March wrap-up – Books I read and those I abandoned

In March I have tried to read books set in interesting locations and I was able to blog about quite a few. I also added to my collection of blogs about numbers and body parts from January and February. For April I am going to blog about different occupations – either factual books about a certain occupation or novels where the main characters have a specific occupation. I’m going to ignore characters who are police officers/detectives and those who are writers and see what others I can find to read about.

It has been a good month for reading with over 30 books finished in March, most of which seem to have been crime novels. I did, however, fail to finish two books this month. It’s not unusual for me to abandon a book part-read but I don’t do it that often either and this will make three books in total for the year so far. I tend not to give up on books because I choose to read books that I know I will like. If, however, I step too far out of my comfort zone I am likely to encounter more books that I don’t enjoy.

I have often heard people say that they don’t ever give up on a book but I don’t think that way. I have shelves and shelves of books waiting to be read, and that’s just the ones I own. Why should I struggle with something that I am not enjoying when there are so many new books to try ? Here’s some of the reasons that I abandon books, with no reference to actual titles because it’s usually not the author’s fault !

  • Very confusing plotline – Some books start by throwing the reader into the middle of a story or series of events and it takes a while before you really understand what is going on. This can be quite exhilarating but the author has to get to the explanation quite soon or I’m going to jump ship – I am confused enough in my real life so I don’t need to be confused in my reading life too. Occasionally the main character is just as confused as the reader (mainly books with amnesia as a a plot device – there are way too many of these in my opinion). When a reader does this then I need to know even more quickly what is happening. A bit of confusion I can take but any more than that or if it goes on too long the book no longer works for me.
  • Difficult narrative voice – Some books are narrated by children or by people who are unreliable or by people speaking in a dialect or slang. Some of these I can take, especially if there are a number of narrators for the story, but some cause me problems. I left a book last year which was written in a very exaggerated Southern States of America accent which rubbed me up the wrong way. I have also abandoned a book narrated by a Glasgow drug dealer who wrote in dialect and swore virtually every other word and also one that started by being narrated by wine bottles. I don’t necessarily want my books’ narrators to sound like me but I get on with some narrative voices better than I do with others.
  • Characters who do things I don’t like. Some things I don’t like in real life and I certainly don’t want to read about them, however good the book. One romance novel I read and abandoned had the hero kidnap the heroine to make her his bride and forced her to submit to his advances – a skip through to the end showed that she forgave him for this, but I didn’t. I won’t usually read a book where the main character commits adultery or is a thief even if the chances are that they repent. Many romances make their heroes unlikeable at first so that the heroine can tame them and reveal their true character – I rarely make it to the transformation because I don’t like reading about very disagreeable people in a romance.
  • Plot devices or storylines that I don’t enjoy. I have a few of these – books which are mainly set in court, books where amnesia is the main plot device, stories where the main character is unjustly accused and has to convince everyone that they are innocent, books where the main character is shamed in the press or books which feature Arthurian legend. These are all peculiar to me but if I am not going to enjoy them then I don’t read them. And horror books – I never, ever read horror.
  • Experimental writing – You know what I mean. Books with an unusual style. Stories told in snatches or in an original timeframe. Books where you can’t tell what is dialogue and what is narration. Of course I enjoy an unusual way of telling a story and have read plenty of them but books written in a non-standard format are more likely to be abandoned than more conventional writing. I suspect that I’m just not adventurous enough.
  • Bad writing. I can endure quite a lot of bad writing (I’ve read Fifty Shades of Grey) but there are times when I just can’t cope any more. Things I can’t overlook include lots of typos and simple grammatical errors in the narration. Some books are overwritten with far too many adjectives and adverbs. Others have dialogue which never sounds like anyone human has said it. Self-published books are often, but certainly not always, the biggest offenders.
  • Just plain wrong. This especially applies to historical fiction where I often know more history than the writer. If very obvious facts are wrong I can’t continue. If the book is written by an American and set in England and uses American words for things I can usually cope but then when they start treating the UK as though it is the USA I have to give up – no, you can’t get married in your front room in England, our police officers don’t usually carry guns and all our eligible men are not peers of the realm.
  • Very depressing books. Some books are meant to be depressing and are still gripping (think of The Road or Germinal for example) but many are just depressing all the way through. After a while the hero/ine’s travails and misfortunes just become too much for me to cope with – I don’t want jokes on every second page but some authors need to lighten up a bit. I can cope with a sad ending but a book that is remorselessly glum can really put me off.
  • Funny books which aren’t. Everyone is different but books others find hysterical or hilarious often leave me cold. I usually avoid funny books because I am aware that my sense of humour doesn’t align with whoever writes the copy on the covers of books.
  • Just don’t care. Sometimes there’s no reason that I can put my finger on but the author has failed to make me care. These are books I can easily put down and fail to take up again.

Reading this list has made me wonder how I ever find anything to read ! These are books I tend to avoid but I promise that there are plenty left for me to enjoy. Keep reading !