Read or Reject? #1

My New Year’s Resolution is to give up on books that aren’t outstanding. I don’t want to miss out on a gem that happens to have a poor beginning, so I hope that you can help me sort the wheat from the chaff.

Should I continue reading any of these books?

South Riding by Winifred Holtby

I love BBC adaptations of books, but prefer to have read the book before I watch them on TV. When I discovered that South Riding would be the next book to receive the period drama makeover I decided to give it a try.

South Riding is a snapshot of an English community after the First World War. We see the relationships between the villagers and the little things they have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. It was easy to read and “charming”…… aaarrrgghhhh….. *runs away*.  I actually read about 250 pages of this book before deciding it wasn’t for me. I’m looking forward to watching the BBC adaptation, but I prefer my books to have a darker element and a stronger narrative drive.  

You’ll have to do a lot to convince me to read the last half of this one!

The News Where You Are by Catherine O’Flynn

The News Where You Are is the first real casualty of my New Year’s Resolution. I suspect that if I’d have finished this book I’d have given it 3.5 stars. I loved What Was Lost and was hoping that this one would be even better, but unfortunately it didn’t deliver.

Catherine O’Flynn has a special talent for writing modern dialogue – she makes it seem so realistic. I loved the first few chapters of this book – the characters came alive on the page and were both amusing and insightful. We get to meet a regional new presenter and learn a bit about some of the seemingly mundane stories he broadcasts. Unfortunately the plot didn’t seem to go anywhere and I found it increasingly difficult to motivate myself to continue reading.  I gave up after about 100 pages.

Am I missing out on some amazing plot twists?

The Hiding Place by Trezza Azzopardi

I started reading this book last Summer. I can’t remember anything being particularly wrong with it; all I know is that other books kept calling to me more loudly and so this one accidentally fell by the wayside. My book mark is only in page 27 so I didn’t give it much of a chance, but I’m not sure it is for me.

Should I start it again?


Was I wrong to give up on any of these books?

Is there magic lurking in the final pages?

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  1. Verity says:

    Noo….don’t give up on South Riding – it is an epic, and it’s only by reading all of it that I think you will appreciate it! Mind you, we have different reading tastes so…

    I didn’t enjoy the News where you are as much as What was lost, but I still enjoyed it enough to read all of it.

    I like Trezza Azzopardi, but I don’t think I’ve read this one.

    1. Jackie says:

      Verity, But does South Riding change drastically in style in the second half? Does something actually happen or do they just gossip about each other? I can see why people love it, but it is so sweet and gentle. I think I’d still prefer to watch the edited TV programme than read another 250 pages.

      1. I don’t know the book, but from the cover I’d say: don’t bother. :-) (I’m pretty good judging by cover)

  2. FleurFisher says:

    South Riding moves forward significantly in the sceond half, but it is such a good book that I have to say if you aren’t enjoying it you should put it away for another stage in your life.

    I was horribly disappointed in The News Where You Are but I held on hoping it would pick up. It didn’t.

    And Treeza Azzopardi I quite like, but I wouldn’t have said she was your sort of author.

    So I make that two to ditch and one to reshelve!

    1. Jackie says:

      FleurFisher, That sounds like a very good plan :-) I can see how I might grow to like South Riding more as I age. I’ll ensure I don’t get rid of my copy and hope I can love it at some point in years to come.

      It is good to know that you think my instincts were right on the other two though. Thanks for the reassurance :-)

  3. Jessica says:

    I enjoyed The news where you are (I haven’t read her other book) but I did find it a very easy read with some mildly amusing bits and I will only give it a 3. If your not enjoying it at 100 pages then I’d say give it up.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jessica, It sounds as though you had a similar experince to me – I’m quite pleased I gave it up when I did now :-)

  4. BibliophileBytheSea says:

    I haven’t read any of these, however, The Hiding Place, has remained on my TO KEEP shelves over the years, despite donating lots of unread books. I think it is a keeper and worthwhile read for some reason.

    1. Jackie says:

      BibliophileBytheSea, The Hiding Place does seem to have a modern classic status, but I’m just not sure it is for me. I’m sure a lot of other people love it – perhaps you will too?

  5. I haven’t read any of these, but I do have The News Where You Are on my shelf. I’m heard mixed reviews, so I’m a little trepidatious going in. Congratulations on sticking to your resolution!

    1. Jackie says:

      Carrie, I don’t think I’ve seen any really positive reviews for it – all seem to have at least a few reservations. I hope you enjoy it more than I did.

  6. I haven’t read any of these, so I can’t help you with your decisions about them, but when I read that you “prefer your books to have a darker element and a stronger narrative drive,” I thought you might like the book I’m giving away right now. I read it this weekend and I LOVED it! Check it out here:

    1. Jackie says:

      Kathy, The Ground is Burning does sound like my sort of book – thanks for pointing it out to me :-)

  7. I have not read ant of these but what a fantastic idea for a post!

    1. Jackie says:

      Sheila, Thank you!

