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The Pre-Penultimate Fail

Some books I read last year

Some books I read last year

Thanks, my inputting inputties. We are BIG TIME GO on the WHAT I READ part of Backdate Quaints. It isn’t book recs so much as a running list I will keep of whatever books I read that week. I think I will break it into two parts. READ and REREAD. Because I reread a LOT.

If I reread a book, I probably love it. If I put it on the list, I FINISHED it, which means I at LEAST liked it, and it may well move onto the reread list later on. I am not going to review them or rank them.

Therese asked some interesting questions in the comments—she wants to know if I feel guilty that I spend so much time NOT WRITING in order to read? And, how far into a book do I get before I give up on and fling it into the fire

Guilty? About time spent reading? Never. Reading does not take time away from writing. Reading causes writing. Reading improves writing.

Writing is a conversation, and writers who do not read are like a person who talks and talks and talks and never listens. I’ve been seated by that person on MANY planes, and people who do not listen often talk about things of zero interest to ANY OTHER HUMAN PERSON, such as their shed reptile skin collection or the medical history of their troublesome rashy foot.

The lucky part is, reading is a pleasure as well as useful. If you are good at conversation, you likely enjoy listening, and you will learn to say things of interest to other human beings. If you are good at writing, you likely enjoy reading, and you will learn to write things of interest to other human beings.

DIGRESSION: I DO feel guilty about the Veronica Mars BINGE WATCH I am doing in prep for the KICKSTARTER movie. OH! LOGAN! YOU ARE SO TORTURED! Man, what a great show it was. I just finished season 1.

Do you remember that thing she says to her dad after that TERRIFYING end scene with the person who turns out to be the murderer? I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed and sobbed, hearing her say it to him again. I love you, Kristen Bell. I love you, Enrico Colantoni. For that moment, I love both of you forever.

To answer Question 2, I very rarely fling books into the fire. It is a more gentle thing, where I read for a bit, and one day, 10% or 20% or 70% of the way through I set the book down and forget to pick it back up. Ever.

I have flung a couple, though, and it is always a writing issue. If the writing is horrid, I can’t manage to read, no matter how interesting characters or themes or plotlines. I remember one book, famously well plotted—I threw it across the room in the middle of what should be a heart-pounding chase scene. The writer kept starting or ending all the sentences with EXPOSITION. It was a constant BARRAGE of exposition nuggets, and they weren’t even useful to the book as a whole.

It was literally like this: “The killer came after him, lifting the axe, the long kind that is made by a variety of axe manufacturers both in the US and abroad. The man, whose February birthday made him a Pisces, fled in terror.”


I have re-read all of these at least once

I have re-read all of these at least once

Why, you ask now, is this the pre penultimate fail blog? Because 2 weeks and 4 entries ago, I set out to write about a thing Scott and I failed, and I have YET to write that blog because I keep digressing to babble about other fails. I am FAILING to fail blog here, yet again.This is the PINK SOCKS of fail.

Over the weekend, I plan to post a BackdateQuaints with a fail topic, so that will be the penultimate fail, and then hopefully the FINAL FAIL will actually get blogged Monday or Tuesday, unless I forget about it or something WILDLY fascinating happens. Like, say, my dog gets a leaf in his eye.

SPEAKING OF FAILS— my friend Alison has RESOLVED to fail more, to fail joyfully, to fail brightly brightly and with beauty, which is a New Year’s Res I can REALLY get behind. That is here.

What have you failed to do this week? Tell me! I shall instantly absolve you!

30 comments to The Pre-Penultimate Fail

  • I’m totally going to have to further blow your 2014 budget and get you to pay for a new keyboard for me after reading that “axe” sentence. You really need to put up some kind of warning or alert before springing something like that on us unsuspecting (read: trusting) readers, something to the effect of: “Don’t take a swig of coffee before you read the next paragraph. BECAUSE YOU WILL LOSE IT!” Or something along that line. I mean, c’mon, you made that up. Please say you did.

  • Yes Jim. I DID make that particular example up 🙂 But it was TRULY that bad.

