Is it Fair to Review A Book I Abandoned?

I recently started a book I couldn’t finish because it was so over the top disgusting and ended up having “on-screen” violence toward a cat. Now, to be fair, I knew it was going to be gruesome. Even without reading the back cover, it’s clearly going to have zombies or cannibalism or something, all of which I’m fine with. I’m even fine with blood and gore. But when it’s grossness just to be gross, it doesn’t seem like horror to me. It almost seems like a little kid saying naughty words for shock factor. That being said, I’d actually started to like this book before the thing with the cat, and had high hopes for it as a YA horror.


But violence toward animals is an automatic pass for me. Even though I was over 50 pages in, I put it down with no regrets.

It’s rare for me to give a book 1 star on Goodreads. According to their rating system, 1 star means “did not like it.” And why would I finish a book I don’t like? In general, I’ll put a book down as soon as I realize I’m not into it. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad book. Lots of people loved The Goldfinch, and I was bored out of my mind.

There are plenty of books that I haven’t loved, but kept pushing through and was glad I did. Outlander comes to mind. The first 100 pages are slow and pretty boring. But once I was past that, it flew by (if an 850 page book can be said to “fly”).

John Irving’s books tend to feel slow, but when I get to the end and it all comes together, I’m so glad I read them, because wow.

In both cases, with John Irving’s books and with Outlander, I pushed through the boredom because I had recommendations from people I trusted. Plus, there was no animal cruelty, which is pretty much non-negotiable for me.

So, to sum up, I hated this book, would actively tell people not to read it, for the reasons I mentioned. I took a look at the reviews of this book on Goodreads, and it ends up with a 3.55 rating. It has plenty of 5 star reviews, and an almost equal measure of 1 star reviews. There are 2’s, 3’s, and 4’s as well, but it seems that most people either loved it or hated it.

If I’d finished it, is there a possibility I would have enjoyed it more? I never want to be like those people who trash a book they haven’t even read, based on what they heard about it. If I’m going to offer an opinion, it’s on what I actually did or did not experience.

For that reason, my inclination is not to review it on Goodreads. It just doesn’t seem fair.

Maybe Goodreads needs a “DNF” button so that people can see, in addition to the average rating, how many people abandoned the book. It seems like that would say a lot.

What are your thoughts on this?

Why I Keep Track of What I Read

Since forever, people have been commenting on how much I read. People used to ask me how many books I read, and before I kept track, I had no idea. I used to say, “I dunno… like 5 a month?”

After being asked that question for maybe the millionth time, I had the “brilliant” inspiration to actually keep track. (I’m slow sometimes. I own it.)

In 2013, I started keeping a list of books I read. Over time, what I keep track of has evolved somewhat. These days, I have a list on Numbers and also track via Goodreads. On my personal list, I record title, author, number of pages, date started, date finished, genre, comments, and year published. As a book nerd, it’s fun to look at all that information.

In 2013, I only finished 72 books (my lowest number since I’ve been tracking) and 30% of them were re-reads. In 2017, I finished 132 books (almost double my 2013 number!) and 20% of them were re-reads. Interestingly, my re-read number has seemed to be steady at about 30 per year.

The number of books I’ve read has steadily increased since that first year I started tracking them. I’m not sure if it’s a result of the tracking somehow, being more mindful of what I read, or just a coincidence, but it’s interesting.

Why I keep track of what I read

  1. So that I could answer the question, “How many books do you read?” This really was the question that started it all.
  2. So that I can keep track of series I’ve read. There’s nothing more frustrating than starting a series, enjoying it, but having the next book not come out for a year or more. In the past, I’ve forgotten the title and author, and since I didn’t keep track of books, had to do a Google search. While I eventually found them, I decided I didn’t like leaving such an important issue up to fate.
  3. So I can remember what I read. Though I usually remember what I read, it has occasionally happened that I’ve forgotten that I’ve read a particular book, usually because it’s somewhat forgettable. Keeping track of what I read lets me jot notes on a book as to whether or not I liked it and why.
  4. Because I like lists. Really, I love lists and numbers. It’s fun to say, “I read this many pages last year” or “80% of my reading last year were books I’ve never read.”
  5. It’s a good way to keep track of what books were recommended by other people. I probably wouldn’t remember this on my own, but it’s helpful to remember who recommended what, and where our book tastes overlap.

Do you keep track of your reading? What method do you use?

Confessions of a Vampire Lover

Look closely and you can see a big spider...  Creepy!

Look closely and you can see a big spider… Creepy!

I’m a little ashamed to admit that I’ve never read Dracula.  I read Frankenstein, so at least I don’t have to be completely ashamed, but… how did I miss that?

I’m reading It Started with Dracula: The Count, My Mother & Me by Jane Congdon.  It’s a memoir written by a woman who has always been a Dracula fan since she saw her first Dracula movie, starring Christopher Lee.  She explains that she had always wanted to see Romania, but that it took her until her 60s to get there.  Once in Romania, she started resolving some of her childhood issues.

She explains that she had read about travel being a transformative experience, but that she didn’t expect to actually experience any transformation or changes.

I’m not very far into the book, but so far, I’m really enjoying it.  She talks about vampires, and I realized that it’s been a long time since I’ve read anything with a “real” vampire in it.  I think the last one must have been ‘Salem’s Lot, by Stephen King.

Recent books with vampires have romanticized them, with books like Twilight, the Anita Blake books and The Vampire Diaries.  Vampires just aren’t scary anymore.  They’re sexy and rich, and can be tamed like puppies.  What made Dracula so scary was that he was sexy and evil.  He couldn’t be tamed.  Vampires of yesterday treated humans like food or vermin.

Here’s a list of 55 best vampire books per Goodreads.  I think my next mission is to work through this list.  What’s the best vampire book you’ve ever read?

I’m a Goodreads Author!

The Spirit Room, Jerome AZ

The Spirit Room, Jerome AZ

Not long ago, I joined Goodreads.  I don’t like to dip too much into various social media, but how can social media with books be bad?

When I opened my account, I noticed that I was listed as a Goodreads author, and listed are two of the books in which my stories have appeared:  In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream, and Blood & Roses.  And after the initial thrill of noticing that I was an author listed there, I didn’t do anything else for about two months.

Last week, I took another look at my profile and realized I could apply to have some control over my profile, linking my blog to it and writing an “about me” section (oh yay, that’s my favorite thing…).  So, I did.  You may have noticed that over on the right is a list of books I’ve read.  I’m trying to keep Goodreads posted on what I’m reading, as well as keeping a 2014 list for myself.  (I’m 18 books in for the year and have not yet managed to read any of the classics on my list.)

If you haven’t checked out Goodreads for yourself, now’s the time.  Like Netflix, once you let it know what you like, it makes recommendations.