So I didn’t enjoy every book I read over the last few years. Let’s do a roundup of the disappointments.

First was Zadie Smith’s Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays. It’s an essay collection by a talented writer, which is fine as far as it goes, except that it quickly became clear that it was written for an audience of not-me in mind. It seemed to want someone who’s all up on the intricacies and controversies of the modern literary fiction scene; I read a few of the essays, and then decided that this just wasn’t for me.

Next up was Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim, an urban fantasy about some punk-ass lowlife who comes back from the dead and then has to deal with a bunch of other punk-ass lowlifes. It’s sort of what the Dresden books would be like if Dresden were a humorless dirtbag, and everything in them was about 80% sleazier. I didn’t hate it, and the plot was interesting, but it’s fair to say at this point that I’m never going to read the rest of the books in the series.

Then there’s Michael Chabon’s Gentlemen of the Road. Chabon is a good writer, and I’m sure this is a good book in some sense, but goddamn, was it boring. It’s a short thing, but it took me absolutely forever to read, mostly because I just had no compelling interest to keep reading at any given time. It has a bunch of virtues, I’m sure, but for me the dullness obviates the rest of those.

So we move on to Terry Pratchett’s Snuff, a Discworld installment that is… well, not really up to snuff. Given Pratchett’s well-publicized health problems, it’s hard to be too critical, so mostly this book just makes me sad.

Finally there’s what is probably (and sadly) the most controversial entry on this list of disappointments, Suzanne Collin’s Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay. These are YA books of the most definite sort, the kind that adults shouldn’t read because they’re stupid. Insanely nonsensical world-building combines with inanely nonsensical plotting and YA-angsty characters for a beginning-to-end crapfest. These are junk, and I loathe them. And I know lots of people really like them, but I honestly can’t say I understand why—the first one has an element of trashy funtimes to it, but even that quickly goes away in the dire shitfests of the next two books. Avoid


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