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Last week I published my list of “The Best Books of 2017,” including twelve amazing books that made me very happy. But, things aren’t always sunshine and light in my little world of books. In fact 2017 felt like a particularly rough year with a bad fall slump and a higher number of books than usual that just didn’t work for me. Sometimes I quit on those, but other times I soldiered on and wished I hadn’t! Today I’m joining up with A Month of Favorites, looking at ten 2017 books that just didn’t win me over.
Linking up with A Month of Favorites hosted by Traveling with T, Estella’s Revenge, and GirlXOXO.
5 Books I Didn’t Finish
The Gargoyle Hunters by John Freeman Gill – I was eager to read this debut and had been denied and advanced copy on NetGalley, so you can imagine my excitement when a hardback arrived on my doorstep from Knopf. I stuck it out for about a quarter of the book, but it felt too bogged down in architectural detail for me.
The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova – I loved Kostova’s debut, The Historian so was eager to read her latest. Like The Historian, The Shadow Land is set in Eastern Europe, but that’s where the similarities stopped. I found the heroine in her latest to be too timid for my taste and the over use of journeys by taxis was….taxing! I quit at 27%.
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate – This one has been on others’ best books lists, so clearly I could have missed something. I found this dual timeline historical fiction to be too full of unlikely coincidences. This was mainly an issue in the present setting and for me that tainted the entire book. I only lasted to 20%.
Refuge by Dina Nayeri – Refuge came in the middle of a series of disappointing summer reads, so I wasn’t in a mood to stay with a book that just didn’t ever seem to be gaining any steam for me. I loved this book’s gorgeous cover, but by 22% I realized that was about all I liked about Refuge.
Who Is Rich? by Matthew Klam – Another summer flop for me. I felt like better titles might have been Who Is Self-Absorbed or Who Is Annoying? I never could connect with Rich, the main character in Klam’s satire of love and lust set at a New England arts conference. Making it to 23% felt like an accomplishment.
5 Books I WISH I Didn’t Finish
Underground Fugue by Margot Singer – By shear grit, I stuck with this story of loss, misunderstandings, and betrayal in the weeks before and after a London bombing attack. It always felt like Underground Fugue was just on the verge of getting better, but then…no. (my full review)
What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons – There was a lot of hype around this summer debut, but for me it fell flat. What We Lose was a daughter’s poignant tribute to a much-loved mother and the exploration of finding a life without her, but the writer’s vignette format was such a distraction that I could never overcome my annoyance. (my full review)
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan – One expects big things from a Pulitzer Prize winning author, but for me Egan just didn’t deliver with Manhattan Beach. I knew I should quit at about 30%, but I determinedly kept going always hoping her latest novel was going to fall into the brilliance I expected. For me, it didn’t. (my full review)
Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak – I really have only two words for Seven Days of Us – train wreck. This debut was like a disaster that you just can’t stop watching. To me the more I read, the worse it got until I reached a point where I HAD to know bad it could possible be (sorry). This is the book I most wish I didn’t finish! (my full review)
Heather, the Totality by Matthew Weiner – Weiner is the creator of Mad Men, so he knows how to tell a story, or so I thought. For me, the entire story was very one-dimensional. None of the characters ever had any depth to their development and the entire premise felt forced. Heather, the Totality was a total fail! (my full review)
What 2017 books would you add to these
“Did Not Finish” lists?
Disclosure: There are Amazon Associate links included within this post.
Sarah's Book Shelves says
Ugh – every time I see Manhattan Beach on one of the Best of lists I want to scream “HOW???”
I feel like there has to be behind the scenes string-pulling…
Right? I feel that way about quite a few.
I kind of wish I had DNFed The Shadow Land, but I was so excited about winning an ARC and hoping it would get better that I felt like I couldn’t stop. There really was so little payoff to that book!
You make me very happy that I quit on it. Thanks.
Two I wish I had quite on were “The Nix” and “Little Fires Everywhere.” Two I did throw in the towel on were “Florence in Ecstasy” and “The Idiot.”
I’ll soon find out on “Manhattan Beach” — my library hold just came up. I think it will be on a short leash!
Let me know what you think of Manhattan Beach, Madeline.
eEJOAN BENEDETTI says
Like you I rarely abandon a book, but by page 100, I could stand the boredom no longer. I just could not finish BEARTOWN. Between the details on hockey and the cold weather, I had to quit. A book I did like was BEFORE WE WERE YOURS. In fact I gave it my first A plus since August (ELEANOR OLIPHANT). The historical accuracy was informative and amazing. Thankfully I usually agree with your choices. Thanks for the tip on MANHATTAN BEACH.
We usually do agree, but I loved Beartown. I didn’t like the modern storyline in Before We Were Yours. It felt so forced to me, but luckily we’re all a little different.
Kate @ Parchment Girl says
I’m so bummed that everyone seemed to dislike Manhattan Beach. I have a copy on my shelf, but after reading all the negative reviews it’ll probably be a long time before I deign to pick it up.
Thats how I feel about Artemis. I don’t even want to try it because I’ve read so many blah reviews.
Ann Marie says
I think I’m going to skip Manhattan Beach. It’s still much-hyped but I’ve seen too many unfavorable reviews. I did finish The Gargoyle Hunters and I enjoyed it but I see what you mean. I have an attachment to NYC so I enjoyed it but if it had taken place in a different city, I’m not sure…
I usually love books set in NYC, and in fact that was part of the allure for me, but the story just didn’t grab me.
We’re on the same page about Who’s Rich, Seven Days of Us and Manhattan Beach…all DNF”s for me. I’ve got Before We Were Yours on hold at the library and know several people who loved it and your differing opinion makes me so curious to try it and see what I think
I’ll be interested to hear what side you fall on with Before We Were Yours. Let me know!
You saved me from so many of these, Susie – ha! I owe you, big time!
You’ve saved me from quite a too. It’s so nice we can help each other out that way. Merry Christmas!