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Books We Never Finished

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This is a thread for all the books you couldn't bring yourself to finish for whatever reason. I think a lot of regular readers are completionists, but we all have our limits. Do you try to finish every book you start? When/Why do you give up if you can't? How about book series?

 

I use to finish all the series I started, but now I am much more discerning about those. I also know when to call it quits. For me, I've probably quit about five or so books in the last ten years. I am much more likely to give up now though because life is too short to read books you don't enjoy. I am a fast reader too so the book must be really tedious for me to not finish it. I even made it through Twilight and the 50 Shades series, but something about the following couple just didn't work:

 

Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmber Bradley - I remember when this was a popular series. As someone who loved Arthurian myths, I tried reading this book three separate times as a teenager. Each time, I got a bit further, but I couldn't do it anymore. I just found all the characters annoying and the whole book extremely slow.

 

Kim by Rudyard Kipling - Loved The Jungle Book, but I could not get through this book. I really disliked the writing style. The pace was very slow and I didn't really feel for any of the characters either. It was meandering.

 

How about you?

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If it hadn't been a libary book, I would have ripped up, thrown across the room, burned, and then burned the ashes of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.  I didn't finish it, my loathing was so great.  Nor did I complete 50 Shades.. (that one just bored me).  :D

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I never got past the first few chapters in the 4th Harry Potter book and never moved on with the rest of the series.  My kids still haven't gotten over that! 

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Angus Watson - Age of Iron. It's written in a light style, but the subject matter is quite dark. It's like Terry Pratchett wrote a GRRM novel. And if it had been written in a more serious style, I wouldn't have been misled and I wouldn't have bought it.

 

Tad Williams - the Dragonbone Chair. Too slow. By the time the plot showed up, somewhere around page 200, I was fed up with it.

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Les Miserables. I got bogged down during Marius's backstory. I'm wondering if I should just skip it and get back to the exciting parts.

 

Master of the Senate by Robert Caro, the third in his series on LBJ. The first two books were fascinating, but I just got tired of the minutiae on obscure legislation.

 

Interview with the Vampire when the characters went to Romania. 

 

Hemingway's To Have and Have Not. The use of the n-word in the author/narrator's voice just put me off. 

 

The DaVinci Code. I felt as if I were the last person in the world who hadn't read it when the movie came out. A former student wanted to see the movie, so I figured I'd rather spend two hours on a mediocre movie than much longer on a mediocre book.

 

I'm curious about whether people have any rule about how long to keep reading before calling it quits. Do you keep going in hopes that it gets better, or decide pretty quickly that this book isn't for you? Do you give it 50 pages? 100 pages? Do you resolve to try again in the future, or move on with no regrets?

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I'm curious about whether people have any rule about how long to keep reading before calling it quits. Do you keep going in hopes that it gets better, or decide pretty quickly that this book isn't for you? Do you give it 50 pages? 100 pages? Do you resolve to try again in the future, or move on with no regrets?

 

When I was younger, I would resolve to try again later. In fact, this actually worked for me. I tried reading Jane Eyre in high school for fun and wasn't engaged. When I started again in four years, I really liked it.

 

Nowadays, I give the book a good few tries. I'm the kind of reader who can read a book in one sitting if I have the time so if a book doesn't interest me in about 3-5 readings and not because of time constraints, then I start considering if I should finish it. It becomes such a chore to pick it up then I just quit. There isn't a definite page or chapter count, but I honestly try. If I can't even skim it, it's hopeless.

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I'm curious about whether people have any rule about how long to keep reading before calling it quits. Do you keep going in hopes that it gets better, or decide pretty quickly that this book isn't for you? Do you give it 50 pages? 100 pages? Do you resolve to try again in the future, or move on with no regrets?

 

 

Usually if I'm not engaged a few chapters in then I will discard it.  There are so many books in my TBR pile that I can't waste time!  I created a category in Goodreads for 'did not finish' too.  My county's library system is so comprehensive that I am very fortunate that I don't have to buy too many books only to be disappointed that they were dud purchases. :D

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I made this promise to myself years ago that I would never not finish a book I started. And I've been fairly good at keeping to that. I've had books where I've had to put them away for awhile and come back to them but I finish. However, I just couldn't with Catcher In the Rye which I know is an interesting one since some consider it one of the greatest books ever written. But I honestly just couldn't deal with Holden's angst. I have however pledged to finish it at some point because I'm doing this 100 Books You Have to Read in Your Lifetime (TIME Magazine compiled the list) and of course it's on the list. 