  • I once flung a book I’d doggedly persisted with until its very last sentence.

    That last sentence?

    “The severed, deep-frozen head of Adolf Hitler.”

    That’s worth flinging if anything is.

  • Emily

    I failed at staying focused this week. Alas. Too many shiny things.

  • Sneaky twist endings that feel emotionally manipulative make me ragey. In particular One Day and Atonement. UGH, just thinking about them now is making me mad all over again.

  • I have failed miserably at getting my act together this week. I promised myself that this was the week…after how long? Too long. The harder I try the more miserably I fail. [The word is wanted to use is stronger than “act” but that didn’t seem appropriate on such a lovely post as this.] Thank you for writing. Thank you for making it okay to fail. Your books would be on my read/re-read list – though I’m making myself wait a reasonable amount of time before I start again because once I start I can’t read just one….

  • I just want to point out that you’re not failing at blogging by blogging MORE before you write the fail blog. In fact, I think you’re winning at blogging.

    On Monday, I failed at not eating an apple fritter the size of my face before going to the dentist. On an unrelated note, dentists love the smell of apple fritter breath and sugar coated teeth in the morning.

  • Linda J

    I have failed at taking the compost bucket out. For more days than is healthy…in a row. If I don’t do it soon the authorities may show up looking the the body. My defense?… I just don’t feel like being that cold. Maybe tomorrow…

  • Amy-Fi

    I flung the Red Wedding in Game of Thrones. But that’s boring, because c’mon, who didn’t? But then I pitched a fit about it, sulked for two days, and picked the ?$&@! Thing up again and finished it. I took that scene VERY PERSONALLY.

    I fail at cooking. Every. Single. Day. AND, I fail to care about failing at cooking. So there.

  • Amy-Go

    And now autocorrect has failed. Because I am not and never will be Amy-Fi.

  • Martha

    What I have NOT failed at:
    Convincing my patient husband to be the grocery shopper because I HATE it. He is very good at it and I tell him that every day. He even uses coupons.

    What I have failed at:
    Cooking on a regular basis. I hate it and, unfortunately, my husband really likes dinner. I could eat a spoonful of peanut butter and call it a night, but he likes to have hot food and a plate and a napkin. Every night!

    What I am trying not to fail at:
    Convincing my hungry husband to take up cooking as a hobby. I know that sounds like a resolution for HIM, but really, it will take some sweet talking and creativity on part to make it happen.

    Wish me luck!

    Oh, and I rarely don’t finish a book because I’ve spent the money on it and feel compelled to finish it. Books I want to fling are usually those where it seems as if the author is trying too hard. But I usually finish them anyway.

  • Therese

    I have failed, and am continuing to fail, at staying on task at work. If I hadn’t just had my annual review last week whereupon I was lavishly praised for being amazingly productive, I’d feel worse about this failure.

    I have also completely failed to exercise. But I did sign up for a 5K in March.

  • Okay puhlease read Keeping the House ASAP. Then email Ellen Baker and tell her I told you that you’d love her, and I was totally right. 😉

  • Chris

    I’ll give you 20 pages, maybe a chapter, but if it stinks I do not feel the need to press on (unless it’s a book club book – I’ll give it the old college try then, but it’s still 50/50). I was a lit major and thus had to read more than a few things I didn’t enjoy. Life is too short for bad books as I will never get to read all the good ones as it is!
    I won’t fling the books, but I actually threw one out last year. It was so bad I wouldn’t even donate it because I thought that would be cruel.

  • Brian Hayes

    Brian’s Top 10 Fails of a 2 HOUR PERIOD (a week’s log would be too long):

    10. Left a car in the frigid cold of Minnesota for 3 days without starting it. Today, when I needed it, it didn’t start and I was 35 minutes late for a meeting that I have been waiting three weeks for – and it could not be rescheduled.

    9. Tried to start aforementioned frozen car with starting fluid in the handy spray can. I’m handy that way… or at least I was. I got starter fluid on my leather gloves.

