8 Reasons Why I Don’t Finish A Book

There are very few books I have not finished, but in the past few years I have been more apt to not finish a book if it doesn’t capture or maintain my interest. I used to be particular about finishing any book I read because it felt like giving up. Luckily there were very few books I had to force myself to finish. Now I look back and wonder why I wasted the energy on a book I didn’t enjoy.

I remember the first book I never finished. I was about halfway through and took a long hiatus on reading it for various reasons. When I finally got back to it, I had forgotten most of what had happened in the first part of the book, which goes to show that the story didn’t capture my interest. Since I didn’t really remember what was going on, I simply set it aside and never picked it back up.

Since then, I usually will give a book about 50 to 75 pages before I make a decision to give up on it. If the book captures my interest, then I don’t even consider this, but if I’m struggling that far in I’ll set it aside.

These are the reasons I stopped forcing myself to finish books:

It’s not the right time.

Some times I know a book is good but when I go to read it, I find I’m not really interested at the time or that the subject matter is too prevalent with recent events for me to really enjoy it. This also happens with “classics” I intend to read because I know they are good if they have been around for decades or centuries, but perhaps I would rather read something more contemporary at the moment. I usually put it down within the first 20 pages to select a new book in these cases but intend to come back to it eventually.

I don’t care about any of the characters.

Unfortunately, there are some books that I just didn’t care for. Even if they are written by a large name in the literary world. Their stories don’t get me interested or I find their characters lacking. If I can’t care about the characters or what is happening, then why should I keep reading?

I can predict the story or I already know what will happen.

It can be easy to predict how some stories will end. This doesn’t make it a bad story, but it can make you lose interest if it is overtly obvious what will happen. Another point here is if I’ve been exposed to the story prior to reading. This happens in mainly one of two ways: I’ve seen an adaptation (likely film) or I have had something about the book spoiled for me by another reader. I usually will read a book before the movie comes out if I am interested in it, and I will sometimes read the book even after seeing the movie to see how the story differs. The latter is usually because I didn’t know the movie was based on a book. I usually won’t stop reading just because the story is predictable, but it can make the finishing stretch a little hard to push through. However, if I read a book that is hugely popular and it doesn’t capture my interest, I may give up on it or put it down to read later because it was a little over-hyped for me to read it at that time.

The size factors in or I’m not quite ready for another series.

There are times I’ll go to read a larger book and find I’m just not up for it, or I’ll think of starting a series and think I would prefer a standalone novel. I often find I prefer standalone novels for a while after finishing a larger series, or I’ll look for shorter books or novellas after reading a larger book or series. Bigger books/series can be commitments for me because I usually read only that series until I finish it. This is partly why I have developed the habit of reading two books at any given time. One is fiction while the other is non-fiction.

Pacing.

Pacing can really put me off a story. If nothing is happening or there are long hiatuses between important events, I can be tempted to simply set it aside. I don’t want to spend 50-100 pages on non-essential information. This is one reason I think so many people never read or finish Moby Dick.

It’s not the right story.

I usually have my next 3-5 books lined up to help me get through my TBR pile. They vary so I can switch the reading order depending on what I want to read next, but some times I go to start a book and realize that maybe I’m just not currently interested in this type of story. For example, maybe I go to start a science fiction book but realize I’d rather read a biography, fantasy, or collection of short stories. Again, I always intend to read the book in question if this is the reason I decide not to read it at the time.

I don’t like the writing.

Since I started writing stories myself with the hopes of publishing books in the future, I’ve begun noticing and sometimes scrutinizing the quality of writing in books. I never speak about the quality of writing publicly because I don’t believe in being nasty for the sake of being nasty and I know other readers like the book. But if the writing is poor, it can make it a struggle to even read the story. Luckily, this is very rare since books go through a long process before getting published. Also, a story can be good enough to overcome bad writing. I can’t remember who said it, but “A great story written poorly is still good, and a bad story written well is still bad.”