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When I was in 3rd grade, I tried to read Gone with the Wind. (Yes, I was that kid.) Being only 9 years old or so, I didn't get too far. It was my first grown-up book, and I was just too young. (My second attempt at a grown-up book two years later, when I read Roots, was much more successful--I loved that book and still have fond memories of it, even though I haven't read it in nearly 40 years.)

 

I saw the movie GWTW in 5th grade, and even though I appreciated the grandeur of the visuals, I didn't get into it that time either. I still don't like the movie, even though I keep trying to separate my prior experiences with the text and the film every time I try and watch it with fresh eyes. (Scarlett annoys the hell out of me, and the racist depictions of the African-American characters are impossible for me to put aside with the phrase "It was just the times...")

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I feel like some type of blasphemer, but the last "adult" novel by JK Rowling: not the HP books, not "The Casual Vacancy" but her last detective book.

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A Confederacy of Dunces. I tried reading it, then listening to the audio book, then reading it again. I never got past the halfway point. At halfway on the third try, I knew that I just hated it. It wasn't that I lost interest, it wasn't that I was bored; I actively hated it.

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The Lord of The Rings. Pretty sure it's the only assigned reading I ever skipped out on.

 

The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence. Sorry, Canada.

 

And does the Bible count? When I was maybe 12 or so I decided to read the entire Protestant Bible. I got as far as Deuteronomy. lol

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The Black Throne. Hey, it's a Roger Zelazny and Fred Saberhagen collaboration (and not a posthumous one either), so it's got to be good, right? As it turns out, no it isn't. I managed 50 pages or so, then realized that I was bored stiff. Very disappointing.
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The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver.  It was one of our book club books, and it seemed like I read and read and read and never got anywhere, and the plot never advanced.  I got all emo and whined "Oh my god, I caaaaaaaaaan't!" and closed the book and un-RSVP'd from the meeting.  Potential for a good story, but so boring.

 

I'm also stuck on Thunderstruck, by Erik Larsen, which is weird, because I read Devil in the White City and enjoyed it.  I just can't get into Thunderstruck, and I'm a science-y person, so it should be right up my alley.  I keep wanting to try again, but don't want to waste my time.

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The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver.  It was one of our book club books, and it seemed like I read and read and read and never got anywhere, and the plot never advanced.  I got all emo and whined "Oh my god, I caaaaaaaaaan't!" and closed the book and un-RSVP'd from the meeting.  Potential for a good story, but so boring.

 

I've read a lot of Kingsolver's books and this is her most famous one. Her novels are less on plot, but good on character work. TPB lacked both I feel. It's probably the most boring of all her works so I completely understand.

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White Teeth by Zadie Smith

 

I found that I didn't give a damn about either of the male protagonists, and that the only character who did interest me, the wife of one protagonist, got so little time/space page-wise that it just wasn't worth it for me to finish the book.  I'd always been one of those 'must finish no matter what" people, but this was the book which forever ended that mindset for me.

 

I try to give a book a few chapters to grab me, and have occasionally persevered longer in an attempt to get into the story, but I did once bail on Wuthering Heights after two pages.

Edited by proserpina65
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Interview with the Vampire.  I think I got 75-100 pages in before I gave up.

 

The Widow's Guide to Sex and Dating by Carole Radziwill.  I really like her on RHONY and wanted to love this book so much but I was dying of boredom.

 

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

 

The Monster of Florence.

 

The Alienist.

 

All three of which I heard stunning reviews on and I just couldn't get into them.

 

In Cold Blood.  I know, I know.  A true crime classic.  I just didn't get the "shock and awe" over the book.  And I couldn't finish it.

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Gone with the Wind : I know it's a classic but I just couldn't get into it. I tried reading it in high school and just gave up a few chapters in.

