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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Hard Books to Finish

We're stalled on a book, guys. That's why we haven't been posting much about books. We need to just put it down and read something else, but we feel like we can't. We hate not finishing a book. We're really anal and feel like we have to read every word.

Wheel of Time series- Robert Jordan
We've started reading this series several times at different ages and stages. It never seems to hook us. So many people are obsessed with it, and we love fantasy, so what's the problem? It might be the weird names and the fact that too many characters are thrown at us too soon. It might be the length. We think it's really the dull, stuffy prose. If you just read the dialogue, it's alright. That's how we got through the second book. Does that count as reading it? We like Brandon Sanderson, the Mormon guy finishing the series for the late Jordan, so we want to make it to the last book where there might be writing that's easier to read. But it's soooo hard. We like the premise, the story, and at least two of the characters. We will finish this series. Of course, we've forgotten everything we read of it in high school, so now we're back to chapter five of book one. Ugh. It's a quagmire!
Status: We're going to get to it. Check back in a few years.

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
A woman on an airplane told Ern to read this when Ern was 13, because she said she wept through it and couldn't put it down (she was a die-hard liberal Democrat, by the way; did she understand this book?) Ern is a freaking LIBERTARIAN (if she's anything), so, message-wise, this book should be something she'd enjoy. However, it's sat on her shelf, 100 pages read, for 12 years. One day. One day.
Status: Ern will read this in the next year.

Insomnia by Stephen King
We wanted to read this because it significantly connects to the Dark Tower series, which we love. We got about halfway through it and just got frustrated. This old man can't sleep...for hundreds of pages. He starts seeing weird stuff. There's stuff about abortions in there (we think. It's been a long time), and we're not particularly into that debate know...abortions in general (no one really is). It's just so long and not as eventful as other long King books (The Stand). We love his writing, even when he's wasting our time, but something needs to happen eventually.
Status: We want to do a re-read of all King's books, getting to the ones we haven't read. We'll get to the second half when we do that. OOOOH WE CAN DO AN ALL-STEPHEN KING POST AND RATE HIS BOOKS!

John Grisham books
We just lose the will to care partway through them. We heard from someone brilliant and awesome that his characters are just like real lawyers in practice, so one of us totally should read a few.
Status: Maybe someday? 

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo- by Stieg Larsson
Status: We'll never finish this. We've already seen two movies (and the second Swedish one), so that's okay. The movies are better.

The Lonely Polygamist- Brady Udall
Big Love is better. Unless someone tells us we should finish this book, we won't. We had no emotional connection to the characters and, once again, there were too many characters thrown at us at once. If the book had a chart of the women and their children in the front of a book, things might have turned out differently.
Status: Threw in the towel

The Lovely Bones- Alice Sebold
We hear this is a lot better than the movie, but we got bored. Her heaven was weird and we couldn't get into a book where the main character was already dead and not going to pull a Jesus.
Status: We already saw the movie, so we know what happens

The Casual Vacancy- JK Rowling
This is the book we're currently stuck on. We were so excited to read this because we thought that even if it wasn't Harry Potter, Rowling would still be able to craft a good story with characters we'd fall in love with. So far, not really. We're bored and Rowling gave us too many names at once. There's no character we're attached to. They are all really slimy and selfish people. The book is sort of bleak too. It's like if the Harry Potter books had stayed on Privet Drive, only a Privet Drive robbed of all its whimsy. We're only 10% of the way through it (and Stephen King says you should always give a book 33% before you quit), but we aren't wanting to sit down and read more. Rowling, we love you and think you are a classy lady, but you're better than this.
Status: Still planning to finish...slowly

Do you know if any of these are worth finishing? What's a book you can't finish?


  1. UGH Dragon Tattoo. I'll never finish that either. I actually just gave Lovely Bones another shot myself. I'm about between a quarter and a third through it and so far I'm much more interested than the previos 2 attempts....

    Another Die Hard Liberal vote for Atlas Shrugged. I can't help it, I just love Ayn Rand's writing. Imagine the crap I get for it.


    1. hahaha, it's funny to imagine the crap a liberal would get for liking Rand. I guess there WOULD be some backlash. You know who else likes her? Paul Ryan. Lol.

      Dragon Tattoo has one strength: Lisbeth. The main male character is a stand-in for the author, and an annoying one at that. We guess the story is okay. The writing blows.

  2. I actually like a lot the Millenium Trilogy, Stieg Larsson's writing is kind of dull and dry but I love the stories and Lisbeth.

    1. Ha, yeah that's why we like the movie versions (both Swedish and US). All the story and Lisbeth, none of the sucky, textbook-esque writing.

  3. I liked the version of Heaven in The Lovely Bones - in fact if you notice in Season 5 and 6 of Supernatural, they use this version of Heaven. I think this would be a nice Heaven, but thats just me.