  8. Very good on almost giving up on books! I actually struggled (no, it was an easy read) through a boring 225 page book this weekend. Finally at page 197 something happened! It was such a quick read that I sat it out.

    But then the next book I started, I thought of you, and stopped after 50 pages. :-) Not another boring one, please, I thought!

    Now I’m reading a book by my favorite Dutch writer, so that should be OK I hope.

    1. Jackie says:

      Judith, I’m so pleased that you are trying to avoid the boring books too. Good luck finding those wonderful reads :-)

  9. Jo says:

    I have hovered with South Riding. I wanted to read it because it was coming out on the TV but was not sure. I think I might see what the programme is like and then perhaps decide.

    I was rather like that with Lark Rise to Candleford. I read the first book by Flora Thompson but it did not really go anywhere and struggled with subsequent books, though the programme is lovely.

    I have only read The Song House by Trezza Azzopardi and I was not very keen on this book and it put me off reading others.

    Well done on being honest on rejecting the books. I hope it has felt liberating for you.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jo, I almost compared this book to Lark Rise in my review, but in the end I didn’t as I haven’t tried to read the book. But I imagine they are very similar – I enjoy watching the gentle Lark Rise humor on TV – especially with all the period dress etc, but don’t think I could read the book of the same story. I’m sure I’ll enjoy South Riding much more when it is edited down for TV.

  10. Karen says:

    I haven’t read any of these Jackie so I’m afraid I can’t help you out in terms of making your decision but I would say Life is too short to read books you aren’t totally in love with!

  11. Patty says:

    I just think that you put them down for a reason…I could not ever put down a book I loved…so you must not love these…why force yourself? There is far too much out there to pick up and enjoy!!!

    1. Jackie says:

      Patty, Occasionally books throw a wild card out after several hundred pages – I want to ensure I don’t miss out on something amazing that happens to have a slow start. I agree though – so many wonderful books out there!

  12. raidergirl3 says:

    I liked the News Where You Are. It was an Early Reviewer from library thing, so I had to finish it but I did like it. The plot does twist a bit at the end, but I enjoyed reading Frank (I think that’s his name) I know I liked it enough that I sought out What Was Lost, which was very good. (I wanted to add a review that did enjoy The News)

    However, I know once I start disliking a book, or thinking of stopping, it’s hard to switch that off, and I tend to be reinforced in not liking it, seldom changing my mind. So just look for the next book.

    1. Jackie says:

      raidergirl3, It still sounds as though you liked it, but didn’t LOVE it (and What Was Lost was better?) I’m sure I would have found enough to like if I’d read this to the end, but not enough to LOVE it. This was my toughest decision to date, but I still think I did the right thing in stopping…perhaps I’ll read the last chapter just to find out what happens in the end though….

  13. Mystica says:

    I generally do not want to give up on books which I have started but on theother hand I have begun to realize that there my reading time is now limited and I have begun to see that pursuing a book which is not interesting is a waste of very limited resources – time and energy. I have now decided to just give up on the book if it does not interest me.

    1. Jackie says:

      Mystica, Yeah!! Welcome to the ruthless world of book abandonment ;-)

  14. TERESA says:

    I think part of the problem with The News where You are is that What Was Lost was such an outstanding debut and this just pales in comparison – second novel syndrome? Whencompared with most books out there, yes, it’s very well written but admittedly rather dull. I think you made the right decision. I, the eternal optimist!, tend to trudge on hoping for vast improvements – well, it gets me through life… ;-)

  15. Beth F says:

    Can’t help because I haven’t read them — but my advice is generally to move along.

  16. Alex says:

    Can’t help either, but once again just wanted to say how this is such a great idea! Talk about the community influencing your reading choices :)

  17. Andi says:

    I’m of the mind that if you aren’t in love (or at least pretty darn entertained) by 50 pages, toss it.

  18. Alyce says:

    I haven’t read any of these, but I admire you being able to toss them aside when you don’t like them.

  19. Kathleen says:

    Unfortunately I haven’t read any of these so can’t say whether you are missing anything by not finishing them. I’m giving myself permission in 2011 to abandon books that just aren’t working for me. Life is too short and there are too many good and great books waiting to be read!

  20. Erin says:

    I haven’t read any of these and so can’t speak for or against them. Just wanted to say I enjoy this feature!

  21. Jackie says:

    Thanks for all your encouragement :-)

  22. caite says:

    I have not read any of these books, so I can’t help you with that. But I love the question of when to give up on a book that is really not grabbing you.

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