    8. My wife, who had the working car, came home then took me to place where my meeting was, then went shopping nearby. I went inside, and after staring at the directory, realized I was in the wrong building.

    7. Google Maps told me that the right building was across a frozen creek, 100 yds to my north. But because there was no straight path, I opted to run through 20″ of accumulated snow, AROUND THE CREEK (I’m not that insane) and up to the building. But now I was freezing and covered in snow from the knees down. Did I mention it was -16 below today?

    6. I stood for 10 minutes in the reception area before someone finally noticed me. “You’re supposed to ring that bell,” he grumped as he pointed to a sign that said “Ring Bell for Service”. Oh.

    5. The snow on my pants has since melted and my pants are now obviously very wet. Were the wet sections any higher, I would have not gone into the meeting.

    4. Everyone introduced themselves to me at the meeting. I promptly forgot their names. Nobody was exchanging business cards, which is my crutch. One of them, an older gentleman, said, “Do you remember our names?” and I didn’t.

    3. During the meeting, one of the executives announced, ‘I smell gas’ and we all decided the furnace was malfunctioning. They sent someone to check. That was when I realized he was probably smelling the starting fluid on my gloves. I remained quiet as a mouse.

    2. When the minion finally returned to explain that the maintenance company was on their way, the meeting completely went off agenda as stories were shared about the ‘that one time when the furnace broke and it was so cold’. Each telling was more incredible than the former. I’d waited 3 weeks for this meeting, and now we were talking about furnaces.

    1. At the end of the meeting, they all gave me their business cards. The older gentleman who had asked if I remembered names previously admonished me, saying, ‘Now you should be able to remember our names.” I quipped back, jokingly, “You bet, Julie!”

    “No, see, you’re wrong again,” he replied seriously. “I’m Bob. Julie was my wife. She passed away last month.”

  • OMG … Brian … you TOTALLY don’t fail at “reporting” … laughing SOOO much. In fact, I think I’m going to share your comment with the email-verse.

    also – totally hope those people at the meeting realize you have TONS to offer them (even if you can’t remember names) … because really?, really? I’ve know some people for 13+ years and see them weekly – and STILL forget their names if I have to introduce them … BUT! I can tell you every interesting (or annoying) thing about them.

  • Jessica (tc)

    See, Brian, you didn’t fail. That’s an awesome story, and as a fellow Minnesotan, I applaud you for being so persistent! (We’re nothing if not persistent, right?) And I was enjoying the story and grinning my fool head off until the last line. What are the flipping odds that you’d pick that name out of thin air and… ??? *facepalm*

    The one thing in life I do NOT fail at is following this one life mantra that has never led me wrong: Life is too short to read bad literature. Now, bad literature is a bit subjective, because something that I fling is something you might re-read and vice versa, but I never force myself to finish something I personally don’t like. As someone with an English degree who is currently going for my Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science, I do and have done a lot, lot, lot of reading. (I just realized I am currently reading four fiction books, one non-fiction/historical journal, and three slim poetry volumes.) I don’t force myself to finish if I’m not feeling it, and I don’t make apologies for that.
    I fail at loving this ridiculous idea that everything must come in threes these days, because I hate that idea. Why must all new novels actually be a part of a trilogy? I know, I know…it’s been happening for a while, but just to put people on notice: I’m not reading any of the series until the entire thing is done. Completely done. And I might forget about it by then, because I am not a patient person. (Okay, I fail at patience, too.) And the same goes for TV shows, because I’ve started watching too many that just end and leave me on a cursed cliff hanger for eternity because some stodgy person decided to stop funding it mid-season or at the end of a particularly interesting season. I’m a discerning television watcher and need something interesting or unique about the show to get into it, but everyone is on notice that I’m not watching a show until it’s completely done airing, all seasons, and I know you didn’t leave me hanging. Or end with something monstrously stupid, although I can and will just skip the final epi if it’s ludicrous or terribly bad. So.

    By the way, Brian Hayes wins the comments section! 😉

  • Linda J

    Wow Brian… Just wow.

    He absolutely wins!

