Has it ever happened...


EternalSunshine
#1
...that you start reading a book and can't finish it, because....well it's just not inviting you to pick it up again?

What do you do then? Do you just drop it, or force yourself to finish it anyway?

It happened to me recently, with Umberto Eco's Baudolino. I've read his other books, loved them, but this one, I still can't finish. Anyone read it? I will probably make myself read it, since I hate leaving things unfinished.
 
Haggis McBagpipe
#2
If I am not enjoying a book I get rid of it. Life is far too short to waste time on books or movies or anything else that is boring or unsatisfactory in some way.

People tell me that, because of the cost of books these day, they will force themselves to finish a bad one. I feel instead that whatever the cost of the book, the cost of my time is infinitely more important.
 
American Voice
#3
I'm with Haggis on that, I know by page three whether I want to read a book, or not. If the style is not engaging, I drop it. Good writing is a record of good thinking, if the writing is bad, it is likely so is the thinking. Why do I want to commune with bad minds? I don't mean evil bad, just inferior bad, or confused bad. To write badly doesn't make one a bad person, but why should I read it?

I read Sir Arthur Eddington's lectures on the Nature of the Physical World, and I feel like I know the man. I read John Bright's History of Israel, and I can hear his voice. Caroline Alexander. Thomas Hardy, for that matter. I'll read anything they've written.
 
Haggis McBagpipe
#4
Quote: Originally Posted by American Voice

Good writing is a record of good thinking, if the writing is bad, it is likely so is the thinking. .

That's it! Exactly! I have searched long for a way to describe my disinclination for reading poorly written books, and you have perfectly said it in one sentence.
 
vista
#5
I have had a situation where I read 95% of the book and enjoyed it thoroughly but passed on the conclusion.

Margaret George's, Mary Queen of Scots (a very distant relative of mine) is a great historical novel but when I came to the point of Mary being offered life for confession or the axe...

Sometimes I don't want the finer agonizing details of a difficult choice...
 
galianomama
#6
Yeah, sometimes I feel obligated to read a book because it has received such good reviews, or someone who just loved it has recommended it. Then I kinda plod my through for a couple of days, waiting for it to pick up. If that doesn't happen, then the book goes bye bye.

I know what you mean about not wanting to see the end of books too, Vista. I do that all the time! I don't what is in my chemical makeup that I sometimes don't care to see the end.
 
Haggis McBagpipe
#7
When I was in my teens, I hated sad endings so much that I would NOT read a book without checking the ending first to make sure it ended happily.

When you read a big thick book full of wonderful characters, I sometimes really hate the story ending because you have to say goodbye forever to those people. I really, really, hate that.
 
WildFire
#8
Quote: Originally Posted by EternalSunshine

...that you start reading a book and can't finish it, because....well it's just not inviting you to pick it up again?

Grapes of Wrath.

Just...can't...read..it
 
American Voice
#9
Try the Garnett translations of Dostoevksy, no one has ever seen into the souls of women and men as he did.
 
Lisa
#10
[quote="Haggis McBagpipe"]If I am not enjoying a book I get rid of it. Life is far too short to waste time on books or movies or anything else that is boring or unsatisfactory in some way.
quote]


I don't exactly agree with that. I have only once stopped reading a book in the middle, a Dutch book. It tells the story of a man who gets Alzheimer, and you see this process through his eyes. Sounds interesting, but the writing style was not attractive at all so it just was not readable.

But further, I have completely read all books, and I read alot! What I experience especially in my literature classes at the university is that, you should not judge so fast. An example is Wuthering Heights I read it and found it highly disturbing, which I interpreted as bad/ annoying. However, in my Literature classes I experienced that this is the beauty of the book. It is now one of my favourites, really interesting! The professor I have these classes from is the son of the well-known critics F.R and Q. Leavis.

Another one which I was really threatening to get rid of was a book by Alexandr Solzjenitsyn; The goelag archipel. It is a Russian writer and dissident. In the end I discovered that it was rich of Russian wisdom and history, especially the end was interesting!
 
American Voice
#11
Solzhenitsyn! Lisa, you should read his "The First Circle," it's great! Lot's of interesting characters, irony, humor, drama--like Dickens. And there is redemption in the end. A marvelous book.

