21 July, 2015

Abandoning Books

For many book lovers, it seems to be a guilty and saddening task to give up on a book. Turning pages wistfully, dragging yourself to the next chapter, only to find that you still aren't engaged or excited. That's one type of book guilt. Alternately, you could find yourself just hating the points the author is making or the ways in which they're making them. With some books, there are portions you dislike, but the rest of the book is strong enough to pull you through. With others, you just feel strongly opposed to the author's outlook. This is especially frustrating when you're dealing with an author you've - at one time - enjoyed.

This past week I borrowed The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson because it was (sadly) the only audiobook of his available from my local libraries. I have very much enjoyed Thompson in the past. I love the sardonic, freakish tone of his observations. I adore his ability to portray the mundane as truly horrifying in ways that are also an essential depiction of reality. There were certainly aspects of this formidable skill in The Rum Diary. To be fair to the guy, he probably didn't get to hand-pick his narrator for this reading. But not only was the narration gratuitous, sounding like a Johnny Depp impersonator pretending to be Ron from Parks and Rec, pretending to be Hunter S. Thompson, but Thompson's sole female character was a travesty. This character, whose name I couldn't even be impressed upon to remember, is purely a testosterone-fueled humanization of tits and ass. Thompson takes some formidable digs at the Beats, but simultaneously fails to have the imagination to create a "real girl." Even a manic pixie dream girl would be a bit of an improvement upon Ms. Daisy Dukes whose sole purpose seems to be following male writers around in little clothing.

*Rant Over* I gave up. About two hours into the audiobook, I just couldn't take it. It makes me nervous to re-read or read some of Thompson's other works, in fear that I might see this stark chauvinism in a new light. The last time I'd read something by Thompson was when I was still in high school, and perhaps a bit more anaesthetized to lackluster depictions of female characters.

What books have you abandoned? Did you feel it was deserved, or were you frustrated that you weren't in the right frame of mind to finish them?

13 July, 2015

The Book Riot 2015 Read Harder Challenge (update)

 I decided that I would undertake this challenge, but without a specific plan on its completion (e.g. I am randomly reading what interests me, and hoping to knock out a bunch of the categories). So far, I have actually knocked out a few! Join me, and track your progress on Goodreads or in the comments section. I have completed 11/24 challenges, and would also love feedback or recommendations for the other slots.

A book written by someone when they were under the age of 25 - Yet to be completed!

A book written by someone when they were over the age of 65 - Yet to be completed!
A collection of short stories (either by one person or an anthology by many people) - Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace by Ann Lamott

A book published by an indie press - Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli (Pantheon = indie imprint of Knopf.

A book by or about someone that identifies as LGBTQ - Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

A book by a person whose gender is different from your own - The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap by Matt Taibi

A book that takes place in Asia  - currently working on The Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

A book by an author from Africa - Yet to be completed!

A book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture (Native Americans, Aboriginals, etc.) - Yet to be completed!

A microhistory - Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

A YA novel - Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

A sci-fi novel - Yet to be completed!

A romance novel - Yet to be completed!

A National Book Award, Man Booker Prize or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade - Yet to be completed!

A book that is a retelling of a classic story (fairytale, Shakespearian play, classic novel, etc.) - Yet to be completed!

An audiobook - The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb

A collection of poetry - Yet to be completed!

A book that someone else has recommended to you - Wild by Cheryl Strayed

A book that was originally published in another language - Yet to be completed!

A graphic novel, a graphic memoir or a collection of comics of any kind (Hi, have you met Panels?)
 - Ms. Marvel, Vol. 2: Generation Why? by G. Willow Wilson

A book that you would consider a guilty pleasure (Read, and then realize that good entertainment is nothing to feel guilty over) - The Last Summer (of You and Me) by Ann Brashares

A book published before 1850 - Yet to be completed!

A book published this year - Yet to be completed!

A self-improvement book (can be traditionally or non-traditionally considered “self-improvement”) - Yet to be completed!