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Thread: Books highly prized you couldn't finish

  1. #401
    figuring it all out
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    Quote Originally Posted by pattycat View Post
    I went on a long streak of finishing every book that I started and it was Anthropology of an American Girl that finally broke it. Everyone was raving about it at the time. Individual paragraphs in that book were so gorgeous you could frame them, but the book as a whole was a mess.
    I was like that when I tried to read Vellum by Hal Duncan. It was beautifully written and there were some amazing ideas in that made me really want to finish it but it just got way too confusing for me to be able to follow.

  2. #402
    50% Dark, 50% Snark Nick Rolynd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SJNew View Post
    I was like that when I tried to read Vellum by Hal Duncan. It was beautifully written and there were some amazing ideas in that made me really want to finish it but it just got way too confusing for me to be able to follow.
    I have that book (somewhere in my bin of not-going-to-read-any-time-soon books). I remember I started it, read a few pages, and was so confused I stopped reading and never opened it again...
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  3. #403
    That hairy-handed gent
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    For those who have detested Heart of Darkness, some understanding and some comments:

    I once read a commentary by a critic who said "Students are taught to hate William Faulkner by being forced to read The Sound and the Fury". He was exactly right. Sound&Fury is absolutely not the first Faulkner novel you should read. Nor the second nor the third.

    Which doesn't mean it's a bad or unrewarding novel. Just that it's difficult, until you have absorbed more of what Faulkner's writing is about.

    The same thing applies to Heart of Darkness. Conrad shares a lot of similar qualities with Faulkner. He is not the simplest, most transparent of fiction writers, and his writing has an evolutionary track. He has a prose rhythm and quality different from a lot of writers, and worthy of cultivation. But you don't start with H of D. You start with things like the shorts "The Lagoon" and "Youth" and "Falk" and the novels Almayer's Folly, An Outcast of the Islands, Lord Jim and Victory. Then maybe Nostromo, The Secret Agent and Under Western Eyes. Then read Heart of Darkness.

    caw
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  4. #404
    figuring it all out
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    I just couldn't get to the end of The Cloud Atlas. I gave up three times and the last one stuck. -_-

  5. #405
    practical experience, FTW cmi0616's Avatar
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    A Prayer For Owen Meany. The extent to which I hated it shocked me, because The World According To Garp is one of my favorite books of all-time. But I really didn't care at all about the characters, and the story just kind of dragged on. Yet, almost everyone I know who's read it loves the book. Maybe I'll give it another shot soon.
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  6. #406
    Super Browser triceretops's Avatar
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    It's always been Dune, and it will always be Dune.

  7. #407
    nurturing tomorrows criminals today PorterStarrByrd's Avatar
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    anything by Dickens
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  8. #408
    practical experience, FTW Jessica_312's Avatar
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    Life of Pi. I don't get the hype around this novel, I keep reading and reading thinking it's going to get better, but I was bored to tears!
    "The road to hell is paved with adverbs" - Stephen King

  9. #409
    PBS Mind/MTV World Sarita's Avatar
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    I flew through the first two books in the Book of the New Sun series by Gene Wolfe. And when I tried to read the third, it just kept stalling for me. 7 years later, it's still in my TBR pile, but I don't think I'll ever get back to it.
    ~Sara

    Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart.~ Hugo

  10. #410
    Quote Originally Posted by triceretops View Post
    It's always been Dune, and it will always be Dune.
    Thanks for this! So glad I'm not the only one. It's not that I dislike any particular thing about the book--in fact, there's a lot I like very much--but I just can't make myself care enough to finish it. I've tried twice.
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  11. #411
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    Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. Between him and what I've seen of Dickens, I can't help but wonder if there was a bubonic plague or something that only took out editors during the 19th century, because holy-shmoly did these guys need 'em.