There are too many other books to read.

My TBR list only grows the older I get. Even though I am constantly reading something, I am also discovering new books and new authors faster than I read them. I know I will likely never be able to read everything I want to within my lifetime. This may be a little sad to realize, but it only solidifies my decision that I shouldn’t waste time on books I’m not enjoying. I find that if I am struggling to get through a book for any reason, I read less frequently. Therefore, it is important for me to be able to give up on any book that doesn’t capture my interest. It effectively is preventing me from reading a book I may love or one that may change my outlook.

There have been few books I have completed recently that I’ve not really cared for. Unfortunately, these were the first books I tried by authors who I’ve come to like. I was kind of bummed that I ended up not liking their work since I like them as people, but I may try another story of theirs to see if it was simply that one story that didn’t capture my attention.

I have only put down a few books in the past several years after reading the first 50-75 pages despite liking other work by the same author. It was usually content-related and I just didn’t care for the story or put it down to try again later on. The one that comes to mind right now is The Stand by Stephen King. I think this was both content related and pacing. I was about 70 pages in and it was still introducing characters. Also, pandemic/end-of-the-world scenario can be a bit of a bummer. And it is over 1200 pages long. I’ve always heard it is a great novel, and I may get to it eventually, but I wasn’t ready to read it at the time.

I’m happy to say that the number of books I haven’t finished is still really low. Probably less than 10 (maybe even fewer than 5), but that number will only grow. The few books I mentioned that I did finish but didn’t really care about the characters or story happened to be the first book in a trilogy, and I won’t be finishing the trilogy. There are just too many books I want to read. I hope you focus on reading books that you enjoy and put aside those that you aren’t eager to continue reading.

11 Authors I Want to Read

It is very easy for me to add books to my TBR list based on recommendations or summaries or even book covers (never discredit a book by its cover, but definitely try one because of it). However, I’ve had a small list growing of authors whose names I either keep hearing or who I’ve seen/followed on social media whose works I want to eventually read. So instead of making a TBR list of books I want to read, I’ve made a list of authors who I want to read.

I’ll be honest, some of these authors I have no real idea what they are best known to have written or even what they even write about. I’ve come to know their name and I’m interested in their work because of either them as a person intrigues me or the discourse regarding their work does. Let’s begin.

Octavia Butler

Apparently today would have been Octavia Butler’s 73rd birthday. I’ve seen her name pop up here and there likely because she wrote science fiction which is one of my main areas of interest. Her name is all over social media today and prompted this post because she has been on my list of authors to read for a few years.

N.K. Jemison

N.K. Jemison has been on my list for the past year or two. I first saw her book The Fifth Season and was intrigued but never got around to reading it. It has been on my TBR for some time, but Jemison herself has become someone I’m interested in and I hope I will like her work. I hear her new book, The City We Became, is really good.

Adrian Tchaikovsky

I’m not sure where I first heard of Adrian Tchaikovsky. I think it was in relation to another author I was following, but I remember hearing about one or two of his books (which I can’t remember) and was intrigued.

Myke Cole

Myke Cole’s book The Armored Saint caught my interest a while back mainly because it had a cool cover. Later on, without realizing, I started following him on Twitter because he has entertaining little feuds with his friend Sam Sykes who is also an author. Of the two, Myke seems the most stable.

Samuel R. Delaney

This one may be a bit surprising since I am a big science fiction fan. Samuel R. Delaney is considered a pretty big name in the field. His name has popped up when authors I like discuss who had inspired them. I have yet to read any of his work but I will eventually.

R.F. Kuang

Another fairly new writer (or should I say younger?) who recently completed her first trilogy. Rebecca’s book The Poppy War has been well received and admittedly is how her name came to be on this list. I actually own The Poppy War but have yet to get around to it.

Jeff Vandermeer

Jeff Vandermeer popped on my radar after a friend took me to see the movie Annihilation which is based on Jeff’s book of the same title. The movie was weird as hell but also interesting enough to make me wonder if the book was different or better (which does happen). I have since heard people rave about his book called Wonderbook which I plan to pick up soon.

