Let It Go. Let It Go!

Erin Kodicek on February 20, 2019

Apologies for the ear-worm, but it's for a good cause. I was just speaking with a friend who was lamenting that the last couple of books she picked up just aren't resonating with her. Still, she assured me, she was going to keep reading. "Why?!," I asked. "It's madness!" But we've all been there. 10, 15, 20, 75! pages into a book and it's just not grabbing you. But you paid hard-earned money for it; you waited an inordinately long time for it to be available at the library (It's popular! It must be good!); your best friend leant it to you because it changed their life!; or perhaps your book club is reading it, you can't be accused of just showing up for the wine again, so you masochistically soldier on, when there are so many better books (for you) in the sea.

Do yourself a favor and cut bait. That's what I ended up having to do with the books below, and while I feel a little guilty about it (there's a couple masterpieces here I just couldn't master), I'm confessing for those who need permission to do the same. After all, life is short, and there are gems aplenty in your (hopefully) towering to-read piles.

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Ulysses by James Joyce

A friend's book club has been studiously slogging through Ulysses for so long that three participants have literally died in an attempt to finish it (including the host of the Ulysses podcast that informed discussions). Time to curb the body count and move on to a real page-turner, like Finnegan's Wake.

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Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James

James Joyce and E L James. I know, I'm a Renaissance Woman. But after barely making it to page 25 of Fifty Shades of Grey, I desperately wanted to be blindfolded, but not for the reasons described in the book. 

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Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

I understand why this book became such a phenomenon (so this is definitely a minority opinion)--I just wish it didn't read like two different people penned it. There were powerful, evocative passages interspersed with ones that read like a high school sociology textbook. That killed the momentum for me.

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Gut Symmetries by Jeanette Winterson

Yay! Cannibalism! This is not a reaction you want to have, ever, but it's the one plot element that jogged my attention in an otherwise bore of read from one of the best writers out there (seriously, Jeanette Winterson is amazing). But Gut Symmetries's muddled plot made me lose my appetite.

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Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

A former colleague couldn't understand why I don't care for sci-fi so I challenged him to recommend a book that would make me fall in love with the genre, and he gave me a charmingly dog-eared, much-loved copy of Snow Crash. As soon as I read that the protagonist's name was Hiro Protagonist this Jaded Reader was done. 

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