Monday, January 29, 2018

Books I Can't Believe I Read

I'm linking up with That Artsy Reader Girl for another Top Ten Tuesday.

It seems you could interpret this week's topic two ways: Either "Wow, I can't believe I succeeded in reading that difficult/long book!" (War and Peace, Infinite Jest...) or the way I interpreted it, which was "Wow, I can't believe I wasted precious reading time on this stupid book. I probably should have abandoned it."

1. Adoption: Choosing It, Living It, Loving It by Ray Guarendi
I've read quite a lot of adoption books by now, and this is probably the worst one that I didn't outright abandon. It was like a compilation of bad jokes (mostly of the "stupid husband" variety) that also glossed over the potential issues related to adopting a child who's older, has special needs, is of another race, etc. with a glib "All kids are the same" attitude. It was a waste of time.

2. Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk by Peter L. Bernstein
I read this as part of a "book swap" at book club and felt obligated to finish it on behalf of the guy who recommended it. This was billed as a history of risk but was actually a history of probability and forecasting with references to risk awkwardly shoehorned it. It also could have benefited from a stronger editor, as there were glaring inconsistencies in some places (e.g., names, ages). I don't think I got anything out of it.

3. Beauty of the Broken by Tawni Waters
This was a book club read. My review began, "There are so many problems with this book that I don't even know where to start." In a book that attempts to combat homophobia, it manages to be offensive to Native Americans, other people of color, mentally disabled people, Christians, and survivors of sexual assault, on top of just being poorly plotted.

4. Blackout by Sam Mills
Another choice for online book club before we started locking down who was allowed to nominate books. It tries to be an updated 1984, but the writing is just terrible. It was certainly action-packed, but the plot was too convoluted and the characters were so "complex" as to have no consistency in their actions. Our club would have been better off just reading 1984.

5. Bo's Café by Bill Thrall, Bruce McNicol, and John S. Lynch
I read this book because it was repeatedly recommended by one of the hosts of the ONE Extraordinary Marriage podcast as a powerful book on dealing with an anger problem. I should have realized that it was going to be a heavy-handed piece of Christian media. The book is pretty anti-counseling (apparently all you need to combat an anger problem is a Christian mentor) and seems to be an attempt to write a "guy book" about sports and cars and boats that will lead people to Jesus. I consider myself a Christian but I could barely stomach this book.

6. Confessions of a Counterfeit Farmer Girl by Susan McCorkindale
This was recommended to me years ago when I was looking for something funny to read, and I wish I'd had Goodreads then because the ratings are bad. Apparently I'm not the only one who got tired of the rinse-and-repeat "I live on a farm but I like high heels and Starbucks and might break a nail if I did any work, haha" jokes that made up the entire book. If only I'd been in the habit of giving myself permission to abandon books back then.

7. The Fisherman by John Langan
I don't read a lot of horror because it freaks me out, but this (another book club selection) was just boring. Rather than using the medium to its fullest, Langan tried to write a book that would be scary as a horror movie, but it's hard to translate jump scares and creepy visuals to the page. I got to the point where I was like, "Lemme guess, it's another dead white person who's naked and has eyes like a fish." I don't understand how this book has such good ratings.

8. A General Theory of Love by Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini, and Richard Lannon
I finished this book only because a coworker lent it to me, and then after I forced myself through it it turned out she hadn't even read it yet. The writing was overly complex, they made constant unfounded generalizations, and the "theory" seemed to be that children need to be with their mothers 24/7 or they will be doomed for life. Again, I do not understand how this book has such high ratings, and I would recommend it to no one.

9. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
I loved Angels and Demons, thought The Da Vinci Code was OK, and should have stopped there. The ending to this one was dumb. I can't believe I wasted time listening to this one.

10. Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire
I only read this book because Wicked was so disappointing that I was hoping this one would have some answers to all the loose threads, but I should have just recognized that it wasn't going to get any better. I can forgive myself for reading the first book because of the hype and my love for the musical, but I definitely should have stopped there.

Which books do you wish you hadn't wasted reading time on?

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