Most Disappointing Books of 2021

When I pick up a new book, I obviously expect to enjoy reading it. That doesn’t always happen, however. Throughout 2021, I read some books that disappointed me greatly, because I either didn’t like them at all or I just couldn’t bother finishing them. Some of the books that I decided not to finish were massive, so the possibility of slogging through them felt even more like a waste of time. The seven books mentioned below didn’t work for me sadly, but that doesn’t mean that other readers won’t find them amazing. The first two I rated with 2 stars, while the other five I decided not to read until the end.

 

A Máquina de Joseph Walser (Joseph Walser’s Machine) by Gonçalo M. Tavares

Joseph Walser worked in a factory owned by the mogul Leo Vast. He operated a machine that demanded his full attention. His personal life was not immune to complications, as his wife was having an affair with his manager. Sadly, it’s difficult to care about the characters, since their emotions and tribulations are never properly delved into. Although this short book by Gonçalo M. Tavares is promising at first, it quickly becomes a lacklustre collection of jumbled thoughts.

 

O Irmão Alemão (My German Brother) by Chico Buarque

Chico Buarque drew inspiration from his family history to write this novella. When Francisco de Hollander, the narrator and main character, realised that he had a brother in Germany, he became obsessed with discovering what had happened to him. The premise is certainly intriguing. However, the pacing is infuriating, the story feels disjointed, and the ending is not impactful. Continue reading

Huge Books and the Importance of Characters

A massive book can be a great way for us to immerse ourselves in a fictional world. The longer we spend with the characters that give life to the stories on the page, the more interested we become in their personalities, tribulations and activities. Feeling like we know the characters intimately certainly helps to continue to turn the pages of a huge tome, even if it seems that we are not making any significant progress. But what if the characters of a huge book fail to entrance us or don’t feel well developed?

There were four huge books that I wanted to read this year. Although I started all of them, I only finished one – Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb. The other ones I decided to DNF, and the overall reason was the same for all of them. As I was struggling to connect with the characters, I lost all interest in the plot and I could not possibly force myself to continue to slug through the pages just for the sake of getting to the end of the following books.

 

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

The humongous War and Peace starts during a soirée organised by Anna Pavlovna in 1805. Various characters discuss not only occurrences in their lives, but also the political and military movements of Napoleon. I was not being able to remember whom any of the characters were or their connections with one another. They were just a massive muddle of names on pages with no distinguishable features or personalities. I lost all the desire to read this classic very early on, despite having cherished reading Anna Karenina some years ago. Continue reading

Books I Want to Read Until the End of 2021

There are only three full months left in 2021, and I’m falling behind in my reading challenge. In order to complete it, I will have to finish the eight books that I’m truly eager to read until the year is over. The list features both novels, short story collections and poetry. Some authors are new to me, while others are old acquaintances. Some books are massive, others are tiny. In terms of genres, they are as diverse.

 

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

I’ve only recently started reading The Luminaries and don’t have a strong opinion about it yet. As I don’t think I’ll DNF it, though, it is one of the books I want to finish until the end of the year. Set in 1866, it follows Walter Moody as he arrives in New Zealand to try his luck at the goldfields and to search for his father, who disappeared from Scotland. At the Crown Hotel, he encounters a group of twelve people who are discussing a series of crimes.

 

Não Se Pode Morar nos Olhos de um Gato by Ana Margarida de Carvalho

Set at the end of the 19th century, this novel by the Portuguese author Ana Margarida de Carvalho has been on my wish list for years. The time has come to finally read it. After the abolition of slavery, a boat illegally carrying slaves sinks near the coast of Brazil, but a group of people manages to survive. They are the main focus of this book, which seems to be most of all a character study. Continue reading

Book Haul – December 2020

A long time has passed since I wrote my previous book haul. I bought some books between then and now but never in bulk. As I was reading them almost immediately after buying them, I didn’t feel like sharing them with you on a post before reviewing them. This month, though, I decided to order seven books from the UK (before the Brexit transition period ends to avoid them potentially ending up in Customs next year) and they all arrived at the same time!

 

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

The Luminaries is one of the four massive books that I plan to read during the first half of 2021. Set in the 19th century, it has as main character Walter Moody, who decided to try to make his fortune in the goldfields of New Zealand. He becomes involved in the mystery surrounding various unsolved crimes. Although I wasn’t impressed by the TV adaptation, I decided to give the novel by Eleanor Catton a whirl.

 

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

It is decided! The first book that I’ll read next year is the colossal War and Peace! Now that I’ve finally bought it (in a stunning Vintage Classic Russians edition, which sadly arrived damaged), I can’t delay picking it up anymore. As Napoleon’s army marches on Russia, the lives of a group of young people change forever. Hopefully, I’ll enjoy it as much as Anna Karenina. Continue reading

Huge Books on My Wish List

Since I’ve started setting myself a minimum number of books to read in each given year, I feel like I’ve been (unconsciously) avoiding picking up huge books. I only read around an hour per day on average, so it takes me several weeks to read a book longer than 800 pages. There are four massive books that I want to read soon, though! And by soon, I mean probably next year, since I will have to either maybe lower the number of books on my usual reading challenge or not to have one at all.

 

The Crimson Petal and The White by Michel Faber

Set in Victorian London, it has as main character Sugar, a young woman trying to achieve a better life in any way she can. It is around 860 pages long. As the majority of the reviews that I read are quite positive, it has inexcusably been on my wish list for far too long.

 

Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb

I’ve enjoyed the first two books in the fantasy series The Farseer Trilogy (the first one more than the second to be honest), whose main character and narrator is the royal bastard Fitz. Thus, I’m curious to read the third instalment, Assassin’s Quest. At the same time, however, I’m fearful, as I found Royal Assassin unnecessarily lengthy and its follow-up is even longer. Will it justify being around 840 pages long? Continue reading