To acquire wisdom, one must observe

Five books I should not have finished

I have a bad habit of refusing to quit books, even when I really do not like them (as evidenced by my article from January, “Every book I read instead of finishing ‘Silver Nitrate’”). In an effort to remind myself that it is okay to give up on a terrible novel, and the sunk-cost fallacy is a fallacy for a reason, here is a list of five books I absolutely should not have finished. To every author on this list, I apologize! I know that I could never write a novel myself! However, only one of us is a college newspaper journalist, so I get to do the talking here.

  • “Mr. Wrong Number” by Lynn Painter

“Mr. Wrong Number” is Lynn Painter’s attempt at a two-person love triangle, which is a trope I normally adore. I am extra mad because she did such a bad job of it. I think I may have made myself read until the last page just so I could write a review about how much I hated it. The main character was an insufferable, inconsiderate, unempathetic mess, and the author tried to play it off as charming, which absolutely did not work. The love interest had no personality outside of being a snarky businessman, and I just did not understand why he was into the main character. Why did these two like each other? I have no idea because I detested them both. Nevertheless, I would love to have the chance to recommend this book to someone I really hate.

  • “The Good Earth” by Pearl S. Buck

If you have ever heard me talk about this book, it was probably in the context of a discussion about books I was required to read in high school. I most likely informed you that this is the worst book I have read in my entire education. In “The Good Earth,” Pearl S. Buck inexplicably decided to write about the journey of the world’s most detestable farmer from poverty to wealth. For some reason, it won a Nobel Prize. I think the entire committee who decided that should possibly be arrested. The main character is actually unbearable and treats his wife like garbage for the entire novel. The author also loves to treat Chinese stereotypes like they’re all true. On top of that, this book was boring! My ninth-grade English teacher is lucky I was so dedicated to her class, because there is no way I would have finished it otherwise.

  • “Clay’s Ark” by Octavia Butler

I actually do feel sorry for disliking this book, since so many people love Octavia Butler. I promise I read another one of her books later (“Parable of the Sower”) and enjoyed it more. However, have you ever read a book where the characters make so many stupid decisions that when bad things happen to them, you start thinking that they totally deserved it? If you are interested in feeling that sensation, then you should read “Clay’s Ark,” in which an alien virus comes to earth and infects one of the most annoying literary families you will ever meet. I had to read this book for a class, and technically I was not required to finish it, but I had been assigned to read so much that I figured I would stick it out until the end so it could contribute to my Goodreads goal for the year. The time could have probably been better spent on a book I would have liked.

  • “Secretly Yours” by Tessa Bailey

Tessa Bailey is an extremely popular romcom author. Based on the number of fans she has, surely she will not mind that I disliked this novel so much. In “Secretly Yours,” Bailey promises a lovely secret-admirer romance between a gardener and her high-school crush, who has returned to their shared hometown; what she delivers is a disappointment. The way the love interest talked about the main character (and her body) was honestly nauseating. When I had this book on loan from the library, I let my friends read paragraphs from it just so they could understand how bizarre it was. Out of pure curiosity, I would love to talk to someone who enjoyed this book. Maybe they can explain the appeal to me.

  • “Ten Rules for Faking It” by Sophie Sullivan

“Ten Rules for Faking It” had nothing particularly wrong with it. Unfortunately, it committed the cardinal sin of the literary world by being boring. The plot was supposed to be about a radio show producer who accidentally ends up being the star of a Bachelorette knock-off competition to promote her radio station. Instead, it honestly felt like the plot was about … nothing. My main memory of reading this book is quite a lot of boredom. I could not bring myself to care about the characters in the slightest. My bad.

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