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Old 09-27-2019, 03:53 PM
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Books that you have to stop reading


Inspired by this thread, Your favorite book written in the first person, http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...d.php?t=882670, I looked at lists of first person narrator books and came across Emma Donoghue's Room. But after reading 21% of it on Overdrive, I couldn't go on. It's very well written, which is part of the problem--it captured the atmosphere of menace, claustrophobia and helplessness all too well.

The last book that I just had to put down was The Kite Runner, just before the rape scene. I did pick it up again the next day, and it was worth it. From the description it seems that Room ends happily but I'm not sure that I can pick it up again and finish it.

So, are there any books that you've had to stop reading?

Last edited by gkster; 09-27-2019 at 03:54 PM.
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Old 09-27-2019, 04:09 PM
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This happens to me a lot lately. I used to be able to plow through a book, not fully understanding it even, when I was a kid. As an adult, with better understanding, I sometimes would stop when the reading became a chore or too stressful (fear for the protagonist etc.)

I even do the same with Netflix; when I take a chance on a film and it's just going badly, I stop and don't continue, saying to myself, "life's too short..."

Let me offer a book that I just stopped in the middle of and never went back to: "Dies the Fire" by Stirling.
This is a fantasy / SF book whose premise I just could not buy, that of certain laws of physics magically disappearing so that we no longer have the ability to run electronics (computers, radios) or certain kinds of combustion (like powder in a bullet, or fuel in an engine). Just these few choice bits of physics were ripped out. All so that mankind was forced to go back to Feudal ways, and people with horses and swords who knew how to use them were suddenly our rulers.

I had thought it would be legit SF, worth reading, but Gawd. So ripped off.

Last edited by Limmin; 09-27-2019 at 04:10 PM.
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Old 09-27-2019, 05:01 PM
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"Had" to stop reason for emotional reasons? I don't think that has ever happened. Stopped reading because they are crap? Happens all the time. Most recently with the newest Neil Stephenson.
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Old 09-27-2019, 05:30 PM
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The first book I ever just finally went "nope; not reading this" was Heinlein's The Number of the Beast. It's just crap. Most of his stuff is absolutely brilliant; he truly is one of the Big 3 and genius writer. He's one of my favorite authors and has been since I was single-digit aged. But this was just crap.

I've actually picked it up several times since it was first published to try it again and each time I make it about 80 pages in before I say "nope, still not reading this."
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Old 09-27-2019, 06:08 PM
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Under the Dome

Made it almost halfway and just couldn't take any more.
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Old 09-27-2019, 06:35 PM
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I recently started reading Corrie Ten Boom's classic "The Hiding Place", and just couldn't continue after I got to the part where
SPOILER:
the Germans start confiscating radios, and an ethnically Jewish neighbor who had converted to Christianity decades earlier poisoned his beloved bulldogs, because he and his wife just couldn't imagine what would happen to them if they were taken away
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Old 09-27-2019, 07:15 PM
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A Game of Thrones. I got through about half of it and couldn't take it any more. Ugh.
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Old 09-27-2019, 07:24 PM
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For me, it’s George Packer’s Assasin’s Gate about the mistakes made after the invasion of Iraq. I was there and lost friends, the incompetence is just too upsetting.

Last edited by madmonk28; 09-27-2019 at 07:25 PM.
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Old 09-27-2019, 07:24 PM
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Many people have recommended Stephen R. Donaldson to me, gushing about how he is the bestest author ever. On three separate occasions, with many years between each, I tried to read Lord Foul's Bane. I think the furthest I made it was about halfway through. I just couldn't take the utterly ridiculous dialog. It made George Lucas look like a master wordsmith.
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Old 09-27-2019, 08:38 PM
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Many people have recommended Stephen R. Donaldson to me, gushing about how he is the bestest author ever. On three separate occasions, with many years between each, I tried to read Lord Foul's Bane. I think the furthest I made it was about halfway through. I just couldn't take the utterly ridiculous dialog. It made George Lucas look like a master wordsmith.
A man I dated many years ago was a big fan of this book, and he told me, "If you can get through the first [approximately] 40 pages, you'll love the rest of it."

