Half-Read Books of 2014

I failed to finish quite a few books this year!  I didn’t realize it, until I began organizing some cupboards and dressers and side tables. I discovered all of the books I had started but never finished.  They were all over my house. I guess that’s where all of my bookmarks have been hiding.


From top to bottom, these are the books I haven’t yet finished.

A Mercy (2008) by Toni Morrison

A Girl of the Limberlost (1909) by Gene Stratton-Porter

Play It as It Lays (1970) by Joan Didion

The Last Kind Words Saloon (2014) by Larry McMurtry

Hillbilly Gothic: A Memoir of Madness and Motherhood (2008) by Adrienne Martini

Mormon Women Have Their Say (2013) edited by Claudia Bushman and Caroline Kline

Women of Wisdom & Knowledge: Talks Selected from the BYU Women’s Conferences (1990) edited by Marie Cornwall and Susan Howe

And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic (1987) by Randy Shilts

When Everything Changed: A Keepsake Journal: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present (2014) by Gail Collins

I plan to finish them.  I do.  But I’m thinking that I need to be strategic about it.  I probably need to tackle one at a time and quit leaving half-read books all over my house.

I’ve also been distracted lately, and I’ve been in a reading rut.  I can’t seem to concentrate on anything.  If you have any suggestions for getting me out of this “reader’s block,” I’d love to hear them.

What books do you plan to finish (or tackle) in 2015?

Happy New Year!

59 thoughts on “Half-Read Books of 2014

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  1. My goal for 2015:
    business- the Series 7 Manual-droll…
    personal- I will continue where I left off two years ago with Anna Karenina, when I was reading along side my daughter as she read it as required reading for high school.

  2. I can’t wait to read more Joan Didion after finishing The Year of Magical Thinking this year. I’ve been avoiding looking at all the books I abandoned this year though, I feel like it’s a ton for some reason!

    1. The Year of Magical Thinking is one of her best books. I’m glad you liked it! I also really enjoyed her essay collection Slouching Towards Bethlehem. She’s an amazing writer.

  3. I think I only abandoned books because I couldn’t stand finishing them this year. The possible exception is one I started by Nadine Gordimer. It just wasn’t the time for me to read it. I may go back to it this year.

    1. I’ve had my eye on Gordimer’s work. I think I should try her, now that you’ve mentioned it. And yes, I think I abandoned some of these because they weren’t worth finishing…

          1. Thanks! It’s really only a few, and I always say if I am unable to finish. Usually, I read at least 100 pages unless I’m really hating the book. I think I only reviewed one book this year that I read less of. I probably didn’t finish 1/2 dozen books this year, and some of them I just discarded after a few pages and never mentioned in my blog. My secret is actually that I started out with a huge backlog of reading journals. However, I was too ambitious about blogging and caught up with myself. Now I sort of have to artificially space things out, using the days when I announce the best book and a few other types of postings. (Before, I posted a review AND a best book on the same day. I know, I was nuts.) I’m not literally caught up, but I have only about a month’s worth of reviews ahead of my actual postings.

            1. Ah, that makes sense. I have a backlog of posts too. Sometimes friends make a big deal of “how much I read.” But I just read and write ahead and try not to let my blog get away from me. It sounds like you’ve got it figured out with the spacing and book of the week posts. I like those!

  4. Story of my life – with no pun intended. So many books, so little time! If you ever hit a rut, I find short stories are always the best. They don’t need much commitment and they can get you back into your frame of mind to read longer books, and they are just as enjoyable in my opinion. Happy reading!

  5. Hah! I am finishing a reread (after 40+ years) of The Grapes of Wrath which I started this past spring for the NPR 75th Anniversary Read-Along, but got too busy and had to leave it. Am determined to finish it NOW before reading anything else! There are a few others, too. Seems I get over-committed to various book club reads and sometimes must abandon books I really want to finish, but can’t at that time! Glad to know I’m not alone!

    1. You are definitely not alone! I remember the NPR read-along. I ended up listening to The Grapes of Wrath on CD in my car earlier this year and LOVED it. I had read it as a teenager and I realize now that I hadn’t gotten much out of it the first time through. What a fantastic novel. Glad you are finishing your reread of it.

