Alternate title: In Which Lisa DNFs like a Champ!
I finished two books this week. First was Alyssa Cole’s Radio Silence, the first in her Off the Grid series. This is an an apocalyptic romance, which I thought would be right up my alley. I like the apocalypse. I like romance. This should totally be my thing! Sadly, not so much. I struggled to care about the characters and found myself wanting to know more about the apocalypse than the romance. This is probably more a function of my tastes in romance of late (lighter, funnier, more often than not historical) than the book itself. I probably won’t read any more books in the series, but I certainly wouldn’t discourage anyone interested in the book from reading it. Also, bonus points for satisfying a Book Riot Read Harder Challenge task (Read the first book in a series by an author of color).
The second book I finished was the audiobook of Lindy West’s Shrill: Women are Funny, It’s Okay to be Fat, and Feminists Don’t Have to be Nice. I’m hoping to write up a proper review of it later this week, but in brief, I loved it.
Now for the DNFs. I used to be a die-hard book finisher. Even when the book is awful, I’ve been in for the long haul. Then I started giving myself permission to finish books that were objectively bad, using the whole life’s too short for bad writing theory. This week, I kicked two perfectly ok books to the curb: Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me? and J. Ryan Stradel’s Kitchens of the Great Midwest.
I’d enjoyed Kaling’s first book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, a fair amount, but Why Not Me? just felt so… slight. It was probably wasn’t served well by the fact that I listened to the audiobook after finishing up West’s Shrill, but I found myself bored by Kaling’s stories of semi-fame and realized, hey, if you don’t care, you can just quit the book! Indifference was also the problem with Kitchens of the Great Midwest. This book ticks off a number of my boxes: foodie book, novel via linked short stories, the Midwest. The problem was that a third of the way through the book, I didn’t care about any of the characters and felt absolutely zero curiosity about what would happen to any of them. A clever premise can only goes so far. I hemmed and hawed for a few days because two DNFs in one week seems an awful lot like a reading slump but I eventually gave in.
It was the right decision. I picked up Poison or Protect, a romance novella by Gail Carriger set in the same steampunk, paranormal world as her Parasol Protectorate, Finishing School, and Custard Protocol series. It’s a frothy and smutty and clever and a goddamned delight.
I suppose that makes this week’s lesson is that life’s too short for bad writing and indifferent reading. When in doubt, smut is probably the answer.