I thought the first 40 pages were great, and by about page 44, I wondered WTF I was trying to read.

This guy also liked to quote from "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance", a book I also found impossible to read.
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Old 09-28-2019, 10:52 AM
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Dune. Impenetrable. and all those followups? Yikes.

Mr. Norris and Jonathan Strange - I really did enjoy large parts of this, but didn't really have all that time to read the whole thing, and those thousands of footnotes! Gave it up eventually, though I liked the parts about 'the man with the thistle down hair' (who I pictured as David Bowie.)

As with movies about animals, I can't bear to read any book about animals, like 'The Incredible Journey' or 'Watership Down'. Even if there are happy parts or happy endings, I end up blubbering like a 5 year old.

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Old 09-28-2019, 11:02 AM
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Memoirs of an Invisible Man. The protagonist was a complete moron and I stopped reading when he watched the bad guys setting a up trap to catch him and waiting until it was completed before taking any action. I didn't care to see him getting out of it, because he could have left before they were done.
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Old 09-28-2019, 11:08 AM
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Pet Semetary could only be read about 3 pages a sitting at several points in the book.
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Old 09-28-2019, 11:37 AM
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Ulysses - I barely made it to page 2.

On the other end of the scale, I gave up on The Da Vinci Code pretty early on. I'm not exactly a literary snob (I'll happily plough through the latest Jack Reacher on holiday), but TDVC was *appalling*
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Old 09-28-2019, 05:27 PM
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American Psycho. I won’t even tell you the scene that made me put it down, too horrible. That book got huge buzz but I think it was all BS.
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Old 09-28-2019, 05:34 PM
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After finishing The Road, I decided I wasn't going to put myself through any more horrible books. The most recent on I gave up on was The Overstory.

I was pre-warned that Game of Thrones was nasty, and that gets confirmed pretty fast.
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Old 09-28-2019, 05:42 PM
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A Game of Thrones. I got through about half of it and couldn't take it any more. Ugh.
I bought the first three books in a B2GOF deal and read them all. I actually liked some of the characters and the plot seemed to be going okay. Yes, a bit bloodthirsty, but I tend to skip detailed descriptions of violence anyway.

I bought the fourth book once it was remembered and pretty much abandoned it halfway through. My considered opinion is that Martin got bored and decided to kill off his most interesting characters and the plot went to pieces.

I have not seen any of the films, but I believe that the screenwriters sorted out some of the failings and fixed it.

Last edited by bob++; 09-28-2019 at 05:43 PM.
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Old 09-28-2019, 05:45 PM
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The Dark Tower series. I like King but not those.
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Old 09-28-2019, 05:57 PM
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I don't even remember the name of the book, just that it was by Tom Clancy.

At the time, Ivylad had gone on a six-month submarine mission and I was home alone with a nearly-three-year-old and a newborn. (He missed both of his children's births.) I was lonely, new-mom-stressed, with sore nipples and sleep deprivation.

The book I was reading had a scene where a Russian sub has its hull punctured and all the sailors on board drowned. Absolutely NOT what I needed at that moment; the book got thrown across the room and that was the end of that one.

I recently reread Dune. I found Paul to be a bit of a Mary Sue and I have no interest in the other books.

Under the Dome is decent, although I would characterize the ending as something only King could get away with.
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Old 09-28-2019, 06:48 PM
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The Dark Tower series. I like King but not those.
For m the second book brought everything to a screeching halt.

