All The Books I Never Finished,

And never regretted it.

Let’s start at the beginning. God did it apparently, so it’s good enough for us.

  • I’ve been reading Swamplandia for approximately two years and seventy-three days.  I borrowed it from my cousin’s girlfriend who is just as much of a book nerd as me, so I feel kind of bad that I’m that person who doesn’t return books.

Hi, I’m Cassie and I don’t always return borrowed books.

I also have two of the three Colleen Hoover books in a series (Slammed and Point of Retreat) on my shelf from her that I have yet to read. I really should have gotten her a “Return to” label for her personal library books.

Quick flashback: This poor girl, Rachel Dennis, who must have gotten married because I can find her nowhere on social media, gave me the book The Princess Bride.  She even came to my house, before having a driver’s license, to try to get that book back.  To this day (I read it this year), it’s in my personal library with her name scrolled in high school bubble handwriting.  I feel less bad today because the book comes with its own small history, but still.

Hi, I’m Cassie and I have a long history of not returning borrowed books unless their from the library and people are going to charge me a fine.

Back to Swamplandia. How did anyone finish this book?  It was slow, and completely, unrealistically weird.  A brother who works at a hell theme park. A sister who wants to wrestle albino alligators like her mother in a bay watch suit.   A sister who believes she’s dating a dead boy who’s stuck on a tug boat.  I got through the first round of hell and doom, but as soon as the narrator met the bird man and went after her sister who could have just watched Ghost to live vicariously through, I couldn’t.  I keep the bookmark in it just in case I can finish those last hundred pages, I’m not one to give up. But…it’s been a few years.  Maybe 2015 is the year of Swamplandia.

Recommendation: Read Lauren Groff’s story “At the Round Earth’s Imagined Corners” to get your fix of Everglade reptiles and sadness without all the kitschy things that make a book seem “unique” and “original” even though it’s just a mass production of a weird best-seller.  Groff’s story is one of the only magnificent stories in the Best American Series 2014.

  • We, The Drowned – Carsten Jensen

    I will finish We, the Drowned. It’s just massive.  It’s a steel block of book, but it will get done. I always remember the plot when I come back to it, even after months, which is a true sign of a good story.  Plus, the cover’s too beautiful not to know it when someone comes into my library and spots it and asks.  It has a 4.18 score on Goodreads which might be because so few people have actually finished it and they all loved it, or it’s just a stellar book. One won’t know until 2015.

  • Tiger Lily ruined Alias Hook for me.  If Peter Pan wasn’t such a young adult chauvinist pig in Tiger Lily and Tiger Lily wasn’t such a desperate teen heart then maybe I could have read another Peter Pan remake in the same year. However, Tiger Lily was so terrible – the best part was the dedication: For the girls with messy hair and thirsty hearts. 
  • All The Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doeer

    At this point I’m the only person that didn’t like and didn’t finish All The Light We Cannot See. It was on the bestseller list in our newspaper this morning even.  I just couldn’t finish it. After all the WWII books, to be infinite, authors have to write something that breaks the heart open.  This just didn’t.  I only read until the boy was at the training camp for a few months and his weak friend was bullied (and I think died).  I was really interested in the blind girl’s story and the architecture her father built into her veins as a home, but the author stayed so long on the boy and sister that I gave up.  Anyone have any reasons to push through on this one?

  • There’s no reason I shouldn’t have finished A Tale for the Time Being.  It was bad timing. I might start over.  Especially because Alena told me how much she loved it, and she’s one of my most precious recommenders.  Half the feelings we have towards books (and boys – significant others) is timing, I think.
  • Diego Draws @ Tumblr (A Rose for Emily)

    Other than Faulkner’s Emily, Miss Havisham may be my favorite character in literary history. Unfortunately, she was dragged through the ash of the Industrial Age by Ronald Frame.  I couldn’t even do it.

Why do white girls go to the bathroom in groups of odd numbers? We just can’t even.

I just can’t even.

  • I work with a literature prude.  He teaches British Lit which is perfect for him. He might be the most well-read person that I know, actually. I always return his books partly because I live in fear of his reaction if I don’t.  Plus, we have this long standing feud over who is the better Fitzgerald, Zelda or F. Scott. (It’s Zelda). He recommended Special Topics in Calamity Physics which is a book that just makes me feel like an idiot and I’m not even sure if the author researched her own research.  People on Goodreads claim it has “literary allusions” but they must be philosophical geniuses because this book is too hoity-toity for the average American girl who reads.
  • I’m a girl who loves a girl named Francine. (It’s like Madeline, I can just imagine the perfect etiquette and the way she dabs her lips gently with a cloth embroidered napkin). And her last name is Prose, which if you’re going to be a writer, your last name cannot get any more perfect than Prose. However, the remake of Bigfoot Dreams. WHY. I wouldn’t let anyone reprint a book that was terrible in the first place.  You want to reprint my book, choose one that’s good.  How about Blue Angel or Golden Grove, but Big Foot Dreams.  Open Road Integrated Media, I deplore you.  Remake books that matter, not books that are fillers for authors to keep their publishing contract with the big names. (This is also a publishing world problem).

