Social Question

Seelix's avatar

Which books have you been unable to read despite their being celebrated by everyone and their grandma?

Asked by Seelix (14947points) March 7th, 2011

This kind of stemmed from hobbitsubculture’s question about the worst books you’ve read. Hope I’m not stealing your thunder!

I want to know about those books you’ve put down at page fifty, or before. Books that were on the bestseller list, that all of your friends had read, that people say “everyone” should read… that you just couldn’t get into.

What didn’t you like about them? Did you really give it a college try, or did you quit after only a couple of pages?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

74 Answers

flutherother's avatar

I have never managed to get into 100 Years of Solitude despite years of trying. I have still not given up!

JmacOroni's avatar

The Time Traveler’s Wife. Jeez, that book sucked. I read it, and it was painful and difficult and frustrating.
Then I watched the movie, and I felt even worse about the whole story. What a load of garbage. Whew, it felt good to get that out.

tinyfaery's avatar

Anything by Hemingway.
Anything Harry Potter or LOTR
Most best sellers.

etignotasanimum's avatar

I’ve said it before, but I really wasn’t thrilled with The Lord of the Rings. He writing was so dense for me…then again, I tried reading it when I was eight. There is most likely a connection there. I also am not a huge fan of Dan Brown/Stephen King like everyone else seems to be. Brown is mind-numbingly formulaic, while I just have no interest in reading King’s works at all.

12Oaks's avatar

Anything written by any politician or a pundit of some sort. From Sarah Palin to Bill Maher to Michael Savage to John F. Kennedy to Sean Hannidy to Obama himself. Save a few million trees and just stop writing those books. If we want to know what you have to say, there is enough television and radio for you to speak your opinions onto, and you all never seem to refuse an opportunity for 10 seconds of time on any cable news network outlet. I want to open a book store, and put a sign on the wall that says “Politicians and Pundits” above a door that leads to a back alley. Find it elsewhere, dude….. this is truly a spin-free zone.

mrentropy's avatar

99% of everything written by Stephen King (and his numerous psuedonymns). I’ve come to the conclusion that he doesn’t write books anymore. He has a program on his computer that works like a Mad Libs generator.

I also have a hard time with the Harry Potter books.

Rarebear's avatar

@flutherother It took me 3 times to get into that book. You really have to give it 150 pages.

podwarp's avatar

Lord of the Rings – “I read the opening sentence of the first volume and phoned around several friends to say goodbye, because suicide seemed so obviously preferable to 500 more pages of the same.” Honestly, I got through half of it before I got tired.

Ulysses – Oh god—but, oh, how I have tried.

Paradise Lost – See above.

The Alchemist – I thought the ideas were inspiring enough but the writing (and this could just be the translation) was absolutely dull. I couldn’t take it.

Dune – Wtf. That’s all I can say about that.

Rarebear's avatar

@podwarp You need to give Dune 200 pages.

JmacOroni's avatar

@Rarebear you are really patient, apparently. I can’t read 200 pages into a book that I dislike to just read a good ending. I’d rather skip to the last page. That could be just me, though.

mrentropy's avatar

I could never get into Dune either, and I started by reading the serialization in Playboy.

Rarebear's avatar

@JmacOroni Yeah, normally I’m the same way. Dune was a special case, though for me. You can’t really call yourself a science fiction geek unless you’ve read Dune. It does get better—although I gave up with the following two books which were terrible.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Even the article on it puts me to sleep ;0

Cruiser's avatar

Anything by Nietzsche, Atlas Shrugged and the Bible. I really tried to read these…fell asleep right away every time. Never rode the Lord of the Rings wave and Harry Potter was just past my time.

ParaParaYukiko's avatar

Twilight: got 50 pages into it and had to stop before I lost any more brain cells.

D.H. Lawrence books: I don’t know why, I just find them so dry.

The Passage: Had to force myself through it because I work at a bookstore and the publishers were pushing it like crazy. I have to say, I wasn’t a fan. It felt like reading a movie based on a book… which was just wrong.

cak's avatar

Keep in mind I try to read what my daughter wanted to read or was reading during a certain age-range. Any of the Twilight books. Awful.

Dune. @Rarebear: 200 pages, really?

The Poisonwood Bible. Clearly, this was during my Oprah days.
The Time Traveler’s Wife.

A lot of Stephen King books.

Rarebear's avatar

@cak Yup. Everybody I’ve talked to says exactly the same thing. It separates the true science fiction geeks from the wannabes.

cak's avatar

@Rarebear: I guess I might try it again. I can do 200 pages.

podwarp's avatar

@Rarebear Yeah… I might try 200 pages… but, ugh, I remember reading the first few chapters and just having no clue what was going on. We’ll see how this second time goes.