"Lets establish our hero as a badass and then cripple him."
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Old 09-28-2019, 07:19 PM
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"Had" to stop reason for emotional reasons? I don't think that has ever happened. Stopped reading because they are crap? Happens all the time. Most recently with the newest Neil Stephenson.
I happen to be a Neal Stephenson geek. But I canít get past about the 2/3 mark of his most recent book (Fall) , and even getting there was hard. I thought maybe it was me.
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Old 09-28-2019, 07:34 PM
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I happen to be a Neal Stephenson geek. But I canít get past about the 2/3 mark of his most recent book (Fall) , and even getting there was hard. I thought maybe it was me.
I made it to 59% (chapter 43) before finally giving in to The Eight Deadly Words.
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Old 10-01-2019, 02:36 PM
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When I read "Atlas Shrugged", I completely lost all interest in continuing on when I figured out who John Galt was. This was about 3/4 of the way in.
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Old 10-01-2019, 03:07 PM
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...Stephen R. Donaldson...Lord Foul's Bane...
There is a plot recap summary at the beginning of the second book. The rest of the series, and the 2nd trilogy, are both excellent reads but the first book is truly terrible and is written like a teenager trying and failing to emulate the lyrical and scholarly side of Tolkien. I gave up several times on it, and may have brute-forced my way through it but don't recall for certain.
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Old 10-01-2019, 03:15 PM
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Pet Semetary could only be read about 3 pages a sitting at several points in the book.
Good one. I've read it and I don't know how Mr. King so thoroughly imagined the loss of a child. Or Cujo, dear Og.


I'm a horror fan, but don't read books with scenes of abuse or torture. I nearly quit my current book when it was implied that a dog had been killed.
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Old 10-01-2019, 04:14 PM
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Good one. I've read it and I don't know how Mr. King so thoroughly imagined the loss of a child. Or Cujo, dear Og.
IMO, the scariest part of Stephen King's writing is how well he understands the normal human dysfunctions.

From the sublime to the silly, I stop reading a lot of books because they are just plain bad. This morning's entry onto the list was because one of the characters had a "lined face" (i.e, fairly heavily wrinkled, like an old person), but "blue-black hair" with no gray.

I've seen a few people with wrinkled faces and hair that isn't gray. At best it looks dyed, at worst the person looks creepy.
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Old 10-01-2019, 04:54 PM
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I read Cujo in 9th grade, but tried several times to read The Shining during college. I just couldn't make myself care. Later I read the unabridged version of The Stand in something like 2 days. So it's not King; not for me, anyway.

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Old 10-01-2019, 05:06 PM
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I had to give up on Lonesome Dove. 100 pages in and the author is still introducing characters. Screw it, at some point that cattle drive had to leave town but I wasn't waiting around for another page to find out when. Out of curiosity I just read the plot on Wikipedia, and I am somewhat pleased to learn that most of them died. That's what you get for wasting my time, book characters!
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Old 10-01-2019, 06:35 PM
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When I read "Atlas Shrugged", I completely lost all interest in continuing on when I figured out who John Galt was. This was about 3/4 of the way in.
He's the exact same character as all of Dagny Taggart's lovers.

It wasn't one thing, but I stopped reading Naked Lunch at the mention of the practice of killing children in the middle of raping them because their death spasms give good orgasms.
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Old 10-01-2019, 06:49 PM
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I stopped reading Lolita after about fifty pages because it was too good.

I found myself savoring the prose; going back and reading the same sentence over and over again because it was so beautiful. Then after forcing myself to move on ("you can always come back and read that sentence again later"), I find another beautiful sentence in the next paragraph. It was like I was eating the finest gourmet meal in the world, and I wanted to enjoy each and every morsel as thoroughly as possible and hoping that it would never end.

Eventually I realized that at this rate, I would never finish the book. So I put it aside to re-read at some later date. It's still on my shelf in the "to be read" pile.
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Old 10-01-2019, 07:28 PM
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I am going the grain on this one, but I thought The Handmaid's Tale was terrible. I guess I actually finished it, but I wished I hadn't. As an SF fan for very nearly 70 years I have read my share of dystopias, but this one was just too over the top.

A book I stopped reading less than half way through was Dark Money by Jane Mayer about how the billionaires, especially but not limited to the Kochs, had come to dominate American politics. I was so disgusted and nauseated, I could not go further.

I have just come to Book 2 of the latest Stephenson and I am not sure I will finish it. I am also a tremendous fan of his. Again it is just so over the top.

I am a tremendous fan of Stephen Brust. So when he said that the Khaavren "trilogy" (the third "book" came out in three volumes), which I enjoyed enormously, was motivated the The Three Musketeers, I had to read the latter. Couldn't finish it.
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Old 10-02-2019, 02:30 PM
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I stopped reading Lolita after about fifty pages because it was too good.

