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Author Topic: Books you can't finish reading  (Read 2399 times)
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SCaroline Z
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« on: November 16, 2016, 09:57:05 AM »

Sometimes I go through periods where I devour books endlessly. And then there are the dry spells where I'm busy with other stuff or there's just nothing I'm into. Then, there are the books I started reading and are now languishing on my shelf, waiting to be finished. I don't like to give up on books, but here are the ones that can't seem to hold my attention despite my best efforts.

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski (I'm all over the concept of this book, I love stuff that's kind of "out there"... and yet it has beaten me twice. Started in 2006... started over again in 2010...)

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (I'm like 3/4 of the way through, last time I picked it up was 2012. I owe it to a friend who is a massive John Irving fan to finish it, on his recommendation).

Worst. Person. Ever. by Douglas Coupland (I'm 2 years into this one. I friggin' love Douglas Coupland, and I'm pretty sure I'm enjoying this one, but I have no idea why it keeps losing me!)


What are your "I-keep-going-back-to-this-and-then-not-finishing-it" books?
« Last Edit: November 16, 2016, 09:59:08 AM by SCaroline Z » Logged

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the captain
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« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2016, 10:02:36 AM »

I've started Ulysses a few times over the past 17 years. I'm no longer optimistic, and removed the bookmark last time I rearranged my bookshelves.
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« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2016, 01:32:46 PM »

Great topic there, SCZ. I used to devour books in years gone by but I can't seem to finish anything these days. Reader's block. Sudokus, crossword puzzles and palindromes are my lot...

Right now I have Mike's book ogling me from a bedroom shelf. It's been there for weeks. I suspect I just have to pluck up enough courage to open it and start reading and it'll be okay. As long as I finish it before June, when I'm attending a concert by Mike, Bruce and the lads...   
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« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2016, 01:43:07 PM »

I've started Ulysses a few times over the past 17 years. I'm no longer optimistic, and removed the bookmark last time I rearranged my bookshelves.

I've actually read Ulysses. Jesus, what a broth of a book!

Finnegans Wake is another matter. Just looking at the title on the front cover scares the sh*t out of me. It probably doesn't help that mine's a cheapo copy and the paper stinks.  
« Last Edit: November 16, 2016, 02:19:11 PM by john k » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2016, 01:48:34 PM »

Yes, Mike's book. Read up til the end of the early 90s lawsuit then stopped. Just wasn't very enjoyable. Will get to finishing it eventually.

Have actually not finished a couple of nonfiction books that I loved -  for the crazy reason that they were so good I didn't want them to end!

Another book I tried and couldn't finish was Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury. It's supposed to be a classic and I'll try it again but couldn't get into the style of writing that just kept going on and on but even though it got interesting at times I only had so much time to read and how was I ever going to be able to stop since there were no paragraphs or periods so since there didn't seem to be a stopping point I had to give up etc etc etc.

Wow John K you actually read Ulysses?! Finnegan's Wake would be way beyond my old brain's abilities.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2016, 01:51:09 PM by NOLA BB Fan » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2016, 02:50:07 PM »

Swan song by robert mccammon
Tried to read it in high school but never could finish, it the story jumped around too much for me at the time to where I was completely lost 400pgs in. Next time i go to the book store ill look for a used copy and start again
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« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2016, 02:59:55 PM »

I've started Ulysses a few times over the past 17 years. I'm no longer optimistic, and removed the bookmark last time I rearranged my bookshelves.

I've actually read Ulysses. Jesus, what a broth of a book!

Finnegans Wake is another matter. Just looking at the title on the front cover scares the sh*t out of me. It probably doesn't help that mine's a cheapo copy and the paper stinks.  

I specifically recall two attempts at Ulysses The first time, I was about 22, fresh out of college, and proud to be reading my copy on the bus to and from work. 'See this, everyone? Ulysses! Quite a massive tome, here. I assume you're all appropriately impressed with me. Yep, I'm the smart guy.' About 350 pages in, I had to admit to myself I had literally no idea what was going on. I put it away. About five years later, I started it again, this time unwilling to "read" ahead until I understood what I'd read. I got maybe 100 pages in and admitted I didn't know what was happening anymore. Someday I should just get a study guide and read it with that. I love Joyce's other, simpler work.

