The Books You Should But Just Couldn't...

editing_for_authors
Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

Gatteau

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Aug 3, 2020
Messages
185
Reaction score
91
Location
Lake Tahoe
Everything by Shakespeare. I've seen a few Shakespeare plays and I was even in the school production of A Midsummer Nights Dream (playing the guitar, not acting) but I really don't have any particular desire to read them. Even when I did GCSE English lit I didn't actually read the text*, I watched the play and chose questions that dealt with the plot or overall themes that didn't require detailed analysis of any section of the script. And as much as I'd happily watch a Shakespeare play, I still don't really want to read any.
While I do like reading them almost as much as watching, I think this is actually a valid way to feel. They were meant to be seen on the stage, not read, after all.

Mine is The Dark Tower series, Stephen King. I struggled through the first two, and I know I started the third, but somehow I just can’t keep going. Not entirely sure what it is, I so want to make it through, I really like quite a few of his other books, I like his style overall, but this one just refuses to stick with me. It doesn’t help that my main book-talk friend is obsessed and has been trying to get me to finish them for almost half our lives. Just...can’t...do it!
 

Drascus

Super Member
Registered
Joined
May 14, 2020
Messages
148
Reaction score
19
Location
The Pacific Northwest
Finnegan's Wake. I love Joyce's short stories but I could not do that one.

That one might be cheating though, it's a notoriously hard to get into book.

The Way of Kings is another one that just did not grab me. After 3 prologues I had no rooting interest whatsoever in the protagonist.
 
Last edited:

writergirl1994

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Apr 7, 2018
Messages
72
Reaction score
5
Location
Virginia, U.S.
'Flowers for Algernon.' It was a good book from what I read but it was so depressing I started to dread going back to it.
 

averyames

Registered
Joined
Sep 11, 2020
Messages
16
Reaction score
3
I had an English teacher in high school who was absolutely determined to get me to appreciate John Steinbeck and I could just never get interested in his work at all.
 

Catriona Grace

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 1, 2021
Messages
342
Reaction score
81
My challenge book is "A Confederacy of Dunces." I've read the doggone thing twice; so many people adore it that I thought perhaps I missed something the first time around. The second read was after I'd spent enough time in New Orleans to actually recognize the story's settings and references, which I thought might increase my enjoyment.

I really, really WANT to like it, but there's something about it that just doesn't resonate with me. It makes me a bit sad that I don't get the enjoyment from it that others do.
I forced my way through it once and it was worth the effort when all the loose ends came together at the end. But even knowing and appreciating that, can I manage to read it a second time? Nope.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Tazlima

Catriona Grace

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 1, 2021
Messages
342
Reaction score
81
Okay, I'm going to admit it. Tolkien bores the hell out of me. The Hobbit was okay, and I made it about a quarter of the way into the first book of the trilogy by reading it while my baby son napped. We'd go on drives in the summer, and when he fell asleep, I'd park in the shade and read Fellowship of the Ring which I kept in the truck for that exact purpose. Winter came, drives ended, book stayed in the truck. At some point, I picked it up, tried to continue, tried starting from the beginning, and just could not care about it.
 

Siri Kirpal

Swan in Process
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Sep 20, 2011
Messages
8,729
Reaction score
2,739
Location
In God I dwell, especially in Eugene OR
Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

I like Tazlima's pitching Moby Dick as a documentary. I enjoyed it when it was required in college, but it never occurred to me to expect it to be a narrative. I saw it more as an allegory told as a series of essays about whaling, and it worked well that way.

But --- laugh if you like --- I fled in terror from Watership Down. I tried to read it this year. I may try it again, but not anytime soon.

And then there's Emma. While I loved Pride and Prejudice, Northanger Abbey, and Mansfield Park, and can tolerate Persuasion if I must (though I think it's deeply flawed and I don't believe the main character's feelings one bit), Emma was such and awful excuse for a human being I had no desire to read more than a few pages.

