DNF: Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen

Saturday, June 04, 2011

I read somewhere, on some blog (sorry that I can't remember who you are) that there are, in general, two types of readers - those who will put down a book relatively quickly if they are not enjoying it and those who stubbornly make it through every book because they will finish it. I am definitely, definitely, the second type. Once I start a book, I find it unbearable to not know what happens in the end to the characters. It nags at me to leave a book unfinished.

However, there are too many good books in the world to read the ones I don't like, so I am trying to do better with my little "problem." I don't think I could write a fair review of a book I did not finish, but I do like to process a bit, so from now on this will be a feature that pops up every so often. So here we go...

Why I didn't finish:
* More than anything, the sex. I am not a reader that will set a book down at the first allusion to sex, but I do prefer things to be on the cleaner side - rated PG-13, at most. This book had vivid descriptions of what went on in a stripper's tent and what was hidden under one pervy little character's pillow, if you know what I mean. I didn't even get to anything between characters before I felt too disturbed to continue.
* While this alone wouldn't have kept me from finishing the book, the present tense first person does get old.
* I wasn't dying to know what happened to the characters, because I already knew. So much was revealed in the first few chapters that I didn't feel a drive to find out more about the characters. I am sure there were significant events I didn't get to, but it seemed as if the climax had already been given away.

Why it was hard to stop:
* Mainly, the hype. I'd heard so much about how this book was epically romantic and such a compelling story. Nobody wants to stop reading a book they pick it up - the reason we pick up books is because we want to be delighted and swept away in a new story. I hoped for this with this book, but it didn't happen for me.
* I bought it for my Kindle, meaning that there is no way I can send it back or swap it. To me, this is the one drawback of an e-reader.

I've heard the movie is better than the book. Does anyone recommend it (with the knowledge that I didn't care for the book)?


  1. I'm the stubborn type, too. However, it is hard to finish a book you don't like if you already know what happens. I haven't read the book or seen the movie yet, so I don't have any advice.

  2. I've heard lots of good things about this book, it's a shame you didn't like it.

    Like you, it takes a lot for me to put a book down!

  3. I'm currently reading it, and I really have not been enjoying it either! The sex is bothersome, and I feel like Marlena is a totally flat and weak character. And I think Jacob is more interesting and entertaining as an old man than when he's with the circus. Totally disappointed!

  4. I was surprised when I kind of fell in love with this book - I'd been so turned off by all the hype that I avoided reading it for years. I was thinking of loaning it to my host mom here but then I thought about all that sex and...I returned it to the peace corps library. I am pretty out of the loop as far as current films go, but I haven't heard many good things about the movie. Or maybe that's just me associating it too much with Twilight?

    -- Ellen

  5. I read this awhile ago, and while it took me a bit to get into it - I got to the point where I couldn't put it down. Now, years later, I see lots of people commenting on the sex-type descriptions in the book, and I don't remember a single one. Weird, hunh?

  6. I actually loved the book... the sex actually does tone down after those two parts. And the climax actually isn't given away, because you don't learn what truly happens until you reach the end. But I just saw the movie last night and it was fantastic! They really cleaned up the book a ton!

  7. I tried to skim my way past those parts near the beginning, hoping it would clean up and it did as I remember. I definitely find it hard to stop reading, I'm chalking it up to willpower. Like the comment from Katya, I loved Jacob in the Nursing home, because of mine and hubby's background. I actually liked the movie a lot, thought the actor who played August was great. They actually didn't have any of Jacob in the nursing home at all in the movie, so that was my only down side.

  8. I loved this book - and the last few chapters were incredible, I thought. And I actually have heard that the movie is terrible! I decided I didn't want to see it because I heard it was disappointing. Ah well.

  9. Dude, kudos on not finishing. I'll always regret the hours I spent reading that book.

    Re: The Summer Mini-Readathon - Of course you can read on Saturday. The only thing is that the mini-challenges will be a little less exciting for you, and you'll kind of miss out on the twitter convos, if people do decide to tweet about it. But feel free to participate, I'm totally cool with it! If you tweet while you read, use the #minireadathon as a hashtag.


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