Natso's picture
Natso from Mongolia is reading Moby Dick May 5, 2014 - 11:03pm

We all (probably) read in small chunks of time, like commute, after work or in the weekends, so sometimes we can drop a book and start a fresh reads. So what have you left unfinished and why do you think they were unfinishable?

Get them out, people.

Mine are:

- Blood Meridian. ~40% Can't understand some parts. Also no hablo Espanol.

- Farewell to Arms. ~20% I really, really want to like Hemingway. But I'm not getting past the terse descriptions.

- Frankenstein. ~20% Possibly because I know what's gonna happen. (I think I watched a true to novel film adaptation when I was a kid, being scared shitless and whatnot)

- The Misery. ~10% I know I'll like it if I read it over the weekend or some large amount of time, but I get a lot of distraction and it's hard to get back to it.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated May 7, 2014 - 4:59am

Anything that has to be 'that guy'.  Dialog without quotations, written in what they think an accent sounds like, pretty much anything weird like that.  I'm not opposed to experimenting, but use proper spelling and grammar. 

Natso's picture
Natso from Mongolia is reading Moby Dick May 6, 2014 - 7:00pm

That's interesting, Dwayne. Thanks.

But let me ask you this.

Have you ever stopped reading a book because you thought it was too dark or gruesome that it might possibly corrupt your very soul?

Have you? Hm?

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal May 6, 2014 - 8:58pm

The Hit- David Baldacci

Didn't know who or what this guy was, amazon synopsis made it sound interesting enough when I quickly read it on my phone...  It's so bad.  For example, when a throwaway character is overseeing an assassination...

But that was not Jacobs' concern.  He was here simply to execute an assignment, with emphasis on the "execute" part.

I made it a few more chapters, but... just... ugh.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal May 6, 2014 - 9:01pm

@ Dwayne- to be fair, on scarce occasion Chuck P. does dialogue without quoatations, but it's really quick, and in 1st person.  Just saying.

However, writing out an accent phoenetically is one of the greatest sins in writing.  Ye GODS, you are so right about that one...

Natso's picture
Natso from Mongolia is reading Moby Dick May 6, 2014 - 9:52pm

@Thuggish, same question for you.

Would you stop reading a book, thinking "Screw it, the events in this book are just too devastatingly traumatic that I'm better off throwing it out the window"? Or are you already done with the book, with its visceral points still haunting you?

I was wondering if anyone ever stopped reading books like "American Psycho" for moral reasons. (Yes, I know how it was satirical between the lines)

justwords's picture
justwords from suburb of Birmingham, AL is reading The Tomb, F. Paul Wilson; A Long Way Down, Nick Hornby May 6, 2014 - 10:03pm

@Thuggish: if you agree with Dwayne, you'll only encourage him! :)   And Baldacci is another author who hit his peak two books ago, imho; he's just phoning it in now.

@Natso: yes, there was one book I had to quit reading for close to the reasons you cite.. I'll try to remember it. It was back in the late 80s; I got on a streak of reading real crime; read several books on the Black Dahlia. Then I read this book, and for me, it went way over the line. I'll get back to you with a title.

Had trouble getting through V, Ulysses, and Doris Lessing's Shikasta (and the rest of the Canopus In Argos: Archives) among others; but I finished them all. I don't like it when I feel like an author is wasting my time, i.e.. been blown up out of proportion by publicity.

I would like to whore-promote 2 books by a guy with local connections, John Green. Nothing crazy about him, he's a great writer. Looking for Alaska was his first book; The Fault in our Stars was optioned and made into a film that's just been released. I think he's doing some other indie films on his own; not sure about that. 

Ok, commercial over. 
 

Matt L.'s picture
Matt L. from Texas is reading Tenth of December: Stories May 6, 2014 - 11:49pm

I’m not sure that I finished any book assigned to me in high school. But I’m going to assume that doesn’t count. In more recent times...

The Crossing. I read 3/4 of it over six months before I finally said screw it. I really enjoyed All the Pretty Horses and The Road. But, man, The Crossing was just a beating. I am determined to go back and finish it at some point.