 

The Hunger Games : I tried to read it after seeing the first movie. I honestly couldn't get into it. I kept thinking "meh I know what happens". Which I'm sure there was more in the book then the movie but I begun to realize I just didn't care. i don't get why a society would have to have kids kill each other, there are so many other ways to have a stable "corrupt" society. And I've never seen the other two movies either.

Edited by blueray

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This could probably also go in the Unpopular Opinions thread, but I got through nearly 800 pages of The Pillars of the Earth when I decided that I simply gave not one damn as to what happened to any of the characters past the first generation. I know that the book is universally beloved, even by people I know who have read like, 3 books in their lives. I should have loved it as I love historical fiction and family sagas, but I just couldn't do it. I was laying on the beach struggling to focus on the story when I just said, Fuck it, life's too short to finish the last 200 pages.

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Mary Called Magdelene, by Margaret George.  Yes, the same author who wrote some of my all-time favorites, The Autobiography of Henry VIII, Mary Queen of Scotland, etc.  So when I picked up Magdelene, I was expecting so much. 

 

How can such a great author take a slice of "the greatest story ever told," tell it from the totally new point of view of one of the most interesting figures of the New Testament, and have it be so utterly boring??  I would rather read the actual King James Version of the Bible, even the books that do nothing but count people, than finish this book. 

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Les Miserables. I got bogged down during Marius's backstory. I'm wondering if I should just skip it and get back to the exciting parts.

I feel you on this.  I've been working on this book for a long time!  It's quite enjoyable until I get to the omg long passages of descriptions and history.   I'm working through  Atlas Shrugged with similar feelings.  When the plot is moving, it's okay; but I feel like there's so many extra words just filling up space!

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Me too on Pillars of the Earth, me too.   

 

Pride and Prejudice  I know people love it, I do.  I've seen the miniseries, and a movie all which were fine.  But when I try to read it?  I get about 100 pages in.  I've tried three times.  I'd give it up, but I'm doing the Pop Sugar 2015 reading challenge and one of the prompts is pick a book you've started but never finished.  I fear my nemesis and I have a date for the future.  

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Agreement on several of these:  Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, I loved the footnotes -- full of wit and energy, unlike the rest of the story.  I gave up on the book but then read a review that helped me appreciate it enough to finally finish it.  But it's not a favorite.  Too fluffy, or something.

 

Dumped the Harry Potter series when I started noticing all the adverbs, especially in the dialogue tags.  No one just "said" something.  It was all angrily, quietly, sadly -- the emotions were in the tags, not in what was actually said. 

 

Tad Williams -- too much padding, but interesting stories.  In one of his series, maybe Dragonbone, I noticed that the second and third books include summaries of what happened before.  So all I had to to was read the summaries, and then read the last few pages of the last book.  Saved a lot of slogging!

 

Margaret Laurence -- love her.  I think being old helps. 

 

Liked Lord of the Rings but didn't read the books until after the movies came out -- I think that helped.

 

I have too many Did Not Finishes to mention.  Sometimes I bail on the first page. 

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The Night Circus. Lots of hype surrounded it, and I really did like the beginning. However, I think it's one of those books that really should have been a movie because of how visual it is, and how abstract the plot is. The plot was meandering too slowly for me, and the pieces didn't come together quickly enough for me. I got bored and frustrated and never finished.

 

I will also say it should've been a film because of the constant food descriptions. Those were good enough to warrant a film adaptation alone.

 

I have also struggled to finish Outlander. The beginning was very good, and the premise is so interesting, but I've hit enough dull spots that I keep putting it down.

Edited by EarlGreyTea
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The World According to Garp. I found out about the book through this forum and decided to give it a try since so many loved it. It is just way too boring to justify the length for me.

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The Night Circus. Lots of hype surrounded it, and I really did like the beginning. However, I think it's one of those books that really should have been a movie because of how visual it is, and how abstract the plot is. The plot was meandering too slowly for me, and the pieces didn't come together quickly enough for me. I got bored and frustrated and never finished.

 

I will also say it should've been a film because of the constant food descriptions. Those were good enough to warrant a film adaptation alone.

