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. Hooray! Some­one else who doesn’t drool over LOTR. I have tried it 2 or 3 times and have giv­en up after a few pages. I sup­pose I am just not into fairy tales.

  3. 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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