Weekly Musing: You Get a Lump of Coal

Reading is fun. Usually. Sometimes it can be a down right chore as that joy of starting a new book quickly turns into wishing you hadn’t had all your wisdom teeth removed because that seems like it would be a much more enjoyable experience. Of course when this happens to some people, they have no qualms about closing the book forever. Then there are those of us, myself included, who have to finish, unless something catastrophic happens, whatever we are reading. However, over the last couple of years I’ve slowly started changing my attitude toward finishing every single book I start reading. If I’m getting massively annoyed or bored with it, then why the hell should I continue reading on?

With that being said, here are the worst books I read in 2014. I’m not including the one book I failed to finish as that doesn’t necessarily mean it was a terrible book just I got too fed up to stay through to the end. So an honorable mention goes to Romulus Buckle and the City of the Founders by Richard Ellis Preston, Jr.

In no particular order:

Persuasion by Jane Austen: This was Ms. Austen’s last book written and published. While I normally don’t have a probably with the telling and head-hopping a lot of literature before the 20th century is known for, this one just didn’t do it for me. I’ve only read a smattering of Jane Austen and wanted to read one of her lesser known works. I think there’s a reason why this one isn’t mentioned very often. It’s annoying when the reader is told of a brief flirtation between the two main characters years before their paths converge again. I would have liked to have seen that interaction as they rarely interacted with each other throughout the book. I honestly have no idea why they fell in love with each other. I’m not saying they didn’t deserve each other just it would be nice to know why these two are right for each other. There was also the typical Jane Austen antics of people doing silly things for attention and every other person marrying the appropriate person before our two leads do. Yawn.

The Wealthy Frenchman’s Proposition by Katherine Garbera, The Apollondies Mistress Scandal by Tessa Radley, and The Corporate Raider’s Revenge by Charlene Sands: First off let me say that the biggest two reasons why I read these books was 1) I didn’t know what I was buying. I went to second hand store and couldn’t resist the mystery grab bag of books for a quarter (5 books for 25 cents? Hell yeah I’m in!), and 2) I was behind on my book reading goal for the year. Damn you Goodreads for your constant reminders.

I’m lumping all three of these books together because they just represent to me all the reasons why I avoid romance and in particular, contemporary romance. The plots are highly unrealistic, the women are, of course, gorgeous, the men are, of course, gorgeous, everyone knows what they are doing sexually and have all the energy of a Chihuahua on meth, everyone’s going to fall in love because that’s what is expected to happen no matter how morally and unethical people’s behavior is, any secondary characters are trite, and the romances are naturally quick and always lead to marriage. Admittedly I’m not the most romantic person on the planet and I understand these are pure escapism but, ugh. Just try to realize your readers have an IQ above 10.

Only redeemable quality they had was I was able to trade them into my local used bookstore for store credit well above the nickel each they cost me. Like a boss.

The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon: This one was a book club selection and that is the only reason why I finished it. I’ve never read anything before by this still alive and very reclusive author, but I had heard a little bit about him so I was looking forward to it. While I have read, and enjoyed, books with a non-linear style and an arguably complete absence of a discernable plot, this one was too much for me. Written in the 1960s I think it was meant as one of those “screw the establishment” novels by messing around with plot structure, characters, and language. The book is about a woman chosen as a co-executor of a former lover’s estate. She has to travel to the Bay Area to deal with it. Somehow some oddball symbol in connection with the very first postal service in the world is connected with her ex. I think? We meet a variety of weird characters as she aimlessly wonders up and down the California coast gathering clues. Or something? I wasn’t sure. Apparently this book is an example of post-modernism. I think I’m going to stay away from that genre. Made my brain hurt, but not in a good way. The book was about stamps. Or something.

Danielle by Vivian Schurfranz: Man I sure am offering up a lot of excuses on this list. When I was a teenager my local library had a series of historical fiction books set in various parts of the United States in different time periods. All the titles being named after the female main character. I just gobbled them up. Imagine my surprise when I found out my name was one of them! Alas, my library never had it so I gave up on getting my hands on it.

Fast forward to the glorious internet and a little website called Amazon. On a lark I did a search to see if anyone was selling this book. Yes, yes they were so I ordered it last year. I read it this year and oh, how I wish I hadn’t. My god if I could go back in time and warn my teenage myself, I would. I had no idea these books were YA Historical Romance. Yes, there was always at least one guy that the girl fell in love with but as we’ve already established, I’m not the most romantic person on the planet. I was more interested in the time period than some dopey boy as boys have cooties.

Anyway, I got through this purely on principle. I wanted to throttle my namesake as she was a spoiled, naïve, annoying, little rich girl who fell for the bad boy only to have his family kidnap her, which she was okay with because you know, the guy was a pirate and is just misunderstood and I can make my daddy see pirates aren’t all that bad. She has her heartbroken when she discovers her bad boy pirate stole her favorite cameo. Why in the world her nice, but rather boring, fiancée took her back I’ll never know other than it was the early 1800s and that’s what people do.

There you have it. Books I wish I hadn’t read. At least it’s a small list. Next week I’ll share my favorite books I read in 2014. Thankfully the list is much longer.