Rarebear's avatar

@podwarp Don’t worry about not understanding it at first. It comes together eventually.

incendiary_dan's avatar

This thread has already made me lose my faith in Fluther.

snowberry's avatar

Lord of the Flies. I would never have read past the cover except that it was assigned reading. Unfortunately I didn’t know about Cliff Notes until after I read it, or I never would have.

I normally don’t read books starting from the first page. I start at the middle and see how it’s going. If I like it enough, I start over at the beginning. Drives my kids nuts.

Ladymia69's avatar

On the Road, and anything by Jack Kerouac. Dull stuff. Totally overrated. And Hemingway. Any of the misogynistic, closet-gay, homophobic “great American writers”.

Seek's avatar

Jane Eyre. I can’t get past chapter three without zonking out.

Moby Dick is hard as hell, too. Someday I’ll make it through, but it’s not happening quickly.

MissAnthrope's avatar

I tried SO HARD to get through Moby Dick. I was on a kick of reading the books you’re ‘supposed’ to read, but I found Moby Dick to be weird, which would have made it really interesting if it hadn’t been sooooooo damnnnnnnn sloooowwww and boring. I skipped forward, trying to find a point to get hooked into the story and it just failed to happen. I had to admit defeat. Moby Dick bested me. I couldn’t bear to read it.

I also failed at reading several Hemingway novels; god, I can’t stand Hemingway. We were assigned The Sun Also Rises in high school and after starting it, I ended up getting really irritated and simply put the book down and didn’t go back. I knew even then that I didn’t enjoy Hemingway. :P Magically, I got the highest grade on the test about the book, simply from sitting in class, doodling, and listening to the discussion. True story.

Seek's avatar

(Love Dune, by the way, except for the end – I hated how it just stops. Just started Dune Messiah, to sate my craving for more Muad’dib. ^_^)

BarnacleBill's avatar

100 Years of Solitude and Freedom. I wish I could finish the later, but I dislike the characters so much, I just can’t do it.

JmacOroni's avatar

I get so excited when @Seek_Kolinahr makes an appearance.

filmfann's avatar

I still hope to give Tale Of Two Cities another go.
I have tried to read Being and Nothingness a couple times, and it always bores me.
My Mom always said the best rated, most unreadable book was James Joyces Ulysses.

faye's avatar

I liked Dune!! I buy tons of second hand books and some of them are just trash. I haven’t got money titles anyone would recognize except ‘The Man’. I never give it away but can’t read much of it. I can’t think of a classic I do like except some of Dickens. I can’t get thru Shakespeare very often.

Rarebear's avatar

@faye No surprise on the Shakespeare. Shakespeare is meant to be seen in a theater, not read in a book.

xjustxxclaudiax's avatar

The Bible…..Not enough pictures.

josrific's avatar

The Hunger Games. Couldn’t get into it whatsoever. Didn’t even finish the first book of the series.
Same with the Wicked series. Read the first one (somewhat regret that) and have no interest in the rest.

MacBean's avatar

I’ve only recently started allowing myself to stop reading something if I find it absolutely unbearable. Since then I’ve not been able to finish these.

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

The Brothers Karamazov. I’ve tried many times, with no luck.

aprilsimnel's avatar

À la recherche du temps perdu. Barely got through Swann’s Way before I launched the volume with excessive force toward the wall opposite me at the cafe I was reading it in. Nearly hit someone.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I’m sure he was a great journalist, but that’s very different writing from novel writing.

Anything by Jane Austen (while I’m proud of her as a woman, I find her to be excruciatingly dull), Kerouac, Hemingway, or any of the “Great American Novel” writers, whom I find to be pretentious douchebags that I could barely tolerate in adolescence.

iLove's avatar

I read Sex and the City before the movies, before all the successful seasons.

I loved the series.

I literally ripped the book in half after reading it. What an insult to my intelligence that was.
I love literature so that was quite the statement for me. I treasure all my books.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@iLove Ok, you’re going to have to help me out with this because I haven’t read the book – how was the book an insult to your intelligence where the series wasn’t?

cak's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs Really? I found it boring, at first; however, once I got into it, I love the series. I tend to read more non-fiction than fiction, so this was a departure for me. I didn’t read it when it first hit the market and everyone was just raving about it – I stayed away. I usually do that with raved about books.