My favorite Russian novel is Boris Pasternak's "Doctor Zhivago." The last time I read it, I spent an entire year on it, savoring every line, and making notes. It deserved the Nobel Prize.

Tolstoy is good, as well. "Anna Karenina." When one reads "War and Peace," you have the sense of the presence of a vast consciousness, a truly great mind. It was even better when I read it the second time. I read about six hours a day, and it took me eight weeks. But well worth it. His sociological works are profound, and inspired Ghandi.
 
Lisa
#12
Well I bought Anna Karenina a few months ago, but it still waits. The problem is I bought it in English and because I always read in English I now have a need to read in Dutch in my holiday time.

I have just finished the first Dutch book in two years. It was also the first that was not regarded as Literature. Sometimes it is just so wonderful, just to read about love and love and love!
 
EternalSunshine
#13
I remember reading Anna Karenina in highschool and having a great compassion for her. Then I read it again, later in life, and that time my feelings toward her were completely different, like "What was she thinking!?".

What I'm saying is - same book can leave a completely different impression on you, depending on where you are in your life and what your experience has been.
 
Haggis McBagpipe
#14
Quote: Originally Posted by EternalSunshine

What I'm saying is - same book can leave a completely different impression on you, depending on where you are in your life and what your experience has been.

Yes! That is so true. Recently, I decided to reread my favourite classics from my younger days. It was an amazing experience to see the difference in my perspective over all this time.

Lisa, when I say I won't finish a book if I find boring, I don't mean the classics, for they have been tested by time. War and Peace is hard to get into, and I recall it took me a couple of times, but there was never any question of finishing it, for soon enough you are caught in the thrill of the story. Solzhenitsyn's style is sensationalist, his writing style almost suited to the National Enquirer, yet reading Gulag Archipelago was a pleasure. Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, Turgenev's Father's and Sons are books that might not catch your interest immediately but one continues on because one knows the rewards are there.

On the other hand, if a book is just a lousy book written by a lousy author, then no, I don't finish it.

As for reading only classics, I would not want to ignore the many wonderful modern books that time will prove as classics. The Confederacy of Dunces comes immediately to mind.

On the subject of reading, my lament has always been that there are too few years in our short lives to read all the books that must be read.
 
American Voice
#15
ES, I comprehend what you said about the great books evolving over time as one matures. "Anna Karenina" is a case in point. I've read it three times. It is two books, really. The last time, I wanted to enjoy the tale of the love of Levin and Kitty. I didn't skip over them, but the sections on Anna and Vronsky became a chore to read. I lost patience with Anna altogether. She ceased to be a sympathetic character. I wonder if Lev Nikolayevich would close his eyes with pleasure, and nod to hear me say that? Do I get it?

Lisa, you have a great adventure before you.

Solzhenitsyn's debut work, "A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich," can be read in a single day. It's worth a read. There is a great joke in it, but you have to know that mercury freezes at -40F.

Dostoevsky's debut was also a tale of prison life, "The House of the Dead." It's a dark tale, but useful toward an understanding of the man's later work. He was an epileptic for one thing, as you will discover two of his key characters in later novels are, i.e., Prince Myshkin, in "The Idiot," and Smerdyakov, in "The Brothers Karamazov." Dostoevsky was a student activist in St. Petersburg during the pre-Revolutionary era. He was arrested for sedition, and imprisoned, sentenced to death. On the day of execution, he was stood before an open dug grave, blindfolded. The officer in charge went so far as to order present arms and take aim to the firing squad. Then it was announced to the prisoner that he had been granted a reprieve, and was sentenced to ten years exile in Siberia. That was the occasion on which Dostoevsky had his first epileptic seizure, which he continued having for the remainder of his life. The Tsar's men were a rough crowd.
 

Similar Threads

21
Whatever happened to.......
by Gonzo | Jan 10th, 2007
79
what happened?
by hermanntrude | Oct 14th, 2006
7
It just happened.... or maybe not
by LadyC | Dec 4th, 2004
9
Whatever happened to.......
by galianomama | Oct 28th, 2004
no new posts