Books you stopped reading (for whatever reason)

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I can usually get through anything cuz i'm a glutton for punishment. And consciously deciding to stop reading a book is different than just starting a book and not getting around to finishing it cuz you are lazy or drunk.Recently I started reading A Multitude Of Sins by Richard Ford and god knows i tried but I just couldn't do it. He is just too boring and tedious to me. And I love that whole americana-middle-class discontent-sad desperation-slice of life thing. hell, i was weened on Carver and all the rest of them. Richard Yates is a god to me. John O'hara, you betcha! All the way back to sinclair friggin' lewis and sherwood friggin' anderson. But Ford is deadly. I couldn't read Independence Day either. He won the Pulitzer for that thing. He's one of those writer's writers. ya know? Constantly being compared to Chekhov. I was actually going to start a list of short-story writers who get compared to Chekhov. There are tons! Apparently Chekhov was a dime a dozen the way they throw his name around. Alice Munro is about the only person i would compare to Chekhov. Of living writers that i'm familiar with.But that's me. How about you? Who have you thrown against the wall lately?

scott seward (scott seward), Thursday, 18 December 2003 02:07 (eighteen years ago) link

"The Glass Bead Game" by Hermann Hesse. First chapter good, though.

fcussen (Burger), Thursday, 18 December 2003 02:09 (eighteen years ago) link

RE:Hesse-Loved Beneath The Wheel & Demian when i wa a kid cuz i was convinced that i was a tortured genius(turns out i wasn't).And i never finished Steppenwolf cuz i was convinced that i was gonna turn out like the hero. Not only that, I never even finished watching the movie for the same reason!(I'll let you know in 20 years if i become an embittered crank)

scott seward (scott seward), Thursday, 18 December 2003 02:14 (eighteen years ago) link

This summer I tried reading Hesse's story collection News from a Distant Star and I didn't get past the second one. I put Infinite Jest down mid-footnote a month ago and have yet to return to the main body of the text.

I like the idea of this board, and feel bad for the way I've contributed so far, just throwing in an additional item rather than furthering conversation.

So here goes: This may or may not be interesting to consider, but when is the reader at fault for giving up on a book? Lots of books are supposed to be difficult, and in the present dumbed down world the concentration required to finish books may even be an antidote to ADD. So yeah, to sum up, when's it our fault, and when's it theirs? Is it my problem I can't get through Gaddis's Recognitions or is he just obnoxious (or is this question just obnoxious?)?

otto, Thursday, 18 December 2003 02:24 (eighteen years ago) link

It's been a while since I've bailed on a book. Two that I remember: The Recognitions by Gaddis and Other People by Martin Amis. I really really wanted to like THe Recognitions, and I did like it for the first couple hundred pages, but then I just lost interest - and the darned thing is just so so long - it intimidated me. It was the long dialogue scenes between the malevolent capitalist dude and the suffering artist guy that did me in, I think, though I could be mixing up a few characters. Other People never really got off the ground. Just lame. It tries so hard to be nihilistic and jaded, but it comes across like a pimply sophomore who wears all black and smokes clove cigarettes.

o. nate (onate), Thursday, 18 December 2003 02:24 (eighteen years ago) link

Wow, major xpost. We both mentioned The Recognitions. Coincidence?

o. nate (onate), Thursday, 18 December 2003 02:26 (eighteen years ago) link

Andre Dubus - Selected stories. I saw In the Bedroom and thought it was really great, and I after I found out it was based on a story of Dubus', I picked up the collection but only got through 3 1/2 shorts...if I read any more I would have slit my wrists. He looks so happy on the cover too.

Berkeley Sackett (calstars), Thursday, 18 December 2003 02:30 (eighteen years ago) link

Kismet. Or maybe it's one of the most difficult to get through books there is, and so people like me (and you, O.?) feel compelled to add it to our book cases like trophies. I'll admit that when I was younger that's why I read Joyce and Proust. I wonder what percentage of people's trophy books are the first unfinished books to come to mind. For instance, I didn't disclose my more recent inability to get into Andre Norton's Witchworld, but instead Infinite Jest sprang first to mind.

otto, Thursday, 18 December 2003 02:36 (eighteen years ago) link

Well, I don't have a lot of trophy books in my bookcase - in fact I don't even have a bookcase at this point. All of my books are piled on the floor or in boxes. I actually blame Infinite Jest for making me buy The Recognitions, just because of the blurb on the back that mentions Gaddis's name in the same sentence with Pynchon (another of my faves). But I never had any trouble finishing Infinite Jest or Gravity's Rainbow or other supposedly difficult books.

o. nate (onate), Thursday, 18 December 2003 02:39 (eighteen years ago) link

So should I give Infinite Jest another go?

otto, Thursday, 18 December 2003 02:42 (eighteen years ago) link

i just picked up andre dubus's selected stories yesterday at the thrift store and looking through it i said to myself, whooo, heavy. i will give it a try though. although i'm kinda looking forward to the 2 thom jones collections i picked up around thanksgiving more. he can be heavy too, but he's also really really entertaining.And maybe i'm just more in the mood for entertaining.

scott seward (scott seward), Thursday, 18 December 2003 02:46 (eighteen years ago) link

So should I give Infinite Jest another go?

Well, that's a tough call. I personally enjoyed it and found it quite readable. At the same time, I wouldn't say it is a must-read type of book. I'd say, give it another chance, and if you still don't find yourself getting interested, then bail on it with my blessings.

o. nate (onate), Thursday, 18 December 2003 03:36 (eighteen years ago) link

"The Recognitions" is meant to be his most difficult (I haven't read it at all), I'm reading "A Frolic of His Own" right now and really enjoying it, so if you've got any continued interest in his stuff give that a go maybe

Andrew Thames (Andrew Thames), Thursday, 18 December 2003 03:43 (eighteen years ago) link

In the Hand of Dante by Nick Tosches. I made it through the first few chapters, and after the screed on the publishing community, I'd had enough. I don't think this was my fault for not reading it, I just really hated it. I was over a 100 pages in and felt like it wasn't going anywhere I was going to like. I was expecting something more on the order of the Club Dumas (9th Gate) and instead I got overwritten hystrionics.

anthony kyle monday (akmonday), Thursday, 18 December 2003 03:44 (eighteen years ago) link

I thought that JR was supposed to be even more difficult than The Recognitions. At least it looks difficult from skimming it. I might try Recognitions again at some point - I still have it.


o. nate (onate), Thursday, 18 December 2003 03:45 (eighteen years ago) link

I gave up on Independence Day too!

Shmuel (shmuel), Thursday, 18 December 2003 12:45 (eighteen years ago) link

Well i didnt even get to Independence Day - i bailed on The Sportswriter.

jed (jed_e_3), Thursday, 18 December 2003 15:30 (eighteen years ago) link

"Infinite Jest" and "A Frolic of His Own" are mine, as well. Despite the number of good reviews when I bought them. I'll probably go back to "A Frolic of His Own", because I respect the person who suggested I read it. ("Independence Day" is in the big to-read pile, fwiw).

Chris Hill (Chris Hill), Thursday, 18 December 2003 15:37 (eighteen years ago) link

I don't think Gaddis is really difficult, he's just demanding. He has to be read in huge chunks when you have a lot of time and aren't tired. But the action in his books is absolutely straightforward. Reading him I never feel like "I don't know what these words are supposed to mean" the way I sometimes do with Joyce or "I don't know what's going on on this page" the way I sometimes do with Pynchon. Try "JR" -- a very funny book. (Although the "art good, business bad" stuff is kinda lame.)

I've never been able to read Phillip K. Dick. I know that makes me a lesser person, but there's always something that makes me go "oh, brother" and toss the book aside.

Not That Chuck, Thursday, 18 December 2003 15:49 (eighteen years ago) link

eco:foucalt's pendulum

i read three quarters with a dictionary and encyclopedia by my side, then developed a theory that Eco was trying to beat me into submission so that he could use me as a vehicle for the real message he was masking under the web of esoteric references.
but it never happened, he just keep going. we reached a standoff and i decided that if he was going to continue then he could do it without me.

dz, Thursday, 18 December 2003 16:21 (eighteen years ago) link

the plot actually starts on page 600 or so of that book - it really isnt worth it though!

jed (jed_e_3), Thursday, 18 December 2003 16:55 (eighteen years ago) link

I gave up on Foucalt's Pedelum...but

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen owns this thread....I gave up on it awhile was more of a personal decision, it was actually, in the literal sense, making me depressed...I guess the midwestern, middle class despair was too close to the bone....also, after awhile I just wanted to smack the characters and tell them to shut up and shape up! (fix up look sharp)

I say it owns this thread because I have a friend that did the same thing, and when I talked to my grandmother at Thanksgiving she had also given up on the Corrections..

Matt Helgeson (Matt Helgeson), Thursday, 18 December 2003 18:21 (eighteen years ago) link

I've never been able to read Phillip K. Dick. I know that makes me a lesser person, but there's always something that makes me go "oh, brother" and toss the book aside.

Is it "presently" and "anyhow"?

fcussen (Burger), Thursday, 18 December 2003 20:17 (eighteen years ago) link

Matt - i love "The Corrections" i have read it twice in the past year. Gary is an amazing character i think - i can't believe hes not walking around right now - he seems so real and vivid to me.

jed (jed_e_3), Thursday, 18 December 2003 20:24 (eighteen years ago) link

Got about 50 pages into Glass Bead Game and The Fountainhead. Both were real bores to me. For some reason I cant make it through Vineland either, but I like what I've read.

brg30 (brg30), Thursday, 18 December 2003 23:13 (eighteen years ago) link

me too with vineland - i think the godzilla thing killed it for me.

jed (jed_e_3), Friday, 19 December 2003 00:20 (eighteen years ago) link

I should try the Corrections again....I got through Vineland but it is goofy as f@#k I remember liking it but I don't recall that much, actually

Matt Helgeson (Matt Helgeson), Friday, 19 December 2003 02:26 (eighteen years ago) link

I love Foucalt's Pendulum! I wished that it would never end, and that the book would suck me into its pages and into its plot, I loved it so much!

Recently, I couldn't get more than a few pages into Northern Lights. I fear I have lost the ability to read fantasy novels. I mentioned on the ILE Ayn Rand thread that I couldn't get more than 5 pages into The Fountainhead. I am unable to penetrate William Gibson or Philip K. Dick. Pynchon's V lost me after a dedicated try which got me nearly a quarter of the way through.

Oh, and Underworld. I gave it the old college try, but gave up amidst all the baseball references.

HRH Queen Kate (kate), Friday, 19 December 2003 11:09 (eighteen years ago) link

The Crying of Lot 49. It was so tedious. And then when my old man said oh yeah, that's the point of the book, I said oh, well then I don't need to finish it, do I?

Another was A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. I find Dave Eggers really irritating.

Kate, I staggered through Northern Lights and thought it was really boring and dull, so I didn't read the next one. Darren did and said it was really good, so I gave it a try and it's actually way better. Especially since it's from another character's POV.

Catty (Catty), Friday, 19 December 2003 11:56 (eighteen years ago) link

I'm quite relieved to see other people gave up on Infinite Jest, too. I'd heard there was a great grammar police gag in it, but my copy is a foot thick with 9point type. Couple that with endless pages on "should I or shouldn't I go get dope" and the book is now propping open my reception room door.

Catty (Catty), Friday, 19 December 2003 11:59 (eighteen years ago) link

I loved Infinite Jest, and actually that "should I get dope or not" part was my'll make you straight edge.

Matt Helgeson (Matt Helgeson), Friday, 19 December 2003 22:38 (eighteen years ago) link

Mine is Underworld also, but really there wasn't enough baseball for me. I read almost half of it before I just gave up from its boresomeness. And I never ever leave a book unread (almost did with Oscar & Lucinda but finished it after I saw the film).

Leee Marvin (Leee), Friday, 19 December 2003 23:08 (eighteen years ago) link

Well i didnt even get to Independence Day - i bailed on The Sportswriter.

Me too. The thing is, I love Ford's short stories, especially Rock Springs. But even though there were some great scenes in The Sportswriter, I kept not wanting to pick it back up and finally didn't. I just wasn't interested. On the other hand, I saw him give a reading earlier this year of an excerpt from the forthcoming third book in that series (I guess he's making it into his own Rabbit chronicles), and at least the part he read was really good and surprisingly funny (since I don't think of him as a "funny" writer).

Two other notables I quit on: Kavalier and Clay (is it just me or is Chabon a little on the expository side? I was kind of enjoying, though; maybe I'll take it back up) and Cold Mountain (overwritten, overreaching, overrripe). I did finish Infinite Jest and mostly liked it all the way through, but I still think DFW writes better nonfiction than fiction.

spittle (spittle), Sunday, 21 December 2003 20:11 (eighteen years ago) link

two weeks pass...
couldn't get hrough "Remains of the Day"
thought the movie was lovely, great acting, all that English repressed emotional stuff--but on the page, eh gads-terribly BORING!

laura donovan, Tuesday, 6 January 2004 01:13 (eighteen years ago) link

and badly written to boot.

jed_ (jed), Tuesday, 6 January 2004 01:31 (eighteen years ago) link

possession by AS Byatt. thought it sounded interesting- bought it. told friend who said that she hated the book so much she threw it away. hope i wasn't prejudiced by that but found it so tedious... on and on, where's the plot? and now it is gathering dust (don't believe in throwing books) and maybe someday when i feel either really bored or more patient, i shall attempt it again.
AHWOSG- somewhere in the middle. it's definately not a 'page-turner' for me... it in turns leaves me amused or baffled.
and pickwick papers... i don't know why but all Charles Dickens books i have tried makes me bored. which is sad because i like victorian gothic-ish books. i don't seem to 'get' all the stuff people praise him for....hmn....
yup- these are the books that brings up feelings of guilty abandonment.

unfazed, Tuesday, 6 January 2004 07:27 (eighteen years ago) link

Gaddis' Recognitions is well worth it, in my view, although it does require an investment of both time and concentration. It's true that Gaddis limits his thematics--in all his books, really--in a way that leads one to think that he could likely have done with some serious tightening, but of his 3 long books, The Recognitions is the one for which that's least true, where all that stormy circling round the eye actually turns to upward/downward spirals, where the sidelong torments over authenticity and forgery lead to depth of expression rather than extended polemic (which JR and Frolic, but not Carpenter's Gothic, tend to tend toward, although JR succeeds because it pressure-filters the polemic into high melodrama in a manic Altmann/Nashville mode [including the wide-framing technique, the broad relief], whereas Frolic merely attempts to overcome the tedium of its assault through more of a highbrow slapstick, which is hilarious in certain cases, but mostly drowns the book in overwrought agitation).

So Frolic's the one I quit on, half through. Had to.

Finnegan's Wake also seems like an obvious book to stop during, one of those cases where the book seems to demonstrate its point far too soon, then crank, and crank, and crank, until the valve or the gasket breaks. You end up feeling a bit like Chaplin through the gears, or a victim of Rube Goldberg.

And for whatever reason I can't read Mann for the life of me, nor Eliot. Both just seem thudding and awful.


Matthew K (mtk), Tuesday, 6 January 2004 16:37 (eighteen years ago) link

What Gaddis would you reccommend for a beginner Matthew? im thinking Carpenters Gothic (cos it's short!).

jed_ (jed), Tuesday, 6 January 2004 17:17 (eighteen years ago) link


I'll still say to read the Recognitions first-- people make the same mistake with Pynchon, reading Crying of Lot 49 first because it fits in your ass pocket, and then thinking that Pynchon's much more pop or cutesy than he eventually turns out to be (although I'd make the argument that 49 rehabilitates itself not once but three different times over the course of the book, an odd and unlikely feat for such a little thing).

Anyway, Carpenter's Gothic is a good, extremely claustrophobic elaboration for Gaddis, but _very_ dry, and a bit slight, in comparison to The Recognitions--it's wonderful in the company of JR and The Recognitions, but by itself doesn't really do what the other two were able.

The Recognitions contains, IMO, the main kernel of what Gaddis does for the rest of his career, and is the only one I'd feel comfortable saying that one could read and then forgo the others. It may be his most readable, as well, excepting maybe the 200 pages after the halfway point. Stick it through. It's one of the few books where I can honestly say I felt palpably _changed_ after having read it. Although, granted, that could have been a sign of age: I've grown prematurely crotchety about this sort of thing. But nonetheless, there was a time when it slipped right through the bobwire and downed a calf or two. It happened. I bled.



Matthew K (mtk), Tuesday, 6 January 2004 18:24 (eighteen years ago) link

cheers Matt - i'll seek out the recognitions then, although i like "the crying..." and thought it was a decent if not representative introduction to Pynchon. Having said that - the only other thing i have got through by him was "mason & Dixon"

jed_ (jed), Wednesday, 7 January 2004 12:50 (eighteen years ago) link

Underworld, after the Giants - Dodgersv with Jackie Gleason and J. Edgar Hoover, I just didn't care about the waste management guy.

P Gray, Wednesday, 7 January 2004 16:46 (eighteen years ago) link

"Life of Pi" I am a very selfish reader. Usually if I can't identify with a character or situation in like the first 40 pages, I chuck it.

bnw (bnw), Wednesday, 7 January 2004 18:42 (eighteen years ago) link

Sorry to hear that about the "Life of Pi." I need to read that and "Noble Nofleet" for a book club on the 23rd. I suppose I will give it the old college try nonetheless.

(sallying), Wednesday, 7 January 2004 23:04 (eighteen years ago) link

Life of Pi didn't really get going for me until the end of that first section. Then it careered along like an out of control locomotive.

MikeyG (MikeyG), Thursday, 8 January 2004 11:47 (eighteen years ago) link

Dino - gawd, I nearly started boozing myself just to forget HIS boozing. :-)

nathalie (nathalie), Thursday, 8 January 2004 15:35 (eighteen years ago) link

Infinite Jest twice. The first was at age 17, when it was mostly over my head. I got to p. 100. The second was last year; I understood it better, but it seemed so pointless. I got to the same place, maybe a little further. What irks me is I have a couple friends who worship the book, and I keep feeling like I'm not being patient enough or something.

jaymc (jaymc), Friday, 9 January 2004 20:07 (eighteen years ago) link

I started reading Anna Kavan's "The Parson" the other day; it's total crap, so I hurled it far from me. I love vintage Kavan, but this was an unpublished manuscript found among her papers and should, in my opinion, never have seen the light of day.

R the V (Jake Proudlock), Friday, 9 January 2004 21:20 (eighteen years ago) link

Speaking of Eco, how about 'The Island of the Day Before' or
'Baudolino'? I dived in on both only to come up gasping for air half way into both books. I loved 'Name of the Rose' but I wonder if he is trying too hard with his later books.

Steve Walker (Quietman), Monday, 12 January 2004 02:53 (eighteen years ago) link

The Long Gray Line or The Thin Blue Line or something like that. It's a massive journalistic thing about West Point Military Academy. I may have been hoping for something more scandalous, like Susan Faludi's NYer piece on the Citadel. The book had too much of a buy-in to the values it depicted.

Another nonfiction book I had long meant to read and gave up on was Common Ground, about desegregation violence in Boston in the 1970s. In order to provide sufficient background, the author seemed to have started in about the 1400s.

And The Museum Guard by Canadian novelist Howard Norman. Too repetitious, material stretched too thin. I know it was a style thing, but still.

Janet Gurn-Soosy, Monday, 12 January 2004 04:33 (eighteen years ago) link

Oh, and the novel Great Neck, about wealthy Long Island youngsters who become civil rights radicals. Several reasons: the author had some irritating tics, he ceased to develop the characters as people once they appeared on the political stage, and he had that whole parallel-life-as-comics-characters thing going. (Why are comics so popular in novels right now?) The only person I could possibly stomach that from would be Jonatham Lethem. I loved Motherless Brooklyn but would have to kill myself from despondency if I read Fortress of Solitude.

Janet Young, Monday, 12 January 2004 04:39 (eighteen years ago) link

Agsinbite of inwit

Like Monk Never Happened (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 26 July 2012 02:56 (ten years ago) link

What James should I start with?

Will Chave (Hurting 2), Thursday, 26 July 2012 03:01 (ten years ago) link

James Morrison of course

Like Monk Never Happened (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 26 July 2012 03:02 (ten years ago) link

I got about halfway through an Iris Murdoch book trying to impress a girl, although I don't know if I ever told her I was reading it. It was like a second-rate F.M. Ford novel.

― bamcquern, Thursday, 26 July 2012 02:39 (17 minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

thomp, Thursday, 26 July 2012 03:02 (ten years ago) link

Oh I've seen that Willy Wonka burn in like the last two or three days. Think of something new!

bamcquern, Thursday, 26 July 2012 03:04 (ten years ago) link

start with some james short stories. ease on down that road. one yellow brick at a time.

scott seward, Thursday, 26 July 2012 03:14 (ten years ago) link

It doesn't make me proud to admit that I've thrown out a book before finishing it but yeah, Murakami's "A wild sheep chase". I don't like his other books either. Or Ishiguro.

Ówen P., Thursday, 26 July 2012 03:17 (ten years ago) link

I think part of my frustration was that I went through a heavy Oe/Mishima phase and everybody was like "oh you like that? You should read this completely terrible other thing!"

Ówen P., Thursday, 26 July 2012 03:19 (ten years ago) link

Haha, that's better. I don't like to see a smart person like you develop rote ilx gif zing habits.

bamcquern, Thursday, 26 July 2012 03:19 (ten years ago) link

i mean to be fair i've never read any of ford madox ford's second rate novels

thomp, Thursday, 26 July 2012 03:20 (ten years ago) link

i gave up on parade's end! i'll try again someday. just too much of a commitment at the time. i kept putting it down and reading other things and then forgetting what had happened.

scott seward, Thursday, 26 July 2012 03:25 (ten years ago) link

I like Ford, I just didn't like Murdoch that much. I didn't DISLIKE her that much either. It was kind of a by-the-numbers infidelity/marriage thing.

bamcquern, Thursday, 26 July 2012 03:27 (ten years ago) link

i think murdoch was a very talented novelist who kind of viewed it more as a recreation than anything else? i don't know. the novels display an obsessive repetition of two or three narrative germs, but then philip dick remains one of my favorite novelists since forever so i feel like i can't really get away with that as grounds for dismissal

thomp, Thursday, 26 July 2012 03:32 (ten years ago) link

i have never read a novel by murdoch, drabble, or lessing. i know, right! i have looked at them a hundred times. held them in my hands. never pulled the trigger. i am never in the correct mood for their books.

scott seward, Thursday, 26 July 2012 03:48 (ten years ago) link

drabble is awesome! 'the millstone' is one of my favorite books.

i'm super-picky about what i buy so when i put down a book it's generally more 'i'm not ready for this' than 'i can't stand this.' i've read the first 20 pages of so of 'anna karenina' about three times and came to the former conclusion every time.

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Thursday, 26 July 2012 06:53 (ten years ago) link

seconding The Millstone. and The Ice Age is THE proto-yuppie 70s novel predicting the 80s. but I've read nothing else by Drabble.

(REAL NAME) (m coleman), Thursday, 26 July 2012 10:44 (ten years ago) link

The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich..interesting then meh by page 65.

*tera, Thursday, 26 July 2012 10:57 (ten years ago) link

Ishiguro is a good one. I brute-forced my attention through all of Orphans, got to the end, and chucked the book across the room. I've said elsewhere that George Eliot (specifically Middlemarch) gave me no pleasure, either, but I think I owe it another try.

baking (soda), Thursday, 26 July 2012 14:22 (ten years ago) link

i think murdoch was a very talented novelist who kind of viewed it more as a recreation than anything else

Also, she famously refused to be edited

computers are the new "cool tool" (James Morrison), Friday, 27 July 2012 00:05 (ten years ago) link

Loved Hickey's Air Guitar!

xyzzzz__, Friday, 27 July 2012 21:34 (ten years ago) link

five years pass...

Reviving this, because it is interesting to see what people start, then stop, reading.

Wolf Hall, Hillary Mantel. I started this one many months ago and laid it aside after about 150 pages (as I recall). The author was very interested in details that I thought slowed the pace to a crawl, so I finally lost patience and quit.

A is for (Aimless), Wednesday, 15 November 2017 20:02 (four years ago) link

All in the past year: Eva Sleeps by Francesca Melandri (a gift), first few chapters consisted of nothing but backstory, awful translation. The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood, a playmobil dystopia. Tess of the D'Urbervilles, my first ever Hardy. Seemed like an overwritten potboiler, could not summon up any sympathy for Tess.

Monogo doesn't socialise (ledge), Thursday, 16 November 2017 09:50 (four years ago) link

I also quit Wolf Hall. I just didn't find it a very pleasurable read, and then a burst of (what I perceived to be) clumsy alliteration just gave me an excuse to drop it altogether.

I'm just reading Northern Lights, which I quit twice and is a super fun, easy read. There's a subset for "books you stop reading for no particular reason and then lose the momentum to pick up again".

In the last year I've been good - only quit RL Stevenson's Kidnapped (dull) and Neuromancer (incomprehensible). And I'll cop to getting bored and skimming the last half of Things Fall Apart.

Chuck_Tatum, Thursday, 16 November 2017 16:26 (four years ago) link

Moby Dick. About half a dozen times.

mom tossed in kimchee (quincie), Thursday, 16 November 2017 23:49 (four years ago) link

"Osama" by Lavie Tidhar. dude does not understand noir plot structure.

Οὖτις, Thursday, 16 November 2017 23:50 (four years ago) link

Ledge, I recall trying to read Tess of the D'Urbervilles as a senior in high school and managing to write a really long term paper based on the ~100 or so pages I actually made it through. I recall loving The Mayor of Casterbridge and thought I'd be into Tess. Wrong.

mom tossed in kimchee (quincie), Thursday, 16 November 2017 23:50 (four years ago) link

four years pass...

I abandoned 'Daddy Love' by Joyce Carol Oates after two pages, is this a record? Got it from the library purely because she is an author I wanted to investigate; got a bad feeling after those two pages, read some reviews, and noped out of there so fast.

dear confusion the catastrophe waitress (ledge), Monday, 22 August 2022 09:05 (one month ago) link

Ha, first response here is The Glass Bead Game, a book I read in a single sitting (and I have abandoned plenty of books, believe me)

Recently have finished several bad jazz books, largely due to sunken cost fallacy and general crippling bloody-mindedness.

link.exposing.politically (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Monday, 22 August 2022 09:58 (one month ago) link

I think mainly its been me reading several books at the same time and not being very tidy. So I can pick up and focus on one book and let others drift out of focus and into the background/piles of stuff. So may return to a lot of things at a later date.
I did finish Mother of Invention last week which may be the closest thing to one I half thought of giving up on. & Salsa by Sue Stewart this morning which has been neglected for too long and out of the library for about 6 months.
I think I did start reading Constance Garnett translations of Dostoevsky and possibly other titles and gave up because the style was more genteel than I was expecting from the original author's reputation but have heard things that would suggest her translation may be closer to the original feel than I would have expected. Still don't think I have finished anything she translated. Still need to read Crime & Punishment in some version which I should have done over the last couple of years.
I think I may have read opening pages of Ulysses at some point and not got much further. Did read an 100 page sentence by Beckett in my late teens and need to get back to reading Joyce. Went to Nora Barnacle's place in Galway a couple of weeks back has me in mind of that.
Do still hve some books from 20 odd years ago taht I never got into but I do still buy books regularly so am continually reading. & have read some things I bought way way back earlier this year. So I think most things I am thinking I will eventually get back to . & may read a lot of other stuff beforehand. Which might give me different perspectives on reading those things when it does happen.

Stevolende, Monday, 22 August 2022 09:59 (one month ago) link

I started Swann's Way for the first time recently and there was something about the way Proust writes about bedtime and scheming to get a goodnight kiss from his mommy that I found frankly repulsive. I'm currently reading and enjoying Either/Or by Elif Batuman and there's a part where she writes about having the same reaction.

Chris L, Monday, 22 August 2022 10:40 (one month ago) link

Xpost I refuse to believe you read Glass Bead Game in a single sitting, it's like 600 pages long or something!

I'm abandoning books far more often than I used to. Last one (just a few days ago) was a Benjamin Wood novel (The Young Accomplice), it was just a bit too relentlessly middle class English.

Zelda Zonk, Monday, 22 August 2022 11:49 (one month ago) link

I generally don't quit reading books. The only one I can remember is 30 years ago I only made it about 1/3 into the first of three volumes of 1001 Arabian Nights.

Abel Ferrara hard-sci-fi elevator pitch (PBKR), Monday, 22 August 2022 11:58 (one month ago) link

I choose carefully and read slowly so I only read a handful of books a year.

Abel Ferrara hard-sci-fi elevator pitch (PBKR), Monday, 22 August 2022 11:59 (one month ago) link

I choose carefully and read slowly so I only read a handful of books a year.

Abel Ferrara hard-sci-fi elevator pitch (PBKR), Monday, 22 August 2022 11:59 (one month ago) link

xps to give some context, I was looking after a basically abandoned bookshop for a whole day and had nothing else to do

link.exposing.politically (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Monday, 22 August 2022 12:07 (one month ago) link

I'm currently reading and enjoying Either/Or by Elif Batuman and there's a part where she writes about having the same reaction.

― Chris L, Monday, 22 August 2022 11:40 (one hour ago) bookmarkflaglink

On this note, I couldn't finish Either/Or by Kierkegaard. Volume 2, Or, is tedious as fuq.

glumdalclitch, Monday, 22 August 2022 12:41 (one month ago) link

She writes about that too!

Chris L, Monday, 22 August 2022 13:38 (one month ago) link

Stevolende, I've enjoyed David Magarshack's translations of The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov. They don't seem that genteel to me.
Swann's Waygoes through quite a few turns: maybe try skipping ahead. Lydia Davis's translation (and her explanations of why she took her approach) v. enjoyable.

dow, Tuesday, 23 August 2022 04:34 (one month ago) link

one hundred years of solitude. all the names were the same and then it got ruined by a leak.

the famished road. too long.

i did go back and finished 'son of the circus' after about 20 years.

I've also got a chapter into Middlemarch, twice, before plumping for something else.

koogs, Tuesday, 23 August 2022 05:24 (one month ago) link

I'm also a Swann's Way fail - nothing wrong with it, but those long sentences just required too much concentration at the time I was reading it, I will return to it at some point I hope.

Zelda Zonk, Tuesday, 23 August 2022 05:37 (one month ago) link

I like how the first line gets its own page on French Wikipedia:,_je_me_suis_couché_de_bonne_heure

Zelda Zonk, Tuesday, 23 August 2022 05:42 (one month ago) link

NYRB are putting out a translation of the 1st vol and Charlotte Mandell is also working on another volume of Proust too.

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 23 August 2022 08:00 (one month ago) link

Funnily enough I am halfway through a book I quit a couple of years ago (Laxness' Independent People) and finished Grossman's 'Life and Fate' earlier this year, which I had quit about five years ago.

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 23 August 2022 08:02 (one month ago) link

One novel I didn't make it halfway through was Keith Gessen's ALL THE SAD YOUNG LITERARY MEN (2006?). It belongs in a thread like this as it's no MOBY-DICK, it's hard to say why it was unfinishable, but I kept bouncing off it and gave up. I suppose it irritated me.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 23 August 2022 10:02 (one month ago) link

The one novel I need to pick up again is Uwe Johnson's Anniversaries. Really enjoyed the first vol but decided to take a break. A bad idea.

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 23 August 2022 10:12 (one month ago) link

Aimless did you have any luck with Wolf Hall? It finally seems to have clicked with me and I have no idea why.

I haven’t quit Simon Gray’s Smoking Diary but it might be on an infinite pause.

I quit an excellent new amateur Kindle-only translation of Dumas’s 20 Years After because the formatting is so poor. Not sure if that’s a good reason; book itself is excellent

Chuck_Tatum, Tuesday, 23 August 2022 16:14 (one month ago) link

PG has 20 Years After. and i have a copy that i've improved (epub only at the moment, but i think i can run it through calibre...)

koogs, Tuesday, 23 August 2022 16:20 (one month ago) link

(here if you want it - - download it and rename to azw3 and let me know how it goes - first attempt at converting to azw3)

koogs, Tuesday, 23 August 2022 17:00 (one month ago) link

Ha, first response here is The Glass Bead Game, a book I read in a single sitting (and I have abandoned plenty of books, believe me)

This is one of the few I can remember not finishing. I don't even remember why. I picked it up because it was cited in another work which also now escapes me. It's going to bother me until I can remember.

immodesty blaise (jimbeaux), Tuesday, 23 August 2022 17:05 (one month ago) link

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