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Thread: "I quit!" -- Books I just can't finish

  1. #1
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    Default "I quit!" -- Books I just can't finish

    I like to finish what I start. Even books that I don't particularly care for, I'll usually finish. Partly out of some sick sense of guilt and partly out of a misplaced hope that they'll get better and, finally, I suppose, partly to give the entire book a chance. But as I get older, I find myself somewhat less inclined to spend the time finishing books I dislike. There's too much stuff out there remaining unread to spend my time torturing myself.

    Which brings me to note with admiration that in the "Recently Finished Books" thread, DouglasM just finished Anna Karenina. That got me thinking: I've been a fan of Tolstoy for decades and have read much of his work. But I am unable to read that book. I've gotten a hundred or more pages into it and come to the conclusion that I can't stand Anna and couldn't possibly ever care what happens to her (or Vronsky, though he's a bit more interesting).

    Likewise, another classic I've tried to read several times and just can't finish: Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain. I've gotten through about 250-300 pages both times I've tried (most recently within the past year) and just bog down. Again, I've read a lot of Mann and have enjoyed almost everything else I've read. But this is another instance of, "I just don't care." I get what Mann is about. I just can't the vehicle, I guess. Too much navel-gazing, self-involvement.

    I want to read and enjoy these books; such highly rated books are undoubtedly so well-regarded for a reason. But neither of these two books works for me. And though I suspect I'll give each one another shot at some point, I can't be optimistic.

  2. #2

    Default Re: "I quit!" -- Books I just can't finish

    I've tried to read Gravity's Rainbow 4 or 5 times. Its very unforgiving.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: "I quit!" -- Books I just can't finish

    I tried "One Hundred Years of Solitude" 3 times. Never got past midway through.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: "I quit!" -- Books I just can't finish

    Quote Originally Posted by lucasdiniz View Post
    I tried "One Hundred Years of Solitude" 3 times. Never got past midway through.
    Perhaps that was a good decision. I enjoyed the first half of the book, but my interest began to wane severely during the second half.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: "I quit!" -- Books I just can't finish

    Glad to hear these reports...I felt vaguely guilty for my inability to plod through the swamp about midway through as well. The pity for me is that I've enjoyed all the other works of his that I've read. That just became impenetrable.

  6. #6

    Default Re: "I quit!" -- Books I just can't finish

    Oh man. Tiga - I loved that book to no end, and I would read it again right now. I'll even toss it on my list of books to read before the end of the year.

    I've quit a handful of books part way through. I haven't gotten rid of any of them though - always had the hope of coming back in a different head space and enjoying it. It's working.

    Right now I'm reading Devil on the Cross by Ngugi wa Thiong'o. A couple years ago I picked it up and, nearly 100 pages into it, couldn't get into it. So I set it aside. I'm glad I've come back to it rather than given up on it - I'm seeing a great many things in it which I like.

    I've also given up on Five Spice Street by Can Xue. I couldn't enjoy the reading, and it was terribly slow. Plodding is maybe the correct word. But it is back on my night stand, one more try will come its way before I get rid of it.

    And I gave up on Satantango by Laszlo Krazhnahorkai after one frantic night of feverish reading got me about 1/3 of the way through and I realized that I needed to go back and read it all over again and that my life at the time - I was packing up to move to Colombia - didn't really allow for complex, heady reading. I cannot wait to go back into it, or any one of Laszlo's books.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: "I quit!" -- Books I just can't finish

    Why are you moving to Colombia?

    And I had to quit on Anna Karenina and The Count of Monte Cristo. One day I'll finish them (I'm stubborn about finishing books), but they were just so long and had so many names. A month break to read other novels/do traveling and suddenly I'm lost.

    Re: Gravity's Rainbow, I had to really slow down my reading speed for it, but once I did I found section 1 not so bad other than a few parts where the narrative takes a crazy turn. And sections 2 and 3, which make up the bulk of the book, aren't so bad. Section 4, however...

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    Default Re: "I quit!" -- Books I just can't finish

    Quote Originally Posted by OverTheMountains View Post
    Oh man. Tiga - I loved that book to no end, and I would read it again right now. I'll even toss it on my list of books to read before the end of the year.
    Completely agree, it is just a fascinating book and trust me I hate Gabo's fans always praising that book and not realizing how mediocre some other of his works can be. But hey, that book paired with El Amor en los Tiempos del Cólera and some of his short stories are, IMO, the best of his production by far!

    Count me in for the abandonement group of Gravitiy's Rainbow.

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    Default Re: "I quit!" -- Books I just can't finish

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel del Real View Post
    Completely agree, it is just a fascinating book and trust me I hate Gabo's fans always praising that book and not realizing how mediocre some other of his works can be. But hey, that book paired with El Amor en los Tiempos del Cólera and some of his short stories are, IMO, the best of his production by far!

    Count me in for the abandonement group of Gravitiy's Rainbow.
    Agreed on all fronts.
    To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you, and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations, such is a pleasure beyond compare.
    Yoshida Kenko

  10. #10
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    Default Re: "I quit!" -- Books I just can't finish

    To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you, and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations, such is a pleasure beyond compare.
    Yoshida Kenko

  11. #11
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    Default Re: "I quit!" -- Books I just can't finish

    I tried three times or so with Franzen's Freedom, and each time I would start from the beginning and advance a little more into it, but I just couldn't finish it, I would always lose my interest...

  12. #12
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    Default Re: "I quit!" -- Books I just can't finish

    Quote Originally Posted by tiganeasca View Post
    I like to finish what I start. Even books that I don't particularly care for, I'll usually finish. Partly out of some sick sense of guilt and partly out of a misplaced hope that they'll get better and, finally, I suppose, partly to give the entire book a chance. But as I get older, I find myself somewhat less inclined to spend the time finishing books I dislike. There's too much stuff out there remaining unread to spend my time torturing myself.

    Which brings me to note with admiration that in the "Recently Finished Books" thread, DouglasM just finished Anna Karenina. That got me thinking: I've been a fan of Tolstoy for decades and have read much of his work. But I am unable to read that book. I've gotten a hundred or more pages into it and come to the conclusion that I can't stand Anna and couldn't possibly ever care what happens to her (or Vronsky, though he's a bit more interesting).

    Likewise, another classic I've tried to read several times and just can't finish: Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain. I've gotten through about 250-300 pages both times I've tried (most recently within the past year) and just bog down. Again, I've read a lot of Mann and have enjoyed almost everything else I've read. But this is another instance of, "I just don't care." I get what Mann is about. I just can't the vehicle, I guess. Too much navel-gazing, self-involvement.

    I want to read and enjoy these books; such highly rated books are undoubtedly so well-regarded for a reason. But neither of these two books works for me. And though I suspect I'll give each one another shot at some point, I can't be optimistic.
    Romanian Roma?

    I haven't tried too hard with any given novel that I failed to finish, but I am on my second attempt with Das Glasperlenspiel by Hermann Hesse now. One problem I had before, I think, was just less proficiency in German than I have now. I think I'm getting more out of it this time around.

    One that I started but gave up on pretty quick was War and Peace. Maybe I was just spoiled by the much more engaging writing style of Dostoevsky, but that book did not hold my interest. Maybe I'll give it another go eventually.

    Another that I started and got further into was L. Ron Hubbard's Battlefield Earth. I basically got as far through it as the movie went and a bit beyond. I suppose I'll resume it eventually. It is not a bad book, really. The silly movie did not do it much justice.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: "I quit!" -- Books I just can't finish

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Haller View Post
    Romanian Roma?

    Very perceptive and intelligent guess. But (alas) no. Just a mark of affection on my part for their music.

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