Books I almost put down – but didn’t

May 13, 2014 Top Ten Tuesday 20


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature/meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week’s topic is Top Ten Books I Almost Put Down, But Didn’t.

I don’t usually put books down part-way through. When I do, it’s because they were awful, or just not keeping my attention, or I hated the characters. So my list of books I almost put down, but ended up finishing (and hopefully enjoying) is pretty slim. But here goes (not in any particular order):

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Yes, really. Despite how much I love these books now, I read the first one when I was at beginning of a not-yet-diagnosed bout of anxiety disorder complete with frequent panic attacks. I could hardly focus on it. Frankly, I ‘m not sure anything could have held my attention right then. What I really craved — what I always turn under stress — was something familiar that I’ve read several times before. Something with no surprises. Despite that, I pushed myself to keep reading and finished the book. But it wasn’t until I read it a second time, 3 or 4 years later, that I realized just how wonderful Sorcerer’s Stone really is — and plowed through all the available books as fast as I could. Now the entire series has become one of my favorite, return-to-when-I’m-stressed-out books. (Oh, and the anxiety? Most of the time I’m completely fine now; when it does flare up occasionally, it’s manageable. And I haven’t had a panic attack in years… knock wood.)

The White Witch, by Elizabeth Goudge.  I love Elizabeth Goudge, but when I started this historical novel in my twenties, for some reason I found it slow going. I’m glad I persevered, though, because I ended up enjoying it. It’s still not one of my top favorites among her works, but her characteristic themes of love, hope, and redemption run through it, and the historical setting is well done.
Richelle Meade’s Gameboard of the Gods was almost a DNF for me when I read the ARC last year. It seemed to take forever to get to the action of the story, though there were plenty of hints in the beginning of the book. And I wasn’t enamored of one of the two main characters. I slogged on because it was an ARC and I wasn’t comfortable with not finishing it. Once things finally started happening, I found myself drawn into the story much more than I had anticipated. So much so, in fact, that it stayed with me after I’d finished it, and when the second book showed up on NetGalley, I requested it. (I hope to get to it later this month!) You can see my review of the first book here.
Tolkien’s The Silmarillion is a collection of back-story material – the history and myths of Middle-Earth that took place well before the events immortalized in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. It’s dense and rich and occasionally a bit dry; the experience of reading it is more like reading the Bible than reading LOTR. And it can be very hard to keep track of who is who, particularly given the similarity of some of the names. There were times when I almost put it down, but I kept going, driven by both my love for Tolkien and Middle-Earth generally, and by the fact that it was, literally, the only English-language book I had available; I was spending a month in Mexico at the time, as part of my college’s Winter Term. In fact, I’d chosen The Silmarillion for the trip precisely because it was so dense – I would have finished anything lighter before the plane landed in Guadalajara! I’ve never been sorry I read it; some of the stories are wonderful, and it makes the LOTR experience so much richer. Actually, it occurs to me that it’s probably time to read The Silmarillion again. It’s been 30 years, after all!
An Air of Treason, by P. F. Chisolm.  This is another book that takes a while to get going, and I wasn’t quite sure whether to hang in there or not. I did, and ended up enjoying it very much, both for the mystery and for the history.  I reviewed it here.

The Rose Throne, by Mette Ivie Harrison, is the only book on the list that I finished, but sort of wished I hadn’t. I really wasn’t thrilled with it. (You can read my review here.)

I almost gave up on Kristen Britain’s Green Rider because I thought it was going to be one of those cliched “teenager finds out she’s something special and saves the world” books. And it is… but it isn’t. There’s a lot more to it, and some very original bits. While I still think it’s unlikely for quite so many unusual things to happen to Karigan, Britain manages to pull it off, in part through making Karigan herself very real and believable. I’ve read two in the series, with two more published to go, and the fifth book in the works. (I’ve also just realized that I never reviewed Green Rider, which was very remiss of me.)
I’m sure there are a few other books that should be on this list, but none of them jump to mind right now. As I said, I usually either plow through a book, or give up in disgust… although some of the books on this list prove that maybe, just maybe, I should be more inclined to keep going instead of giving up when a book doesn’t grab me at the beginning.
What about you? Are there books you’ve almost given up on, and been glad — or sorry — you didn’t?

