Monday, November 21, 2016

Rambling from the Stacks - It's Not You It's Me

I started this year with the goal of reading outside my comfort zone.  I haven't made as much progress as I initially expected to because it turns out that before I can be sure I'm actually reading outside my comfort zone I have to figure out what it is.  This took some thought as I'm not a particularly introspective person so it was a bit of a challenge!

This year I've been taking steps outside my comfort zone and the results have been mostly positive.  So positive that I started getting a little too confident I think.  I just assumed I'd at least like something that wasn't typical for me.  And then I listened to Everything Everything by Nicole Yoon. (Amazon Link)

I don't read YA.  I definitely don't read YA that has a romantic focus.  I don't read books that center on illness because I don't like to cry.  But I had seen some really great reviews on this one and the main character is bookish so I plowed ahead.

I can definitely see why there were so many glowing reviews on this book.  It's impossible not to like Madeline.  She's smart, she's brave, she's nice, and she's very mature for someone who is so sheltered and protected.  I loved her relationship with Gloria and with her mother though that one was a bit more bittersweet.  Olly is completely swoony.  He's sweet, he's smart, he's funny in a fantastically snarky way, he's in a tough situation but isn't a complainer. He's really an amazing character. The plot was interesting and I enjoyed learning about "Bubble Baby Syndrome".  I easily identified with both Maddy and her mother.


Something about this didn't work for me.  I found I was resisting actually listening to it and while I was listening to it even though I was enjoying the story I kept checking to see just how much I had left.  I found myself bargaining with listening time.  If I would listen to an hour I didn't have to listen to it for the rest of the day.  It wasn't that I even particularly disliked it it was just that I didn't want to listen to it anymore.

Part of this could have been that I was listening to the book instead of reading it.  There were a lot of schedules and IMs and other things that may have helped this click more for me if I had read it. Bahni Turpin is the narrator and while I would have no problem listening to other books she narrates for me her voice seemed to adult for the character of Maddy.  Also, there were times when Olly's voice was read by a male narrator and other times when Turpin did his voice.  For some reason I found that incredibly distracting.

So what am I trying to say?  This ended up being a book I went back and forth between 2 stars and 3 stars when I was rating it.  I finally went with 3 because I don't think it was the book's fault that I didn't like it.  There have been a number of times when reading a blurb or a book review where I've said "oh this isn't for me" but I think this is the clearest example of a book I've really read that really wasn't for me.

Have you ever read a book that just didn't work for you even though you could see all the things that are really great about it?  How do you rate a book that just isn't for you?


  1. I don't normally finish a book that isn't working for me, so chances are I'd just mention it as a DNF with a very short explanation of why. I think you did a good job in presenting this one.

  2. I am listening to this right now actually. I don't mind it so far, but didn't have it downloaded and we had no internet for two days, so still early in!

  3. Aw that stinks you didn't really enjoy this. The audio I think would be weird for this one. Sometimes I give 3 stars to books I am eh on because I think it really is a me thing and not a book thing so I get it!

  4. I did really like this book, but I totally understand books not working for you. I started reading Royally Screwed by Emma Chase. People have been loving this book, and I've read something else by that author and loved it. But I read about 40% and realized I just wasn't into it. Maybe I will go back to it when I'm in a different mood though.

  5. I can think of one that I read this past summer, as a matter of fact. I ended up rating it low as a result, but the book really did have all the earmarks making it a great book. It just didn't do it for me.

    I just started another of Nicola Yoon's books that I received in my last subscription box. I like YA, but generally gravitate more toward the fantasy side of it and less to the contemporary side. I loved Eleanor and Park, which surprised me and I do enjoy some of John Green's books--so there are exceptions. I am listening to an audiobook narrated by Bahni Turpin at the moment and she's perfect for it--of course, the characters, most of them anyway, are more grown up. I can see how an adult voice as a young person might not work as well though.

    I don't know if I'll read Everything, Everything, but I have heard the same great reviews you have. I think a lot will depend on what I think of The Sun is Also a Star.

