Fyodor Dostoevsky changed how I read.
Until I was 23 or so, I had this commitment to finishing every single book that I started whether I liked it or not.
But then I read Crime and Punishment (or maybe it was Brothers Karamozov, either way…) and in the introduction, Dostoevsky orders the reader to stop the reading the book if the book is not engaging the reader’s mind.
Even then, Dostoevsky preached that there were too many books and too many authors to get stuck on a book for some arbitrary commitment.
He argues that you are doing a disservice to yourself and to the author for forcing yourself to do something that should be enjoyable and meaningful.
Plus – you are missing out on all the author that you could be reading instead.
After all, if you start reading a book per week, every week from age 16 to age 90 – that comes to 3,848 books over the course of your life. And that’s some serious speed reading.
Either way – that’s it.
You imagine that you have plenty of time to read all these books someday, but you really don’t.
There are more than 300,000 new books are published every year in the United States alone. There are more than 134 million in publication already. And that’s not even counting self-published books.
Even if you only read the top 0.1% of books published…you will still miss out on hundreds of thousands of amazing, life-changing books (and that’s not counting the important process of re-reading some of your favorites).
So I started putting down books.
I usually commit to around 100 pages though to give the author a real shot. But after that, the book is out – no qualms.
The downside of this approach is that I never really read a “bad” book.
And while my reviews may be yet one more vote on the already ridiculous “definitely read” list…I don’t really help anyone avoid bad books.
So that’s what this post is for – all the books that I recommend that you avoid.
I will add all of my most recent “do not read” books along with a short anti-review each year.
So here we go –
I see why people rave about this novel, but I just couldn’t identify with the characters or setting. It’s in 1970s New York City. Probably good but not for me.
I understand why this psychology / therapy / self-help book is helpful to so many people. The message and thinking is clear and concise. And the author is a practicing therapist, so it has an authority that is rare in religion & self-help books. But. While the examples might help some people who are really struggling with serious trauma, they were simply too much for me. I took away the core message, but left most of the book unread.
I don’t know how this travel book made it as an Amazon bestseller. I was taken by the topic and the reviews. I love a good travel book. But I think it’s self-published. The author might have had some great experiences, but he really needs a good editor.
I *love* the original trilogy, so I had high hopes even though this is not written by the (now deceased) Stieg Larsson. I did not like it at all.
This novel gets all sorts of high praise from readers who normally provide solid recommendations. Yeah – no. I didn’t get it. It was dark, very dark with no real hook for me to understand narrative or the characters.
I love a lot of Jo Nesbo’s work, but I felt like this one was a bit too templated and even more violent than normal.
A novel where I thought that I’d like the setting, but didn’t. Skip.
I had such high hopes for this book based around Alexis de Tocqueville, but wow I struggled to make it even a 100 pages.
This book felt way too smart for its own good. Also, way too long. Skipped.
Also felt way too clever for its own good. I didn’t engage with the characters. Quit.
I love the setting, but this fell flat. I highly recommend F. Sionil Jose for any novels set in The Philippines.
Ok – this book had some very smart ideas. And was quite ahead of its time. But wow, the writer is almost a parody of a philosopher who writes about Digimodernism. Very academic treatment of some important ideas that should be popularized.
I just got bored with this book, even though I think it had some smart ideas.
That’s all for now. I’ll add any new ones to the top each New Year.