It was Dean Koontz who got me into reading as I entered adulthood. I was 17 or 18, fresh out of high school and picked up Velocity when stuck at a Costco with my mom. I know, it’s probably not cool to admit to reading Koontz, but I went on to read five or six more of his books before moving on to other authors. He is largely responsible for me getting back into reading for pleasure, so I can’t help but respect the guy.

I tried reading some more of his work later and I don’t know if I just outgrew him or if I managed to pick up his worst efforts but it was not the rousing experience I remembered. Tried to read Tick Tock, Life Expectancy, and finally False Memory. False Memory was around 750 pages. I read 200, in which nothing happened, and I called it quits on Koontz.

The last one that comes to mind is The Dark Tower series. I read The Gunslinger with the intention of continuing on through the whole series. But then I didn’t. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it for the most part, I just had no interest in continuing on to the next book. I suppose I felt that I had gotten little return for my time.

As for reading something that was so traumatic or vile that I had to stop, I have not come across such a book yet. Then again, I haven’t sought out work to test my limits in that respect. I could see myself quitting a book if it is violent and obscene just to shock. I think I can handle just about anything as long as it is getting at something and the writer is not just trying to be sick and twisted for the sake of being sick and twisted. There must be purpose.

Natso's picture
Natso from Mongolia is reading Moby Dick May 7, 2014 - 1:31am

@justwords, Thanks. Good to learn about another Nobel prize-winning writer's sci-fi series, Canopus in Argos.

You're friends with John Green?! He's so killing it, even here, I know someone reading "The Fault in Our Stars".

@Matt, Yeah, I think Koontz is a bit underrated. I mean I only read one book by him and am yet to make a good decision from between them, but The Watchers knocked my socks off. Thanks for the input; good to know Crossing is hard to finish, too. 

I think I feel exactly the same about the trauma-inducing books as you.

 

Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore May 7, 2014 - 4:13am

Most of the books I've stopped reading, I tell myself I still intend to finish someday, but The Naked Lunch I just thought was stupid (and gross, sure, but I've never shied away from material that disturbs me). Since so many of my reads are by recommendation from those I trust, and in my preferred genres, they tend to get it right.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated May 7, 2014 - 5:10am

@Natso - No, or I'd have listed that as a reason.  And I'm the whole idea sounds melodramatic to me, can't imagine that being a thought a person would have.  I know it happens, but I don't get it.  Fiction, to me, always falls way short of the horror of real life.  I might someday think, "This book reminds me way too much of X, and that was a bummer, I'll read something else," but not some big horrible terror thing.

@Thuggish - Been so long since I read him I don't really remember.

@Justwords - Yeah, because when I don't get encouragement that really slows me down.

@Matt - I've seen this coming up a lot lately (books that didn't hold up over time) and I'm starting to think that there are some authors who are good because they speak very specifically to where you are at in that moment.  Outside of that, not so much.  Also, you might want to finish the Dark Tower, perfect/bravest ending I've read in a long time.

@Gordon - Yeah, that and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. 

justwords's picture
justwords from suburb of Birmingham, AL is reading The Tomb, F. Paul Wilson; A Long Way Down, Nick Hornby May 7, 2014 - 5:35am

@Dwayne-- I think you pretty much get done anything you put your mind to; just kidding you, ok? :)

justwords's picture
justwords from suburb of Birmingham, AL is reading The Tomb, F. Paul Wilson; A Long Way Down, Nick Hornby May 7, 2014 - 5:38am

@Nateso--

John Green went to the same prep school some of my friends went to; I've only met him once, at an alumni thing for that school, Indian Springs School (in a suburb of Birmingham). He's a really nice guy, but I'm sure he doesn't remember me out of all the folks he's been introduced to.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal May 7, 2014 - 5:55am

@ Natso

No, really the only reason I stopped reading is because the prose was so, SO bad I couldn't hold interest.  Nothing more than that.

I've done the same with other books, often written by English guys who, let's face it, loooooove their words.  They don't use excessive adverbs, anything like that, but they can sure yammer on just the same.  Actually, I think LOTR was one of them (that was 10+ years ago, mind you, I might try again some day).

