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Chapter 9 - 13 Reasons Why

For me, as for others, not all books are magic. Over the years of reading I have come across more than my share of popular fiction, classics, non-fiction, even children's books that I hated. Okay, maybe hate is too strong a word but.. two things I have realized are...

  • Not all books are for all people. I know that sounds silly but I'm not going to love every book I read so I can't beat myself up for not loving a book everyone else thinks is great.

  • Life is too short to struggle through a book that isn't speaking to me. My personal rule of thumb about giving up on a book is - take 100 pages minus my age and, if the book hasn't hooked me by then, it gets jettisoned.

So here is a brief list of books which haven't worked for me, but they just might for you.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt - I really, really tried to get into this book - critically acclaimed, a Pulitzer Prize winner, for heaven's sake! I even gave it 158 pages before I gave it up. It was no use, I couldn't stand it. But I won't throw the author out entirely so I read The Secret History by Tartt and loved it!

Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler - I've enjoyed Anne Tyler in the past. She writes in a crisp, clean style and her characters are real. In addition, she often writes about Baltimore, where I grew up. While I finished this Pulitzer Prize winner, I simply didn't like it. A better choice for me by this writer was Ladder of Years, a story about a woman who just walks away from her life. Wouldn't we all like to do that sometimes?

Hurricane Sisters by Dorothea Benton Frank - I know, I know, for many Southern writing fans Dottie is the reigning queen of snarky Southern beach reads. How could I not love her every book? I wanted this book to be a fun, quick read but I was left feeling like Franks was grinding too many axes. This book left me cold but I loved Pawley's Island by her and Frank's most recent book Same Beach, Next Year returns to the ranks of "good beach read" for me.

Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper - You knew I had to stick at least one classic in here. For this book I need to use a quote from Mark Twain about Cooper's writing. "But the reader of the Deerslayer tale dislikes the good people, is indifferent to the others, and wishes they would all get drowned together." Unfortunately I have no other James Fenimore Cooper to recommend but do watch the movie, The Last of the Mohicans. It is based VERY loosely on the book of the same name.

The Vegetarian by Han Kang - So I am going international here. With books originally written in another language I wonder if something has been lost in translation. This Korean book has been on a lot of "best" lists and I decided to give it a try. It is about a Korean wife who decides one day to stop eating meat, her mental stability declines rapidly after that. I'm sure the book is a metaphor for Korean societal expectations but it just didn't work for me. I have not read any other of Kang's works but I expect I will.

Please let me know which books, if any, are on your hate list!

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