Kevin Hearne

Kevin Hearne has an interesting place on this list. I believe I first discovered him on Twitter around the time his book Kill the Farm Boy was releasing. He tweets a lot about cool drinks he makes which is fun. He is also friends with Chuck Wendig who dedicated his book Wanderers to Kevin. Kevin seems like an awesome guy so of course I’ll need to check out his work even though I have a feeling it isn’t particularly what I would normally ready.

Haruki Mirakami

Another bigger name in the literary world that I haven’t yet checked out. Though I just realized that he is an exception to this list as I technically have read something by him. I listened to the audiobook of his memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. I haven’t read any of his fiction, so I still count him as an author I still want to read.

Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett is another name that I think is larger than I realize when it comes to writing. I’ve heard her name here and there and recently heard about her book The Getaway Car which is a memoir about life and writing. This will likely be the first book of hers I read since I like reading what writers have to say about writing.

Jose Saramago

I just discovered Saramago a few days ago while reading a collection of essays by Ursula K. Le Guin. I had never heard of him before but he has been added to my list. She spoke about several of his books but Blindness seemed to be the most prevalent in the essay and caught my interest. However, The Stone Raft may usurp it as the first Saramago book I read.

 

It’s always interesting to me how we find new authors to read. Perhaps you have not heard of some of these authors and may now go look into one of their books. Some of these names I’m sure you have read and may be surprised I have not yet read them. There is so much out there that it is, unfortunately, impossible to read it all, but it’s always great to discover new books and authors. I say read widely and often.

Do you have a specific author you have always planned to read? If so, how did you hear about them? Was it a specific book or some other avenue? Let me know because you may very well be introducing me to someone new and I am always up for discovering new books and authors.

12 Science Fiction Books to Help You Escape Earth for Awhile

There is nothing quite like exploring the universe. Since we can’t physically go take a vacation among the stars, here are some books to let you do so from the comfort of your own home.

The Martian

Andy Weir’s The Martian is a great getaway, even if it means being stranded on Mars. Despite the serious predicament, Mark Whatney keeps a fun attitude as he tries to survive. If you liked the movie and prefer another story by Weir, he does have another novel titled Artemis that is also a fun read. It takes place on a colonized Moon and is also filled with fun, scientifically plausible events.

The Forever War

Joe Haldeman’s story of intergalactic warfare against an unknown enemy includes the realistic effects of time versus traveling near the speed of light. This story follows William Mandella as he tries to survive the war, and learns to survive with how the war has changed him.

Dune

With the new Dune movie set to release at the end of the year, I suspect many people will read this book for the first time within the next several months. Unfortunately, some people will also forego reading the book and only watch the movie believing it will be just as good. The book is almost always better. I have high hopes for the new movie, but I know how good the book is. I only read the first book since it can be read as a standalone story. I am uncertain if I will read the entire series, but there is more story out there if you find yourself wanting more after the initial book. The first six books were written by Frank Herbert. All other sequels were written by his son, Brian Herbert, and Kevin J. Anderson. Though this book came out in 1964, it reads like it could have been written last year.

The Princess of Mars

This is the first book in a series most commonly known as John Carter of Mars. I discovered these books after watching the movie John Carter back in 2012. I thought the movie was entertaining but it differed greatly from the books. Interesting fact, the movie was released exactly 100 years after the first book/story was published. They were written by Edgar Rice Burroughs who is best known for his Tarzan books.

Ender’s Game

This is another series of which I have only read the first book. Orson Scott Card wrote plenty of sequels to keep you satisfied if you are left wanting more, but I was okay reading just the first one. I may try more of the series at another time. I first read this book when the movie was set to release in 2013. I thought the movie was a great adaptation of the film.