  6. That's a tough one, and they are tough to rate. Sometimes I power through and sometimes not. I probably would go with three too since it sounds like it's a fine book, for the right reader. If something doesn't work for me subjectively but I know it's my taste, not a bad book... yeah I'd probably do three.

    Odd that they would split up the male POV between two narrators.

    It's funny about comfort zones. I've tried to read more outside my preferred comfort too, with mixed results. I used to never read thrillers and have found some I really like, to the point where I have no problem adding them. Urban fantasy has been less successful... And like Wendy said, I like my YA more on the fantasy side although I will occasionally read a contemp.

  7. Yes, I've been stuck in books that were perfectly 'good' but just not for me. I rate them in terms of how I felt about the book. I hope that people who follow my blog know the kind of thing I like and follow because they like the same sort of thing. I don't want them using their time to read a [sick-people-romance-YA] (for example) because I rated it 4 or 5 stars based on the fact that someone else might like it and it was perfectly 'good' for that someone else. Does that make sense?

    P.S. see, for example,

  8. You did better than me because I probably wouldn't have finished it. :)

  9. If it's a review book, I tend to slog on through, but hate every minute. And then I have to mention in the review the parts that were positive, but that the book didn't work for me.

    But seriously? I try never to accept review books from authors I've never read before...I have made that mistake too many times.

    If it's not a review book, I will set it aside and not even try to review it.

    Thanks for sharing.

  10. I am reading All the Bright Places right now, and yes, I can completely sympathize! The death sentance for ebooks I am reading is ending up finishing them with text-to-speech set on 4X. Even with that I keep checking the % "read" and I say to myself, it's only that much?!. I think it is too long for a YA Contemporary at 400 pages. I have been putting off listening, too. I have decided that even if a book is an "issue related" Contemporary Romance, Contemps with romance attached to them are not for me. I am not going to rate this book on Goodreads because I think if a reader likes Contemporary Romance it would be their thing, but I sure am going to voice my opinion in my review. Ha ha. :)

  11. Mm hard to talk about a book that just isn't for you. I usually mark it a two and sometimes a three, in acknowledgement that I just wasn't the reader for it. Also I think sometimes if it is way out of my comfort zone most likely probably best to stay away. Although I like to read a little out of comfort zone because sometimes it means a great new discovery but often not! I identify with watching the amount still to go, if I am struggling with a book I am always looking at the %.

  12. I've had books that don't work for me (Room by Emma Donoghue) really could see why people loved it but I didn't. Also felt the same about Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill. I just couldn't connect with either story. I'm glad you're trying to read out of your comfort zone. I try to do that more now than I used to. The hits are great it's the misses that make me question stepping out of my comfort zone in the first place.
    -Kimberly @ Turning the Pages

  13. That used to happen all the time with me and YA. It wasn't that there is something wrong with it, it just doesn't work. I would end up struggling to write a fair review, and hence the reason I don't read it any longer, with rare exceptions for authors I love and who don't make a big thing about romance. It's just weird to think about getting involved in a storyline with sexual tension between characters who could be my children. Kudos to you for plodding along with it. I am a big one for ditching books that don't work for me.

  14. Yes, yes, this has happened to me... a lot! I can pick up a book with good buzz and see why it received such praise, I can appreciate the author's turn of a phrase, and the setting, and love a character... but not enjoy the book. It happens. A book can be really well-written and appealing to its core audience, but that's not going to make you love it. I forget the book where this fact was driven home to me a couple of years ago (senior moment) but I remember writing that it was A for effort and D for my enjoyment.

    Thanks for a good discussion! This is why I don't step too far out of my comfort zone-- though being eclectic-- my comfort zone is wider than for many folks. I only have a few genres that don't appeal to me.

  15. Sometimes I think we maybe shouldn't work so hard to read outside of our comfort zone. I mean, we're reading for enjoyment more than anything, yes? I know there's a chance we'll find something we like if we do stretch and I have found a lot of great books this way. But if you are terrible at giving up on a book, like I am, than it does mean too much time spent doing something you're not enjoying.

  16. Well that stinks :( Never fun when that happens. I'm mean, I guess. When I don't like a book most of the time I'm okay placing that firmly as the books fault. lol