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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Unfinished Business

Recently, the BBC News reported which novels were most often unfinished by British readers. We took a similar survey, asking our newsletter readers to reveal which books they started, but never quite managed to finish. They said:

“Have to disagree with the Brits on the Harry Potter books. I put off reading ALL of them until a month or two ago when I finally succumbed. I enjoyed them a lot!” -- A. Masters

Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice. It bored me to death -- three times!” -- Sarah

“I started reading War and Peace twice, during the winter months. I tried to pick it up a third time to finish it, but I then moved to Florida, and it wasn't really a ‘beach read,’ so it remains unfinished.” -- K. Buscher

The Red Badge of Courage. Had to read it for a high school book report, couldn't even get past the first chapter! So I read the Cliff notes; I think I got a B on it!” -- P. Hartmann

Ulysses by James Joyce. It’s often chosen as one of the best books ever written. Why should a book so tedious and boring be elected to such high status? I'll never know!” -- L. Mooring

“How about books you wish you hadn't finished? Bridge to Terebithia! I hated what happened at the end! I might not have read it had I known it ended that way.” -- C. Fow

Ulysses by James Joyce. Two times I’ve started to read it; I hope to try again soon.” -- J. Bauza

Sea of Thunder. The book is on the reserved list, so it couldn't be renewed; I paid two bucks and still didn't finish it!” -- K. Lowe

“I majored in literature, and Tristram Shandy was on the reading list for two courses, and I never could get even halfway through the book. I literally kept falling asleep while trying to read it.” -- M. Derbali

“The book I’ve started MULTIPLE times is Gabriel Garcia Marquez' One Hundred Years of Solitude. I even jumped ahead and read the end once, but it didn’t inspire me to finish all the parts I skipped.” -- J. Bilyeu

Finn is my currently unfinished book. It is just unrelieved horror. Definitely not a book for kids -- or for anyone wanting a good read.” -- R. Matthews

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce. I've tried to read it four times.” -- E. Dennington

“I simply couldn't finish Gravity's Rainbow; it wore me out. I consider myself reasonably intelligent, having graduated from college summa cum laude, but the incessant allusions were just too much. While to be profound is to be misunderstood, the converse is not so.” -- J. Maberry

“Not surprised that The God of Small Things is a book that people pick up and put aside.” -- J. Maitra

“Most recently, I ran out of the permitted number of online renewals (!) for Jane Jacobs' Dark Age Ahead. I'm a habitual book-non-finisher, but Jacobs' book was so full of rich, important ideas that it sent my mind in 10 directions. I must get back to it someday!” –- M. Marsolais

“There are two books that I could never finish. One is Ivanhoe. I tried twice, but it just never grabbed me. The other is Moby Dick. I’ve read thousands of books, but could never get through those two.” -- P. Riedinger

Lord of the Rings, all three books. The history of elves, man, dwarves and every other living creature, plus invented languages, maps and cities just proved too much for me!” -- C. McDaniel

“The dictionary is a book I love to read but haven't gotten all the way through it yet.” -- G. Lesser

“About the books you listed: of the ones I’ve looked at, I managed to read them to the bitter end ... and in some cases, it was very bitter!” -- J. Schmidt

“Stephen King's The Tailsman. Oh, I got through it, but it took me almost five years and by that time the spine has cracked and the pages were falling out.” -- A. Lawson

Ulysses seemed to require extensive knowledge of English and Irish literature to follow. While I found the small part of what I read interesting, I didn’t get very far into the book before I gave up.” -- G. McMullin

“I've never finished All the Kings' Men by Robert Penn Warren, and Paradise by Toni Morrison. In both cases, after slogging through the first 20 pages or so, and being completely unable to figure out what was happening, I gave up.” -- M. Morris

“I don't know how to get the word out, but I listened to Crime and Punishment on tape, and I was spellbound. This would be a great way to enjoy the book without reading it. I give the audio FOUR STARS!” -- A. Posner

“Of the four books on this list that I have tried to read, I have never been able to finish any of them!” -- Chris

Maybe you’d like one of these books better!


Anonymous said...

The flip side of Unfinished Busines is Couldn't Put It Down. I read Michael Strogoff in a single night when I was 13, and It several years ago the same way. I'd like to see a survey of readers who "burned through" books that way, and a list of the favorites.

D. Goncz (Seven Corners)

Kate said...

Great idea! I LOVED "Clan of the Cave Bear" but couldn't get through the sequel "Valley of the Horses." Life is too short to read bad books (or ones that don't grab you right away--esp. since there are so many that DO grab you out there!).

Anonymous said...

I could never get through the first "Lord of the Rings" book... I would always fall asleep in the middle. Gave up after my third time trying.