[I've been
« unfinished »
79 Short Essays on Design

I was definitely not the target demo for this. Seventy-nine essays, each in their own font, about the inside baseball of the design world. Occasionally I could pick up something that was really interesting, but a lot of the rest of the time I just felt mired in design drama. Unfinished.

Are You My Mother

I really like Bechdel but this book failed my 50 pages test. After the first 50 pages I found that I was no more interested in reading it than I was when I picked it up. I feel like I should qualify this. I loved Dykes to Watch Out For and I really empathized with what was going on in Fun Home with the gay dad and the creative mother who felt stultified and was sort of chilly. But this book just seemed... not engaging in that way that other people’s dreams are interesting to them but only interesting to you if you are dating them or if you are in them. Bechdel’s anguish about being worried about what her mother would think about the book take up far too much of the beginning of the book and I just got to the point where I wanted to read about her childhood and not more about her therapy appointments.

Bitcoin Billionaires: A True Story of Genius, Betrayal, and Redemption

Did not like this. This is the guy who wrote the Social Network and also the book about the MIT kids who made a ton of money playing blackjack. This is about the unlikable Winklevoss twins and unlikeble bitcoin and I did not care for it.

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

Not really sure what the problem was but I absolutely couldn’t stand this book and couldn’t get more than a few chapters into it.

The Book of Vice: Very Naughty Things (and How to Do Them)

Gave up on this. Listening to a slightly jokey-joke NPR commentator talk about things like swinger’s parties and gigantic feasts was really not for me If you align yourself more with Sagal’s way of looking at the world, you might really enjoy this. I did not.

The Book That Wouldn’t Burn

I try to read most books that I notice which take place in a library. I got about a fifth of the way into this book and just could not handle the relentless struggle and fear and pain that the main characters (who were also all young people, late teens or even younger in flashbacks) had to endure. I’m sure there is a great plot in there, and I’m not against ups and downs, but this was too much for me.

Communes and the Green Vision

I really really like books about alternative lifestyles and yet I could not do a thing with this.

The Copper Axe

Was looking forward to this time travel book but couldn’t get through the opening chapters that were sort of clunky character development. This may be a good book for some not-me person.

Cows in the Maze

I think I got off of the “popular math” books with this one.Nothing wrong with it, in fact I sort of liked it, but I just read a chunk of it and then never picked it up again and eventually it had to go back to the library.

Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour"

This was one of those “Oh hey when winter rolls around I will really hunker down and finish this book” situations. But then winter never came and the book was overdue and I had to return it though I am excited to maybe try again next winter.

Death on the Lizard

No idea why I couldn’t finish this but it just never got me going. Sort of historical fiction taking place in the Marconi era with a bunch of characters that I guess, from the footnotes, are from other novels. Between the flowery prose, the female character who had a muse that I was pretty sure was imaginary and the footnotes extolling me to read other books by the same author, I could not do anything with this book and evetually put it down.

Gate to Women’s Country

I usually like these ecofeminist books. This one was on the free table at the local college and I picked it up and slogged through parts of it and just couldn’t get excited about picking it up again. Too much weird theatrical overlap (you know the kind where the characters are preparing for a play and there are PAGES of play text in there?) and I couldn’t get over it.

Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War

Wanted to like this but it was already up to three different perspectives and a little too strategic for me and I’m trying to get better at cutting my losses.

Ghost In The Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker

I couldn’t really do anything with this book. A lot of it seem to be going over the bad things that happen to Kevin Mitnick and him defending a lot of the stuff he did as not that big a deal, not his fault and a whole bunch of other stuff. I didn’t even really get up to the modern-day stuff I just found listening to his stories not particularly interesting. And I definitely don’t think of Mitnick as some sort of nasty criminal, but as a hacker he just seems kind of dull and uninteresting and out for number one which is himself in the course of most of this book. Maybe he gets more self-reflective later in the book but I couldn’t wait around to find out

The Hidden People of North Korea: Everyday Life in the Hermit Kingdom

Fascinating but also a little dry and academicky. The authors clearly did a lot of research but I got a little bored when they would just start listing stuff that they knew instead of making it into more of a narrative. Also was wondering how 2009 compared to now.

The Hovercraft Story

Picked this up at a library booksale thinking “Ooooh hovercrafts.” It was great plane reading where I just had to make the time go by, but other than a pretty interesting look into testing out new hovercrafts in the desert, this was a sort of dry recitation of hovercraft facts along with a few cool photos.

In Sunlight and In Shadow

I’ve really liked other books by Helprin but after getting what I thought was a reasonable amount into this book, I still wasn’t sure what it was about. I read some reviews and decided I didn’t want to read a book full of WWII.