  12. #412
    Walking Anachronism davidh219's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarita View Post
    I flew through the first two books in the Book of the New Sun series by Gene Wolfe. And when I tried to read the third, it just kept stalling for me. 7 years later, it's still in my TBR pile, but I don't think I'll ever get back to it.
    Wow, this is really discouraging. I've read the first book and while it was a struggle in many ways I enjoyed it a lot. Probably the most immersive experience I've ever had with a book, but the plot was all over the place. It gave me the sense that it was more or less just set up for the next three books. I read the first few chapters of book two and found even more of the meandering, direction-less plot from the first book and wound up putting it down. Was hoping if I got through book two it would finally pick up.
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  13. #413
    Did you hear that?!? cptwentworth's Avatar
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    I'm trying so hard to finish The Three Musketeers. I loved, loved The Count of Monte Cristo, and I like Dumas in general. I just read a page, though, and fall asleep. It just goes on, and on, and on....
    I find television to be very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go in the other room and read a book. ~Groucho Marx

  14. #414
    Quote Originally Posted by Emermouse View Post
    Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. Between him and what I've seen of Dickens, I can't help but wonder if there was a bubonic plague or something that only took out editors during the 19th century, because holy-shmoly did these guys need 'em.
    A lot of those books were serialized and paid by the word. Not all of them, but definitely Dickens. (And I'm not saying it excuses the wordiness, but yeah, I think that was a big factor.)
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  15. #415
    That hairy-handed gent
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    Quote Originally Posted by Emermouse View Post
    Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.
    Another Faulkner/Conrad kind of thing for a lot of people. It's Hugo's most ambitious and whaley novel. His other two classics, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and the mystifyingly-neglected The Man Who Laughs are better introductories to Hugo.

    caw
    "Badger! Badger! The weasels have stolen my motor-car!"

    "Frankly, Toad, I don't give a damn."

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  16. #416
    PBS Mind/MTV World Sarita's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidh219 View Post
    Wow, this is really discouraging. I've read the first book and while it was a struggle in many ways I enjoyed it a lot. Probably the most immersive experience I've ever had with a book, but the plot was all over the place. It gave me the sense that it was more or less just set up for the next three books. I read the first few chapters of book two and found even more of the meandering, direction-less plot from the first book and wound up putting it down. Was hoping if I got through book two it would finally pick up.
    Sorry I felt like I slowly lost steam through book 2 (Claw) and I really wanted to give the rest of the series a fighting chance. I think this is the only book I've ever put down without finishing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Emermouse View Post
    Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. Between him and what I've seen of Dickens, I can't help but wonder if there was a bubonic plague or something that only took out editors during the 19th century, because holy-shmoly did these guys need 'em.
    This hurts Les Miserables in French or English is one of my top 3 novels of all time. I've read all of Hugo, so I guess that makes a difference. His character development is what every writer should dream of being able to achieve. Yes, the description of the sewer system was wordy, but necessary to his plot.

    Quote Originally Posted by blacbird View Post
    Another Faulkner/Conrad kind of thing for a lot of people. It's Hugo's most ambitious and whaley novel. His other two classics, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and the mystifyingly-neglected The Man Who Laughs are better introductories to Hugo.
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  17. #417
    Don't let your deal go down, Dave Hardy's Avatar
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    I have a respect/dislike thing with Gormenghast. I read Titus Groan, after several false starts I finally finished it. It starts slow, but does get better. I got a couple hundred pages into Gormenghast, and I just found something else to read. Yeah, the place is full of repressed, tradition-obsessed freaks and it rains a lot. I just start wishing it would rain here.

    I will go back and finish it and probably even read Titus Alone at some point, but it's a hard slog.
    In the words of Hasan i-Sabah: Nothing is true. Everything is permitted.

  18. #418
    practical experience, FTW
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    Yeah, I liked bits of the first two Gormenghast books. Tried to read Titus Alone but didn't get very far; kept suffering hemorrages trying to figure out how the hell the world depicted in Alone worked with the one depicted in the previous books. Plus Titus was never that compelling a character. Now, Steerpike on the other hand...

