Sunday, March 24, 2013

Tried it and Tossed it

Not every book works for every reader - and I tend to be a particularly impatient reader. Here are a few books I tried that just didn't work for me.

The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
published 5/12

Synopsis from publisher -

What if your life was upended in an instant? What if your spouse or your child disappeared right in front of your eyes? Was it the Rapture or something even more difficult to explain? How would you rebuild your life in the wake of such a devastating event? These are the questions confronting the bewildered citizens of Mapleton, a formerly comfortable suburban community that lost over a hundred people in the Sudden Departure. Kevin Garvey, the new mayor, wants to move forward, to bring a sense of renewed hope and purpose to his traumatized neighbors, even as his own family disintegrates. His wife, Laurie, has left him to enlist in the Guilty Remnant, a homegrown cult whose members take a vow of silence but haunt the towns streets as “living reminders” of Gods judgment. His son, Tom, is gone, too, dropping out of college to follow a crooked "prophet" who calls himself Holy Wayne. Only his teenaged daughter, Jill, remains, and shes definitely not the sweet "A" student she used to be.

Through the prism of a single family, Perrotta illuminates a familiar America made strange by grief and apocalyptic anxiety. The Leftovers is a powerful and deeply moving book about regular people struggling to hold onto a belief in their futures.

My thoughts -

I can't remember if I liked the other Perrotta novel I read a while back - I have a feeling he might be one of those popular authors that just doesn't click with me. I was listening to this on audio, and when my mp3 player died I couldn't seem to find the motivation to return to this novel after my replacement arrived.

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch and Jeffrey Zaslow
published 2008

Synopsis from publisher -

A lot of professors give talks titled "The Last Lecture." Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them. And while they speak, audiences can't help but mull the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy?

When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn't have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave — "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams" — wasn't about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because "time is all you have...and you may find one day that you have less than you think"). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living.

My thoughts -

I generally don't read books like this, but one of my students REALLY wanted me to try it, so I reluctantly agreed. Really, nothing wrong with it, but I'd already seen a documentary about Mr. Pausch, so after 2 chapters I felt like I had already read the whole book.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
published 2012

Synopsis from publisher -

Oct. 11th, 1943 — A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun.
When "Verity" is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn't stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she's living a spy's worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage and failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

My thoughts -

I know, I know! This should have been everything I loved about reading, but I just could not get into the story. I am keeping this one on the back burner, though, and will try it again at a later date.

So there you have my true confessions - what have you read lately that just didn't work for you?

Photo credit: justmakeit / / CC BY-NC


bermudaonion said...

I read The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow but I wasn't smart enough to toss it. The writing was fine, I just didn't like the magical elements of the story.

Amy said...

aw that's sad about Code Name Verity, but i remember it started slowish.

Interesting about Perotta. I want to read that book bc of the potential show, but hmmm IDK now!

Carolynn said...

I read every word of The Awakening...GAH. It did NOTHING for me. I.don'

Kristen M. said...

Luckily all of my reads have been good lately but I'm sure there will be a dud soon. I'm surprised to see Code Name Verity on your list because of all the glowing reviews. Timing can be a big factor though. Do you think you're hanging on to it because it is supposed to be good or because you saw a spark of something in the bit you read?