Conversely, Finnegans Wake got even less effort than Ulysses. I got a really cheap used copy, opened it when I got home, got scared, and put it back on the shelf. I sold it back to a used bookstore years ago, knowing I'd never get there.
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SCaroline Z
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« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2016, 07:06:09 AM »

Quote
Right now I have Mike's book ogling me from a bedroom shelf. It's been there for weeks. I suspect I just have to pluck up enough courage to open it and start reading and it'll be okay. As long as I finish it before June, when I'm attending a concert by Mike, Bruce and the lads...   

John K, I've been thinking about the best course of action for you, LOL. Read the book, get mad at Mike, be mad at Mike at the concert, but then maybe the concert eases the anger. Or go to the concert, enjoy the concert fully, then read the book and get mad at Mike... I don't know which is better!

Quote
I specifically recall two attempts at Ulysses The first time, I was about 22, fresh out of college, and proud to be reading my copy on the bus to and from work. 'See this, everyone? Ulysses! Quite a massive tome, here. I assume you're all appropriately impressed with me. Yep, I'm the smart guy.' About 350 pages in, I had to admit to myself I had literally no idea what was going on. I put it away.

Captain, I did this exact thing with War and Peace. Went like:

Me: "Hey everyone, look how scholarly and edu-ma-cated I am with my Bachelor's degree and my big book for smart, literary types like myself!"

Everyone: "Oh cool, what part are you at?"

Me: "The part with a list of names I can't pronounce or recall the next time I read them".
« Last Edit: November 17, 2016, 07:21:16 AM by SCaroline Z » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2016, 07:52:28 AM »

LOL. That reminds me, I didn't finish War andPeace, either... Undecided

I like Tolstoy--loved Anna Karenina--and am a big fan of 19th century Russian lit in general. But W&P, just couldn't get interested.
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« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2016, 08:55:08 AM »

Right now I have Mike's book ogling me from a bedroom shelf. It's been there for weeks. I suspect I just have to pluck up enough courage to open it and start reading and it'll be okay. As long as I finish it before June, when I'm attending a concert by Mike, Bruce and the lads...   

Ha, that's the deadline I've given myself too.  I'll probably read it after Brian's, both of which come after the stuff I'm reading now.

Read Ulysses in college, and bits of it after (with the annotated guide, it helps).  Always mean to go through the whole thing again fully.
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« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2016, 12:20:35 PM »

Quote
Right now I have Mike's book ogling me from a bedroom shelf. It's been there for weeks. I suspect I just have to pluck up enough courage to open it and start reading and it'll be okay. As long as I finish it before June, when I'm attending a concert by Mike, Bruce and the lads...   

John K, I've been thinking about the best course of action for you, LOL. Read the book, get mad at Mike, be mad at Mike at the concert, but then maybe the concert eases the anger. Or go to the concert, enjoy the concert fully, then read the book and get mad at Mike... I don't know which is better!

But SCZ, I have no bone to pick with Mike. I wasn't there, as a wise friend puts it. I'm sure the book and the concert will be fine----in that order. But perhaps you were only joking. ;=)
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SCaroline Z
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« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2016, 01:14:54 PM »

John K, thumbs up for the neutrality. I also went into Mike's book with a neutral position, for the same reason. And then the book ended up being hurled across the room a few times with cries of exasperation, LOL. But if you're able to maintain a neutral position regardless, then I tip my hat to you, sir.

Also, I'm always joking LOL Except when I'm not Tongue
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« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2016, 04:34:55 PM »

Simple "I wasn't there" doesn't mean you can't criticize/ be terribly disappointed in what's said in book though. The other extreme "I like everything by everybody" is as bad & unrealistic as "I hate everything by everybody" ("hate" - a bit strong word but you get the drift).

A bit related to this topic, I am usually bored by descriptions of nature & behaviors of people ("Sun is shining", "It's snowing in Arizona", "he made tea", "she looked at dog from the corner of the eye", "their kid brother hit his servant"). Esp. if it's ubiquitous. I like the dialogs, discussions, debates - you know, what the characters talk about.
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« Reply #13 on: November 17, 2016, 08:43:40 PM »

The Illiad. I made it to around book 4, I think. Thud
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« Reply #14 on: November 18, 2016, 02:37:05 AM »

John K, thumbs up for the neutrality. I also went into Mike's book with a neutral position, for the same reason. And then the book ended up being hurled across the room a few times with cries of exasperation, LOL. But if you're able to maintain a neutral position regardless, then I tip my hat to you, sir.