I found myself savoring the prose; going back and reading the same sentence over and over again because it was so beautiful. Then after forcing myself to move on ("you can always come back and read that sentence again later"), I find another beautiful sentence in the next paragraph. It was like I was eating the finest gourmet meal in the world, and I wanted to enjoy each and every morsel as thoroughly as possible and hoping that it would never end.

Eventually I realized that at this rate, I would never finish the book. So I put it aside to re-read at some later date. It's still on my shelf in the "to be read" pile.
I have a book that was to good to read, too! White Oleander. It reads like a poem, and the prose is beautiful, but I was so distracted by the prose that it took tremendous effort to actually focus on the story, and it gave me a headache. I tried it once and put it aside for later, because it seemed beautiful but I couldn't manage it at the time. Tried a second time a while later, and when it made my head hurt again I decided to give up, and conclude that it was beautifully written but not going to happen for me.

As for a book that was so emotionally upsetting I had to give up? As an adult? The closest I can think of is Michelle Knight's memoir Finding Me. I've read quite a few memoirs written by women who survived being kidnapped for long periods of time, so I fully expected to read stories of rape and torture. What I was completely unprepared for was to read how utterly awful Michelle Knight's life was prior to being kidnapped. She was so severely neglected and abused in her childhood that she ran away because being homeless was a step up from her home life. Then she got pregnant as a teenager, and for maybe the first time in her life, she loved someone who loved her back (her baby). And then when she was out trying to find a job to support herself and her child, her mother's b/f abused her child, and the child was taken into protective custody. And when I read about the government taking her child, I fully understood why it had to happen, but also felt such strong feelings of sorrow and helplessness that I started crying. I mean, I'm prone to tearing up at poignant endings or emotional scenes, but this wasn't tearing up, this was crying HARD. When my husband saw how upset I was, he suggested that I shouldn't read books like that, but I brushed him off and finished the book anyways. So I didn't put the book down forever, but I did have to take a break to emotionally re-group.

As for books that I had to stop reading because I didn't consider them good enough to be worth my time? More than I can count.
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Old 10-03-2019, 06:22 AM
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"Atlas Shrugged"
Boring AF.

This is on pause: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Denial_of_Death
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Old 10-10-2019, 02:09 PM
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I am going the grain on this one, but I thought The Handmaid's Tale was terrible. I guess I actually finished it, but I wished I hadn't. As an SF fan for very nearly 70 years I have read my share of dystopias, but this one was just too over the top.
I read that book when it came out, and while I did finish it, I too thought it was just awful.

I could feel my face lighting up when I saw this at the library, because I find the whole story of the Mercury 13 beyond fascinating, but I barely made it into Chapter 2 because I just plain old did not like this woman.

https://www.amazon.com/Wally-Funks-R...0734495&sr=8-1
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Old 10-10-2019, 02:14 PM
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As for a book that was so emotionally upsetting I had to give up? As an adult? The closest I can think of is Michelle Knight's memoir Finding Me. I've read quite a few memoirs written by women who survived being kidnapped for long periods of time, so I fully expected to read stories of rape and torture. What I was completely unprepared for was to read how utterly awful Michelle Knight's life was prior to being kidnapped. She was so severely neglected and abused in her childhood that she ran away because being homeless was a step up from her home life. Then she got pregnant as a teenager, and for maybe the first time in her life, she loved someone who loved her back (her baby). And then when she was out trying to find a job to support herself and her child, her mother's b/f abused her child, and the child was taken into protective custody. And when I read about the government taking her child, I fully understood why it had to happen, but also felt such strong feelings of sorrow and helplessness that I started crying. I mean, I'm prone to tearing up at poignant endings or emotional scenes, but this wasn't tearing up, this was crying HARD. When my husband saw how upset I was, he suggested that I shouldn't read books like that, but I brushed him off and finished the book anyways. So I didn't put the book down forever, but I did have to take a break to emotionally re-group.
She totally fell through the cracks from day one. She got married recently; I sure hope it works out because if anyone deserves to have happiness in their life, it's her.