The Hunger Games

Okay, this one technically takes place entirely on Earth, but it is an interesting series. Suzanne Collins’s dystopian trilogy recently had an addition, released last week, titled The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes which takes place 64 years prior to the events of the original The Hunger Games book.

Solaris

Solaris by Stanislaw Lem is a psychological ride originally published in 1970. It takes place above the planet of Solaris which contains a sentient ocean. Kris Kelvin is sent to the planet in an attempt to understand what this alien life, which envelopes the entire planet, could be and what it can do.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

What’s better than an escape? An escape that let’s you laugh. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is an absurd journey that will not only get you away from current events, it will remind you how crazy things can be when viewed objectively (and at a slight angle). The Earth is destroyed to make way for an intergalactic bypass? What? Douglas Adams was a treasure.

All System’s Red

All Systems Red is the first book in The Murderbot Diaries. Murderbot, as it calls itself, is a machine/human construct designed to protect humans who are surveying new planets. Murderbot would rather watch TV than even be around humans, but it must do its job so the company that owns it doesn’t find out that it hacked its governor module (the thing that makes sure it follows every order). The first four books are novellas. The fifth book is a full novel and was released earlier this month. There will be another novella continuing the series slated to be released next April. I adore this series.

The Shadow of the Torturer

Gene Wolfe’s series The Book of the New Sun begins with The Shadow of the Torturer. This series is unlike anything I have read before. Once you get into it, you can’t help but keep reading to know where Severian’s adventures will lead him. Each chapter gives a better glimpse into the world Severian inhabits. But is it a distant future version of Earth, or is it perhaps one of a distant past, or is it Earth at all? It could be any of the three. The real question is, how did humanity end up like this?

Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

I recently saw some posts floating around stating that the book version of the third Star Wars film is actually superior to the film itself. I read the book a long time ago, shortly before the film released, and I remember it being great. Matthew Stover did a great job bringing the characters to life and the book delves more into the psyche of Anakin. I read a lot of Star Wars books when I was younger and there are some great stories. Yeah, I know, most of the books are considered non-canon now because of the new movies and stuff, but who cares if they are/aren’t cannon if they are good. Some of my favorite Star Wars stories are technically still cannon and they are in book format. These being the Republic Commando series. If you like Star Wars at all, and haven’t read any of the books, check some out.

Neuromancer

William Gibson gives readers an amazing ride with Neuromancer. Published in 1984, this book has influenced many other science fiction stories. This is the The Matrix meets The Ghost in the Shell before either existed. Though the iconic first line has already become dated, this book remains a great read for any science fiction fans.

8 Short Story Collections

I’m just in the mood for lists, because I’ve created yet another one. This one is about short story collections. The short story is often considered an underrated form. It is also considered (incorrectly) to be dying out. The form is still strong, but it remains more on the fringes of most readers considerations. Here are several collections I’ve enjoyed.

Our Story Begins

Our Story BeginsThis collection by Tobias Wolff includes 31 stories. Several have appeared in other collections but there are 10 that were newly published in this one. Some of my favorites are “Bullet in the Brain” or “In the Garden of North American Martyrs”. I consider Wolff to be one of the best short story writers America has produced. Most of his work is in the short story form and he has several collections available.

Exhalation

ExhalationExhalation is Ted Chiang’s newest collection of short fiction, and it includes a novella length piece titled “The Lifecycle of Software Objects”. I really enjoyed “The Merchant and The Alchemist’s Gate” (I enjoyed all of them really). This collection was released just last year and is Chiang’s second collection. His first was Stories of Your Life and Others which I also recommend. I’ve become a huge fan of Chiang’s work and I look forward to whatever he releases next.

The Philip K. Dick Reader

Philip K Dick ReaderI consider Philip K. Dick (PKD) one of the best science fiction writers of the past century. He is probably best known for his stories that have been adapted into film. Many of these were short stories that were adapted while others were novels. A few of the films based on short stories are Minority Report, Total Recall, Paycheck, and The Adjustment Bureau. Ted Chiang admits that some of his writing has been influenced by PKD, and I think both writers have crafted stories that keep you thinking long after you finish reading, which is what I love most about them. PKD has written approximately 121 short stories and you can get all of them in about five collections with this being one of them.