I'l keep you posted. In the meantime, Finnegans Wake has somehow relocated from its upright position on a shelf in the hallway and is now lying on my desk. H'mm.   
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« Reply #15 on: November 18, 2016, 02:43:30 AM »

The Illiad. I made it to around book 4, I think. Thud

Wow. I remember reading the Aeneid years ago. What a story!   
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« Reply #16 on: November 18, 2016, 03:19:54 AM »

Re: "Finnegan's Wake", as I understand it, the title in the cover is what frightened you? Does the story have elements of horror? I just googled it & it doesn't seem visually scary to me. Do I miss sth.?
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Everything big, in truth, is just little in disguise. (Truths. Tome 50)
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« Reply #17 on: November 18, 2016, 05:06:49 AM »

Re: "Finnegan's Wake", as I understand it, the title in the cover is what frightened you? Does the story have elements of horror? I just googled it & it doesn't seem visually scary to me. Do I miss sth.?

Looking at the title reminds me of what an intense read everyone says it is. That's the only thing that's scary about it.

This is someone's annotated version of the very first page:

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« Reply #18 on: November 18, 2016, 02:23:44 PM »

I wonder if John Lennon ever read Finnegan's Wake and was inspired by it?
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« Reply #19 on: November 18, 2016, 03:09:39 PM »

I wonder if John Lennon ever read Finnegan's Wake and was inspired by it?

Ha, I was thinking the same thing!
That last paragraph sort of reminds me of In His Own Write
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« Reply #20 on: November 19, 2016, 12:16:31 AM »

I wonder if John Lennon ever read Finnegan's Wake and was inspired by it?

Ha, I was thinking the same thing!
That last paragraph sort of reminds me of In His Own Write
"Humptyhillhead of humself", and "tumptytumtoes" sound like pure Lennon to me.  Grin
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« Reply #21 on: November 19, 2016, 06:41:00 AM »

I wonder if John Lennon ever read Finnegan's Wake and was inspired by it?

Ha, I was thinking the same thing!
That last paragraph sort of reminds me of In His Own Write
"Humptyhillhead of humself", and "tumptytumtoes" sound like pure Lennon to me.  Grin

I totally read this in John Lennon's voice and it was the best thing ever. Someone somewhere who can do a spot-on John Lennon imitation needs to record a reading of Finnegan's Wake. Or I may just take a crack at reading it myself, in John's voice, haha.
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« Reply #22 on: November 21, 2016, 02:47:32 AM »

I totally read this in John Lennon's voice and it was the best thing ever. Someone somewhere who can do a spot-on John Lennon imitation needs to record a reading of Finnegan's Wake. Or I may just take a crack at reading it myself, in John's voice, haha.

Yes, you read it. I'd buy it. :=)

As for John's knowledge of James's work, this might shed some light on it (excuse the ridiculously long url!):

http://fisherpub.sjfc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1001&context=nepca&sei-redir=1&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2Fsearch%3Fq%3D%2522john%2BLennon%2522%2B%2522finnegans%2Bwake%2522%26hl%3Den%26gbv%3D2%26sa%3DX%26as_q%3D%26nfpr%3D%26spell%3D1%26ved%3D0ahUKEwjNnd_r1LnQAhXMuhoKHZ
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« Reply #23 on: March 07, 2018, 04:14:26 AM »

The most recent book I almost finished but didn't was Thomas Pynchon's Vineland. I'd read both V and Gravity's Rainbow twice (extraordinary books both) but Vineland didn't grab me the way its two predecessors did.

I have another fat Pynchon tome waiting in the wings. I bought The Mason-Dixon Line on a whim at a book launch where they had been serving white wine but I don't hold out much hope for it. Grin   
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« Reply #24 on: March 07, 2018, 05:28:36 AM »

This is a nice topic.  The reasons surely vary.  Some years back I got through about 150 pages of War and Peace
and decided I didn't have enough patience to keep trying to distinguish all those bloody Russian names.  Then, with
Infinite Jest, I again got through about 150 pages and decided, "I don't care at all about any of these characters."

Which I think is an interesting point.  I want to like a character, or dislike a character, or sense a key complexity in a
character, or a mysteriousness, or potential for evolution. George Saunders is purty good with those aspects...and
makes it short.
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