  6. Oh, I feel less guilty now! I agree with what Kay said above about the time not being right. I’m in the middle of Cheryl Strayed’s Wild right now, which I’d tried to pick up about a year ago but unsuccessfully so. I am now loving it.

    I *just* broke through my reader’s block. At the time I thought I was too stressed and distracted to focus on reading, but on most nights I did try to pick up a book that felt right for my mood at the time and read just 5 minutes. In this case it was Us by David Nicholls. I needed a light, funny tone and in time I realized that the reading was helping me. I’ve also been trying to do meditation and yoga to relieve stress. Then one day I realized I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a book again. Your rut might be a signal to take care of yourself and let your brain rest perhaps??

    1. Yes, I think I’ve needed a break from some things. I’ve been struggling with some emotional issues, so the inability to concentrate is a symptom of that. I think I’m on the mend now, and hearing your story helps me to see that I’ll get there too. I’m so glad you are feeling better. I’ve missed you!

      1. Oh no, I hope you are okay…I’m glad that you may be getting better. I’m the same way – if something is bothering me emotionally I have a very hard time reading/concentrating. I’ve missed you too! It’s been good to check back in to the blog world.

        Happy new year!

  7. I often find it hard to concentrate on reading around the holidays. Partly because of all the other things that go on this time of year, but also because I find myself feeling guilty when I read during the holidays instead of visiting with family, or getting extra projects done around the house. I hate to feel guilty about reading! Short stories are a good idea, or something very light. I usually end up reading one or two children’s or YA books that are around. Happy New Year, Emily!

    1. YA is a good idea too! Yes, holidays are stressful, and I feel a little trapped just at home with the kids. I feel like I can’t relax or read because I need to make sure they are scheduled and doing their chores and having fun. Thanks for the insight!

  8. I have a few this year, which is more an indication of how busy I’ve been rather than a failing of the books. I got The Sea, The Sea, for Christmas which i was very pleased with.

  9. When I get in a reading slump I usually pick up comedy. Have you read The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise? It’s light and funny. Or How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran. Or Stardust by Neil Gaiman which is wonderfully princess-bride-ish in it’s silliness but has a broody Neil Gaiman dark side too. OR I read the absolute favorite book of someone I know to find out what that might say about them. These act like a palate cleanser for my reading mind and then I can then usually get back to reading things that interest me, not that comedy and Neil Gaiman don’t interest me anyway. Maybe this comment is a circular argument for just reading what you want. 🙂 Happy New Year, may all your reading in 2015 hit the right spot.

    1. Thank you, Denise! You too. This is fantastic advice. I do need to do some lighter, funnier reading and just let myself relax and enjoy it. I’ll put all of those you mentioned on my list!

  10. When I get in a reading rut it’s usually because I’ve been reading too many books I “have to” read, said I would read, or promised myself I would read. To get out of the slump, I abandon them all and read something just for pleasure – something engaging enough that I can’t put it down – humour or a bestseller.

  11. Hi Emily, I’m finishing up Walter Mosley’s latest book (I’m a huge fan of “Easy Rollins” mysteries which is his specialty), and I also DIVE into lots of biographies about former Hollywood stars (a guilty pleasure). Tried “A Mercy” awhile back and couldn’t finish also. But I love your posts will try to keep up my own reading for the new year.

    1. I haven’t heard of Mosley. Thanks for telling me about him! I like the biography idea. I have read some about Lucille Ball and Marilyn Monroe that were thoroughly enjoyable. Maybe that will get me out of this rut!

  12. Hi Emily, I too didn’t finish “A Mercy” and never quite caught the Joan Didion wave. But I am working my way through the latest Walter Mosley book (a big, huge, ginormous fan of “Easy Rollins” mysteries that he writes: think “Devil in a Blue Dress” with Denzel Washington. Will keep you updated. Much appreciate your blog and comments. Of all the blogs that have a literary vent, yours is easily the one I find the most enjoyable.