TexasDude's avatar

Harry Potter, anything by Tolkein, Atlas Shrugged (even though the Fountainhead is actually one of my favorite books), Naked Lunch (which is interesting, I suppose, yet barely readable) anything by Tom Clancy, and Timeline by the dude who wrote Jurassic Park.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@cak I find the story interesting, but I find how he tells it to be painfully dull and, quite frankly, just bad writing. I can’t stop the itch to pick up my red pen and mark it until it looks like it’s bleeding.

cak's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs That’s how I felt at first. I understand.

Supacase's avatar

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier – I sooo want to read this, but just cannot get into it.

A Confederacy of Dunces
Moby Dick
Robinson Crusoe

I am proud to say I have read all of Ulysses! Sad to say, I no longer remember a thing about it other than reading stream-of-consciousness is a bitch.

Ladymia69's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs You pretty much said what I had said at the last part there. Do you find yourself wondering how most of those Great American dicksplashes ever got laid when they were alive?

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@ladymia69 No, I understand the allure when it’s 1930 and this “philosopher” is totally new and I’m 13 years old. I just think it’s pretension to cover up the vast insecurity, and largely wasteful – they don’t change anything, and thinking don’t pay the bills (why can’t you think and have a job??). But it’s like Catcher in the Rye – I didn’t read it when I was a teen, when it would have spoken to me, and now I don’t need 250 pages to tell me that adolescence sucks.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@psychocandy: Oh, thank god! I thought I was the only person who hated Hemmingway! Oh, it feels so good to not be alone on this…

I’m also one who could not get into LOTR. I loved The Hobbit and have read it many times but when I tried to read Fellowship, it was painful. It took me six months to finish the book and then I picked up Two Towers, got about a third of the way in and just stopped.

As a sci-fi fan, I hate Heinlein’s books. I forced myself to read a couple of them and it was hard for me to finish them. I started reading Friday and I really liked it, but my mom took it away from me because I was very little and there’s a very graphic rape scene in the book. And it was the only Heinlein I ever liked.

I refuse to read anything by Stephen King. I’ve seen enough of his movies that I don’t even want to waste my time. The only book of his I want to read is The Green Mile. I have heard that is an excellent book.

Haleth's avatar

Naked Lunch. I’m still reading it a few pages at a time here and there, but it’s taking me forever. There’s no continuous narrative; it’s more like a loosely connected string of events. Otherwise, I’ve literally never met a book I couldn’t finish. As long as it has some sort of conflict to keep me reading, I’m off and running. I finish books that I don’t like all the time- I want to understand what the book means and the author’s intent.

sliceswiththings's avatar

I like the premise, but I didn’t like the writing style at all so it didn’t hold my attention and I didn’t look forward to picking it up. I eventually gave it up.

downtide's avatar

I’ve never managed to finish the last book of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, even though I love the story itself I found the writing just too heavy going at the end, and utterly boring.

Lightlyseared's avatar

My main problem with the lord of the rings was not the last book so much asthe bit in The Two Towers in the swamps. That went on and on forever. I think I read another 10 books before I’d force my self to finish reading that and then I’d sort of given up caring.

meagan's avatar

Anything extremely popular. I’ve come to understand that the general population doesn’t have good taste. Books like “the lovely bones” or twilight.

MacBean's avatar

@KatawaGrey I don’t think I know anyone who does like Hemingway. Not honestly, at least. I know a few pretentious fucks who’ve never actually read a classic in their lives but act like complete book snobs… But anyone in my life who’s an actual reader and has picked up Hemingway has put it down and never wanted to give him another chance.

And re: Stephen King, OH EM GEE, don’t form an opinion of his books based on the movies. Pleeeeease. haha. His short stories/novellas make decent movies. His novels… not so much, usually. There’s just way too much there to be adapted well. ...Also, if you do read The Green Mile… don’t form an opinion of his books based just on that, either. I had to struggle through my boredom and force myself to finish. To be fair, that was about fifteen years ago. I should probably give it another shot.
I had something else to say in general, but now I’ve forgotten what it was. Boogers…

KatawaGrey's avatar

@MacBean: Honestly, the only reason I want to read The Green Mile is because my boyfriend, who absolutely abhors reading so cannot get into any books unless they are really good, really liked it. I have heard that his novellas and short stories are much better than his novels. Then again, I have also heard that as he has gotten more popular, his novels have gotten worse because he has more control over how much or how little is edited. It’s funny because I really like the man. I have seen multiple interviews with him and he seems like a nice guy with a twisted but awesome sense of humor. And I read an account of his horrible bus accident and his months of recovery and my heart just went out to him.

