I love setting myself goals for my reading. Not necessarily to see how many books that I can read but more so just the idea of setting a goal that I can work towards and enjoy the process. Having said this, at times I’ve fallen into the rut of reading books that I’ve not enjoyed at all. It’s a flaw I keep falling into but essentially comes from me wanting to make my goal, while also hoping that there will be a huge plot twist and that I’ll suddenly love the book.
Now with some books like those that are part of a trilogy or series, I will often stick with because I know I will be going on to read the following book after and there might be something relevant that could be absolutely necessary for me to know. Then there’s other, standalone books that I will abandon at the first hurdle. I’m often sharing books here that I’m completely head over heels for but today I wanted to share a few books that for one reason or another disappointed me.
The Starless Sea, Erin Morgenstern
This book was almost hanging on the coat-tails of Morgenstern’s debut book, The Night Circus. Anyone who knows me knows this is hands down my all time favourite book and I reread it every autumn without fail. It gives me such a warmth and nostalgia that is hard to replicate so I suppose it was a tall order expecting the same from Morgenstern with this book.
I will link the Goodreads description here as I know I won’t be able to describe it adequately. This book was very much style over substance for me. Sure enough it was beautifully written, just like The Night Circus. It was full to the brim of magical and captivating descriptions throughout and the imagery was astounding. But this is where the problem laid for me. It was so mesmerising but it lacked any real solid ground for the plot line or explanations for where the characters where and why. I would become so wrapped up in the musicality of the language but not truly know where the plot was going or why. It never felt like there was a main objective, purpose or goal which made it fall a bit flat for me. Towards the end I needed more pages to explain certain elements and tie up a lot of loose ends I had; and, if I’m being completely honest I don’t think I would have stuck with it until the end had it not of been for my love of The Night Circus. I held out hope for it right til the very end.
I can’t decide whether it would be better to read this before The Night Circus if you’re new to Morgenstern’s work. The two are completely separate entities from one another and bare no connection whatsoever but I wouldn’t want this to put you off her work.
*The Binding, Bridget Collins
Again, I’ll leave the Goodreads link right here for the description. This was a huge let down for me. I had read so many great reviews and had been recommended it by a few friends but when I read it, I really didn’t understand what the fuss was about. It seemed overrated and entirely underwhelming. Just meh.
I think I wanted more texture and details about the book binding itself. I wanted to know how it came to be, the art of it. The idea of binding emotions, suppressing or locking them away is a concept that I’m quite drawn to but the execution fell all wrong for me. Instead of backstory and the lore of this element, I just got dialogue and drama. And overall, it left me with far too many unanswered questions.
Mr Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan
This was a so-so one for me. Revolving around the story of Clay Cannon, a lad who takes the nightshift at a little 24-hour bookstore ran by Mr Penumbra and quickly discovers there’s much more afoot. With a string of returning customers who never buy a book but always borrow and return it in quick succession, he embarks on wanting to know more and ropes his roommates and friends in for the ride too. They uncover an international secret society, all of which trying to crack a code detailed through a myriad of books.
Now, I wish I could go into more detail above but I really, truly can’t. I can’t simply because I just didn’t get it with this book. I found it to be a little short for the concept of a secret society to be truly fleshed out and there never seemed to be any true obstacle to overcome, tension or peril. I also thought it to be a bit too convenient, with Clay’s friends being rich or having millennial, hipster jobs which just so happen to be the exact help that Clay needs. It just fell flat for me.
I’m sure there will be more books like this in the future and maybe down the road I can write more posts like this rather than just raving about the books I love. If there’s any books that disappointed you, please do get in touch – I’d love to discuss any we may have in common.
Cheerio for now!
*The Binding not photographed as my copy is currently being borrowed