Shakespeare's fine, but I've learned to only attempt to read his plays I've seen performed. And I only read annotated versions of the originals. No modern translations. Nothing without annotations.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal
 
  • Like
Reactions: Maryn

Taylor Harbin

Power to the pen!
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Dec 8, 2013
Messages
2,468
Reaction score
190
Location
Arkansas
Website
gutsofimagination.blogspot.com
The old audio version of Dune which sounded like it was done in the late 80's. Absolutely awful. I hear there's a "new" version available, from 2007, which is far better, but I've never gone back to it.
The version narrated by Simon Vance and a full cast is outstanding.
 
  • Like
Reactions: spoonlamp

Maryn

Masked, Vaxed, Traveling
Staff member
Moderator
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 12, 2005
Messages
45,927
Reaction score
11,930
Location
On the Road
I gave Watership Down two tries several years apart before I donated the hardcover. I hope it finds an appreciative reader.

I've been intending to reread Dune before the movie comes out. I read it so long ago I barely remember it. We have a car trip coming up in a few months (unless it cancels again like it did last year) and an audio version might be just the ticket. Good to have a recommendation.

Mine is City on Fire. It got great reviews, and the story sounded interesting, but any book that forces me (a person with a respectable vocabulary) to keep a pretty long list of words to look up just wears me out. Ephebe, noumena, horripilate, etiolate, florilegia, plashing, bosk, spaldeen (Hell, yes, I kept a list!)--it was just too much.

I forced myself to read (and add to my list of words to learn) and made it past 200 pages. It's just not for me, or anyone else who only has a BA in English. I looked up all those words, and many more, but cannot tell you now what a single one means.

Maryn, who reads literary fiction on occasion
 
  • Like
Reactions: Siri Kirpal

J.W.

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jun 27, 2011
Messages
250
Reaction score
94
Location
New Hampshire
Infinite Jest. I like DFW's essays, but I could never get into his fiction.

It's been a dozen years since I got to the midway point of Infinite. If I give it another try, I should probably start from the beginning, but I'm tempted to pick up from where I left off. The top corner of the page is still folded inward.
 

Fuchsia Groan

Becoming a laptop-human hybrid
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Sep 27, 2008
Messages
2,516
Reaction score
552
Location
The windswept northern wastes
The first Game of Thrones book and The Name of the Wind. They’re fine, but this is how I discovered that epic fantasy is not my genre. I enjoy the LOTR audiobooks on long drives, and The Hobbit was a childhood favorite, but otherwise, no real interest. Watership Down, on the other hand, is a book I loved so much when I was 7 that I probably read it 10 times. Reread it recently and still liked it.

It took me two years to get through Moby Dick, one or two chapters at a time. I agree that it helps not to expect it to be a straight narrative, but rather an experimental mixed-genre thing. Some passages are documentary, others pure philosophy, and some of the conversations read like a great radio play.

There are some books I enjoyed but, for whatever reason, put down and didn’t pick up again. The Road is one. It may be the most perfect depiction of a depressive person’s view of the world I’ve ever read (or that’s how it felt to me), but about halfway through I felt like maybe my own depression was enough for me to deal with. House of Leaves is another. I liked it, but I got tired of turning the book around to read the typographical experiments. I may return to either or both someday.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Maryn

Ed_in_Bed

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jan 16, 2017
Messages
258
Reaction score
92
Ulysses. I've tried countless times. I know there is genius there, but I don't think I'm clever enough to find it.
 

