Tag Archive | Didn’t finish


September’s book club book was Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes which is a novel set during the Vietnam War.

I can’t really say what the book is about without cheating and looking at wikipedia because I only made it through the first hundred pages (of six hundred).

In those first one hundred pages nothing happens. There is a lot of scene setting and a lot of clumsily incorporated detail. The main character comes across as quite whiny and none of the characters are sympathetically drawn.

I was just bored. Which was disappointing because this could have been fascinating, had it been told differently. I’d really wanted to read it. I felt like another couple of rewrites could have made it a much better book.


I’m supposed to like this, right? It’s a classic. And I remember I liked the film a lot when I was younger. Maybe that was just because Sting was in it. Dune by Frank Herbert has been sitting on my shelf for a good five years since it was bought for me by a friend in a ‘You haven’t read Dune?!’ moment of horror.

I got over three hundred pages in before I finally gave up. I just wasn’t enjoying myself and then I questioned why I was putting myself through the tedium of trying to finish it. There is a question over a cat that has to be milked and the mouse duct-taped to it. The question is WHY? Answers in the comments please.

I don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong with the book. It didn’t really seem to get going and I felt I was waiting for it to start for the first two hundred pages. The stuff about the mental powers and reading body language and other clues didn’t come across that well. I don’t know how you could really show that working though. It’s ambitious and isn’t quite pulled off. There were parts of the book that were entirely dialogue for pages and pages. That was quite interesting from a writing technique perspective. It worked. A touch more action and description would have grounded it a little more, but it would have taken very little.

If you haven’t read Dune already, you can probably live without it. This picture of a cat is way more entertaining.

Periodic Tales

Take the periodic table and make a book full of interesting facts and factoids about each of the elements. What a brilliant idea. How could that not be a great idea? I was so full of hope about Periodic Tales by Hugh Aldersley-Williams. The concept seemed to be all things I love; random useless nuggets of information, vaguely science-y but mostly history and culture, and a general attitude of ‘stuff is brilliant‘. I so wanted to like this book.

I didn’t even get past the first chapter. It is dull and leaden. At the point where I realised I wasn’t enjoying myself, and I was far enough past the introductory parts that I should be, I started trying to work out whether I was bored by what I was being told or by the way in which it was conveyed. The passage I was reading was about gold and its cultural value, its rarity, and its usefulness. This was followed by how platinum is only considered more valuable than gold because of marketing. This stuff should be fascinating.

As I’m writing this now, I find I really want to give the book another chance because these are things I want to read about, things I think are inherently interesting. And somehow, the author managed to tell these stories in a way that sucked all the life out of them. It’s definitely about the writing. Maybe there were too many nuggets so that none of them could be explored in sufficient depth or maybe it’s because the storytelling got lost in favour of a list of facts.

If anyone knows of another book that tells really good stories about the elements, please let me know.