  13. Sometimes when I find myself in a “reading rut,” I pick an “easy” book that I know I’ll still probably enjoy, like a Roald Dahl classic that I never got the opportunity to read as a kid, or a collection of humorous short stories. As for me, I’ve been reading “For Whom the Bell Tolls” for over a year now and STILL haven’t finished it!

    1. Roald Dahl would definitely cure me! As for the book you are reading, that’s my least favorite Hemingway, but I know several people who love it. Good luck with finishing!

  14. Try reading poetry to get out of your rut.

    By the way, it never occurred to me to list what I haven’t finished, because I abandon books that don’t hold my interest. That said, there are probably a few I should try again because I hadn’t enough time to finish reading them before the library’s due date.

    1. Good idea with poetry! And I hate those library deadlines! I’ve missed finishing many a good book because of it. I usually write down which page I was on and check it out again. These are usually the two-week books that everybody is waiting to read, so I end up waiting a while to get it back…

  15. I’ve been working on “Bad Feminist” by Roxanne Gay for the past 2 1/2 months…reading an essay or two here and there. And as an introvert, I really need to finish Quiet. I started reading it when it came out, picked it up again from the beginning in 2014 and even started the audio book this year. Still, I’m probably not more than a third of the way through. I blame it on too much pre-publication hype. By the time the book finally came out, I must have read a dozen or so interviews, articles and blog posts about it…

    1. I really liked Quiet, but I can see where it would be slow going if you already read all about it. I like to be surprised when I’m reading! I’m hoping to get a copy of Bad Feminist in the mail any day now (thanks to a gift card), so I’ll join you in reading essays here and there. 🙂

  16. Reading ruts happen sometimes, I don’t know why. I fall into them sometimes and it’s not fun. The only advice I have is to wait until it passes and if you’re not enjoying a book, don’t feel like you have to finish it simply because you started it.

    I don’t have many books that I plan to tackle in 2015 because it’s the year I graduate (and hopefully go to grad school!), so most of my reading will be academic books and journals. But I received Hillary Clinton’s second memoir, Hard Choices, for Christmas so I have started reading that. I think it will take me a while to finish it: it’s a large book!

    1. Thank you for the sound advice. This too shall pass! So how is Clinton’s book so far? Would you recommend it? And good luck with graduating and grad school! I’m so excited for you. This is a big deal. 🙂

      1. It may change, as I’ve only read two chapters, but so far it’s less personal than her first memoir, Living History. She’s writing in depth about her experiences as Secretary of State and there’s a lot of political detail, which is interesting, but I find I can only read one chapter at a time!

        Thank you. 🙂 I’m excited too, although it will be a challenging year. There are other things going on in my life too: my mother was seriously ill two years ago and had major surgery to save her life. But she needs further medical treatment, a type of medication which is very new. At the moment, we’re waiting on the guidelines to see whether the NHS (we’re in England) will fund it. It’s very stressful; I’m just praying that all will go well and she will get this medication and be cured.

        1. I pray that it will go well too and that things will work out for her. That must be really stressful, especially with everything else you have going on. I’m sorry you are going through this.

  17. I’m trying to read 3 books a month and share them on my blog, Joyful Ambitions. This month: The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver, The Princess Bride by William Goldman, Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman

  18. Oh Emily! I am in the same boat as you “I’ve also been distracted lately, and I’ve been in a reading rut. I can’t seem to concentrate on anything. If you have any suggestions for getting me out of this “reader’s block,” I’d love to hear them.”…If you come across the solutions , kindly share!

  19. I’m thinking about finishing the Goldfinch and We were all beside ourselves. I know people say the Goldfinch gets better but I’m not getting to the better bit. I’ve read 2/3 of ‘We were all completely beside ourselves ‘ and I’m just not feeling it. I just can’t engage with it in the way I want to be able to. I guess we all have our challenging reads and maybe a lot depends on time and place.

    1. I think context is definitely part of it. I hope you finish The Goldfinch, but I would completely understand if you didn’t. It might not appeal to everybody. Good luck!

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