Victims of the Lenten Book Purge

As April approaches, I want to recognize some of the books I purged earlier this month.

I’d estimate that between this Purge and the last one, I got rid of at least 100 books.

My collection feels much more manageable now.

I also made an Unread Books spreadsheet and a Rereads spreadsheet to help me stay motivated.

(I love spreadsheets now. 2019 Lauren uses them all the time.)

So listen: I got rid of some books I really liked and others I wanted to like…and many I never read.

These books lost their lives in the Purge.


All the Birds in the Sky

by Charlie Jane Anders

all the birds

ONCE UPON A TIME, I read Jennifer Egan’s Visit From the Goon Squad.

I don’t know how much responsibility I should take for the VAST difference between my expectations and the book’s reality.

Pitched as a love story, A Visit From the Goon Squad goes out of its way to ignore its two “main” characters.

Though this is a spoiler for the last chapter, it’s the only way I know how to sum up the book’s oddness:

The final chapter sees babies in the future using touch screens to make music.

Oh, is that NOT WHAT YOU EXPECTED when presented with an aging musician and his young, lovelorn assistant?

I thought that book was a singular experience. Nothing would throw me like that again.

All the Birds in the Sky presents itself pretty clearly: in a war between witches and tech nerds, the lead witch and the lead tech nerd fall in love.

Hell. Yes.

What follows is a convoluted, war-less mess.

The actual war encompasses one demonstration and one glossed-over mass shooting.

The book spends a lot of time with the leads as children and teenagers.

The farther I got in the book, the less enamored I became with the two leads, ESPECIALLY LAURENCE.


I was promised a war that snuck in and exited pretty quickly.

With both books, I wanted an epic love story.

Instead, I got a whole lot of themes and opaque social commentary.


Hope Never Dies

by Andrew Shaffer

Hope Never Dies

What do you say when you really like a book but you don’t love it?

Do you say, “We can still be friends?”

Do you keep it around with promises to hang out again soon?

Seems lame.

I really, really loved the premise of Hope Never Dies, but I felt like the jokes overwhelmed the plot.

The plot didn’t pick up until about halfway through and the mystery felt like an afterthought.

I’ve read some reviews of Carry On that hinted at similar issues, but my blind love for that book glossed over any plot holes.

You might love Hope Never Dies wholeheartedly, messy plot and all. I still recommend it. It’s the best presidential fanfiction you could hope for.


The Season

by Jonah Lisa Dyer and Stephen Dyer


I believe I bought this book without realizing it was a Texan Pride and Prejudice reboot.

I would absolutely recommend this book for anyone who loves fluff.

It’s FUN (and so pretty.)

The biggest bummer of it all is the love story.

The Darcy character in this book does NOT COME OFF WELL at all.

So not only is the love story abbreviated, the love interest is kind of an asshole.

That is, more of an asshole than his Jane Austen counterpart.

NOT A BAD BOOK, just not one I plan to reread.


Anger is a Gift

by Mark Oshiro

Anger is a Gift

I don’t always have an accurate sense of what I can handle.

I saw Anger is a Gift floating around the internet before its release and was so excited for a Black Lives Matter novel with a queer protagonist.

I started the book shortly after buying it and have been stuck on the first chapter ever since.

Reading about a queer protagonist with a deceased father and a panic disorder embarking on a new relationship in the midst of racial conflict proved too much for me.

I knew this book was going to hurt me, so I gave up.


That Inevitable Victorian Thing

by E. K. Johnston


I started this book during my pre-diagnosis days.

I read the first 40 pages of this book without absorbing any of it. I had to read several pages multiple times.

None of the information penetrated my brain.

I didn’t know there would be quite so much science.

When I think about reading this book, I’m reminded of how awful I felt during the first few months of last year.

See ya, symbol of my unhappy past.


The Woman in Cabin 10

by Ruth Ware

Cabin 10

I would love to be a person who reads mystery thrillers.

I don’t think that’s me, though.

I bought or checked out a couple different mysteries and they didn’t do much for me.

I decided my mom would enjoy this book more than I would.


The Rest of Us Just Live Here

by Patrick Ness

Rest of us

This book was around when I needed it.

I don’t need it anymore.

Let someone else enjoy it.

I wish these characters the best.

I love you so…and I let you go.


The Summer of Salt

by Katrina Leno

Summer of Salt

Did I like the book? Absolutely.

Would I read it again? No way.

This dark read, while absolutely worthwhile, was far from comforting.

I will still think about it when it’s gone.



by Robin Talley


I so wanted to love this novel.

And, honestly, it wasn’t bad.

It read, though, like two separate novels. The two storylines never felt fully integrated.

I would have preferred a standalone story about the Lavender Scare.

The quality research made the modern perspective unnecessary.


The Vegetarian

by Han Kang



The Vegetarian isn’t ACTUALLY a novel; it’s a collection of three short stories about one woman published at different times.


Each story is told from a different character’s point of view…and two out of three of the narrators are men.

So…I heard this pitched MULTIPLE TIMES as a freaky feminist novel.

I ASSUMED, based on the description and others’ reactions, that the story would be told from Yeong-hye’s perspective.

Maybe I was missing something, but I didn’t understand how the stories fit together.

The bloody anti-meat angle was introduced in the first story and forgotten by the second.

UGGGH. Frustrating.


All My Puny Sorrows

by Miriam Toews


I knew from the description that the story focused heavily on suicide.

I thought I could handle it. I love a grief novel.

I assumed for some reason that the two sisters were Jewish.

Instead, the sisters belonged to a strict sect of Christianity.

That I couldn’t handle.

I loved the writing style, but the religious aspects got to me.



by Liz Prince


This graphic novel validated my childhood and helped me question gender roles.

Because I’m in a better place emotionally, I’m passing this book onto someone else.

I hope another tomboy finds it.


I have plenty of books to sell on my next Powell’s trip. I’m reading through all my new fantasy and sci-fi books currently.

This year’s Purge was difficult, but I survived.

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