  19. #419
    practical experience, FTW chicgeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarita View Post
    I flew through the first two books in the Book of the New Sun series by Gene Wolfe. And when I tried to read the third, it just kept stalling for me. 7 years later, it's still in my TBR pile, but I don't think I'll ever get back to it.
    Quote Originally Posted by davidh219 View Post
    Wow, this is really discouraging. I've read the first book and while it was a struggle in many ways I enjoyed it a lot. Probably the most immersive experience I've ever had with a book, but the plot was all over the place. It gave me the sense that it was more or less just set up for the next three books. I read the first few chapters of book two and found even more of the meandering, direction-less plot from the first book and wound up putting it down. Was hoping if I got through book two it would finally pick up.
    You guys are talking about his tetralogy, right? I was able to get through it, but it took me 6 months of picking it up and putting it back down. Nothing about that series is easy, and I'll admit there were points throughout when my interest seriously wavered and I had to force myself through. His plot is indeed all over the place, but his worldbuilding is AMAZING and his prose blows me away. I feel privileged to have read it.

    That being said, the sequel to his tetralogy -- "Urth of the New Sun" I just couldn't get into. According to my BF (an avid Gene Wolfe fan) the sequel plays off a lot of plot points from his tetralogy, and when I realized that, I stopped even trying to read it, because there was so much I must have glazed over in the tetralogy and I knew it would be a looong time (if ever) before I read it again.


    Other than that, my worst offenders have to be -- Moby Dick and The Great Gatsby, neither of which I could finish.
    "If I had more time, I'd write you a shorter letter." - Mark Twain

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  20. #420
    PBS Mind/MTV World Sarita's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chicgeek View Post
    His plot is indeed all over the place, but his worldbuilding is AMAZING and his prose blows me away. I feel privileged to have read it.
    So right. His prose is one of a kind and I really liked his style, but I just kept getting hung up on the plot. It stalled too many times for me. And really, this is the only series or book I ever put down and didn't get back to.

    The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant drove me crazy at times, to the point of actually throwing the book in disgust. But I always came back to them and read all 6 books in the original 2 series within a few months.
    ~Sara

    Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart.~ Hugo

  21. #421
    Miss Conceived Liralen's Avatar
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    The Road, Cormac McCarthy. The prose is beautiful, evocative, masterful and I had to quit before I slashed my wrists from the sense of hopelessness it evokes.

    War and Peace. No. Just, no. Bored beyond imagination.

    I have learned that as much as I love the Russian composers, my appreciation of Russian literature seems to be non-existent.
    The creative writing process is a lot like emotional binge and purge cycles.

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  22. #422
    walking on sunshine Vito's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Liralen View Post
    War and Peace. No. Just, no. Bored beyond imagination.

    my appreciation of Russian literature seems to be non-existent.
    Same here, sort of. I've tried to read Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov and Crime and Punishment on several occasions, but never made it past the first 150 pages. I put forth a serious effort but never got into 'em, even though I tried both the Pevear/Volokhonsky and Garnett translations.

    I haven't given up on Russian literature, however. I'm planning to give Tolstoy a try sometime in the near future, probably War and Peace.

  23. #423
    PBS Mind/MTV World Sarita's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vito View Post
    I haven't given up on Russian literature, however. I'm planning to give Tolstoy a try sometime in the near future, probably War and Peace.
    Never give up on Russian literature! Give some of Gogol's short stories a try. He was just brilliant (and okay, okay, Ukrainian, but...) And Chekhov? Please! Russian literature is so dismal and stirring.
    ~Sara

    Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart.~ Hugo

  24. #424
    walking on sunshine Vito's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarita View Post
    Never give up on Russian literature! Give some of Gogol's short stories a try. He was just brilliant (and okay, okay, Ukrainian, but...) And Chekhov? Please! Russian literature is so dismal and stirring.
    Thanks for the tip, Sarita. I'm always up for some stirring dismality. (Dismalness? Dismalosity? Dismalitude?)


  25. #425
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I loved The Lovely Bones but couldn't finish Cloud Atlas. I found it too meandering and couldn't connect to the story line and characters. Felt the same way about If On Winters Night a Traveller but Italo Calvino.

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