Thursday, October 25, 2007

Booking Through Thursday Meme

Here's this week's question from Booking Through Thursday:
I would enjoy reading a meme about people’s abandoned books. The books that you start but don’t finish say as much about you as the ones you actually read, sometimes because of the books themselves or because of the circumstances that prevent you from finishing. So . . . what books have you abandoned and why?

Even if it takes me forever to read them (because work's busy, or I've got other commitments), most of the time I stick with books until the bitter end.

In the last year, though, I gave up on Guns, Germs, and Steel and a blow-by-blow analysis of the battle of Trafalgar. The concept of both books was really fascinating, but they just didn't grab me at all. It was too bad on the Trafalgar book, too, because I was really excited to read it. I guess I'll stick with Patrick O'Brian for my early 19c naval fix. :)

On the fiction side, I will admit that I had high, high hopes for Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell and I wanted so much to like it. But I gave up 2/3 in because I felt in her desire to make magic seem like a normal part of early 19c life, it ended up too dry, not magical or surprising enough for my taste. That said, though, it could easily have been the mood I was in at the time, so I'll probably give it another try.

Edited to add: I forgot! I gave up on The Kalevala. It was too dense for me. Or maybe I'm too dense for it. ;-)

ETA2: OK, I totally lied. I also put down Gregory Maguire's Wicked about halfway through.


  1. I did stich with Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, I thought she did a really good job though at the same time I can agree with you about it not being really all that magical or surprising

  2. I really, really wanted to like it because the concept is so good. And her writing is excellent. I just felt there was no life to it. But...maybe I need to try it again and see if a different time in my life will bring a different result!

  3. I gave up on The Historian about 1/3 of the way through. It was very well written, but I just didn't feel emotionally invested in the story or characters. I lost interest, which is very weird considering the plot. I'm sure I'll finish it someday.

  4. I've heard that about The Historian which is such a bummer because it's a cool concept.

  5. I've given up on a few books lately, mostly because the next new and shiny book comes along that I think I'd rather read and then I forget about the book I abandoned.

    I liked "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell", though it was probably a couple hundred pages too long and the ending wasn't great.

  6. Jonathan Strange dragged a bit, but the magic is there. It doesn't hit you over the head like a Harry Potter (which maybe I expected), I had to give it a second chance to get its wispy tendrils into me. But yeah, it could have ended differently.... It took me two tries to get into The Name of the Rose a long time ago, and I never made it to the end after seeing the OK movie. (Now I'm on my 2nd/3rd attempt at Baudolino.) Interesting thing though, if no one's read Eco's "Postscript" to the Rose - he tells that the reason for the excruciatingly slow pace in the beginning was to get the reader believing he was firmly in that time period, so that as the plot progressed things would feel more natural than if it had started at a normal pace. There was that scene that went on for pages descibing everything Adso saw as he stood in front of the carved doorway.... I think Clarke might have been trying to do the same, with the writing style and elaborate footnotes especially.

    I suppose 98% of books I read get me stuck - Kafka's The Castle is genius, though I can never get past a certain part (I'm too dense for him). But I'm sure there are people who consider Ken Burns' Civil War documentary the best ever made but who have not seen all the parts.

    Sad to hear you gave up on Guns, Germs & Steel. I had too, but not before thinking it was one of the most important books I would ever read most of the way.

  7. Guns, Germs and Steel is still in my TBR list. This is not encouraging!

  8. Struggling (eek, what *is* your first name?) - so, you've got a case of the chimps, then? :)

    Dan - Eeenteresting on the Eco...though I can name a lot of great historical fiction writers that can give you the feel of a time period in just a few sentences. I will admit, In the Name of the Rose is *another* I gave up on. I guess I keep putting them out of my head once I'm done with them :)

    John - It was good, but at some point, I'm afraid I got bored. I think he was trying to do a James Burke Connections type thing, but didn't succeed. I'd much rather see the content in the hands of Mr. Burke - it would be more understandable and significantly more fun.

  9. People just have different tastes... I wouldn't have thought I'd appreciate Eco's approach in the Rose. But that was, to me, another of his strengths as a narrator, I mean to think of doing it as a "device" and then being able to pull it off. But I dont no nothing bout writin like u guys might could. I reckon.

    Someone else has seen "Connections"?! What about "The Day the Universe Changed"? I love that James Burke.

  10. But I dont no nothing bout writin like u guys might could. I reckon.


    I loved Connections and The Day the Universe Changed! I haven't watched those series in years and years, but I enjoyed them immensely. They're somewhere in the middle of my Netflix queue as we speak!

  11. I ultimately give up on Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell too. I kept feeling like there was a part of the story I was missing or just didn't understand.

  12. About the "Postscript" earlier, instead of "time period" I should have said it was to give the feeling of the pace of life in the monastery (as the character Adso himself was experiencing it). Something like that.

  13. ooh i better start renting online again.

  14. Hemingway bores me to death. Eco is still better. I can read him.