As I’m sure most of you on other sites have found throughout your reading life, it’s not always easy, or possible, to get through a book. If you’ve stopped by the site between reviews, you’ve probably noticed that a couple of my “Now Reading” books have never made it to a review. I’m fighting against the prevailing winds when I try to engage people to read non-fiction…I certainly won’t encourage anyone if I review books I didn’t even enjoy.
Sooo…I thought I would give brief highlights on the books that I’ve passed on since we started up here at Prologue, and some of the reasons why I couldn’t finish them. If you’ve made it through these books and enjoyed them, please let me know. Maybe it would be worth a revisit.
The Numerati, Stephen Baker. The premise of this book was really exciting. In the digital age, we are what we surf, what we buy, how we vote, and who we date. Thanks to the internet, all of the information we put out there on ourselves can now be collected, quantified and sometimes even predicted by computers and the mathematical wizards who run them. Baker interviews the people behind the math, and not so much the math itself or the results of the math, sprinkling the interviews with a technological ‘wow’ nugget every few pages to keep you doggedly pushing onwards. I enjoyed reading about the prospect of ‘smart’ grocery carts, etc, but not enough to plow through through some of the most boring interviews on the planet.
The Mapmakers, John Noble Wilford. The premise of this book was also potentially very interesting. Who created the first maps, and why? How did the first map someone scribbled onto a piece of silk during the times of Marco Polo translate centuries later into today’s GPS mapping systems? Unfortunately, Wilford had great information, but no interesting way to impart it without turning it into the college textbook that logs more time as a doorstop or coaster than bedside reading. The language was heavy, dense, and way too professorial for me. Couldn’t the guy take it down a notch for the masses? Jeez.
A Terrible Glory: Custer and the Little Bighorn: The Last Great Battle of the American West, Jim Donovan. This book appealed to me because it was a part of American history I knew very little about. Now I know why. I got about 90 pages into the book before losing track of which Indian was who, which battle was what, who was in charge of who, and realizing the book wasn’t making me care enough to go back and check. And if I could make it through a bunch of Civil War books and keep track of all that, AND enjoy them, this one should have been a snap. It wasn’t.
Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash, Elizabeth Royte. Again, another book with an interesting concept: what happens to our trash when it leaves the house? Who sorts it? How does it get recycled? I would have really enjoyed this book except for the fact that Royte is very long-winded, and likes to go off on tangents. I don’t enjoy long-windedness or tangents, so the book didn’t work for me.
Would love to hear about any nonfiction you couldn’t get through! We’re all in this together!