As for Hemmingway, fuck him. the man couldn’t write. I had to read A Farewell to Arms one summer for school and the whole novel had the feel of being narrated by a sociopath. There was zero emotion in the writing and almost as many adjectives. It basically read like this: “I met a girl. We got married. She got pregnant. She died in childbirth. So did the baby. I think I’ll go back to the states.”

iLove's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs – it seemed as if it was written by a 15 year old.

The show was made entertaining by the actors who more than brought the characters to life. The show evolved, in a Big way. ;)

Rather than give my opinion, I have a link to the Amazon reviews which explain how flimsy the book was: link

Here is one of the reviews that I agree with, dead-on:
What a disappointment. The TV series bears almost no resemblance to the book. A few character names are the same and the “Carrie” and “Mr. Big” characters are drawn roughly the same as the TV characters. All I can say is that the TV scriptwriters did an outstanding job at developing the series’ well-rounded characters from this mess of a “book.” There is virtually no plot or character development. The book is a collection of seemingly unconnected short essays in interview format. Bushnell owes a debt of gratitude to the screenplay writer who was genius enough to take her twisted mess of words and turn them into the scintillating story that we know from the series.

Seelix's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs – I’m so glad to hear that someone else couldn’t read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I’ve tried twice. I keep waiting for it to get interesting… The way it opens with the flower coming in the mail, then it gets boring for about a month, I just can’t stick with it.

I’m pretty sad to hear that so many people dislike Stephen King. I used to think of him as one of those paid-by-the-pound “horror” authors, like John Saul and the majority of Dean Koontz’s work… But then I read The Stand and the Dark Tower series. That man writes real literature. Everything is interconnected… I mean, yeah, some of his books are crap. But when an author is as prolific as he is, some of the stuff is bound to be crap. But there are some of his books that just blow me away.
@mrentropy – “Numerous” pseudonyms? Richard Bachman died of cancer of the pseudonym years ago. What other pseudonyms are you talking about?

I haven’t yet read Dune – I know, I know, what kind of geek am I if I haven’t read it? It’s one of those that’s been on my list for years, but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. I did read The Butlerian Jihad, though, a few years ago and loved it. I know it’s written by Frank Herbert’s son and takes place before Dune, so I don’t know whether liking it will have anything to do with whether I like the original.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I am rubbish at reading books. I like the idea of reading but I very rarely finish books as I get bored easily. A book has to be absolutely gripping for me to read it to the end so there have been many books that I have started but didn’t hold my attention enough, despite how celebrated they were, to finish. I am currently reading a book that is holding my attention and I can’t wait to pick it up whenever I have some quiet time. I am sure I will finish this one and it will be the first book that I would have finished since April 2010 when I read (and completed) The Secret Life of Bees.

MissAnthrope's avatar

@Seelix – You have to stick with it long enough for Salander to enter the picture. She’s fascinating, for one, and almost the only reason I’ve read the books. Things start to get dark and twisted and interesting. The second book is even better, considering it’s pretty much all about Salander, who is brilliant and kick-ass. Such an awesome character.

downtide's avatar

@Seelix I loved Dune. I first read it when I was about nine, and didn’t understand much of it. Came back to it in my early teens and it blew me away. That was what started my love of science fiction. The sequels… not so much. :-X

cak's avatar

@MissAnthrope That’s why I stuck with the book, Salander. Flawed, intelligent and tough. Interesting character.

@Seelix: I’m somewhere in the middle with Stephen King. I did like some of the books – like The Stand. Others, I just felt like I was standing still for 20 chapters and then it all happened.

I started Dune, again.

flutherother's avatar

@MissAnthrope I thought Salander a fascinating character too. I wouldn’t have read the books if she hadn’t been in them.

Ladymia69's avatar

OH DEAR GOD – I forgot about the two books that have repeatedly kicked my ass through the years, slapping me to the floor again and again every time I open them:

“Finnegan’s Wake” and “Ulysses”...but especially Finnegan’s Wake.

Damn you, James Joyce…you were born to make me look stupid.

filmfann's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs I read the first Girl Who book, and struggled with the first 200 pages. When it really started reading well, I had already figured out the end. I am not going to read the others.

hobbitsubculture's avatar

Grrr, way to steal my thunder, @Seelix. Actually, this is a Great Question, and easier for me to answer than my own was.

I can’t stand Hemingway, and since I have a degree in English, I’ve read way too much of him. Couldn’t even finish A Farewell to Arms.

One of my friend’s parents let me borrow The Davinci Code, and I couldn’t make it past the first chapter.