I recently started reading "The Hiding Place" and had to stop when I got to the part where
SPOILER:
the occupying German soldiers went door to door confiscating radios, and an ethnically Jewish neighbor who had long ago converted to Christianity poisoned his beloved dogs, because he feared for all their futures.
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Old 10-10-2019, 02:19 PM
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The Martian. Boy, was I looking forward to this read and was planning to see the movie when it came out. Made it about half way through, and tossed the book into the "Donate" pile.

So very dull, like chartered accountancy.
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Old 10-10-2019, 03:14 PM
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With me, it's more like "books I hadn't stopped reading but wish I had."
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Old 10-11-2019, 02:02 PM
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I've only had two books that I just couldn't finish in recent memory.

The first is Stephen Erikson's "Gardens of the Moon: Book One of the Malazan Book of the Fallen". It came highly recommended to me by Amazon and others on here and elsewhere, because I generally like fantasy and military themed stuff, and I really liked the Black Company series of books by Glen Cook.

I never could get into it- it just seemed like a whole bunch of lame fantasy tropes and overly convoluted plot, without a whole lot of explanations how the "main" characters interact with the rest of the story until I'm guessing further in than I got (1/4 to 1/3 in).

The other was "Children of Time" by Adrian Tchaikovsky. This one is fine in terms of the actual writing, but again, I got about 1/4 to 1/3 in, and there are two unrelated storylines that are in there, neither of which is terribly compelling in their own right. I don't doubt that they'll combine at some point, but getting there is my problem.
  #39  
Old 10-12-2019, 10:39 AM
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Mr Brigg's Hat, a Victorian true-tale murder story, NYT bestseller. Fascinating in its historical details, but too detailed. The cadence is spend 50 pages describing the historical minutia of waistband tailoring, incrementally move the plot forward a millimeter, spend 50 pages describing passenger ship manifest quill ink, move the plot another millimeter, and on and on. I had minutiae fatigue and never was able to finish.
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Old 10-12-2019, 10:51 AM
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I happen to be a Neal Stephenson geek. But I canít get past about the 2/3 mark of his most recent book (Fall) , and even getting there was hard. I thought maybe it was me.
You are not alone. He's has an incredible imagination, The Baroque Cycle is a work of genius. But I have no idea what on earth was going on in "Fall", I struggled on to around the halfway point hoping something coherent would emerge before giving up.
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Old 10-12-2019, 02:18 PM
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I'm not surprised that others have mentioned Lord Foul's Bane. I stopped after the rape scene, because I just can't empathize with a rapist, and have no interest in reading a book whose main character I can't empathize with.
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Old 10-12-2019, 04:22 PM
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Being curious, I attempted to read Mein Kampf. Got about 3-4 pages before wetting my pants laughing at how utterly bat-shit crazy it was.

Almost made me want to sell by BMW's.
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Old 10-12-2019, 09:24 PM
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A few off the top of the noggin -

The Prophet - oh FFS I had to chew out Dad for recommending me that one, and he doesn't have a philosophical/spiritual/astral-thingie bone in his uninspired, unmotivated body.

"V" - I guess you gotta have That Thing for ol' Tommy.

Fortunately still here to say I (wisely) extricated myself from about halfway through the Killer Joke.

Knut Hamsun's Hunger - put it down several times - not for eventual unreadability - but just Debbie Downer'ed by the unrelenting state of the narrator living somewhat on the brink.


ETA: Dostoevsky's Notes From Underground

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Old 10-12-2019, 11:16 PM
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I'm in a book group!

Sorry, but all my friends have been, and no one ever asked me. So I'm excited, I finally feel like a grown up!
(Okay, you'll realize how awkward that is when I admit that I'm not a high school girl; I'm a rugby player in his late 60's)

But this month we're reading multiple Toni Morrison novels. Oprah-Book-Clubby tragedies. I finished two that were full of horrible people, but stopped the third when the protagonist was the third (fourth?) person to be burned to death.

I was relieved to peek at a text from a friend during the discussion, asking me what the books were like... "Ugly people dying in ugly ways."
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