Trigger Warning

Trigger WarningNeil Gaiman is better known for his novels, but he has dabbled in/mastered several genres/fields. He has a few collections of short stories with Trigger Warning being the most recent. His sense of magic and wonder are as prevalent in these shorter works as they are in his longer forms.

Rogues

RoguesRogues is a collection of stories by various authors. All the stories focus on a character considered to be rogue themselves hence the title. This collection includes a story by Neil Gaiman (but it’s not a story included in Trigger Warning). I must admit that I have not read this entire collection. I primarily got it in order to read the short story by Patrick Rothfuss which is a fun, supplemental story to his book The Name of the Wind.

The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allen Poe

Edgar Allen PoeEdgar Allen Poe is known for several of his short stories. I’ve seen a lot of mentions of “The Masque of the Red Death” going around recently. I have yet to read that particular story, but I will likely do so soon. My personal favorite that I’ve read by Poe is “A Cask of Amontillado”. His stories are more on the darker side and include death in some form (but not all). He is known as a master of the macabre after all.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

What We Talk About When We Talk About LoveRaymond Carver is known primarily as a short story author. The title story is probably his best known or most referenced. It also happens to be my favorite. “Cathedral” is probably my other favorite, but it is not included in this particular collection. You can likely find a few of these stories online including the two mentioned. Carver is considered one of the best at the short form and I have to say that I agree.

I’d Die For You

I'd Die For YouThis collection of stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald is unique because it was released in 2017 and consists of all his work that had remained unpublished. These 18 stories were considered “lost” and had been recently found/discovered, collected, and published in this volume. I bought the collection back when it was first published and have read through about half of them. I was working on my MFA at the time and had to put the collection aside for a bit and haven’t picked it back up, but now that I’ve talked about it, I will probably go back and finish it soon.

If you like short stories and have a favorite story or author not on this list, let me know. I’m always open for new recommendations myself.

I hope that you give some of these a chance if you are not a regular short story reader. At the very least, I hope you go out and read a short story sometime soon. You can find many online for free. I even have several of my own on this blog you can check out (my favorite might be Children of Changyang Mountain).

Happy Reading.

12 Memoirs & Biographies

This time I’m listing memoirs and biographies I’ve read these past several years that I enjoyed. Several of them are about authors or actors I like, but some are simply ones I found or heard about and eventually read.

This Boy’s Life & In Pharoah’s Army

This Boy's LifeThese first two are by Tobias Wolff. The first recounts his unexpected childhood while the latter covers much of his time serving during the Vietnam War. I’m a big fan of Tobias Wolff and enjoy all of his fiction, but his memoirs are equally intriguing and entertaining. This Boy’s Life was actually adapted into film and won the Ambassador Book Award.

The Princess Diarist

The Princess DiaristThis memoir by Carrie Fisher covers her time during the filming of the first Star Wars movie and her eventual launch into stardom as the iconic Princess Leia. It includes a section that reprints her original diary entries from her time during filming including her affair with Harrison Ford. What I found most interesting was Carrie’s admission that she did not plan to enter the field of acting, and then her discussion of what it was like interacting with fans who only saw her as Princess Leia. She had to almost live a double life from the time of these events through the end of her life. I know she has several other memoirs and I plan to check them out sometime.

Robin

Robin WilliamsDave Itzkoff’s biography of Robin Williams was released in 2018 and is a great, detailed account of his adult life. Most of the book events discussed are supplemented by accounts from Robin’s friends and family. The book covers his early years briefly, goes into how he became an iconic comedian and actor. It then ends briefly after his death to tell an all-encompassing account that gives us a holistic view into who he was and what he faced. I learned a lot about about him and I am glad I did.

 

Amazing Fantastic Incredible

Stan LeeAmazing Fantastic Incredible is a graphic novel memoir of comic icon Stan Lee. This account is beautifully illustrated and shows a great history of the comic industry. It gives us an overview of Stan’s life (including his real name) but don’t look for any in-depth details of his life here. A full biography would be better if you want to know more about the man. However, this does give a great insight to the man who was behind many of the hugely popular characters in the Marvel Universe, and it is in his own words and his own style.

J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography

J.R.R. Tolkien BiographyThis biography of J.R.R. Tolkien by Humphrey Carpenter is, as far as I am aware, the best biography of the man behind The Lord of the Rings. I at least think it is the only authorized biography. Carpenter actually met Tolkien and had access to many materials and resources surrounding the author’s life prior to his passing in 1973. I, of course, greatly enjoy Tolkien’s works and enjoyed learning more about the man himself. If you read this and want a little more, I suggest watching the recent biopic titled Tolkien starring Nicholas Hoult. It only covers a brief part of his childhood and ends shortly after his time in the war, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

What if Our World is Their Heaven? The Final Conversations of Philip K. Dick

What If Our World Is Their Heaven?This “book” is unique as I’m not sure it would be considered memoir or biography. It is a transcription of the last interview with Philip K. Dick. I randomly came across this book in a used book store and picked it up as I am a fan of PKD’s works. The interview covers a lot of areas, including the unfinished book PKD was working on at the time and his excitement at seeing early footage of the film Blade Runner which is an adaptation of his book Do Android’s Dream of Electric Sheep? Unfortunately, PKD died of a stroke months after this interview. I haven’t read a full biography of PKD, but I will likely do so in the future. However, I think this interview proves to be a great insight into who he was.

Educated

EducatedThe most recent memoir I’ve read is Educated by Tara Westover and it is captivating. This book details Tara’s childhood through her eventual pursuit of a college education. She grew up without access to school but was always a highly curious child. Her father did not believe in education as he believed it indoctrinated people. He didn’t believe in modern medicine either. Both stem from his religious and personal beliefs. The events of Tara’s life are both shocking and, from an outside view, infuriating at times, but I think this book is important because it highlights more than the importance of knowledge. It highlights the importance of family and doing what is best for yourself.

Tesla: Man Out of Time

Tesla Man Out of TimeMargaret Cheney may be the best biographer of Nikola Tesla. She has written a few, but this one is a great resource if you are wanting to know more about the man who rivaled Edison and became an important figure in the development of electricity. Yes, he is also the person the Tesla Company is named after, but Nikola Tesla never had a company all of his own. I’m glad to see that he has not been lost to history since he is an important contributor to much of the technology we have today, and he continues to inspire and influence research into new technology.

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride

As You WishIf you are a fan of The Princess Bride, you will greatly enjoy this memoir by lead actor Cary Elwes. He recounts his time on the set and the making of the film and tells many stories that only make the fellow actors and the film even more lovable. Especially Andre the Giant. I recommend checking out the audiobook version because Cary narrates it himself and it includes snippets from fellow actors and production crew who give their accounts of events as well. This book adds to the film and will make you likely make you want to rewatch it while you read.

Man’s Search for Meaning

Man's Search for MeaningVictor Frankl’s memoir/psychological novel is small but powerful. This insight into Victor’s time inside a concentration camp during World War II not only gives us a glimpse into history and some of the worst things humans have done to each other, it analyzes the human psyche during such harsh conditions. However, I believe this little book is an insight into the human condition and provides a bit of hope through all the sadness. The first part is the memoir of his time during the war while the second goes into his own psychological theories.

A Moveable Feast

Ernest Hemingway’s book telling of his times in Paris during the 1920’s was fun and insightful. I think it is a great glimpse into a bygone world as we are now almost exactly 100 years removed from the time it took place. I’ll admit my favorite part includes F. Scott Fitzgerald and a broken-down car, but this book gives a look into the life of the iconic author and the world he knew.A Moveable Feast