@ Dwayne

To avoid confusion, just in case, it wasn't Baldacci that wrote out the accents.  At least not that I saw in the small portion I read.  I encountered that once in a true crime book- that turned out to be full of BS- an it was the most annoying @#$@##$% thing ever.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated May 7, 2014 - 6:49am

@Justwords - Not unless you count 'not dying or going to jail'.

@Thuggish - I'm not even sure who Baldacci is.

Vonnegut Check's picture
Vonnegut Check from Baltimore May 7, 2014 - 7:46am

Anything that has to be 'that guy'.  Dialog without quotations, written in what they think an accent sounds like, pretty much anything weird like that.  I'm not opposed to experimenting, but use proper spelling and grammar.

Originally, when Dwayne wrote this, he wrote "spelling in grammar [emphasis mine]." That irony aside, I would like to address the dialog without quotations part of his quote.

Cormac McCarthy, Junot Díaz, Joyce Carol Oates, Tim O'Brien--these are just the first few writers off the top of my head I've seen not quoting dialogue. To dismiss them for something such as that is silly. But more to the point, the reason I think authors employ this method is to drive home the notion of unreliability. In journalism, we quote dialogue. But in fiction, or even creative non-fiction, we're "recalling" past events and these events are often blurry. Or they should be blurry, considering our terrible memories. Thus, leaving out the quotes highlights that--as far as I see it, anyway.

voodoo_em's picture
voodoo_em from England is reading All the books by Tana French! May 7, 2014 - 8:03am

^ Also Will Christopher Baer and (I think) Hubert Selby Jnr in Requiem for a Dream

Vonnegut Check's picture
Vonnegut Check from Baltimore May 7, 2014 - 8:13am

Yes, Em, Selby does this in all of his works, I believe, among other interesting stylistic choices. For instance, Selby writes entire paragraphs without using dialogue attribution, apostrophes--one sentence to the next, flowing freely from exposition to different characters speaking.

They sprawled along the counter and on the chairs. Another night. Another drag of a night in the Greeks, a beatup all night diner near the Brooklyn Armybase ... They tried to get the Greek to take those records off, but hed tell them no. They come in and spend money. You sit all night and buy notting. Are yakiddin me Alex? Ya could retire on the money we spend in here. Scatah. You dont pay my carfare ...

voodoo_em's picture
voodoo_em from England is reading All the books by Tana French! May 7, 2014 - 8:33am

Yeah, I know, Requiem is one of my unfinished books. Which makes me sad because I love the film.

Brandon's picture
Brandon from KCMO is reading Made to Break May 7, 2014 - 11:05am

S. by Doug Dorst and J.J. Abrams. Made it about 250 pages before I realized I didn't care, I wasn't intrigued, and the beautiful design could only do so much.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated May 7, 2014 - 11:46am

@Check - 

Cormac McCarthy, Junot Díaz, Joyce Carol Oates, Tim O'Brien--these are just the first few writers off the top of my head I've seen not quoting dialogue.

Which is one of the reason I've never read any of them.  There are more wonderful books than you could ever hope to read in one lifetime, and more being published every day.  If something slows your reading down even a little bit, why not ditch it?  It isn't like there aren't enough other great books to keep you busy that are written in a more traditional fashion.  With as many choices as we have, like it or not, we aren't looking for reasons to read a specific book, we are looking for reasons not to read books.

Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore May 7, 2014 - 12:08pm

There are more wonderful books than you could ever hope to read in one lifetime

Agreed. That's one reason I cite for trying not to read crap. That, and while I can live with losing two hours of my life to a bad movie, losing a week on a bad book would eat at me.

If something slows your reading down even a little bit, why not ditch it?

Disagree. But that's just me, and it's valid for many people. Sometimes I like the challenge. I would hate that the author's challenging me for silly reasons (as we discussed in another thread), but sometimes those devices do work and enhance my enjoyment of it. I prefer shorter books, but I also like dense writing, and marveling over prose. Some authors are able to write in a style that breezes right by while also impressing at the line level (Chuck Wendig comes to mind), while others have me constantly tapping the brakes in a good way.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal May 7, 2014 - 12:36pm

@ Dwayne

Lucky you.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated May 7, 2014 - 1:51pm

@Gordon - Well at that point it gets a little chicken and the egg; if you are reading for a challenge I'd say you'd want to not read anything that slowed down your challenging reading.  But, for me, these are they are annoyances (not challenges).  

Vonnegut Check's picture
Vonnegut Check from Baltimore May 7, 2014 - 3:34pm

If something slows your reading down even a little bit, why not ditch it?

I can honestly say that none of my aforementioned authors slowed me down in any way. In fact, those are some of the best authors I've ever read.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated May 7, 2014 - 5:23pm

@Thuggish - For not having read them?

@Check - Well great, I guess.

Natso's picture
Natso from Mongolia is reading Moby Dick May 7, 2014 - 7:40pm

@Gordon, haha. I remember seeing clip of Naked Lunch the movie-- yuck!

while I can live with losing two hours of my life to a bad movie, losing a week on a bad book would eat at me.

Yikes!

@Dwayne,

Fiction, to me, always falls way short of the horror of real life.

you must know some really scary true stories, then.

@Check,

But more to the point, the reason I think authors employ this method is to drive home the notion of unreliability.

That makes a lot of sense. Thanks for the insight!

@Voodoo_em Selby is now on my reading list.

@Brandon, Oh, bummer. S was one of the books I was looking forward to reading some day.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated May 7, 2014 - 8:05pm

Yeah.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal May 7, 2014 - 9:09pm

@ Dwayne

Yeah, judging on this one, although there's a certain comedic value to some of it.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated May 7, 2014 - 10:01pm

Well, it is more that I only share the funny ones.  Lots of other ones are just horrible so I don't bring them up.

Linda's picture
Linda from Sweden is reading Fearful Symmetries May 7, 2014 - 11:19pm

I watched Naked Lunch the other day. Texted to my friend that a typewriter bug that talks through what looks a lot like an asshole on its back just showed up, and she replies "you're just ani-sensitive". Yeah I don't think so.

I used to finish every book I started, but now it's probably one in three. American Psycho and The Trial are the only books that, although I really liked them, I considered putting down because they grossed me out.

 

Natso's picture
Natso from Mongolia is reading Moby Dick May 9, 2014 - 7:47am

@Linda, yeah. American Psycho and The Trial are definitely on my to read list.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated May 12, 2014 - 1:25pm

Also, almost anything that uses real words in a weird way or foreign words like they are English.

justwords's picture
justwords from suburb of Birmingham, AL is reading The Tomb, F. Paul Wilson; A Long Way Down, Nick Hornby May 12, 2014 - 8:07pm

@Natso-

Would love to know what you think of American Psycho; I have to admit I'm biased-- not a fan of the author. 

@Linda--

I give every book I start a good 1/3 of way through -- after that, if I'm still not interested, I drop said book. To me that is more than enough space to hook me in, regardless of style; and as someone said further up this thread, life is too short to waste on uninteresting books (and bad wine, according to Mr. Jefferson). 

Andrewbee's picture
Andrewbee from Chicago is reading some YA book, most likely July 16, 2014 - 12:46pm

Resurrecting an old thread here, but what really grinds my gears is when total crap gets published, and beautiful, deserving material doesn't. Just saying.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated July 16, 2014 - 6:00pm

A lot of time we judge an apple as a bad orange though.

justwords's picture
justwords from suburb of Birmingham, AL is reading The Tomb, F. Paul Wilson; A Long Way Down, Nick Hornby July 16, 2014 - 8:46pm

@Mr. A: Life isn't fair, that's too true. Nobody ever went broke underestimating the public's taste--- I'm paraphrasing, but the author is correct. However, that's not a good excuse to quit trying to get the good stuff out there, ok?  :)

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami July 16, 2014 - 8:52pm

I'm having a hard time finishing Silence Of The Lamps. While having a hard time, I'm having a somewhat easier time with Jude The Obscure. I'm loving Hardy's poetry.