The ones that got away…

At this time of year, more than any other time, I abandon books at a rate of knots.

So many books don’t make it past the first cull (cover design and back cover blurb). The second cull occurs at the end of the first page when a huge number of books simply get put back on the shelf for someone else to be tempted by.

A number of books come my way thanks to word of mouth and interesting reviews – these books still have to pass the first page test. Sometimes I know that the writing is just fine and the story intriguing enough that it might work for me, if I was in the right mood for it, but that mood is not right now.

Then there are the ones that take me along for the ride…until about the 50-100 pg mark.

These are the books I want to like for various reasons, but it gradually dawns on me that they’re just not working. I continue a little further to see if it’s a temporary glitch or not. And then I abandon ship.

Life is too short, and there are too many books I really want to read, to waste my time on one that’s not getting me there.

Books that didn’t make it past the first cull

  • Paris Echo by Sebastian Faulks (I always think that I should like Faulks’ work because of my love of historical fiction, but the back cover blurbs never tempt me and my one foray into Faulks’ territory, Charlotte Gray, left me cold).
  • A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne (another author I feel that I should like, but I prefer his junior fiction for kids).
  • two old men dying by Tom Keneally (great cover, except for the uncapitalised title, but the back blurb – meh).

Books that didn’t make the second cull

  • The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker (sounded intriguing, but the first few paragraphs failed to capture my attention or mood).
  • The Life to Come by Michelle de Kretser (maybe, one day).
  • Milkman by Anna Burns (will need to be in the right mood for this one).
  • Less by Andrew Sean Greer (the first few pages left me sighing and not in a good way).
  • The Overstory by Richard Powers (too wordy for my mood on the day I tried).
  • So Much Life Leftover by Louis de Bernieres (I loved an adored Captain Corelli’s Mandolin so much way back when that I keep hoping one of his other books will do the same. They never have, although I’ve heard promising things about Birds Without Wings).

The 50 pg cull

  • An Ocean of Minutes by Thea Lim (I wanted to like this book & it started off fine, but I eventually realised that I was on the side of the mega-time travelling corporation rather than the annoying, whining protagonist!)
Should I give any of these books a second go in the new year, if the right circumstances or mood comes my way?

One thought on “The ones that got away…

  1. I enjoyed both a Ocean of Minutes and Less, but they both appealed to me on an emotional level more than an intellectual one. If you never go back to them you won't have missed anything amazing, but I would say they are both worth giving another first page test again when you may be in a different state of mind.

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