Weekend Question Thread

What book have you tried to finish, but just can’t?

I get five or six pages into One Hundred Years of Solitude every time, and cannot get any farther.

A.

39 thoughts on “Weekend Question Thread

  1. Don Quixote
    Three tries (so far).
    .

  2. MichaelF says:

    Funny–also Don Quixote, also three tries. I get to around page 100, then …

  3. Hecate says:

    Little, Big. Everyone raves about it but I just can’t finish it.

  4. Marc says:

    London Fields by Martin Amis. Gah.

  5. War and Peace. I tried twice. Perhaps, it’s time for another try.

  6. Anything by Faulkner. As a Southerner, this is my greatest cultural failure.

  7. pansypoo says:

    i only got past a few lines of atlas shrugged + i read the dictionary. i hated On the Road. assignment for a class at art school. but the one i COULD NOT FINISH, and i read all the assigned shakespeare plays, i do my assignments, but i COULD NOT FINISH the elctric kool-aid acid test.
    but i enjoyed bonfire of the vanities. i need to try more classics. oy, wuthering heights. i can see why the encyclopedia britannica liked emily bronte best.

  8. Domino says:

    Catch 22

  9. OkieBlue says:

    My current one is True Compass by Ted Kennedy. I just can’t seem to keep going on it.
    I have been told that I have to read The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo, et al, but I cannot get into it even after several tries.
    I see everyone else is reading the classics so I guess I’m the low brow. I usually stick with current topics and almost exclusively non-fiction.

  10. virgotex says:

    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. BFF pushed and loaned it and tried to get me into it. I keep falling asleep and can’t remember who all the people are and frankly, just don’t care.

  11. Elspeth Ravenwind says:

    “The Witching Hour” by Anne Rice. Holy crap I could NOT get into it no matter how often I tried. I wanted to like it, I loved “Interview…” (book and movie). But this…no go.

  12. RAM says:

    “A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking. It’s not even a very long book, but my eyes just glaze over. It’s not Hawking; he’s not a bad writer at all. Nowadays, I figure it’s a pure Palovian response.

  13. goalkeeper says:

    The Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick. I got to the point where the Puritans started to bring their european “civility” to play in the disputes with the indians.

  14. Brooklyn Girl says:

    Anything by Thomas Pynchon, including “The Crying of Lot 49” which is only 192 pages.
    And at least three different books by Tom Robbins, the worst being “Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas” — it’s written in the second person.
    Book: “You went to the bathroom.”
    Me:, “No, I didn’t.
    Book: “You looked in the mirror and combed your hair.”
    Me: “NO, I DIDN’T.”
    Book: “You opened another beer.”
    Me: “SHUT THE FUCK UP, ALREADY.” (Flings book across room.)

  15. dan mcenroe says:

    The Silent Cry, Kenzaburo Oe. The bleakness and despair are just too oppressive. I also can’t get through The Painted Bird – too brutal. Which is odd, really, since I made it through Blood Meridian.

  16. k says:

    “I remember the day my grandfather took me to discover ice.” Isn’t that how it begins? How could you not finish that? Maybe it’s because he mentioned ice. Maybe it’s me.
    “The Origins of Consciousness in the Bicameral Brain.” I think I have to wait for the illustrated novel version.

  17. A. T. says:

    100 Years of Solitude is famous for those first 20-30 unreadable pages in the beginning. Once you get past them, you won’t want to put it down. Solution: skip those first pages. If you can’t figure out who someone is later on, you can always go back and find out.

  18. Adrastos says:

    The Satanic Verses. I’ve tried 3 times and never got past page 30.

  19. Hobbes says:

    Twilight. I read the first page and could not force myself to turn it. (And this was before I’d ever heard of the book, so this wasn’t preconceived hatred, I swear.)

  20. Sandman says:

    “The Fellowship of the Ring.” Couldn’t read it in high school, despite all my nerd cred. Tried to read it after the movies came out, found it just as boring as the first time. Tolkien had a great imagination, but compelling prose was not his strong suit (at least not for me). Loved the movies, though!

  21. Kaleberg says:

    I can’t bring myself to finish Myrer’s Once An Eagle. I was just looking at it on the shelf and thinking I should give it another try, but I couldn’t.
    It’s well written and has a great protagonist, a US Army officer, Sam Damon, with a natural talent for leadership. It’s a cult classic among officers, and I can see how it speaks to what a soldier, and particularly an officer, should be. Our two major wars have been generaled by captains, probably a reflection of the leadership vacuum at the top. We’ve been asking a lot of our mid-ranking officers lately, so I’ll bet some copies of this book are getting some serious page turning.
    Still, it’s a sad story. Damon survived the Great War, and proved himself in the field, but he couldn’t protect his best friend though he had tried. The villain, Massengale, was on staff and is doing all too well. What a scum! I put it down shortly after the armistice. Maybe WWII is better. I really should get back to it. I know he makes general, but his son dies in Vietnam.
    I’m strictly civilian, but I remember Isaac Bashevis Singer at West Point. We count on these guys, so I figured I should try to learn more. Maybe I’ve learned too much.

