Thursday, October 25, 2007

Read With Abandon?

This week's Booking Through Thursday question intrigued me so I decided to join in.

Today’s suggestion is from Cereal Box Reader

I would enjoy reading a meme about people’s abandoned books. The books that you start but don’t finish say as much about you as the ones you actually read, sometimes because of the books themselves or because of the circumstances that prevent you from finishing. So . . . what books have you abandoned and why?

I hate to abandon books, generally, because I hate to feel like I've failed. I just don't like to give up. But over the last few years I've also decided that I don't want to waste time reading something that just doesn't grab me, for whatever reason. So many books, so little time, as they say. I've always got so many other books sitting on my shelf waiting for me, beckoning to I've gotten a lot better at giving up on books that just aren't doing it for me.

Some of the (now many) books I've abandoned, and why (if I can remember):

1. The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco. I know this is one of those books that people absolutely adore, but I couldn't get through it. However, I was young when I tried it, and I might like it better now.

2. Ulysses, by James Joyce. I tried to read this with an accompanying lecture-on-tape course, thinking that would help me understand it. I fell asleep reading it too many nights in a row, so I just gave up. I figure some day I'll take a real, live college course about this book. Maybe.

3. The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie. I have no idea what this book is about. I got about ten pages in and gave up. And Midnight's Children is one of my all-time favorite books ever. Oh well.

4. A Whistling Woman, by A.S. Byatt. I loved Possession, and I got more than half way through this one, but it never grabbed me. Just didn't care what happened to the characters.

C'mon, tell me, what books have you given up on?


Anonymous said...

If a book doesn't grab me then I give up on it. Sometimes I've gone back to them, sometimes not. I just figure I have way too many other books waiting to be read you know :)
By the way I also gave up on Satanic Verses.

jenclair said...

Most recently, I gave up on Puccini's Ghost by Morag Joss. Just couldn't go it.

Anonymous said...

I finished Whistling Woman but I know what you mean. It was a difficult one to get through but ultimately I enjoyed it. I haven't abandoned any books in quite some time, I can't even remember the last one. I try to forget about them, helps assuage the guilt of giving up on a book :)

Gentle Reader said...

iliana--I'm with you, too many other books waiting to be read. Glad I'm not the only one with Satanic Verses :)

jenclair--haven't read that one, but I know the feeling!

stefanie--I try to forget about the ones I abandon, too--I really had to dredge up these that I listed. I don't like feeling guilty, either :)

Crafty Green Poet said...

Ulysees - has anyone ever finished it? I abandoned it at p4 but will try again as I really enjoyed Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

Umberto Eco is a fascinating writer but his long books are just overwhelming. I didn't like Name of the Rose.

Gentle Reader said...

crafty green poet--lol, don't know if I do know anyone who has finished Ulysses. But I did like The Dead. Maybe I'll try something else by Eco one of these days. By the way, love your blog, and Edinburgh is one of my favorite cities. How's the weather?

Anonymous said...

I'll have to snag this question from you, give me some time to reflect.

I would persist as much as I could if a book doesn't grab me. The first one that comes off my mind is Everything Is Illuminated. I have no idea what's going on although I have read halfway through!

About your abandoned books. The Name of the Rose is one of Moleskine Top 10 favorites! It's the *only* one by Eco so far I thoroughly enjoy.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I had a professor -- a writing professor, of all things -- tell me that a book didn't grab me by page 50, I should pass on it. Life is too short to read bad books.

I totally agree with him. And since someone like HIM gave me permission, I've never felt bad about putting something down, unfinished.

Well, unless it was a friend's book. Oops.

Gentle Reader said...

matt--I may have to give The Name of the Rose another try one of these days! And by the way, I didn't love Everything is Illuminated either :)

susan--it's great that a teacher gave you that permission--that would have helped me had I heard it earlier in life!

Literary Feline said...

You have a couple of books on your list that I have been wanting to read, The Name of the Rose and The Satanic Verses.

The last book I gave up on was Ana Castillo's The Guardians. I hope to try it again someday. I had read several negative reviews of the book right before I started it for one. I just couldn't get into it.

Gentle Reader said...

literary feline--I hope you like AND finish both Satanic Verses and Name of the Rose :)

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you'll give The Name of the Rose another try. Take your time on it because the book does require a lasting attention span. So if you're on the run with the kids, don't read it. :)

Gentle Reader said...

matt--well, it will be a few years before I can attempt it, then :) But I'll wait and give it a try when I can give it my full attention.

Bellezza said...

I feel the same way about Whistling Women and Possession. The later was fabulous! Also, I completely agree with trying not to abandon a book because of feeling like a failure. I usually stick it out no matter what, but one I really had to lay down was Brooks' March. Which won a Pulitzer no less! I was very offended that she even try to piggy back off of Louisa May Alcott's family of Little Women, by presuming to know their father. Isn't that silly?

Crafty Green Poet said...

Gentle Reader - glad you like my blog and Edinburgh, the weather is very changeable at the moment - as ever!

Anonymous said...

I really must do this meme - it's a lot of fun. I don't blame you in the least for abandoning the books you list - sounds eminently sensible! I could not make it past page 30 of Iris Murdoch's The Sea, The Sea, and I never quite managed to finish John Banville's novel The Sea. Is that a theme, do you think, or just a coincidence?

Gentle Reader said...

bellezza--I don't think it's silly--I haven't read March partly because I'm afraid I'll feel that way. It's been sitting on my shelf for years now! It's nice that we're on the same page about Byatt, too :)

crafty green poet--I love "changeable" as a description for weather. My grandmother (who lived in Kirkcaldy) used to use the term all the time!

litlove-- lol! I hope it's a coincidence, because I'm sure there are many books out there about the sea that are worth reading!

darkorpheus said...

I gave up on "Moby Dick". I tried 5 times to read that book - but couldn't finish it. I mean, after 5 break-ups, the relationship is just not meant to be.

Another Umberto Eco - "Foucault's Pendulum" took me 2 years to read. Of course I did other things in between ;p - but it was a struggle. More spiral than forward movement in the narrative.

A book is like a relationship - sometimes we just have to let go and go date other books.

Gentle Reader said...

dark orpheus--lol, love your relationship metaphor--so true. And whew, so glad you did other things besides read Foucault's Pendulum. I was picturing you holed up in a room for two years trying to read Eco--yikes!

Anonymous said...

I will never ever ever finish The Grapes of Wrath.