Hump Day Chats with Janelle Brown discussion

Books you don't finish

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message 1: by Janelle (new)

Janelle | 12 comments Mod
I've had a string of books lately that I made heroic efforts to read, but failed to finish. Most of them were big, important books - National Book Award nominees and winners, critically acclaimed tomes, or classics -- and I feel somewhat guilty for not finishing them. As a lifelong avid reader, a former English major who read her way through the classics, it's difficult to accept the fact that I couldn't make it through a book that others declared brilliant.

To wit: This year, so far, I've started and abandoned 2666 by Roberto Bolano, Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson, Atmospheric Disturbances by Rivka Galchen, and Portrait of a Lady by Henry James. While I could appreciate the brilliance in each of these books, I just couldn't get into them. Maybe I've got too much of a fixation with plot (all of these books were very slow, and not particularly narrative-driven), maybe I am simply an inadequate reader (my weakest SAT scores were in reading comprehension -- I simply read too fast). But it's fascinating to see this disconnect between the books that are critically branded as being worth my time, and the ones I actually finish.

I'm curious what books other people have abandoned, recently, and why?


message 2: by Darlene (new)

Darlene I also abandoned Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson. I read many good reviews of it and tried to read it twice but just couldn't get into it. It was just too slow moving. This summer I have abandoned Plainsong by Kent Haruf and The Great Man by Kate Christensen. I always feel guilty about not finishing books but sometimes I find that if I go back to them later, my frame of mind is different and I can finish them! Who knows.... maybe that will happen with these books!

message 3: by Kristi (new)

Kristi I haven't abandoned any books recently - other than self-help books, which aren't really my thing anyway - but I have found that when I do abandon a book it is usually because I am reading it too fast and there is too much info to soak up quickly. I try to pick my book for my mood and the big "thinking" books I try to reserve for a time when I am not as rushed. On the other hand, it could be that if it is not a real "page-turner" then I lose interest also.

message 4: by Tamera (new)

Tamera Lawrence (tlawr66) | 3 comments I also force myself to finish a book I have started, even if I loose a bit of interest. It might take me a bit longer, sometimes a couple of months. I might cheat and skim a few pages. But in-between reading a book such as this, I will read other books that grab my attention.

message 5: by Janelle (new)

Janelle | 12 comments Mod
I often keep the book lying around conspicuous in the hopes that I'll pick it up again -- sometimes an abandoned book will sit on my bedstand for literally years. But as much as I tell myself that I'll pick it up another time, I never do. It's as if I'm in denial of the fact that I've actually given up.

So kudos to you, Tamera, for actually forcing yourself to finish! I always get distracted - there are just so many books out there to read, and so little time to read them all.

message 6: by Marlene (new)

Marlene  | 3 comments I have to say, I'm with you, Janelle: there is so much to read, and the older I get, the more aware I am that time is a finite thing. When I was younger (in my 20s and 30s) I would force myself to finish a book, just for the sake of saying I'd finished it. Now, if a book doesn't grab me in the first 40 pages, I find I can't bear to waste any more of my time on it, since I could be putting that time into something that does (grab me). Not that I haven't tried your trick of leaving a book out in hopes I'll come back to it. But I think that's only happened maybe once or twice! Most often, I eventually just look at it and sigh and either put it back on the shelf or in the box marked "yard sale."

message 7: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Until this past year, I was pretty set on the idea that if I started a book, I needed to finish it. But I've really picked up my interest in things like Goodreads and book blogs and am adding so many new books to my TBR pile. So many of those are calling to me, it seems ridiculous to waste my time and something that isn't doing it for me. I'll give it 100 pages to get really set up then I'll put it down if I'm not into it. If it's something I think I'm just not in the mood for, I will keep it to try again later.

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