books you didn't finish

teletimetx

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I understood the narrative completely. I understood what was happening to Holden Caulfield, and I felt sympathy for him, which was one of the reasons I finished the book. However, nothing was gained in the entire adventure. He didn’t learn anything, he didn’t get better, and the story was ultimately pointless.

This was the plan for teaching children how to work for soul-crushing corporations.
 

AAT65

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As to Dickens, I have read and thoroughly enjoyed many of his books, some of them twice. Some are definitely better than others, and different people favour different novels of his. I, for one, could not find any enjoyment or humour in the Pickwick Papers, and have never managed to finish reading it, even after having taking several runs at it, yet many consider it to be his most enjoyable novel. I like Hard Times and Bleak House best.

Haven't read a lot of him. I did read Bleak House a year or two ago and liked it a lot. The first two pages should be framed.

So I'll try Hard Times. Thanks for the tip!

Hard Times is the only Dickens I had to read for a class, which was an Arts Foundation Course based around Victorian Britain, so it was read with an eye to social detail as much as literature. I enjoyed it even so — and it is one of his shorter works.

I would personally recommend Great Expectations as the best starting point for Dickens: not too long, often very funny, and with a really quite modern narrator, who doesn’t understand things as well as he thinks he does at the time.

Once you have got used to his style in the shorter novels, the three best Dickens novels are David Copperfield, Little Dorrit and Bleak House. The cast of characters in each is magnificent.
(I have a copy of Bleak House which my mother read during nights in the air-raid shelter during the Blitz.)
 

mycroftxxx

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IMO, Dickens is usually great - he was writing more-or-less for the middle class, and in so doing produced great literature. Yeah, from a modern viewpoint the style is a bit archaic, and he can go on overlong in some areas, but in general these are ripping yarns with a side of social consciousness. My faves are Bleak House and A Tale of Two Cities, but there are few duds in his oeuvre.

And if you like Dickens…check out The Quincunx, from American expatriate Charles Palliser, from 1986 or so; simultaneously a near-perfect recreation of a Dickens novel (Bleak House is a major inspiration), while also being a near-complete deconstruction of a Dickens novel. Engrossing and a marvelous achievement.
 

aging_rocker

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Charlie Bernstein

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. . . And if you like Dickens…check out The Quincunx, from American expatriate Charles Palliser, from 1986 or so; simultaneously a near-perfect recreation of a Dickens novel (Bleak House is a major inspiration), while also being a near-complete deconstruction of a Dickens novel. Engrossing and a marvelous achievement.
Never heard o' the bum!

Thanks. I'll check it out.
 

oldunc

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That is a shame. I thought the book was excellent. I finished reading the last few pages as I was waiting in line to see the film. That was a mistake! The film was bloody awful.


I wouldn't necessarily call it bragging, as it need not be, but there can be a degree of self-satisfaction at having achieved it, and thereby being in a position to explain a personal opinion of why one did not like it, or understand why it may have obtained cult status.
As to Dickens, I have read and thoroughly enjoyed many of his books, some of them twice. Some are definitely better than others, and different people favour different novels of his. I, for one, could not find any enjoyment or humour in the Pickwick Papers, and have never managed to finish reading it, even after having taking several runs at it, yet many consider it to be his most enjoyable novel. I like Hard Times and Bleak House best.
I remember in school, a few times it came up that Dickens was next on the reading list, and I'd get that "This is going to be a snooze" sort of feeling, but actually the books were really fun, he was writing some very accessible popular fiction.
 
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Tommy Biggs

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I recall standing up on the beach and throwing a Bourne Identity book onto the blanket and saying “I’m not reading this crap”.
I can power through a lot of things,
Naked Lunch wasn’t my cup of tea and I gave up. A Brief History of Time wore me out and I haven’t finished it either tbh.
 

bcorig

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I think the only non-[thanks to Charlie for spotting my mistake!] fiction books I’ve tried and failed to finish are Something Happened by Joseph Heller (though I loved Catch-22, Dr Sax by Jack Kerouac (though I loved On The Road), and The Naked Lunch by William Burroughs.

My wife likes to buy me “difficult” books… some of the Russian 19th century ones can be a bit of a slog but I’ve made through ok. I haven’t tried Joyce yet…
At a very difficult time in my early adulthood navigating a serious illness which nearly derailed my career, a friend gave me his “Something Happened“ paperback. I read and re-read it until the pages came loose.
10 years ago, in late adulthood, when everything was settled and going well, I attempted to re-read without success. Whatever attracted me to Heller’s nihilism was absent 35 years later.
Same thing happened with John Updike’s ”Rabbit Redux”. The thrill was gone.
 
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bcorig

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I recall standing up on the beach and throwing a Bourne Identity book onto the blanket and saying “I’m not reading this crap”.
I can power through a lot of things,
Naked Lunch wasn’t my cup of tea and I gave up. A Brief History of Time wore me out and I haven’t finished it either tbh.
Agree. In High School in the 60’s it was “cool” to be reading the Grove Press 1950’s Beat stuff such as “Howl”, “Naked Lunch” or “Meditations in an Emergency“. I found them to be immensely boring. Then I got to College in ‘68 and was compelled to do so. I didn’t see the point.
 

johnny k

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Why do people continue to try to read books they don't like? Life's to short, if you couldn't finish it the first time chances are you won't finish it the tenth.

Is it bragging rights to say you finished a 'classic' even though you hated it? That's just weird. I've read a fair few books in Balzac's Comedie Humane, but nothing would induce me to read Dickens.

BTW some of the books mentioned here aren't really meant to be read from start to finish. The Sillmarlion, Meditations and the Bible among them.
It is not about bragging, but sometimes i re read books that i thought were bad and enjoy them. because i am older or something.
 

notmyusualuserid

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It is not about bragging, but sometimes i re read books that i thought were bad and enjoy them. because i am older or something.
Then again, you may not enjoy them a second time. You've wasted time you could have spent reading something that you would enjoy. :)

Have you read Balzac? I imagine there's much more nuance in his original language.
 




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