The audiobook is wonderful.  It was recorded by Jim Dale, who also did the Harry Potter books, and his voice is *fabulous*, very sonorous and English and yummy!  The Night Circus was my first audiobook and probably the one I (unfairly) compare all others to. 

 

The World According to Garp. I found out about the book through this forum and decided to give it a try since so many loved it. It is just way too boring to justify the length for me.

One of my favorites, actually, since I was about 12 (I was a little precocious when it came to reading material).  Certainly my favorite of all of John Irving's books.  The movie...?  Though I do hear Robin Williams' voice in my head when I read the book, the movie was just meh.

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I can think of two off the top of my head.  The first was Lake Woebegon Days, by Garrison Keillor.  I found it so boring.  I read (tried to read) it soon after it came out in paperback (1986 or so), and got about 50 pages in before giving up.  I wonder if I would find it less dull now that I'm older (I was about 25 at the time of my first attempt).

 

The second was less boring, but I was kind of hosed by my Nook: Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville.  It was a tough read, but just interesting enough that I was willing to persevere. However, I took a break, and when I tried to go back to my ecopy, it had "archived" and I had to re-download it from B&N, which wiped out my bookmark.  I said "screw it," and never tried to go back and pick up where I left off, since I wasn't exactly in love with it, anyway.

 

I almost didn't finish The Hobbit; I found it pretty boring as well, and it took me a couple of attempts, several years apart.  I did finally get through it, and then zoomed through The Lord of the Rings, which I loved (although I do skip through the Tom Bombadil part on re-reads). 

Edited by MichelleAK

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I almost didn't finish The Hobbit; I found it pretty boring as well, and it took me a couple of attempts, several years apart.  I did finally get through it, and then zoomed through The Lord of the Rings, which I loved (although I do skip through the Tom Bombadil part on re-reads). 

 

I actually had the reverse problem. I zoomed through The Hobbit, but I had to pause LOTR during The Twin Towers; I put it on hold for several years before finally completing the trilogy.

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I almost didn't finish The Hobbit; I found it pretty boring as well, and it took me a couple of attempts, several years apart.  I did finally get through it, and then zoomed through The Lord of the Rings, which I loved (although I do skip through the Tom Bombadil part on re-reads). 

I was like that too. I was so excited to read the books because I loved the movies. I struggled to make it through the Hobbit, though I did. The only part that really excited me was the part where he finally gets the ring. LOTR on the other hand I flew through and do reread them.

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This could probably also go in the Unpopular Opinions thread, but I got through nearly 800 pages of The Pillars of the Earth when I decided that I simply gave not one damn as to what happened to any of the characters past the first generation. I know that the book is universally beloved, even by people I know who have read like, 3 books in their lives. I should have loved it as I love historical fiction and family sagas, but I just couldn't do it. I was laying on the beach struggling to focus on the story when I just said, Fuck it, life's too short to finish the last 200 pages.

I don't know if you're much of a podcast listener, but on Literary Disco, the three hosts tried to read the book in all of it's formats to get different perspectives  (one read the book, one listened to it on audiobook, and one watched the mini-series), and while all three hosts finished it, they all HATED it.  With a passion.  Listening to those three rip on the book is one of the funniest podcasts I've ever listened to.  Especially because one of the hosts, Ryder Strong (yes, Shawn Hunter from Boy Meets World) had been convinced by the rest of his family to read the book which they all love, and he was mad at them for making him want to read it.

 

I couldn't make it through The Passage.  I love Vampires, and I especially love vampire stories where the vampires are evil, but man, it was a struggle to make it through section one.  I just didn't have the energy to make it through the rest of the book.

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The audiobook is wonderful. It was recorded by Jim Dale, who also did the Harry Potter books, and his voice is *fabulous*, very sonorous and English and yummy! The Night Circus was my first audiobook and probably the one I (unfairly) compare all others to.

One of my favorites, actually, since I was about 12 (I was a little precocious when it came to reading material). Certainly my favorite of all of John Irving's books. The movie...? Though I do hear Robin Williams' voice in my head when I read the book, the movie was just meh.

ha! I read this book too when I was 12, and it was my fav J Urbing book too. I wonder if I re read all of Irving's books now if it would be a totally different experience. The book I did not finish is "the girl on the train". I LOVE suspense but the book was just dragging it out too long for me. I read about 30/40% or so and then read the last two chapters. Maybe I will finish it one of these years.