  • OMG to Julie of the third comment. I READ THAT BOOK!!! LIke 20 years ago. I think I actually left the book on an airplane.

  • Brigitte

    Brian wins!
    I only failed at dusting and vacuuming and various other house-wife-ly things, which is a daily fail.

    I’m crossing my fingers that you get to tell us what you and Mr. Husband failed at, hopefully before any worse fails come along! 😮

  • Jennifer

    The flung book–it was The Da Vinci Code, right?

    (I am an occasional book-flinger, myself.)

  • DebR

    I’ve had many fails this week but why bother to list them now because Brian totally wins this category. 🙂

    In the area of book-flinging, I’ve come close a lot of times but the only book I’ve ever literally, physically thrown across the room was Stephen King’s “Pet Cemetery” (and yes, I know he spells “cemetery” differently in the title but I don’t remember his spelling and I don’t care enough to look it up). I’d liked the book right up until the end but the ending infuriated me, thus the flinging. Once I could bring myself to pick it up, I threw it in the trash. That’s the only time I’ve ever done that too. Usually even if I hate a book I’ll donate it to the library for their book sale fundraiser, but that one went straight in the garbage and I then boycotted Mr. King’s books for a solid decade. Eventually I got over it enough to read (and enjoy!) several of his others but in a dark little corner of my heart I will NEVER quite get over my black hatred of that book.

  • Martha

    I flung Life of Pi. Well, technically I returned it from whence I borrowed it, but I gave up on the book halfway through it.

  • I failed at mailing a ‘Secret Santa’ package to my good friend(my group of old friends draws names every year so we don’t feel obligated to have to get something for everyone). I had lots and lots of homemade goodies packaged nicely in a box, ready to go to the post office on Dec. 26th but then…I couldn’t be bothered to find her mailing address, since it would require digging through old emails and/or piles of paper, so the box got moved to a corner, where we piled junk mail and sweaters on top of it.
    I have yet to invest any effort in finding her address, and the homemade muffins have since gone VERY moldy.
    I am considering, however, leaving the muffins in the box and pretending that somehow they must have gone moldy while in transit, since I do not want to be bothered with trying to re-pack the box.
    You do not want me to be your secret santa.

  • I have failed so monumentally at so much that I will here now fail to mention my fails. That absolves me of everything. I hope Brian is at home now in dry pants.

  • i discovered a small stack of Christmas cards that I meant to mail in, yep, December. Now indecision is killing me … dump them or send them to the last few people on the list? I did manage to get 120 out but these were the ones with the questionable addresses, etc.

    i love to blog and i read six books to review and then played word with friends for a number of hours that i’m not going to mention.

  • Michelle-who-is-Shelley

    LOVE VERONICA MARS! And THAT scene – yes. I replayed it many, many times. I may have even gone on to watch another show where Enrico Colantoni played a father figure because of that show and THAT scene.

    Please tell me that you are going to include the books pictured above in a list on Backdate Quaints because I can’t read ALL of the titles and it is driving me crazy…

    I am a huge fail at sending cards and baby gifts. I have a stack of “Thinking of You” cards that I bought with the intent to mail but failed to mail. I also have an adorable pink onesie that I never got around to sending as a baby gift.

  • Brian–you are hilarious!! LOL! I never remember anyone’s name either, but you totally win with that story!

  • SillyMe

    I flung the book “It” by Stephen King. because it was scary. It flew under the couch and wasn’t found for 3 years. I refused to sit on that couch for 3 years and nobody noticed. I was 12.

  • I don’t know how it took me this long to find you, but I love you. I truly do. I’m going to find all of your books and read them and read your blog and also probably your bio. THAT is dedication.

    I would binge watch VM in prep for the movie, but my damn wiener kid took the dvds to school with her so she and her friends could binge watch, so I’ll just sit here, thinking about Logan. Mmmmm . . . Logan.

    Anyway, poor Brian, because that is the best/worst story ever. And I’m right there with Silly Me – I flung a SK book once, too – Misery. Jesus, the hobbling. Why? WHY?