Siri Kirpal

Swan in Process
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Sep 20, 2011
Messages
8,729
Reaction score
2,739
Location
In God I dwell, especially in Eugene OR
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Agreeing with you about Ulysses. I read "Ineluctable modality of the visible" and bow out. Even though I know what that means.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal
 

Catriona Grace

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 1, 2021
Messages
342
Reaction score
81
Anna Karenina. I am fated to never finish it. Every time I start to read it, I move somewhere new. I do not want to move again, so Anna Karenina is permanently off my reading list.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Maryn

frimble3

Heckuva good sport
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Oct 7, 2006
Messages
8,694
Reaction score
1,320
Location
west coast, canada
Everything by Shakespeare. I've seen a few Shakespeare plays and I was even in the school production of A Midsummer Nights Dream (playing the guitar, not acting) but I really don't have any particular desire to read them. Even when I did GCSE English lit I didn't actually read the text*, I watched the play and chose questions that dealt with the plot or overall themes that didn't require detailed analysis of any section of the script. And as much as I'd happily watch a Shakespeare play, I still don't really want to read any. Or even any sonnets. My apologies to the Queen, Prime Minister and every other British person.

*it didn't help that when the teacher let the class vote between Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth, I wanted to do Macbeth but the rest of the class voted for Romeo and Juliet.
Well, I suspect that you're in good company - Shakespeare's plays were meant to be watched, not read. Really, the teacher should have had one or two classes when you watched a good production of it, to get a feel of what the original audience saw.

Know what Shakespeare would have said if he'd known people were reading and studying his work?
"Forsooth, where is my cut of the proceeds?" Or Burbage would have said it for him.
 

thewonder

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Aug 23, 2021
Messages
127
Reaction score
21
I'll start - Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (and Ethan Hawke was the narrator!)
Whoa! Ethan Hawke, seriously!? The Ethan Hawke of the legendary Reality Bites and Hamlet 2000!? How couldn't you!?

Also, Kurt Vonnegut's writing style is a total breeze, and, so, if you'd like to give it a read, you might as well just go for it. You'll finish it in, like, three days.

Moby Dick. I understand that it's a read for mature readers, and it's little wonder nobody in the college class that assigned it read it to the end. (Even if we'd loved it, that's a massive read to assign.)
I got about half of the way through Moby Dick and gave up. There's kind of a lot of philosophical depth to it his overarching metaphor from the Book of Job, though. I kind of wish that I read through so as to get it.
*it didn't help that when the teacher let the class vote between Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth, I wanted to do Macbeth but the rest of the class voted for Romeo and Juliet.
Is Macbeth, as per the established Shakespearean tradition, really a better play than Romeo and Juliet, though? "O, happy dagger!" gets me every time.
Finnegan's Wake. I love Joyce's short stories but I could not do that one.
Mine is Ulysses, though I have an excuse for this, which is that I had decided to exclusively read Ulysses while drunk and later came to a life decision not to drink quite as much. I do plan on someday reading Finnegan's Wake, though.
 

Nether

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Aug 23, 2021
Messages
163
Reaction score
65
Location
New England
Game of Thrones / ISOIAF is one of the biggest things on the planet -- and I like the show -- but I can't get into those novels. (And I should mention I've enjoyed some of GRRM's other writing, and a lot of what he's had adapted or worked on.)

And while I'm a fan of Brandon Sanderson's lectures, writing advice, etc, every time I've listened to a sample of his work I tune out almost immediately. I'm honestly a little scared to read his books because I'm worried that if I find myself just completely put off by his writing, it might impact how I view his advice, and I've generally found his advice excellent. Much of the reason I'm able to write with the kind of gusto I've had is a direct result of those lectures, etc, re-inspiring me. (And it's possible my latest book has felt so meh because I haven't re-watched a lecture in a while to get me fired up.)

Those are probably the two biggest, most immediate examples.
 
Last edited:

Paul Lamb

Super Member
Registered
Joined
May 12, 2019
Messages
224
Reaction score
31
Location
American Midwest
Website
www.paullamb.wordpress.dom
I can't bring myself to read any of the Russian Classics: War and Peace, Crime and Punishment, and so on. I've read some of the Checkov short stories, and I know enuf that I just can't relate to that kind of fiction.
 

Featured Book