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I started Horse Whisperer way back in the day. I thought it was going to be a fascinating story about a guy who helps a little girl who had been injured in an accident. I I got to the part about the mom's interest in the whisperer guy and jumped to the end. Discovered the book was about an affair and that was it. I won't read books that glorify extramarital affairs. 

 

And does the Bible count? When I was maybe 12 or so I decided to read the entire Protestant Bible. I got as far as Deuteronomy. lol

 

I'm working on slogging through it but I have the feeling it will be a book I never finished since it is such slow going for me. 

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My cousin read the Bible from cover to cover. He's never doing that again.

The New Testament is infinitely more readable for me. If I was going to read the Bible cover to cover (which, I kind of did attending Catholic middle and high school) I'd start there. There is just some gorgeous, gorgeous language and metaphor. You can see how it has inspired and informed so much literature over the years. Plus God is nicer in the New Testament. Too much fire and brimstone in the Old Testament for me. Although I do enjoy the whole saga of Leah and Rachel. The former got such a raw deal.

 

To me, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, plus a few of Paul's letters are the best parts. I'm a lapsed Catholic now, but sometimes I'll go back and reread some of it.

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I don't know if you're much of a podcast listener, but on Literary Disco, the three hosts tried to read the book in all of it's formats to get different perspectives (one read the book, one listened to it on audiobook, and one watched the mini-series), and while all three hosts finished it, they all HATED it. With a passion. Listening to those three rip on the book is one of the funniest podcasts I've ever listened to. Especially because one of the hosts, Ryder Strong (yes, Shawn Hunter from Boy Meets World) had been convinced by the rest of his family to read the book which they all love, and he was mad at them for making him want to read it.

I couldn't make it through The Passage. I love Vampires, and I especially love vampire stories where the vampires are evil, but man, it was a struggle to make it through section one. I just didn't have the energy to make it through the rest of the book.

Ha! Glad it isn't just me. I finished Outlander recently but just barely while all my friends are devouring the sequels so maybe long sagas are just not for me.

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The Alchemist. Ugh. I think it is the combo of the book itself & annoyance with people I know who say it's their favorite book over and over again, but I've tried a few times and just cannot.

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I am not one of those spoiler free people. If I am bored by a book or unsure if I like where the book is going I jump to the end. If I don't like the last chapter or two I put it down. To me there are too many good books out there to slog through ones I'm unhappy with. 

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I am not one of those spoiler free people. If I am bored by a book or unsure if I like where the book is going I jump to the end. If I don't like the last chapter or two I put it down. To me there are too many good books out there to slog through ones I'm unhappy with.

I had a professor who once said, "Life's too short to read bad fiction." Never forgot that.
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I couldn't finish the Twilight series. Not because it was bad (it wasn't the worst thing I've read. Wasn't the best either), but because I made the mistake of seeing the first movie before reading the books and so whenever I was reading and pictured Bella, it was Kristen Stewart whom I saw. And I can't stand Kristen Stewart.

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The most recent book I quit is The Girl With All The Gifts. I jus couldn't get into it. Downloaded it more than once from th library but it just bored me. When it didn't gross me out.

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Possession by A.S. Byatt. I think part of it was my own expectations - I was expecting some twists, but the "mystery" you needed to read all the letters, etc. to find out about was nothing more than the most obvious guess that you can make at the start of it all. When, somewhere in the middle of the book, the two characters who were the center of the so-called mystery revealed themselves to be assholes, not merely assholes, but uninteresting ones, I flipped through to the end to see if there were any twists or if the obvious scenario was going to play out. It was indeed the obvious and at that point I closed the book. Why bother?

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i don't get why a society would have to have kids kill each other, there are so many other ways to have a stable "corrupt" society.

You're not the only person I've heard say that about HG. Personally I loved the books but I think reading Mary Renault's historical fiction helped me out a lot. From the start it made me think of Ancient Athens and Theseus volunteering to go to Crete with the other youths as tribute to the Minotaur. It also helps knowing that now, archaeologist believe that there is some truth to the myth about the Minotaur after digs in Crete revealed paintings of youths doing dangerous acrobatics (and some getting killed doing so) around a bull. Anyway, I highly recommend her books. 

