thought process of the character behind those hate crimes, as well as horrific descriptions of the brutality?
I couldn’t handle it.
I believe that it’s important to know yourself as a person and a reader, and one thing I know for sure about myself is that I’m highly sensitive to negativity, especially in the news. I have to be very careful about how many news stories I consume (and of what type/degree of detail) because if I’m not, it can make my anxiety shoot through the roof. For me, this book was not a good fit. I think it’s important to be educated about these issues (and I do read books about them), but with this degree of intense detail, I don’t think I’ll be revisiting this one.
It is worth noting though that many of my friends on Goodreads said that although this book was extremely hard to get through (just because of the heavy subject matter), they were glad they pushed through and finished it.
Note: Are we friends yet on Goodreads? If not, we should be! Add me here!
Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver
I actually got a decent way into this one (probably around 20-25% through) when it was due back at the library, and I had to make a choice—make myself push through and read the rest in a span of 24 hours? Return it to the library and then put another hold on it?
I ended up doing neither.
Although the premise was intriguing (a middle-aged couple going through a financial catastrophe are forced to go live in a dilapidated shack with a heated history) and I’ve always loved Kingsolver’s writing, the mediocre reviews on this one, as well as my “meh” feeling about the book despite being about 75 pages in, weren’t enough to make me anxious to stick this one out.
Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne
This book is basically a manifesto for slowing your child’s life way the heck down in order to help them to be better adjusted, less prone to anxiety, and better adapted as adults. Payne argues that much of the problems cropping up in today’s growing generation stem from overstimulation, and he gives examples and practical advice for how to restructure and simplify your days so as to best benefit your child AND you as the parent.
In the 50 or so pages I read of this, I did get some decent nuggets of wisdom that I still think about today. What I DIDN’T love about this (and why I ultimately didn’t pursue it more at the time) is the tone of the author—I don’t appreciate parenting books where the author tries to shame parents for making certain choices or who try to claim that their one strategy/process/program is the ONLY correct way.
That said, I think I’ll eventually pick this one up again and just glean the good stuff out of it and ignore the judgmental tone during the rest. I’ve had enough friends on Goodreads who have rated this one highly (who also mentioned the tone thing) that makes me think this is still a worthwhile read. (That’s actually why I still included it in my Round-Up of Books That Have Made Me a Better Parent, even though I haven’t finished it.)
The Making of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman
The fact that I abandoned this is a good example of why timing is important when it comes to reading certain books. After all, a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to pursue a degree from The Culinary Institute of America? Right up my alley! (See my book round-up on 14 Titles (Beyond Cookbooks) for the Foodie). After all, I read The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry, which has a very similar premise (except the author goes to cooking school in Paris, not New York) and enjoyed it, so I thought this was a sure thing.
Trouble was, I couldn’t get beyond about page 25—the usual descriptions of food and food prep just weren’t grabbing my attention like they usually do, and I found this one languishing in a forgotten pile in the corner until it came time to return it to the library.
I might give this one another shot, especially as it’s so highly rated and as it really is the kind of thing I normally would go for. The next go around, I’ll make sure I get to at least page 100 or so before deciding if I’ll abandon it for good, or whether it’s worth pressing on.
A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit
I knew this book of philosophical musings on wandering and being lost would be a slow burn, but I really just couldn’t get into it at all. As I wrote on my Goodreads review upon abandoning it—This felt like something I would have been assigned to read in college (and not in a good way)–kind of like it was trying too hard to be cerebral and deep and whatnot.
I’d definitely have to be convinced this was worth the effort by a pretty strong recommendation from a trusted reader to be convinced to give it another go.
How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids by Jancee Dunn
I normally never would have picked up this book (seeing as how the snarky title doesn’t resonate particularly with me), but after seeing a few strong recommendations of it from some of my go-to sources, I decided to give it a go.
I think one of my friends on Goodreads summarized it perfectly when she said that the enjoyability of this will depend on how much you can relate to the author’s personal experiences and marriage. While my marriage is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, I just didn’t find myself relating to her tone or her experiences from the get-go, so I abandoned this one pretty early on.
I don’t plan on returning to this anytime soon.
Yes Please by Amy Poehler
This one has so many high ratings from my Goodreads friends that it’s not even funny—except of course, that everyone rated it so highly because they found this book to BE so funny (tee hee, I’m so clever).
As I stated on my review, perhaps I started this one too soon after finishing Lauren Graham’s Talking as Fast as I Can because the two felt eerily similar to me, except this one had a LOT more profanity. Since I didn’t feel like I was getting anything new or fresh from it (and all the strong language started to bug me), I abandoned this one around 15% or so.
I could perhaps be persuaded to give this another try, but seeing as I’m not a huge Poehler fan, I’ll probably leave it be.
Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes
This is the one I’ve abandoned most recently (just last month), and seeing as I’d added it thanks to a rave review of someone whose reading tastes are usually pretty similar to mine, I was a bit disappointed that it didn’t resonate with me as strongly as it did with her, especially as a lot about the premise sounded promising.
Basically, the author sets out to prove 1) why homemaking is not anti-feminist, and 2) why many of society’s greatest ills could be fixed, solved, or improved by people learning basic homemaking skills again. She also provides a couple dozen case studies of people who left the grind of typical city living to pursue homesteading, and what they’ve gleaned from the experience.
All in all, a premise that resonates pretty strongly with how I feel anyway, except…this one got a little *too* radical for me. Like, I’m all for being self-sufficient and not super into consumerism and everything, but I’m also not anti-capitalist. And while I do think that there is much we can learn about health care at home, I’m also not against having health insurance or going to traditional doctors or hospitals when the occasion warrants it.
All in all, for certain parts, I felt like she was trying to preach to the choir (aka, I already feel like my work as a stay-at-home mom is valuable both to my own family and beyond), and for the other part, I felt like this book had too much of an agenda for me to want to continue.
Judging by the review that swayed me to pick it up, this one has a ton of good nuggets of wisdom and inspiration in it (and some killer quotes), but…it just wasn’t worth it to me to slog through a bunch of other stuff to get there.
Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year by Anne Lamott
I picked this up soon after I’d had my own son last year, thinking the timing would be perfect (since, obviously, she was writing about her son’s first year of life and I was living through my own son’s first year of life).
I can definitely see why this book would resonate so strongly with some mothers, who fear they are alone in some of their dark thoughts and the depressing days that can accompany new motherhood.
But for me, the humor was just too dark at times, and I also personally view motherhood in general from a different lens than the author, so her experiences just didn’t resonate with me at all.
If you like snarky, darker humor and want a very honest dive into all the harder corners of motherhood, you’d probably really enjoy this. It just wasn’t for me.
What books have YOU abandoned, and why? (And if you care to try and convince me to try and pick one of these titles up again, I’m all ears!)
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