20 Responses to “Books I almost put down – but didn’t”

  1. Michelle Reed

    Harry Potter is one I almost NEVER even picked up and read. I actually read the first book last year in October. Still have the rest of the series to go, I stopped after book 4 to take a break and read some other stuff. Haven’t had the urge to pick it up just yet. Probably wait til fall.
    Happy to hear that your anxiety has subsided some. I also suffer/ed really bad from it. I actually turned to alcohol b/c it was so bad. Finally I recovered from alcohol, got the help I needed for my anxiety, started reading and I’ve never felt better.
    Thanks for sharing and good luck and BIG HUGS!
    Come by and check out my Top Ten 🙂 Book Hangovers
    xoxo Michelle

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      Michelle, I’m sorry you had to struggle with all that, but I’m so glad for you that you’ve been able to break free of the alcohol and get help for the anxiety. And I’m really glad you’re doing so well now!

      You’ll go back to Harry Potter when and if the time is right. They get darker and sometimes sadder with book 5, so if that is tough for you, wait until you’re in a really good place. That said, there’s still plenty of hope and humor even in the last book.

      Hugs to you, too! And best of luck. I will certainly stop by to see your TTT!

    • Michelle Reed

      Thank you! It means so much to hear words of encouragement. It takes strength from myself and thoughtful people like you and my family that get me through each and everyday!
      Thank you for stopping by my Top Ten and replying. It really does mean a lot to me! YOU ROCK!!!! xoxox BIG BIG HUGS!! xoxox Michelle ♥

  2. Stephanie Shepherd

    An Air of Treason looks fantastic and it’s good to know that it might start off a little slow. I love Elizabethan set historical fiction and it’s been too long since I’ve read one!

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      An Air of Treason is actually the 6th in a series. I hadn’t read the first ones but didn’t have too much trouble picking up the threads… it was more that the story started slowly. But if you love the Elizabethan era, you should definitely read these. The historical details are meticulously researched and vividly portrayed.

    • Stephanie Shepherd

      Thanks! Good to know that this is in the middle of the series. I hate not starting at the beginning even if it doesn’t really matter.

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      I know what you mean. Sometimes I don’t have a choice, though. In this case it was an ARC; for some series I can’t find them in order (if they’re out of print or out of my budget, for instance.)

  3. Greg

    Harry Potter was a little slow going for me at first (I’ve only read the first) but I stuck with it, and glads I did. Looking forward to reading the rest, and I’ve heard of course that they get better as they go. The Silmarillion was also a tough slog for me, even though I love that world and the amazing backstory. I was younger though, and would probably enjoy it more now.

    Green Rider was a vacation read for me one year, and I have not read any of the followups although I did enjoy it.

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      I’ve only read Green Rider and First Rider’s Call. It’s really good epic fantasy, but the books are chunksters and these days, I don’t always have time for them. Sometimes I think I should call a moratorium on ARCs and just read books from my TBR pile for a year…

  4. Jennifer

    I have been so happy to see that other people almost put done Harry Potter like me. I have Gameboard of the Gods, but haven’t read it. I’ll make sure I’m prepared for it to take time to get to the action. Great list!

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      I was surprised by how many lists I saw Harry Potter on. Almost all of them loved it, they just weren’t sure in the first few chapters.

      I’m about to start The Immortal Crown, the sequel to Gameboard of the Gods. I’ll be interested to see where she goes with it!

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      I was glad I found a used copy of Green Rider at the library booksale a few years ago. It meant I didn’t have to worry about rushing through it for a library deadline. I hope you get a chance to finish it sometime.

  5. brocsbookcase

    I didn’t put Harry Potter on my list, but it did take me a while to actually pick the book up. My sister kept telling me that it was rubbish (although she had never actually read it) so I never read it. And then one day one of my teachers read a chapter of it in class and I fell in love completely. Once I was reading it I had it finished in no time! Great list! 🙂

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      It’s funny how people make up their minds about a book or movie they haven’t seen. I think we all do it at some point. I know I have. And sometimes we’re so wrong! Which can be fun in itself. Glad you did finally read HP and enjoyed it!