Overall 2012 was a great year for reading – I read more books than I expected to get through, and had a hard time picking my favorites (always a good sign of a good year). That’s not to say that every book was a winner. While some might have been worse reads for me, these are the 10 books that let me down the most, because I expected more from them:
Biggest “I Know Their Writing So I Expected More” Bummers
- Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection by A. J. Jacobs
I’ve liked some of Jacobs’ writing previously, but this book felt so ridiculously contrived and shallow. I also didn’t find him as funny as I had in The Year of Living Biblically. Maybe I’m just tired of him and his gimmicks, which is all the book seemed to be.
- Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson
I’ve read her blog off and on, so it’s not that I was surprised by the language or tone. I expected to have the majority of the book having me laughing hysterically, and mostly it didn’t. The funniest parts to me were portions I’d already read in posts on her blog, so most of the book ended up feeling like I’d read it all already.
Biggest “I’m Looking for Some Real Content Here” Disappointments
- Stop Acting Rich: …And Start Living Like A Real Millionaire by Thomas J. Stanley
Not a bad book, but if you’ve read Stanley’s The Millionaire Next Door, nothing in this one will be new information. Sure, some of the specific examples are new, but the actual content all felt completely recycled.
- Write it Down, Make it Happen by Henriette Anne Klauser
Endlessly repetitive, with mostly anecdotal examples of people who succeeded in writing it down and making it happen (or having it happen to them.) I felt like I’ve read the ideas before, presented in a better, more compelling manner. It felt like it could have been reduced to a magazine article with no real loss.
Biggest Social Media Let-Downs
- Bloggers Boot Camp: Learning How to Build, Write, and Run a Successful Blog by John Biggs and Charlie White
Disliked it because of how misleading it was – they should have added the word “News” into the title, because that’s what the book is really about: building, writing, and running a successful NEWS blog. The only REAL bloggers in their opinion are news bloggers. If you’re not writing a news blog, you’re a diarist at best. I found their tone and arrogance off-putting, and I wish the title had matched the contents. This is not a general blogger’s guide.
(If you are looking for a general blogger’s guide, the best one I’ve read is one you might overlook – Food Blogging For Dummies by Kelly Senyei. Despite the title, almost all of the information is applicable to bloggers of all types, so as long as you have enough imagination to translate her examples to whatever sort of content you do write, it’s a terrific resource.)
- Twitter for Good: Change the World One Tweet at a Time by Claire Diaz-Ortiz
I wanted to like this, but it is so clearly focused on business or non-profit Twitter accounts that didn’t feel that relevant to me. Other than giving me a kick-in-the-pants to set up some lists on Twitter I don’t think I took any actions after reading the book. Unless you’re tweeting for your company or nonprofit, or developing a Twitter strategy for your job, I’d skip it.
(What I do highly recommend if you’re looking for a book on using Twitter is Becky Robinson’s 31 Days of Twitter Tips: Grow Your Online Influence, 12 Minutes at a Time. It’s a fantastic resource, applicable to anyone.)
Biggest “I Can’t Even Finish Reading These They’re Such Let-Downs” Let Downs
- Hidden Children of the Holocaust: Belgian Nuns and their Daring Rescue of Young Jews from the Nazis by Suzanne Vromen
I hated her dry writing style, and the way it was structured. I hated her tone and attitude towards the rescuers – no, of course they weren’t perfect, but they did risk their lives for strangers, so her harshness seems inappropriate. I wanted to like the book, but found I couldn’t even finish it.
- Building Her House: Commonsensical Wisdom for Christian Women by Nancy Wilson
This is perhaps unfair, but I had high hopes for this book because I loved Wilson’s daughter Rachel Jankovic’s book, Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches, so much. So I went into reading this one with the expectations that I’d like this one as much and was so disappointed that I didn’t. The structure felt disjointed, probably because it’s a compilation of essays that are only loosely connected to each other. It felt superficial, even though I expected some depth and thought-provoking ideas.
Biggest Fiction Bummers
- Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder
I loved Poison Study, book one in the series. I liked book two, Magic Study, well enough. But book three. Oh, book three you disappointed me so. Confusing action, limited appearances by some of the best characters from the earlier books, and an ending that still has me scratching my head and wondering if that was really the best she could do. I wish I hadn’t read it, and instead just imagined my own ending to the tale.
- Hawksmaid: The Untold Story of Robin Hood and Maid Marian by Katheryn Lasky
I’ve liked Lasky’s writing before, I like children’s/young adult books, I like retellings of classic stories, so this reinterpretation of Robin Hood and Maid Marian seemed like a great choice.Except Marian is abrasive, and the book ends up taking a bizarre fantasy turn. I *like* fantasy, but when most of the book hasn’t had it, it feels like a cop-out to have the resolution of the story hinge on it.
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