13 books I have abandoned

I love to read. But sometimes, I start a book, and it simply does not captivate me. If it’s still a slog by page 100 or so, I’m done with it.

  1. The Lord of the Rings—I know it’s the definitive heroic fantasy trilogy, the one that everyone in the Universe cribs from, but somewhere around the middle of The Two Towers, I was struck with the feeling that I wasn’t reading an adventure story so much as a very long, and in many ways very dry, travelogue.
  2. Children of Men—I so wanted to like this. I saw the film, and it was fantastic, a thinking person’s action film. The book, however, has no action in it whatsoever. (Unless it starts on the other side of the hundredth page, that is. And I’ll never know now.)
  3. Les Misérables—I didn’t really abandon this one. Eventually I finished it. But I had a wicked case of food poisoning just as I was getting to the part where Jean Valjean carries Marius through the sewers of Paris, and the descriptions were a little too vivid at that point. I set it down and didn’t pick it up for about four months.
  4. Life of Pi—Yann Martel likes his lists. Lots and lots of lists. I can only read so many comma-separated lists before I start to wonder how I would take them apart for inclusion in a database. I’d probably whip up a little perl script—fast, dirty, and inelegant, but it gets the job done.
  5. The Butlerian Jihad—I really, really wanted to be able to finish this one. The thing that most fascinated me about Frank Herbert’s Dune future history was the Butlerian Jihad, mentioned often but only tangentially. I tried to read it, really I did. But after the fourth “ragged cheer” in less than 200 pages, I decided it wasn’t going to work out between us. I took the book back to the library.
  6. House Atreides—As above, so below. The Dune series was SF literature. The Dune prequels are not. I personally feel that Frank Herbert’s legacy would have been better served if his family had simply released his notes instead.
  7. Chapterhouse: Dune—Okay, this one I read to the end, but Lord, I didn’t enjoy it.
  8. Titus Groan—A classic of Western literature it may be, but it didn’t turn my crank. Maybe I should try it again, sometime when I’m not on a train, trying to sleep my way across Saskatchewan in the cheap seats.
  9. Closing Time—I loved Catch-22. This sequel didn’t cut it. Maybe I’m just not old enough.
  10. The Divine Comedy—When you’re chaperoning an overnight church retreat for 15- to 18-year-olds, and you volunteer, perhaps foolishly, to be the guy that stays up all night to make sure the kiddies don’t try anything stupid, sometimes the only thing that’ll keep you awake during that dark lull from 2:00 AM to 4:00 AM is whatever you can find in the church library. Sometimes that’s an illustrated coffee-table edition of Dante’s Divine Comedy. But you can’t take the book home with you, and really, all you want by morning is some sleep and maybe some pizza, if the kids don’t eat it all before you get back.
  11. The Hunt for Red October—Three pages of intense, exciting action; fifteen pages of tediously-detailed Russian submarine technical manual; repeat. I got about fifty-odd pages in and decided I just couldn’t hack it anymore.
  12. Earth Sphere, by yours truly. I’ve cannibalized too many ideas from that one, slotted them into too many other projects, to really go back and make a coherent novel out of this project.
  13. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe—I started to read it last year, or maybe the year before. I think I missed my window. This strikes me as the kind of book I’d’ve liked when I was a kid, and would read now for the happy memories, but the story itself wasn’t really engaging me, for whatever reason.

6 thoughts on “13 books I have abandoned

  1. As many times as I’ve tried LOTR, I’ve always bogged down. Last time, it was in the middle of book 2. Makes me want to dig up Tolkien’s corpse and kick it while screaming, “NARRATIVE DRIVE, YOU IMBECILE!”

  2. If I hadn’t read LOTR when I was a teenager (and thus inured to boredom), I’d never have read it either. I tried to re-read before the films came out. I think I got 50 pages before giving up.

    Titus Groan, OTOH, I absolutely LOVED, and I read that fairly recently. Maybe you’ve got to be in the mood for it.

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