The Incal

This is one of the very few graphic novels at my local academic library. I really wanted to like it, and enjoyed the first third of it, but then it got a little too magical for me and I lost the thread of what was happening. It felt, to me, less and less grounded in an actual plot thread and more a complex allegory for... something. At any rate, I put it down at one point and did not pick it up again.

The Inheritor’s Powder

I am not sure how a book about arsenic poisoning could be so dull but this one did not grab me. There was a lot of recitation of historical facts without enough threading it all together.

Internet Fraud Casebook

Was hoping to be able to finish this but it just wasn’t happening and then I’d already renewed it once and it was overdue. So, this is a neat casebook that talks about the many different ways the internet can be used to defraud people. And it’s fascinating because there are all these different scams. However the writing is really uneven and some of the chapters are ones where you feel like you’ve learned something and others are hard to even figure out what is happening. Ultimately I just couldn’t get excited to keep reading it.

Last Exit

This would be a great book for someone, it was not a great book for me. A grimdark near-world dystopia which is trauma-laden from the getgo and each time you think “This can’t get more dire, can it?” it does. So much tragedy and just unrelenting pain and sorrow. I read at night, usually, and need less nightmare fuel.

Left in the Wind: A Novel of the Lost Colony

I thought I was getting a historical novelization of the lost colony of Roanoke. What I was actually getting was a tale of a ribald wet nurse who fucks her way to the new colonies (written by a man). Not my thing.

Mark Twain’s Autobiography, 1910-2010

Far too clever for its own good this book just did not resonate with me, Was hoping for a graphic novel. What I got was a bunch of “What if Mark Twain were alive and had a totally different sense of humor than he actually has” Not good.


This was a gorgeous graphic novel which I picked off of the library shelves and I enjoyed looking at it but the storyline was way too dark and sadistic for me and I couldn’t keep up with it, too upsetting.

On Basilisk Station

I went to my local library and was browsing their great SF section and the librarian recommended this. I like geeky hard science stuff, and series and she thought this might be good. And it sort of was, but ultimately wasn’t. A little too militaristic (I like science but not necessarily warfare) and while I loved the treecat idea, I wasn’t that into most of the rest of the characters. Oh well. Trying to get better at not finishing books.

One Square Inch of Silence

Didn’t like this book. Didn’t finish it. I found that contrary to the other nature book I was reading at the time -- One Man’s Wilderness -- Hempton seemed to want the outdoors to be a specific way: quiet. While I appreciate and understand this goal, it seemed like he was perpetually fussy about any and all noises and at the same time drove a rattley VW bus around. I found his distractions at all the noises distracting to me as a reader and by the end of a few chapters was less interested in his campaign about noise and more interested in going outside myself. Neat idea, but didn’t like the book.

Ready Player Two

I gave this book a solid fifty pages but listening to a manbaby billionaire be unable to deal with his life and take it out on those around him was just unreadable.

Rex Libris Volume One

I got a phone call from the guy who is making this graphic novel into a screenplay soon to be a major motion picture, we hope. I had heard a lot about it and hadn’t read it, so I ILLed it from my local library, expecting great things. And while I am still looking forward to the movie, I can’t say as I enjoyed the comic. The story is great, but the illustration is computer-generated which just isn’t my taste. There’s also a metanarrative running through the entire story that I found sort of confusing and distracting. Plus the type is SMALL and while this has never been a problem for me in any other graphic novel, it was a problem here. So the book gets returned to the library, unread.

Sex Fiends, Perverts and Pedophiles: understanding sex crime policy in America

Fascinating topic but a bit too thesis-like and I could not get through it.

A Tale of Seven Elements

Wanted to like this book nut ultimately it was too chemistry-ish for me and seemed like it could have used some more editing (one story in the preface was repeated almost verbatim later in the book and it was not a short story). The stories themselves are interesting, learning how the periodic table has changed over time and arguments about naming and etc, but the author is a real chemistry nerd and I didn’t find his writing approachable enough to be able to keep moving through it.

Thank you and OK

Could not finish this book. Tried for a long time. Its a story about a guy who basically is having a hard time sorting out his life and winds up, through a series of sort of vague non-intention, in Japan at a monastery. Which ... ok. I guess I couldn’t really identify with him and identified a lot more with all the people around him who were put out by his vaguing around. Maybe a good book for someone else, not so much for me,

Whoopi’s Big Book of Relationships: If Someone Says “You Complete Me,” RUN!.

I thought this would be amusing relationship advice. It was mostly “Don’t get in a relationship” advice. Which is fine but not what I was looking for.