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Shae's avatar

Is there a book you can't finish?

Asked by Shae (2346points) February 11th, 2010

What’s that classic or popular book that everyone has read and you just can’t seem to get past the first chapter?

I have been trying to read The House of Seven Gables and am bored to death.

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64 Answers

Dr_Dredd's avatar

Anything by Tolkien. I couldn’t stand any of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. ARRGH!

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

LOL! I have been using Hawthorne’s book for years as a cure for my insomnia!

tinyfaery's avatar

100 Years of Solitude. Why does everyone have the same friggin name?

Michael_Huntington's avatar

Ben’s book of Ben by Benjamin McBen

wilma's avatar

LOL! You may not believe this but I have been trying to read “The House Of The Seven Gables” for years too.
Why can’t I get past the first chapter? does it get any better? I can’t understand why it’s a classic.

janbb's avatar

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Joseph and His Brothers by Thomas Mann. I’ve had the book for 30 years and can’t get more than 50 pages into it.

downtide's avatar

I have several times attempted to read through Lord of the Rings, and always fail halfway through the last book.

dr34m3r's avatar

don’t shoot me but

The Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig

I really do like the book, at least as much as i’ve read, but the mood shift was so sudden and i dunno i just lost interest.

SABOTEUR's avatar

A Course In Miracles
by The Foundation for Inner Peace

TexasDude's avatar

I’ve been a chapter or two away from finishing Lolita for a while now, I just haven’t gotten around to it. It’s one of my favorite books but I just can’t trudge through the last few chapters for whatever reason.

gailcalled's avatar

Walden Pond and Proust.

Blackberry's avatar

Interracial Intimacies by Randall Kennedy, it’s about the history of interracial relations in America as well as adoption. Kennedy uses a lot of big words than I’m used to and drones on a lot. Plus I’m not really interested in reading about adoption, I already read the first part of the book.

Your_Majesty's avatar

All from Agatha Christie. I’ve bought those novels according to its popularity as well-known mystery novel. Later then I’ve realized that mystery novel from Agatha Christie wasn’t good enough for me. I usually prefer all novel with “New York Times Best Seller” approval on it.

wundayatta's avatar

I haven’t finished a single book in the last six months, I think. What with my mental frame of mind and my internet habit, I can’t muster up the concentration any more.

phoebusg's avatar

Textbooks, I tend to find questionable things in mention. End up looking up all their sources and reading that instead. Some textbook editions are absolutely horrible. Then I move on to more recent articles that sometimes question sources for said textbooks.

justn's avatar

I could never bring myself to finish Eldest by Paolini. The first parts are unbelievable boring (I’ve heard it gets better half way through). I loved Eragon, but just couldn’t finish the second one.

Bluefreedom's avatar

The Holy Bible.

holden's avatar

I attempted Pride and Prejudice about three times.

SundayKittens's avatar

I’ve been reading “Mere Christianity” for about 5 years now. Also, “A Clockwork Orange”. Mah brain too slow.

ella's avatar

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. i started it in high school and never could finish that bastard.

Haleth's avatar

@Dr_Dredd @downtide Lord of the Rings is a bit long, but it’s such a great read! You guys are really missing out.

I had trouble getting through the part of Moby Dick where Melville spends 100 pages talking about whaling techniques. I had trouble making it to the end of Gormenghast because the mood got so dense and claustrophobic.

filmfann's avatar

Being and Nothingness by Sarte. Tried several times.

@Bluefreedom I am a Christian, and I am reading that now. Honestly, books like Numbers and Levitations have been most challenging.

tinyfaery's avatar

@filmfann :( One of my very favorite books.

Jeruba's avatar

Oh, many. Books that come with a strong recommendation I will usually (but not always) try to endure to the midpoint before abandoning them. But life is short, and I do not feel under obligation to any book just because I’ve started it. Some warrant only a few pages. Any author who doesn’t know the difference between “that” and “which” will lose me by page 2. The same for a book whose main character’s name annoys me.

I ditched Cold Mountain early on, got through only half of War and Peace, bailed on The Sun Also Rises well before the end and, to my shame, couldn’t get past the eels in The Tin Drum.

But I did read one Dostoevsky novel after another in my teens, got through all of Ada at speed on the heels of about ten others of Nabokov and wished for it to last for another 800 pages, and have just finished rereading the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I found The Golden Bough easier going than something by Toni Morrison. So where’s the pattern? I don’t see it. De gustibus non disputandem est. (You can’t argue about taste.)

Michael_Huntington's avatar

@Bluefreedom Unless you’re uninterested in reading it, here’s a cool version of it

Jeruba's avatar

@filmfann, Levitations?? Did you mean Leviticus? Lamentations? Revelation?

filmfann's avatar

@Jeruba Leviticus. Ya, sometimes I sound like W.

Bluefreedom's avatar

@Mike_Hunt. I have to say, that is a rather unique and ingenious way to help someone read the bible. I was impressed and I think I’m going to spend some more time looking over that website.

ChocolateReigns's avatar

For some weird reason, I can’t get through the first Anne of Green Gables book. I love the series, though! I’m almost done with the 4th book. The first one is just so common that I can’t get all the way through it. Then there’s Little Men… I probably never got through that because I had too many books going at once.

judochop's avatar

The dictionary.

SuperMouse's avatar

Although I finally fought my way through it, The Bonfire of the Vanities gave me a run for my money. The very first book I refused to finish was A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, and as embarrassed as I am to admit this, I cannot get past the first chapter of Wuthering Heights.

janbb's avatar

@SuperMouse Wuthering Heights is a hard book to get in to. I think you have to read it when you’re young and impressionable or not at all.

Mamradpivo's avatar

“Gravity’s Rainbow” by Thomas Pynchon. Started it twice, made it about 80 pages in, couldn’t keep going.

“Sometimes a Great Notion” by Ken Kesey. I really want to read this book. I’ve tried twice. I even made it about halfway through the second time, but just got too confused and frustrated with the style.

“Anathem” by Neal Stephenson. This one I’m about 150 pages in. I love Stephenson’s work, but I honestly have trouble holding this one up. It’s something like 1100 pages long and a hard-cover. It’s impossible to read in bed, so it’s sitting on the bottom shelf of my bedside table.

Jeruba's avatar

@Mamradpivo, no, not impossible, but I sure did have a sore wrist for the weeks it took me to read Anathem. Try propping it on a pillow. It was worth the read even though it was so calculatedly and self-consciously wonderful and I did guess the explanation long before the end.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I am a strong believer in giving up when it comes to books that I’m not enjoying, life’s to short and I could be reading a book that I will enjoy. Because of this, there are plenty of books that I didn’t complete. One that sticks to mind is Wicked. I was bored out of my tree trying to get through that one and I gave up half way through and went to see the musical in London which I loved.

ella's avatar

@Leanne1986 oh, totally agree. bought Wicked and several other by Gregory Maguire after hearing such wonderful things about it, tried diligently, on multiple occasions to get through before abandoning all hope. haven’t even allowed myself to attempt the others until i can get through his best seller. but saw the musical in chicago and adored it.

janbb's avatar

Heard a great rule about giving up books from a fellow librarian some years ago. Take your age, subtract it from 100 and that’s how many pages you try of a book. If it’s boring you at that point, give it up.

food's avatar

I thought Nathaniel Hawthorne books were extremely boring. I didn´t like Scarlet Letter too much either. Oddly enough, I decided to finish both books just so I could say that they were definitely boring from start to finish in my opinion.
I couldn´t finish Texas but I don´t think it´s impossible to finish… it was just too long. I read Poland and Alaska (both written by the same author, James Michener) and I guess that it was just too much for me to pick up another 1000-page long book (Alaska was 1000 pages long, and Poland was only 500). I read 100 pages, left it, forgot what I had read, picked it up read the same 100 pages again, left it, and then gave up! Maybe someday I´ll read it….

food's avatar

I was able to read the bible though! a chapter a day more or less, maybe that´s why I was able to do it…

food's avatar

Come to think of it, the hobbit wasn´t too easy to read either, but the illustrated edition I borrowed from the library was gorgeous, so that helped…. I liked fantasy books and had barely read any before,(only the never-ending story) so that helped too… although I didn´t like the Narnia book I read as much because it didn´t use as much magic or excitement(I don´t remember which one I read though)
The movies (lord of the rings and Narnia movies) are great though. In fact, I liked fantasy because I was a fairy tale fan and I enjoyed the Neverending story movie when I was little.

