A book to throw

Categories: Books, Questions
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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.

Yesterday’s post – A book to hold
Tomorrow’s post – A book to read (that makes you smart)

9 shared thoughts about A book to throw

  1. Giggle

    Cold Mountain is one that’s beating me. I started it ages ago, but I just haven’t been able to actually get into it. It’s not fast-paced at all, at least at the beginning, so I’m not hooked yet.

    As you know, it took me 6 months to read The Teachings of the Compassionate Buddha, and that’s only because I forced myself to finish it. Not sure if I would have otherwise.

    • Giggles says:

      Cold Mountain was mentioned on the NPR story too. You aren’t the only person it’s beating.

  2. Elsewhere says:

    I WISH I’d never read Lord of the Flies.

    I don’t think I’ve not finished a book except The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Can you believe that the first time i read it, I thought it was really stupid? I couldn’t finish it.

    Thankfully, I picked it up again some time later and who knows how many times I’ve read the series since then!

  3. Elsewhere says:

    There are many books I wish I could finish. one of which is The Eyre Affair. Way interesting and yet somehow it eludes me. The lord of the rings books, same thing.

    I threw Gone with the Wind across the room because i hated Scarlett but I had devoted so much time into reading the blessed thing I thought I should get some credit for my time.

    I forced myself through Anna Corinina. took a lot of effort but there was a good story amidst a lot of unnecessary garble about people that didn’t matter.

    I’ve read the Wheel of Time series and am worried that it won’t live up to its promises. Good thing Brandon Sanderson is finishing it…. Love him.

  4. Brett says:

    Books never beat me. Usually what happens is that after fifteen pages I become haughty and smug because I know how to read it and it gets irritated with that and it and I mutually agree to go our separate ways. :penguin:

  5. Giggles says:

    See, and that’s why I am the way I am. That way you don’t get to be haughty and smug with me and I don’t get irritated with you. I’m mysterious like that. 😉 Yet oddly, you’re real good at reading me. Okay, I’ll stop flirting on the blog now. :kiss:

  6. Heidi Aphrodite says:

    I read “Heart of Darkness” in high school and then in college as part of my 19th Century History class. I was fascinated and disturbed both times and I love the book, if only for that. I have no desire to read “Wicked”.

    It was “1984” in high school that I threw across the room in frustration at the characters. When I read it again in my Philosophy in Literature class, I got SO much more out of it and actually enjoyed it…as much as one can enjoy that book.

    I started “Scarlett” in high school and HATED it so much that I couldn’t get past the first chapter because it was SO STUPID. I also never finished some of the terrible historical romances a manager at the Music Box would leave lying around. They were so so so stupid. I couldn’t do it.

    I need to finish “The Three Musketeers”, but I want it to be a really good translation. I just don’t always have a lot of leisure time to read lately.

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