    It took me a year to read The Girl Who Played With Fire, and I'm not even half way through Hornets Nest after 18 months. The US version of Dragon Tattoo is great, and I end up drinking about 10 cups of coffee while watching it.


    1. Far be it from me to dictate which version of heaven you should like, but for me, the Supernatural heaven was supremely depressing and pointless. I would be bored in a heaven I created. People need a purpose. Just relaxing in beauty is okay, but I want more. It just sounds dull to me.

      Dostoevsky's awesome last book, The Brothers Karamazov, had an agnostic arguing with a religious man. The agnostic said something to the effect of, "Think of all the suffering in the world. The starving, suffering children. You say that when they die they will be in heaven where every tear will be wiped away and everything will be put right. Even if heaven is the greatest place ever, there's no way there's a place that's great enough to make up for the suffering of even one child." Which automatically makes me think, "But what if there is?"

      In order for heaven to be THAT good, it would have to be beyond our wildest imaginations, full of adventure, wonder, and things we've never seen. It would have to be so good that all the BS anyone ever went through here is worth it. The HOLOCAUST would need to be worth it.

      I don't think the "paint your own heaven" of TV and movies is that good. If heaven is real, it's got to be better than my favorite pub. However, it's probably the best idea TV and movies can portray. It would be hard to bring unimaginable awesomeness to the screen :-) I kind of think they shouldn't try most of the time.

    2. I guess we will never know

    3. Not while we're blogging and judging book versions of heaven anyway, lol.

    4. I agree, a heaven based on my experiences in life is depressing, it seems far too limited. While some good has indeed shone through, I am currently poorly equipped to receive or experience it. While I know no more than anyone else, I imagine it would be like being stuck eating Maccas just because that may be the best I had experienced while on earth, when there is a full banquet on offer full of perfected versions of what we've tasted already but may have rejected in their imperfect form, along with a vast multitude of goodness that we were just never in a postition to taste or even dream of.

      It's odd that you mention The Brothers Karamazov, it's come up recently several times from different sources, unconnected and in passing, and its a few books down on my Christian fiction book shelf. I might push it up on the shelf, but would be unlikely to get to it before Christmas.

      I rarely have books I don't finish, like you I'm loathe to give up on books that I've started. The only one from this year is C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy. I got through the first two books but they took me much longer to read than I'd assumed they would, and I've taken an extended break before I finish the last one. For me the pacing seems off and I've been kept from being drawn in. The ideas are interesting, and like many of his other works he uses a viewpoint and allegory to interact with ideas and themes in new and interesting ways. Mainly my problems arise from it being a journey story, while the individual events are interesting, the sequence didn't draw me from one to the next as they were connected to each other mostly by theme, but had little bearing on each other (similar to that in the Dawn Treader, and even the Great Divorce, though I liked those).

      My real problem in regards to not reading books is making the time to read books or authours I've always wanted to, or that have been recommended to me. I've corrected that a little in the past couple years but, for instance, it's only now that I've gotten around to reading Dune (the next on the shelf). The Wheel of Time series and any book by Stephen King similarly fit that category.

      Since it's hard for me to talk about books and not recommend anything I've recently read I'll limit myself to only a couple. The Hammer of God by Bo Giertz is a work of Christian fiction translated from Swedish, composed of three small novellas superficially connected by location, but deeply related by theme. Each is set in the same small town, just at different times in about a 150 year period, and each features a young pastor new to the work as he struggles with his inexperience as well as trying to square his idealistic teachings with the reality of sin and the demands of the congregation. While not the focus, it does come from a Lutheran viewpoint, so some doctrine creeps in here and there.

      Also Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey. I originally saw a movie trailer for it (, didn't really excite me. The idea was fine, I enjoy science fiction, but it takes more than that for me to give it any attention. Yet the reviews were good and for some reason I checked it out and was glad I did, it was good enough that if I had the free time I would've finished it in one sitting. A collection of 5 novellas, it is set in a post apocalyptic future, where humanity has survived by living in underground silos. Most people are satisfied with their lives, there are some restrictions and an imposed order needed to keep everything functioning, but on surface everything seems fine. However those who dream of the outside are dangerous people, liable to simalarly infect people with their dreams, and if caught talking about the outside they are punished by getting what they claim to want, they get sent outside. Not sure if it's still the case but the first novella for kindle was free on Amazon. It's shorter than the rest, probably wouldn't take much more than an hour to read.

    5. Interesting. We're pretty good at getting around to recommendations. Also, what's great about Brothers K is if you read it as an agnostic, you're going to think it's a book against religion. If you read it as a religious person, you're going to think it's totally on your side. In reality, the writer was a Christian, but he keeps things on a good line, making it more interesting than preachy.