Cormac McCarthy

I think every year readers have books that they just can’t finish.  This year was especially bad for me.  Most years, I push through the bad and just finish as many as I can, but this year I made a resolution to refuse to read bad books.  So this year, I would read a few pages and then put the book down forever.  Even Cormac McCarthy had to suffer through this with two of his books on this list.  I started a lot of books.  I probably read more pages of starters than I did finishers.  I’m not sure if this was just me being stressed with teaching and less time to really hook my claws into “good” books, or if this is a publishing epidemic.  Are they (American publishing houses) publishing less NEED and more WANT? I can’t answer that question without an insider view really, but lately I’ve felt that no books have moved me so far as to write a brilliant review since probably, The Tiger’s Wife. I want a book I can faint inside.  Did you read any books like that this year? RECOMMEND please.  I might even start one of those cute little TBR mason jars.

21 thoughts on “All The Books I Never Finished,

  1. Osheho says:

    Colleen Hoover books!! I can’t get past the 20th page! It’s supposed to be really good but while reading it, I probably rolled my eyes the most I have within 20 pages.
    Oh and life of Pi. For me anyways. It’s a ‘modern day classic.’ That’s what attracted it to me (I love classics). For some reason, I’ve been reading it for almost three months. But that’s probably because I watched the movie first.

    • Cassie says:

      I know, right? Her writing style is so juvenile. I can’t get past Hoover’s writing style to even get to the plot. I saw the movie for Life of Pi but I am not sure I would like the book. Do you recommend it even though it is taking forever?

  2. yournextbestbook says:

    Cassie – I LOVED Special Topics in Calamity Physics, as well as Swamplandia, so we may not have the same taste in books, but I so recommend pushing through on Swamplandia. I got stuck and put it down as well, but when I finally did get over the hump, it was worth it. As far as books you can faint inside, my recommendations for this year are e. lockhart’s We Were Liars and Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. Happy New Year!

    • Cassie says:

      Damn, I really didnt like We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. Wanted to though! And I do like Special Topics, but I find myself having to research everything she says just to know what she is talking about. I think I have to push through Swamplandia because I am SO CLOSE. I have heard nothing but good things about We Were Liars so I will totally do that one. :)

  3. Brianna Soloski says:

    Neverhome by Laird Hunt. I will warn you that next to nothing happens in 243 pages, but man, can he write. We’ve discussed this already, obviously, but it’s worth repeating. I finished the last 40 pages in less than an hour last night, in between having a meltdown about stupid stuff that shouldn’t even affect me, but does. I’d loan you my copy, but….

      • Brianna Soloski says:

        Will do. I have to meltdown by myself because there’s no here for me to meltdown with. I just miss having friends (not that you’re not a friend), but man, why is growing up so hard?

      • Cassie says:

        Growing up is the real deal. I think the mistake we make is thinking we are supposed to have it all together at this age. We are still exploring! Let yourself try things.

      • Brianna Soloski says:

        Together? If duct tape and glue and a heart covered in washi tape mean I have it together, than bam. Done.

  4. Bea says:

    I had to comment on this blog for 2 reasons. One, I cannot finish a book that is boring after 50-100 pages. I put it down and never go back.
    Two, a note to Brianna, your line about duct tape and glue was so spot on, I am going to borrow it and paste it on my Facebook with your name beside it for credit. Also, hang in there. I have it from a very wise person that 2015 is going to be GREAT!

  5. Kristine says:

    A caveat that I’m another Special Topics in Calamity Physics fanatic, but this year The Orenda by Joseph Boyden kicked. My. World. Upside down. Seriously in my top 10 books of all time.

    • Cassie says:

      Damn! I read that and used excerpts in my creative writing class. I did love it. Researched so much after reading. I guess I really need to finish Special Topics.

  6. deborahbrasket says:

    It’s always reassuring to learn that other readers, like me, do not finish books once started, even those that have won so much acclaim. I do agree that a lot of that may be from bad timing–another day, another year, it may speak to us as it didn’t this time. The Tiger’s Wife is one I started, put aside, and have had no desire to return to–but since you recommend, I will give it another go. I have We, The Drowned on my list (actually on my Kindle!) that I want to get to one of these days because I love the sea, sailing, sailors, seaports, and the book cover. I had Swamplandia on my to read list too, but now thinking, maybe not. Special Topics, from your readers’ recommendations, may rise to the top of my to-read list too. As always, thanks for the recommendations and caveats.

    • Cassie says:

      Like my Mom said, there’s too many good books out there to waste our time reading books we just can’t seem to connect with at that certain point. : ) The Tiger’s Wife definitely took me a minute to get used to, but once I got to the myth part of the book, I was SO hooked. I am definitely giving Special Topics another go because I feel like I obviously need to with all these comments in favor. I love how we can all talk books and then kind of pick and choose from the conversation what we might and might not read. This is the best part of blogging.

  7. the Found Girl says:

    I feel your pain! I will never again attempt to read any Karen Russel after the fiasco that was “The Vampires in the Lemon Grove.” I, too, ended up promising myself not to go full S&M about books I don’t like, and it’s been a freeing experience. I did read Jennifer McMahon’s “Don’t Breathe a Word”, though, because it was that kind of book that’s so bad you gotta know how it ends, ha ha. I totally agree with your mom!

    • Cassie says:

      There are books I feel like I have to finish too. For various reasons. I think I am just not a Karen Russel fan either. I havent liked any of her books or short stories even though people rave about them.

  8. asarmstrong2013 says:

    I can relate! My “Abandoned” list on Goodreads is getting long. In 2014 I tried to read The Good Lord Bird by James McBride. Everyone was raving about that book, but I couldn’t get through it.

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