Books I Gave Up
So I’ve mainly been relying on memory, AskReddit, r/Books, fuckinghomepage.com, and Goodreads to decide on the books I should read. I also have a random number generator that I use to select from my Books to Read list. I’ve added a bunch of books since and now have had a chance to look at all the books I’ve read so far to identify which books I gave up on.
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
This is apparently the book that Ted Kennedy declared the best book ever written for mankind, or something to that effect. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get through it. I probably read up to 15% of it and couldn’t follow it. I even made a handy-dandy diagram of the family tree and the travels and all that. Nope. Perhaps it’s because it moved through the generations too quick, or that the magical realism was too difficult distinguish. I don’t know. But the English translation version that I read was not enjoyable. I’ve been told that I am a mistake (yes, me as a person.) for giving up and not reading this book. Well, I’m sorry. The names seem all conjumbled together with Senior, Junior, same first and last names but different middle names. Apparently it’s supposed to discuss and reveal the trials, rise and falls of human society, or something grandiose of that nature. But I just couldn’t get myself to enjoy the book. I actually dreaded reading it before picking it up because my memory had to be jogged so intensely to catch up with the sequence of events that lead to specific points. I decided that, even though it’s a classic, it’s not for me. I’m not in school anymore, nor am I an English/ Literature major and it’s not required reading.
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
To the same sort of effect, the Brothers Karamazov was another dreaded read. This one I probably gave a better chance because I’ve heard a lot of good things about it and almost everyone that praised it said that you need to power through the beginning background info and that it picks up pretty quick in the middle. Again, it’s supposed to be about human morality and the greater good of society, etc. I put it in the same bucket as One Hundred Years of Solitude. I simply could not get through it. Perhaps I’m still stuck in high school or pre-undergraduate reading because I need to be drawn into the plot and understand the setting fairly quickly otherwise, I’ll just lose interest. I’ve heard that seasoned readers actually enjoy the massive background information because they can frame their imagination in the perfect context, and follow the characters better. Too bad for me I guess. I found the joy of reading too late, mostly because I always had a negative association with reading all throughout middle and elementary school. I was consistently compared to my brother who apparently read a lot. I was always badgered “why aren’t you reading books? Your brother at your age read XYZ many books?’. Then when I actually did start reading, my mother would make me feel like shit by exclaiming ‘OMG! You’re READING?! That’s unbelievable! Oh my Buddha!”. Yeah. Thanks for the encouragement.
Bank 3.0 by Brett King
It’s supposed to give you a modern overview of the banking industry in the 21st century, namely the powerful influence of technology and how it is impacting global markets and trading. Everything from online banking, credit and debit cards, cryptocurrency, online payments, etc. I probably read a good 10% and skimmed another 40% and gave up on it. It was a non-fiction book that I was looking to educate myself with. But there didn’t seem to be anything that I didn’t know already. Sure that sounds arrogant, but I think his target market for this type of book is perhaps the older crowd. I feel like Millennials, or anyone around our generation that uses a computer on a fairly often basis already know everything in this book. I actually said to myself “people actually buy this kind of book - what are we in the stone age?”.
Google Story by Mark Malseed and David A. Vise
Propaganda book. I read 10 pages and had to put it down. It was not objective at all and if the beginning pages don’t set the tone right, I just can’t continue with it. The author gave way, WAY too much praise to Larry and Sergey. It was like he was writing them as the philosopher-kings of the modern day. Sure, we all know that the Google guys are smart and all, but honestly, the book did not present facts, it presented overly bias analytics. I, of course, maybe wrong since I barely read the thing, but it certainly seems that way from the beginning. I expected a much more objective, fact based and well researched opinion/quotations for primary source or firsthand accounts than just worldly praise. I get that the author is impressed, but my goodness, the fluff was so unnecessary. If you’re going to be biased, give me a documentary style bias – bias like a story. Subtle, Silent, & Deadly Persuasive.
Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins
I must have peaked with the self-improvement and self-help books. I found this book, which is supposed to be one of Robbins’ best, to be highly repetitive of the same themes in mostly all self-help and self-improvement books. The message for most of them is to have undying motivation to persevere through hell in order to accomplish what you love. OK, but give me some new or more interesting ways to develop that kind of motivation. Articulate it in a way that’s succinct. Make it sounds so nice that I can put it in a quote book. Instead, I found it to be way too long-winded and subtly arrogant. I enjoyed his TED talk but this book was too verbose, border-lining too much BS. All said, there are many fair points he makes. Thinking about where will you be on ten years is what Shifu always asks as well. Visualize it but don’t get attached to it. Be open to the change. Take action is key, makes me think about Mr. Li telling me to get on with life instead of wallowing it stagnant youth. All very good points that I don’t mind reading about to reinforce myself with. But make it more friendly to read.
Millionaire Fastlane by MJ DeMarco
Just seems like a long opinionated rant by the author. He makes a fortune during the tech bubble by selling his website to Yahoo. Good for him and that his trials paid off in the end. But I’m very skeptical about these because I feel like it goes in the same category of A LOT of San Francisco and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. They have one success and suddenly they become authoritative on it. They are on the other side of the table as VC’s. I’m skeptical of their qualifications. Unless you are a successful serial entrepreneur, which IMO ranks the highest in terms of career respect, you can’t be certain that what you did wasn’t a fluke. You can’t be certain that what you did wasn’t more attributed to luck than to skill. To me, you have to weather the changing times, styles and generations in seemingly unassociated and irrelevant industries from scratch to have my respect. It’s conceited, sure, but that’s only because I’ve experienced some of this ‘success’ to know what it’s like. Luckily for me, I have mentors and people I can call my role models who ARE in fact successful serial entrepreneurs.
Otherwise, the book talks too much about the author himself. It kind of reminds me of books by Nick Evangelista- a fencing coach that seems to be the only one writing books. Most people in the fencing community have a…’controversial’…opinion of him and his books mainly because there are either too many tangents in his book or that it just doesn’t seem applicable or practical. Either way, I think most self-help and self-improvement just dissects the psychology of necessary, positive change. For the life of me, I don’t know why fuckinghomepage.com keeps recommending this book.
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett +
Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
These were book came highly recommended by Reddit so I thought I would give it a try. I couldn’t finish either of these books. I found Good Omens to lay near the same tracks as Discworld 1- the Colour of Magic, but both these books had too many references to worldly science, religion, and philosophy for me to handle. I just didn’t get the inside jokes. Again, perhaps I’m not well read enough. Or maybe because my disinterest in the biological sciences handicaps me from understanding those references. Either way, the books started out pretty cute and enjoyable but I eventually found it to be too dense in these references. I felt like I just wasn’t picking up on what I should be picking up on and it therefore, probably affected my ability to enjoy the books. I just couldn’t bring myself to continue the books, knowing that I’d probably miss out on the intended joy of reading it. That probably compounded the fact that I just couldn’t connect the dots between some of the plot points.
Here’s The First Emperor of China burning books and burying Confucian scholars alive: