What are some books that you put down, and did not finish reading. And why? I was listening to the “Out of the Game” podcast, and this topic was mentioned. It seemed like people put books down when they felt patronized or were being sold a message.
What about you guys?
I have an example that I put down for neither of those 2 reasons.
Darkly Dreaming Dexter
I could not get into the book, no matter what I tried. I felt that the writing and narrative style was bout 2 steps above RL Stine, (Big print, short sentences) and the subject matter was just boring. I know the whole “He is a Serial Killer that kills murders” is all shocking and such… but it really isn’t. I guess I have been desensitized to “shocking” fiction thanks to my love of Takashi Miike and Japanese gore fiction (Battle Royale) but I don’t know… it just didn’t grab me. Neither did the show for that matter.
I am stupendously terrible about finishing books. The number of books that I have started and read most of before moving on to something else vastly outnumbers the total number of books that I have completed. Part of it is that a lot of novels seems to taper off around 2/3 of the way through and I rarely get past the lull. I have no desire to read anything once it starts to seem like work. Another factor is that of the books that I have completed, I feel that only a very, very small handful of them have a good ending. In general, I feel that most authors couldn’t write an ending to save their lives, so I save myself the grief of reading another crappy ending.
However, the single largest factor is that I invariably run into something else I would rather be reading than whatever I am currently reading, so my attention moves to the new thing.
Gardens of the moon.
It was appropriately gritty, but boring. While the setting was kind of interesting, the story and the characters weren’t. It just didn’t grab me. Also, reading “Before they are hanged” at the same time didn’t help.
Lord of the Rings. I almost put it down right after the ode to bathwater, which made me groan aloud. I did put it down after Gandalf was sucked down after the balrog, and the anguish of his companions got two sentences and summarily ignored. I understand how important and influential Tolkien is – I just don’t like that style of writing at all.
Wizard’s First Rule. I didn’t think it would be THAT bad. I kept my wife up for an hour one night reading this in bed and griping at it out loud. “Oh come on, now we’re onto the evils of fire? What the hell?” “Oh, she’s sharing with him her secret smile, her smile of sharing that is only for him!” I couldn’t bring myself to continue the next day.
Memoirs of a Geisha. I think this one’s all on me – I lost interest about 50 pages in and just never got back to reading it.
I started reading the Bible last summer just to say I read it, but only got half way through before the plot bogged down a bit much for my liking. The Koran is next on my religion-read-list, I’m hoping it has a bit more action.
ooo, do I get to be the first to say Da Vinci Code then?
Apart from the writing style itself I just found the book imbecellic. If you’re going to make your character a world renowned something or other at least have the decency not to have him baffled by something that the reader can clearly to see the answer to if they’ve either got half an ounce of intelligence or have paid any attention to the drivel you’ve written up to the point where you flummox your lead character.
And plot twists aren’t twists if you can see them coming a mile away.
The only other book of note that I can recall is an Iain Banks book, I think it might well have been Wasp factory, I just couldn’t continue reading it as I found the violence in it nasty to a point almost of pornography. I’m not against the use of violence in books, or films for that matter, but when I’m invited to revel in the description of the act I have problems. I know it’s kind of the point of the book, but I really didn’t get on with it.
The Koran is next on my religion-read-list, I’m hoping it has a bit more action.
If you can get one of the free, Saudi sponsored translations I’d class it more as a comedy
Infinite Jest, twice. A combination of the book being really difficult to read (and I mean physically difficult - a huge, heavy paperback that you have to keep flipping back and forth between the meat of the text and the insane footnotes sections. You don’t read Infinite Jest so much as wrestle it to the ground) and my general over-saturated media lifestyle. I made a big push to read it this summer, but at a point my addled brain would whipser “Do you really want to read another disjointed chapter of Infinite Jest, or would you rather smoke a joint and watch Top Gear?” DAMN YOU, JEREMY CLARKSON.
Lord Foul’s Bane, the first book in the Thomas Covenant series. At the point where I can’t stand the main character (it happens very early in) I tossed the book. I keep hearing how good it is so I’ve probably restarted it 3 times, but I can never get past that point.
I fail to finish books - good, bad, or indifferent - all the time. I am almost incapable of finishing anything other than murder mysteries. I always have tons of books going at once. It is somewhat maddening.
I gave up with about a hundred pages to go, after beginning to deeply doubt whether or not there would be any payoff for the 500-odd pages. Maybe it’s worth it to finish it, but I would have been really upset if the ending just fizzled out. I can deal with a certain amount of meandering in service of a larger story, but I’m not so sure I like it when meandering is all there is.
I can’t quite admit to myself that I’ve given up on this, because I am still convinced I will love it. I just didn’t stick with it nearly long enough and put it down about 100 pages in.
The Lord of the Rings: Fantasy is my favourite genre, these days it’s almost all I read, but I can never get through this trilogy. I struggle through the first book and then lose interest halfway into The Two Towers. Slow, boring, wish-fulfillment, plus Tolkein has no use for women; although highly recommended as a soporific, and will keep a fire going for an hour.
I always feel bad when I give up on books, but occasionally it happens. I conked out on Edmund Spenser’s “The Faerie Queene” after the first 100 pages or so. I recently petered out on Nathanael West’s “Day of the Locust.” I do intend to give it another shot but I’ll probably have to start from zero again. I found it well-written but for some reason my attention seemed to struggle with it. I might be getting lazy; books with less sharply-constructed narratives, that are more observational or character-based or modernist in style, tend to have fewer “hooks” to stick them in my brain and it’s hard for me to come back to them after even a couple of days’ interruption.
Actually, now that I think of it, I guess I’ve pretty much abandoned The Ice Storm too. Instead I’m reading The Scarlet Letter on my iphone. Never had to read it in high school.
Lord of the Rings - I love fantasy, and I would definitely agree that it is one of my favorite genres… but Tolkien… is just … not for me. I have similar issues with the next author/books I am going to list. Things move too slowly for my tastes. I can appreciate the amazing world he has created, but his writing style is just off-putting.
The Wheel of Time series - Like Tolkien it feels like the books are a lot more about describing the world and less about the characters in it. I love the epic feel, but I am a character driven media consumer (moves, books, tv) and when it takes 3-4 700 page books to build a character… I can’t stick with it.
I agree Tolkien was more about describing the world (though IMO Gollum lasts as a distinctive character). That’s exactly why I loved LOTR – as an angst-ridden adolescent at a certain time of my life I found those books to be a place to escape to, a world I could lose myself in for months.
That is what I love about OSC. Xenocide is my favorite of all of his books that I have read. (Ender’s shadow is a close second). As a Biologist and psuedo-catholic person the themes in his later books really hit home. How does our religion fit in to other sentient life? What about sentient AI? Crazyness. I love how much his books make me think about things. I will agree that it can get a bit verbose, and if it doesn’t grab you like it grabbed me it could get really boring.
Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson. After 150 pages, I realized that the book contains no plot or value. I consciously stopped reading it, never to be picked up again. This was a huge letdown after liking Cryptonomicon so much.