  22. Escariot says:

    I am reading Sacred Economics by Charles Eisenstein…it is good stuff but it is dense for my feeble head…and so stuck in the low 200’s…Couldn’t finish Eat Pray Love…got through Italy fine (always ended up hungry. Chocolate Pizza! YES!) but India and the ashram just bored me to tears.
    And can’t bring myself to pick up Shock Doctrine, which I finally started about three months ago…right now it is just so…um…pertinent? Just too scary truthy.

  23. robertearle says:

    In high school, we were assigned something or other by James Joyce. I tried maybe three times to start it, and each time I’d get four or five pages in and realize I had no idea what I’d just read. Then I looked more closely and saw that those four or five pages were all ONE LONG SENTENCE. And I said ‘screw this!’
    No idea how I got away with it – I didn’t even read the Cliff Notes or anything. Just boycotted the whole thing.

  24. azportsider says:

    Finnegan’s Wake.

  25. Steller says:

    Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner.

  26. Karin says:

    Oh, I’ve got a long list…Ulysses, Bleak House, anything by John Irving, Shakespeare’s plays. The older I am the worse it gets.

  27. Gummo says:

    Naked Lunch. I love Burroughs’ more linear prose; I also love hearing him read his own writing (even the cut-up stuff sounds better when he reads it).
    And I even enjoy the routines from Naked Lunch in the context of his letters to his friends, where a lot of them first appeared. But the book itself is just too hallucinatory and obscure for me to get through.

  28. racymind says:

    What a great question!!
    I got to within 100 pages of the end of 100 Years of Solitude while I traveled in Europe. Been gathering dust since I got stateside…
    I haven’t ever felt like finishing The Sound and The Fury. Been in my collection for 20 years.
    I never finished Kafka, The Trial, owned it for 20+ years.

  29. Escariot says:

    Racymind! So funny about your experience as I find that reading is much much easier when I am not at home in situ. It seems that even though I own no television, live simply and alone (no endless taxi driver or negotiation of what to eat, drink, do) I still seem to be unable to focus on the damn book. Three paragraphs in and I am suddenly remembering something important (that isn’t) and worrying about the consequences of my not having done it yet (catastrophizing) and then having to shake my head, scrunch the brows and really READ.
    exhausting.

  30. kfairchild says:

    Similar to other commenters, Pynchon (Gravity’s Rainbow) and David Foster Wallace (Infinite Jest). Just cannot get past 100 pages or so.

  31. Tommy T says:

    The Brothers Karamazov.
    Tried three times.
    Just couldn’t.
    Tommy

  32. Ahab says:

    I once conquered my white whale, Lord Jim. After a few tries, I finally powered through it only to wish I hadn’t bothered. Got nothing out of it but an aversion to overly elaborate prose. I probably lost the plot due to my subconscious exasperation taking much of my concentration. In the end, I can say I read the words –yay!

  33. joejoejoe says:

    I couldn’t finish Moby Dick until I started skipping the chapters on the provisions of the boat that read like a manifest. Once I skipped those reading changed from a chore to a joy.

  34. OkieBlue says:

    I see someone above mentioned James Joyce. He is my most hated author. Without a doubt the most boring read imaginable. I was forced to “read” this in high school. I don’t remember how I got away with it but believe me, I did not read it.
    The mere mention of that name produces a visceral reaction to this very day and that was decades ago.

  35. frazer says:

    De Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. I know I should read it, but I keep finding more compelling things to do, like pulling weeds.

  36. Athenae says:

    I love hearing that other people do this, too. It makes me feel less dumb.
    A.

  37. rodnchance says:

    For me ‘Out of Africa’ I thought the movie was the worst I had ever seen and figured that I ought to at least read the book to see why it was supposed to be so flipping good. Gadzooks! I barely got through the first page. I gave it up as a lost cause…Likewise for my spouse though she liked the movie.

  38. Nancy in Detroit says:

    Ulysses. Part of the reason for this is that I CANNOT STAND the Stephen Dedalus character. Hated him in Portrait of the Artist. Hated him in Dubliners. If I met him in real life, I’d punch him.
    I also was unable to get past the first 50 or so pages of Infinite Jest.

  39. Lex says:

    Heinlein’s “Number of the Beast.” Four first-person narrators who, after about 50 pages, all start to sound the same. Fuck that.

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