I love reading. I could write a (very long) book about my love of reading...But for now, let's talk about something else. Call it the "darkside of reading." The part that's ugly and shameful (sorta). I'm talking about books we start, but never finish.
I used to obsess about finishing books. I guess it was because I still had the naive school-boy notion that everything in print was worth reading. If I was reading a book, and finding it difficult, the problem was with ME and not said book. Only when I grew up and starting thinking for myself that, like movies and albums, books can be both good and bad. Or rather, some have more merit than others.
I came to the conclusion (which I still hold) that life is too short to waste reading something that's too much of a struggle. Thus, I have a nice little list of books I've started, read (sometimes over half-way) and never finished:
1. MOBY DICK by Herman Melville--I know, as an English major I SHOULD love it...but it's so dense. And it's boring. If you want a good yarn about the sea, read something else. If you want an encyclopedia about late 19th century whaling, read MOBY DICK.
2. BLEAK HOUSE by Charles Dickens--again, I know I should love this but "too many characters + archaic British stuff=I can't make it through this." I love GREAT EXPECTATIONS, A CHRISTMAS CAROL, and OLIVER TWIST...just not BLEAK HOUSE.
3. SHOGUN by James Clavell--great, lengthy historical-epic about Japan. Problem is, it's too damn epic. Weighing over 1152 pages, I just couldn't do this one (let alone the others in the "Asian Saga"). This book was recommended to me by a friend I worked it at B. Dalton, he was a Japanese/History major. If you are too, then be my guest.
4. Every-Michael-Crichton-book-post-AIRFRAME--Used to dig Crichton's tech-thrillers, now I have no use for 'em. Much like Tom Clancy and John Grisham, Crichton has gotten stale in his old age/success. I'm pretty sure he just cranks one out anytime he need a new house. Or boat. Or house-boat. *Yawn*
5. THE LORD OF THE RINGS--again, as a geek/English major I should be all over this one...except that I can't seem to get through the last book. Once I almost did, but then I lost it. Only to find it several years later. If I could just line them all up and go for it, maybe I'd make it. But then Peter Jackson went and made a 14 hour movie that's actually better than the books (nice one Pete) so it's pretty much pointless.
6. HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE--I was doing pretty good with the Potter books until I got to book 4 (also known as "the first really long one"). I see a pattern on this list, but I assure you--I can read long novels. Just not many. Guess I have literary ADD.
7. GRAVITY'S RAINBOW/AGAINST THE DAY--I love Pynchon's short stories (and his one short novel THE CRYING OF LOT 49), but I just can't do these books. I have RAINBOW, and have successfully read the first 50 pages four times. After that it gets so hard to follow/understand/comprehend that I just give up. AGAINST THE DAY was cool because I was going to read it with a friend, but he chickened out...then my copy had to go back to the library (I was a poor college student when it came out in hardback and I couldn't afford to spend nearly $60 on Pynchon's MASSIVE novel-to-end-all-novels). I saw it in paperback at Borders and just kept right on walking.
So there ya go. Now, my question is: what books have you been unable to finish? Why?