Wednesday, July 22, 2009

More Non-Starters

I cannot finish a book to save my life these days. Is it me? Is it the books? I can't tell. Whatever it is, it better go away soon, because I feel a little lost at the moment.

The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver - Using a playful parallel-universe structure, The Post-Birthday World follows one woman's future as it unfolds under the influence of two drastically different men. Children's book illustrator Irina McGovern enjoys a quiet and settled life in London with her partner, fellow American expatriate Lawrence Trainer, a smart, loyal, disciplined intellectual at a prestigious think tank. To their small circle of friends, their relationship is rock solid. Until the night Irina unaccountably finds herself dying to kiss another man: their old friend from South London, the stylish, extravagant, passionate top-ranking snooker player Ramsey Acton. The decision to give in to temptation will have consequences for her career, her relationships with family and friends, and perhaps most importantly the texture of her daily life. Hinging on a single kiss, this enchanting work of fiction depicts Irina's alternating futures with two men temperamentally worlds apart yet equally honorable. With which true love Irina is better off is neither obvious nor easy to determine, but Shriver's exploration of the two destinies is memorable and gripping. Poignant and deeply honest, written with the subtlety and wit that are the hallmarks of Shriver's work, The Post-Birthday World appeals to the what-if in us all.

I was enjoying this one. I was. I finished the first 100 pages though, realised I had another nearly 400 pages to go and wasn't sure if I was going to make it through it and kind of wanted to know how the two stories would turn out. I can't wait for anything people. Obviously reading the last page felt like slogging through the rest of the book would be pointless. So I didn't.

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin
- Elsewhere is where 15-year-old Liz Hall ends up, after she has died. It is a place so like Earth, yet completely different from it. Here Liz will age backward from the day of her death until she becomes a baby again and returns to Earth. Is it possible that a life lived in reverse is no different from a life lived forward?

After reading If I Stay earlier in the year, and Before I Die last year, Lovely Bones however many years ago, I thought to myself 'maybe this a genre that interests me' and I was going to give this one a chance. It started off with a preface written by the family dog. It didn't bode well for the book.

Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult
- The acclaimed #1 New York Times bestselling author presents a spellbinding tale of a mother's tragic loss and one man's last chance at gaining salvation. Can we save ourselves, or do we rely on others to do it? Is what we believe always the truth?One moment June Nealon was happily looking forward to years full of laughter and adventure with her family, and the next, she was staring into a future that was as empty as her heart. Now her life is a waiting game. Waiting for time to heal her wounds, waiting for justice. In short, waiting for a miracle to happen. For Shay Bourne, life holds no more surprises. The world has given him nothing, and he has nothing to offer the world. In a heartbeat, though, something happens that changes everything for him. Now, he has one last chance for salvation, and it lies with June's eleven-year-old daughter, Claire. But between Shay and Claire stretches an ocean of bitter regrets, past crimes, and the rage of a mother who has lost her child. Would you give up your vengeance against someone you hate if it meant saving someone you love? Would you want your dreams to come true if it meant granting your enemy's dying wish?

I don't know about Jodi Picoult. Maybe this wasn't the book to start me off, but I stopped fairly early on. Finding a suitable summary of the book for this post did tip me off to some of the more major plot lines and honestly, it doesn't sound like the book for me any more. I tried. Moving on.

The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson - Nina, Mel and Avery have been best friends since they were tiny. But one summer can change everything. When Nina goes away for a month, she comes back to find the world has changed. Mel and Avery have their own secret: one Nina can't be part of.

There's nothing wrong with this book. And I am determined to finish it. It was really good, and I actually giggled about one of the scenes in this first chapter for a few days. But I caught this book at the wrong time, at the tail end of too many YA books. Bad timing, feels like a good book. I'll come back to it.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky - Charlie is a freshman. And while he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it. Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But Charlie can't stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

I'd heard good things about this one. I'm sure there was more than one review of this book that I've read in the past year or so. But there's just something about it. Some of it seems like it's just too much going on in the book, and some of it is that I find the writing horribly simple and too-innocent. I don't know. Or it could just be me.

Have you read any of these books? Should I carry on? How do you fight off a reading-slump?


  1. I loved Elsewhere. It did take a little while to get into it though. Haven't read any of the others, sorry.

  2. The only one I've read is Post Birthday World. I loved it in the beginning, but quickly got bored of the repitition. It is overly long and I'm not surprised you gave up on it.

  3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of my favorites, but I find timing is important when I'm reading books. Days or weeks can go by where I'm just not interested in reading or where nothing captures my interest. I just wait until something does. That's vague and probably not helpful, but it works for me.

  4. Poor you - sorry they just aren't working for you at the moment. I have only read one Jodi Picoult and I really enjoyed it - Second Glance - it was a spooky one, nothing like the rest of her books.

  5. I couldn't get into novels at all for about two years after having Tom (apart from when he was brand new.) That's when I got into reading (and writing). Short stories can be brilliant and you know you can get through one before bed.

  6. I've read Perks and while I did enjoy it, I think it would be something you would have to read at the right time for it not to be annoying.

    I have Bermudez Triangle from the library right now. Along with way more books than I'll ever get read before they are due.

  7. Yes, timing is very important.

    Also, I've never really been into short stories before. Unless my particular authors. And even that sometimes feels like a chore.


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