30 day book challenge – day 21 – Books you just can’t finish

The original question for the day 21 post was to talk about a book you tell people you’ve read but haven’t, or haven’t actually finished.

I racked my brains to think of a book that would fall within that and I just couldn’t.  I don’t think I’ve ever claimed to have read a book that I haven’t read.  There are some books I’ve read and not finished, but I’m honest about that – I’m very, very stubborn when it comes to finishing books that I have started to it has to be pretty exceptional for me to give up before the end.  If I do give up, I will own up to it.

So I decided to change the question to a blog that I was intending to post at some point in the future – the books I just can’t finish no matter how hard I try.

There are two that spring to mind:-

1. Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair

As far as I am concerned, I am still reading this book.  I haven’t admitted defeat yet, I’m just having a little break because it is so long.  My bookmark is even still inside it, so that means I’ve not given up, doesn’t it?  The fact is, my little break started something like 18 months ago and I’m not any closer to picking it up and finishing it.

I absolutely loved the idea of Vanity Fair – quick witted Becky Sharp making her own way in the world and rising higher and higher before the inevitable fall.  I haven’t got to the fall yet.

My problem with this book is that I can’t stomach the narrator.  I know that styles were different writing in that era, but I just want the narrator to butt out.  His commentary and opinions on the characters and the stories really get in the way for me.  He is standing between me and the story and the further into the book I got, the more irate I became until I had to stop because I was beginning to dread picking the book up because I knew that it was going to annoy me.

2. Lord of the Rings

I have tried a couple of times with Lord of the Rings, and each time I get a little bit further into it.  On my first attempt, I got no further in that the first few chapters.  On my second attempt, I got halfway through.  Maybe if I have another go in the future, I might actually finish.

The trouble I have with Lord of the Rings is that it is too detailed and too slow.  There are some really good moments in the book, but they are separated by endless dull moments.  I don’t need to be told what they eat for breakfast or how far they walk each day or any of the other trifling details.  The chapters where the trees were deciding whether to join the battle were excruciating – I get that they are hundreds of years old and probably don’t make any decision quickly, but it was painful reading the plodding chapters whilst they pondered their decision.

In the end, I have up halfway through because it had taken me ages to get to that point and I felt that there was too much still to happen.  I wasn’t really enjoying it by that point and couldn’t face any more of the same.

I think what these two books have in common is length and pace.  If a very long book moves slowly then I become frustrated at the feeling of making no progress which starts to hamper my ability to get into the story.  But I have proved to myself this year that I can slog out a long and slow book by completing Les Miserables.  Maybe I should give these books another go.   But they have to compete against all of the other unread books on my shelf and on my amazon wish list, all of which I am really looking forward to reading.  Maybe there is not enough time in one lifetime to try to force myself through something that I am not enjoying.

Are there any books that you just can’t finish?

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Posted on September 18, 2013, in Reading and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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