 

But on the YA topics, after reading the HG series very fast and loving it I bought the Maze Runner and Divergent to see if I could get as into those books. Haven't finished either of them. I think this was a one time thing for me. Glad I bought the books second hand.

Edited by raezen

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YA follows Sturgeon's Law same as every other category: Ninety percent of everything is crap.

 

I really enjoy reading good YA, and I loved Hunger Games. Divergent started out okay and got worse as the books went on - the only reason I finished was because I bought the entire series at once, so felt like I should. Maze Runner also started out okay, but I actively loathed the second and third books. I only finished that trilogy in the doomed hope that there was going to be one particular plot twist which would have helped set some things right. It didn't happen. I'll never read anything Dashner writes again.

 

Libba Bray is one of my favorite YA authors. Among other things, she accomplished the seemingly-forbidden task of writing an entire trilogy (the Gemma Doyle trilogy) with four female teenagers as leads in which there was not one single triangle! And she's fantastic at writing teen girls and the friendships between them.

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Waverley by Sir Walter Scott.  Never heard of it?  Consider yourself lucky.  It was the only time I ever wrote a paper based on skimming a few passages here and there, because I absolutely could not stand to read it straight through.

 

Bleak House by Charles Dickens.  This is one that I do intend to finish because everyone says it's one of his best, but I've read about 100 pages and it's starting to drag.  I've never been a Dickens fan, even though I like Victorian lit in general. 

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I started reading The Return of the Native years ago, but I didn't finish it. None of the characters grabbed me, and the plot seemed a bit aimless. 

 

And since someone mentioned Zadie Smith upthread, I never finished reading NW. The writing style was...different - very jagged. I think if I was focusing more, I could have gotten into it, but I do a lot of my reading while on the train or the bus, and this one felt like too much work for me.

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I loved The Return of the Native, and was a bit disappointed with the film adaptation, although Catherine Zeta-Jones did make a good Eustacia Vye. But I read that book something like 20 years ago, so I don't know if I would still enjoy it so much now.

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Les Miserables. I got bogged down during Marius's backstory. I'm wondering if I should just skip it and get back to the exciting parts.

 

Yes, skip it and get to the good parts. I love Les Miserables, and I love all the bits and bobs, but I don't blame anyone for getting bogged down in the extraneous stuff. 

 

Here's a good guide for what can be skipped, depending on what you want to read:

 

http://www.lmffi.com/info/beccabook.html

Agreement on several of these:  Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, I loved the footnotes -- full of wit and energy, unlike the rest of the story.  I gave up on the book but then read a review that helped me appreciate it enough to finally finish it.  But it's not a favorite.  Too fluffy, or something.

 

Tad Williams -- too much padding, but interesting stories.  In one of his series, maybe Dragonbone, I noticed that the second and third books include summaries of what happened before.  So all I had to to was read the summaries, and then read the last few pages of the last book.  Saved a lot of slogging!

 

I got up to page 500 of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, for the opposite reason - the footnotes were giving me a crick in the neck.

 

Yeah, I tried the Tad williams book with the red headed kid on the cover, it was just, I don't know. Dull I guess.

 

I don't know if "Lord of the Rings" counts as a "didn't finish" for me because I got about two pages in before I was like, "this book is not for me."

This could probably also go in the Unpopular Opinions thread, but I got through nearly 800 pages of The Pillars of the Earth when I decided that I simply gave not one damn as to what happened to any of the characters past the first generation. I know that the book is universally beloved, even by people I know who have read like, 3 books in their lives. I should have loved it as I love historical fiction and family sagas, but I just couldn't do it. I was laying on the beach struggling to focus on the story when I just said, Fuck it, life's too short to finish the last 200 pages.

 

It's definitely not worth it, imo. I actually really liked that book while I was reading it, and then when I was done I thought, " . . . wait. Did anything actually happen? What was the point?"

 

The whole stuff with

Henry II was so tacked on and made no sense. I didn't think his lashing would have made the monk (I forget his name) feel so vindicated.

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