H. G. Wells is supposed to be one of the founding fathers of science fiction, and despite being an avid sci fi reader, I’ve never gotten past the first few chapters of anything he’s written. None of it was bad. It just didn’t interest me enough.

Tolkien is one of my favorite authors. I have read most of the post-humous work that his son has put out after his death. Even so, I can see how a lot of people might not like his style. He can go on for quite awhile about the scenery, and he took a damn long time getting the hobbits to Rivendell. But you know who’s truly ponderous? H. P. Lovecraft. Someone has an inkling that something is weird behind some farmhouse in rural New England. Then nothing happens, but people talk about it, and nothing happens for a really long time. Then there’s a monster. At least Tolkien kicked off LOTR with a party.

@Seelix Brian Herbert isn’t half the writer his father was. I read the newer series some years after reading Frank Herbert’s originals. While I enjoyed them at the time, when I went back to reread the original books, I slowly began to hate the ones his son wrote. He has none of the subtlety of his father, and there are numerous details that he didn’t bother to match up with the original books.

faye's avatar

I forgot Robert Heinlein. What was his oh so famous book about the alien man who lived on earth? It started good, I thought, but disintegrated into garbage.

hobbitsubculture's avatar

@faye Stranger in a Strange Land? Haven’t read it, but Heinlein is well known for being opposed to revisions on his work. Which is why I’ve never bothered to read him.

faye's avatar

Yes thanks @hobbitsubculture I thought I better finally try this one, But I didn’t like it and I didn’t like it 30 yrs ago!

WasCy's avatar

Let’s see… I’ve read and enjoyed so many of the books that others have listed, so that doesn’t surprise me much. (I agree that the writing in Atlas Shrugged is pretty awful, but the ideas it presents make it worth reading over and over – three times so far for me. Hemingway I read – have read – as a product of his often awful times – and consider the depression, guilt or whatever caused him to take his own life – but I don’t read him much. Heinlein will always hold a special place for me; I think I first started to realize what it meant to be human after reading him. And Dickens: I’ve never read anything by Dickens that I didn’t adore, simply for his use of language.)

But I also never managed to make it through 100 Years of Solitude. I think I’d have to “give that” more pages than are in it; I know that I slogged more than halfway through, still have it stuck on a bookshelf somewhere with a bookmark mouldering away in it, where it’ll no doubt stay.

I gave up on Moby Dick when Melville started going on at interminable length about his description of “the fish”. Maybe I should give him a pass on his misunderstanding of biology and try again.

I used to like Robert Ludlum (the “Bourne” series of books and others like them) and Tom Clancy (Hunt for Red October and others), but something happened to them and it seems like they get paid by the word now. Their writing has just become so damn tedious. (Stephen King often suffers the same turgid wordiness , but for some reason I can put up with a lot more of his stream-of-consciousness-and-memory stuff, maybe because it resonates more with me.)

No, what gets me is what passes for most “popular” novels these days, Tami Hoag, Philip Margolin, Lawrence Sanders, John Saul and others that I see on “bestseller” racks everywhere and think, “WTF?! How can people stand to read those people even once, all the way through? And then they continue to pursue them?” How is it possible, I wonder. Pure trash.

Maybe I’ll have to find a copy of Dune

Seek's avatar

I burned two Harlequinn novels last night. I’m ashamed that it took me about twenty minutes each to get through them and decide that they didn’t even qualify as porn.

Seelix's avatar

@WasCy – I like to think of those as the authors who get paid by the pound ;)
Granted, I used to read John Saul, but that was back when I was 13 and his books were somewhat sensational for my age.

I’ve made it a goal of mine to start reading the classics that came pre-loaded on my Kobo… I’ve only read The Lost World and The Island of Dr. Moreau so far, but I’ll get there someday.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I was assigned both The Sound and The Fury and Gone With the Wind for a “compare/contrast” book report in 8th grade, and I couldn’t finish either because my 13-year-old self was appalled by their themes. I wrote a strident addendum to the teacher in my report as to what my issues were with the books, and I managed a B-. I eventually finished them when I was older. Faulkner, yes, though he’s hard to get through. Mitchell, no. No. No! A billion times NO!

I love Dickens, but have found Bleak House to be rough going. I haven’t finished it yet.

WasCy's avatar


Yeah, Bleak House was kind of slow going; I’ll grant that for sure. But that beginning! How could you not love that description of the muddy muddle of London – and Chancery – at that time?

aprilsimnel's avatar

Yes, but it’s afterward, though, that’s been the trouble.

Bellatrix's avatar

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga won the Man Booker but I just couldn’t get into it.

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther