This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.
– Dorothy Parker
There’s something satisfying in finishing a book. In knowing the story from beginning to end. It’s an accomplishment you can check off your list. And yet there are certain books I just never got through. For some reason I just couldn’t get myself to the end.
There are two books that I’m actually proud that I didn’t finish. The most recent one was Wicked. I just couldn’t stomach it any more and wish I hadn’t read as far into it as I actually did. I got about 100 pages or so from the end. I like telling people I didn’t finish that one.
And I’m quite proud of the fact that I never read more than probably the first 10, maybe 25, pages of Heart of Darkness in high school and yet still managed to do quite well on the quizes.
But others just seem to have beaten me.
For a while in college I was really into the Jack Ryan series by Tom Clancy. I read all of them up through Rainbow Six. And then I came home from Brasil and tried to read The Bear and the Dragon and couldn’t finish it. (That one I’m convinced I tried to read too soon after I got home and if I read it now I’d be fine).
I like reading James Michener’s books as well but had a hard time getting through some of the sections of Texas and haven’t finished that one yet, although I do intend to some day. I should probably read some of his other books sitting on my shelves first.
I started reading The Three Musketeers once over ten years ago but had to return it to the library before I finished and just never got around to getting it again. I don’t want that book to have beaten me.
I’ve tried reading Redwall several times and can’t get past the first few pages. There’s even a bookmark in it on page 14 that’s been there for years. But if I were to pick it up again I’d have to read those first 14 pages over because I can’t remember what they said. In fact, I think that book mark is from a second attempt to read the book. I think my first attempt only got to page 5 or 6.
Other than Wicked and Heart of Darkness, I feel bad that so far the books I haven’t finished have beaten me. They’ve gotten the better of me. I’ve been beaten by a book. I’m better than a book, it shouldn’t be beating me.
:pencil: What is it about books that makes us want to push through to the end when we so easily give up on other things? What is it about some books that makes finishing almost an impossible task? Do you ever feel taunted by books you haven’t finished? Do you take pride in some books you never got through? What books have you not finished and why? Which books have you wanted to throw “with great force”?
Some words for thought:
What does it take for you to give up on a book? – NPR interview with Chicago Tribune culture critic Julia Keller. I suggest listening to the whole thing.
Breaking up (with books) is hard to do – First column referenced in the NPR story.
Readers say when – Second column referenced in the NPR story.