Confuscious's avatar

I’ve been trying to read The Secret, but I can’t get past the first couple of pages. It lies in a cupboard and everytime I open the door the book stares at me as if to ask when I’m going to give it some attention again. One of the most boring books I have ever tried to read, but I’m sure I’ll give it another try soon.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Can’t get through Tropic of Cancer. Bah.

Shae's avatar

How did Tropic of Cancer get published? Horrid. lol

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Shae they were high, that’s why

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@Haleth I actually did finish “The Fellowship of the Ring” and half of “The Two Towers.” I couldn’t do the rest because I found Tolkien to be way too descriptive. I appreciate the need to be able to visualize a scene, but I just found his descriptions to be extremely boring. :-)

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@tinyfaery I had the same problem with 100 Years. Parts of that book seemed to be wonderful… and then I’m stuck again trying to figure out “Who the hell is this?”

@Bluefreedom… amen.

I’m surprised by the two (?) mentions of Cold Mountain. I really enjoyed that book.

Even though I’ve read Atlas Shrugged twice (and will probably read it again), there’s a section near the end (and if you get that far into it you’ll know what section I mean) where one of the main characters delivers a 75-page soliloquy on Ayn Rand’s theme of the book. The book stands on its own without that deliberate exposition of the theme; I can’t imagine why she thought that was necessary to include. I can never finish that section. Fortunately I can skip through it and read the rest of the novel without sacrificing understanding or (much) meaning.

The book that I’ve tried and failed miserably with is Moby Dick. I shouldn’t be so put off by Melville’s ignorant description of “the fish”, but… there it is.

There are so many, so very many more books that I should have taken @Jeruba‘s excellent advice and just dropped. (I read—and actually finished—a novel recently where the main character flattened the tires of a pursuer’s car by… simply removing the valve caps from the valve stems on all four tires. I just rolled my eyes and read on. Stupid, I know.)

gailcalled's avatar

@CyanoticWasp: Different harpoons for different whalers. I read Moby Dick in a mixed-generation 6-week English elective at the school where I was working. The experience was marvelous:next time try reading every other chapter. You can skip the ones on how to remove blubber and make whale cheek pie. Simply read the story.

janbb's avatar

@gailcalled Actually, what I loved were the ones on how to remove blubber and make whale cheek pie; it was the metaphysical ones that I tended to skip! Between us, we can conclude that it’s a great book.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@gailcalled thanks, I’ll try that. I was enjoying the story part.

gailcalled's avatar

@CyanoticWasp: And it is a wonderful book to say that you have read. That’s why I keep struggling with both Proust and Stendhal. Bragging rights.

janbb's avatar

@gailcalled Stendhal sucks.

gailcalled's avatar

@janbb: What if I don’t read “La chartreuse de Parme in french? Would that count?

(Perhaps I should first learn to spell his name correctly.)

janbb's avatar

@gailcalled It was Le Rouge et Le Noir – unfortunately in English – that put me off him for life.

gailcalled's avatar

@janbb: And I thought that was a book about checkers.

Jeruba's avatar

I actually liked Stendhal and Melville both. I have still not assayed Proust, and I may not live long enough for it. Does it count that I read all the required Dickens and some that wasn’t (Little Dorrit)?

And there is one certain book that some of you will know and that I have begun four or five times. I simply cannot get past the word “moocow” on the first page.

janbb's avatar

@Jeruba Ah yes, I have yet to try more than the first page of that one but will at some point. I bought Swann’s Way last week but plan to hold off on it until the semester is over.

gailcalled's avatar

@Jeruba @janbb: I have a college friend who is in a book club devoted to that one and the entirety of “Finnigan’s….”. Knowing the last two sentences of Portrait by heart comes in very handy, however. (Forget the “Welcome, O life…” however.)

Dickens doesn’t count because his works (almost all of them) are fun and easy to read.

Stendahl cerrtainly counts for self-flagellation.

janbb's avatar

@gailcalled Knowing the last bit of Ulysses has come in even handier!

gailcalled's avatar

@janbb: Yes, I said, yes.

dpworkin's avatar

Proust is one of life’s great pleasures, and is not to be missed. I can’t read On the Critique of Pure Reason – just too dense for me, as is most of Heidegger.

janbb's avatar

@dpworkin You kant read it?

dpworkin's avatar

I predicted that, @janbb

janbb's avatar

Who are you, nostradamus?

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