Books I Never Finished

I'm currently writing the Finnegans Wake review, and it got me thinking (you'll see why soonish) of the various books that I've never finished, and since I've been meaning to write a post about them for a while, I figured that there was no time like the present to do so.

Some people can pick up books, get bored by them, put them down, and never think about them again, and do this frequently.

I am not one of those people. Once I've started a book, it's as if there's no alternative in my mind but to read it all the way through, without skipping a word. It helps that I actually have incredibly poor taste, so I tend to enjoy most things while I'm reading them, especially if it's a book that I've picked for myself and not, say, something that I'm reading from a ... List.

There have been a couple of books that I didn't finish because they were so overdue at the library that I had to return them before they were finished. I'll get back to these books eventually (Excalibur and The Pilgrim's Progress, the latter of which I encountered in Little Women and have wanted to read ever since, but failed on two attempts).

But there are three other books that I made conscious decisions to stop reading, and won't be going back to.  In a sketchy order from least to most recently left unread, they are:
I really don't have any memory of how I found this book in the first place, because I probably tried reading it around 2002 or 2003, and it was published in 1996 and I sincerely doubt that there was much call for it in the small city I lived in at the time.  In spite of its awesome title, which I'm sure was the main thing that caught my eye, it was just a jumble of weird mid-90s internet counterculture fantasy.  I had a good internet friend at the time who I complained to enough about it that he finally suggested I just stop reading it.  Which hadn't occurred to me, but I did end up taking his advice.  I'm not sure now whether it was actually terrible, over my head, or simply irrelevant, but I don't care at all.
Fairies.  Oh God, fairies.  I had a not-all-that-brief fascination with the fae that TO BE HONEST I don't think I've ever truly gotten over.  This book of short stories had elements that were really awesome: Warner's fairies live in a really well-defined world.  The problem, though, was that the stories she was writing about them simply weren't very interesting to teenage me.  (And speaking of fairies, here is a kind of fun video about the Cottingley fairies, which has some, uhh, interesting comments on it.)
My sister ended up trapped in one of those "we'll send you a book every month and you'll probably pay us for all of them because you'll be too lazy to send them back" schemes a few years ago, resulting in her having this book lying around, and me picking it up because the title was cool.  I found the book overwhelming, though, full of made up words (it's part of the enormous Malazan Book of the Fallen fantasy series) and not particularly engaging.

How about you?  Can you easily drop books once you've started them?  Or, if you're like me, what are some of the few that you couldn't finish?


  1. I used to finish every book I started. Then I realized that life was to short and there were too many other good books out there to waste time on ones I wasn't enjoying.

    I admit that there have one or two that I have gone back and for what ever reason I was able to finish it and even went on to read the rest of the series is there was one.

    I have found that there are times in my life or even the year, that allow me to enjoy an book. Sometimes I pick up that book at the wrong time.

    Unless a book is truly bad, either in writing or story, I will give them another chance at a latter date.


  2. I couldn't finish The Once and Future King at all. It was just too dense. I also barely got through the first chapter of Great Expectations (which I thought I would enjoy since I liked it when Mom was reading it aloud). I now avoid Dickens like the plague (except in movie form). I finish most books. The only ones I'm okay with never finishing are non-fiction books I got out of the library and had to return before I finished.

    1. Haha, I loved both The Once and Future King and Great Expectations! Good point about non-fiction books from the library, though. Those almost always seem like finishing is just option.