Books I Couldn’t Finish in 2013 – A through B

the_art_of_the_start_resizeTHE ART OF THE START by Guy Kawasaki

Started but not finished. I guess you could say that I already know everything this book purported to teach me!

In fact, the real reason I stopped listening was because I was, at the time, several months away from doing any of the “start” activities he suggested after the first couple of chapters. Also, it turned out to be a pen and paper based manual, which didn’t work so well for me since I was listening to it on audiobook at the job I was about to get laid off from. Now that I actually have started something (am starting?), I’ll probably pick it back up in 2014. It does have a lot of practical advice for people starting businesses, with some non-profit info thrown in. I recommend the paper version of this book so that you can highlight, bookmark and flip easily to the passages you’ll need to reference for the “homework” that gets assigned.

A BOOK OF TONGUES – Hexslinger Series Book 1 by Gemma Files

I had to look up what this book was even about. I honestly can’t remember why I didn’t finish it. The Kindle’s last read spot is the very first page. I have a feeling I read the first sentence:

Today is ruled by Centeotle, the Lord of Maize, a version of Xipe Totec, Our Lord the Flayed One. Also known as Xilonen, “The Hairy One,” he holds the position of forth Lord of the Night.

And decided that it was too much for me at the time. I bought it on August 31, three months after I got laid off, but the same month I got my first major project. My Kindle account shows that I was buying (and reading) about 5 books a day up until I bought this one, at which point I didn’t buy another book for two weeks. It’s probably a case of wrong place wrong time. I may be seeing it again in 2014 when I feel up to a something heavy.

BAD IDEA by Damon Suede

This book is one of my Net Galley titles, and I have really given it the old college try. The problem is not the writing, that is good. My issue is with the characters. Some of them are completely unrealistic, and/or are people I hate. The supporting cast of best friends and co-workers are mostly MESSAGE in all caps all the time, or LESSON, or BAD EXAMPLE. They’re not people, they’re plot devices. Sometimes they’re not even plot devices.

The main character, Trip, is an everyman nerd complete with multiple adorable neurosis and allergies that are somehow not totally gross and alienating to everyone around him. The love interest, Silas, is a muscle-bound hottie who doesn’t know he’s a hottie, but still has a rich and storied sexual history that makes Trip paranoid about whether or not he’s really on board, or just making a pit stop.

The reason I can’t finish this book is because I know something terrible is about to happen to Trip. I have known it since the beginning, and at 73% complete, I know it now more than ever. Silas will cheat on him, or his boss will fire him, or he’ll freak out and do/say something terrible to bring about his own near-ruin, only to be happily partnered and jobbed by the last 10% of the book. I can’t take it. I’ve read so many books that follow this formula, and I just can’t handle it anymore.

Because the truth is that the part where you fuck everything up and lose your job because of your own irresponsible or dishonest/insecure/unrealistic bullshit is real life. That’s what happens: shit falls apart. And the version where you end up in love in a restored craftsman in the trendy part of town is the fantasy. I’ve been living 28 years, and I can tell you that happy endings are for other people. People we don’t know, and will never meet.

Writers want there to be a happy ending. Unlike the cold and unforgiving God so many of you believe in, they have a real issue with creating an entire cast of people and then having things go poorly for them. Readers have trouble with shit like that too. So they make the real life scenario: untreated OCD dork tries to have an adult relationship despite his fractured mental state, invests too much too quickly, fails and ruins his entire life in the process; into something the people will read: Adorably quirky introvert meets secret-nerd hot guy, takes a chance on love and life, overcomes an isolated and easily managed roadblock with the strength of his newfound lust for life, triumphs over adversity.

But I know the truth. I can’t not know the truth. The happy ending is completely false. Nobody burns a bridge and finds a better bridge underneath. If there’s ever going to be another bridge there in your lifetime, it’ll be made one painful step at a time. And yeah, maybe it’ll turn out to be better than the one that fell out from under you, but that kind of infrastructure doesn’t just pop up in the last 15%.

And so, this book remains unfinished.

BOY MEETS BOY by David Levithan

Never buy a full cast recording of an audiobook. It feels like an off-broadway readthrough of The Wiggles Musical. EVERY other WORD is SUPER duper IMPORTANT and AFTER fifteen MINUTES of OVERLY enthusiastic YELLING you’re READY for DEATH.

This could be my favorite book of all time, but I’ll never know because my ear drums are bleeding.