What books have you started but never finished?

I apologize if this has been done recently, but I didn’t find anything from the past 3 years via searching.

For some reason last night the thought came to mind of several books which I started reading but never finished, and I wondered how common this is for other people. Obviously I’m not talking about things like required reading for college courses, books whose first page you glanced at but never really sat down with, etc. I’m thinking of instances where I really deliberately set out to read a book cover-to-cover, and at some point quit.

Here’s the list I can think of off the top of my head:

The Mote in God’s Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. A classic of science fiction; my copy has a blurb on the front cover from Robert Heinlein: “Possibly the finest science fiction novel I have ever read.” Apparently my high-school-aged self didn’t think so, because after a while I simply stopped caring about the story. What’s unusual about this one is that I made it about 4/5 of the way through yet still didn’t have enough desire to finish it.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein. Another SF classic whose story just didn’t pull me in for some reason. I think I got about a third of the way through it before I stopped caring about what happens.

The Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom. I bought a copy after going off to college as a quiet, studious, wide-eyed kid eager to spend 4 years obtaining a liberal arts education steeped in the Great Classics of Western Civilization, and being disappointed to find seemingly nothing there but frat parties and political correctness instead. My experience with this book was, I hear, quite common among young conservative types: I was engrossed by the first 100 pages or so, with all the apparent denunciations of sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll, then got lost and put it down once he started talking about Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Weber. I’d especially love to finish this one now that I’d probably be able to understand it better, because I later heard that if you work through the rest of it you learn that he wasn’t at all saying what so many thought he was saying in those first 100 pages.

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. I became obsessed with the musical in 9th grade, and decided I was going to read the entire, unabridged novel. I got about 200 pages in (out of 1463) and couldn’t follow it anymore. I think my 14-year-old mind just wasn’t big enough to take in the scope of the story yet.

The Source by James Michener. Quitting this one is a bit different from quitting a novel or non-fiction book, since it’s really a collection of short stories or novellas interspersed with brief snippets of a narrative stringing them together. I got through the first 3 or 4, then, seeing as how it was the summer between high school and college, developed other priorities.

So, what are everyone else’s?

The Simarillion by some guy

Dante’s Divine Comedy

Milton’s Paradise Lost

Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra

Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead and have never attempted We The Living

and yet I’ve read Atlas Shrugged a half-dozen times

War and Peace. I’m sorry, I just couldn’t do it. cowers

Damn – I’ve either read all of these (some more than once) or never tried them.
Usually I find that if i can’t finish something the first time, I just come back to it later. That’s how I read Langland’s Piers the Plowman and Pohl’s The Enemy Stars. I generalluy finish books that I start.

One of Sue Grafton’s–I think it was “G is for Gumshoe.”

Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code.

The worst though was Patricia Cornwall’s book on Jack the Ripper. I don’t remember the title and if you think I’m going to google for it you are nuts. I found that book on a bus and took it home. I was overcharged! Absolutely dreadful and totally unreadable.

I’m sure I have lots, but the one that sprang to mind as the most recent was the second book in the Twilight series. I just couldn’t get through another book about this great, epic love between two teenagers. When I got to the part about how they would want to die if the other one did, I put it down and haven’t picked it up since.

Someone told me that since I liked the Harry Potter books so much, I’d like these, too. They were wrong.

I quit books all the time. I hardly have any time to read as it is, so I’m not about to suffer through anything.

No one minds if you quit lousy books, but I quit the classics too. The Great Gatsby and Anna Karenina both proved too much for me within the last year.

I hated Heart of Darkness so much I quit just a couple pages from the end.

The Wind in the Willows.

Ditto the Silmarillion. Just couldn’t do it.

Also, Stephen King’s Dreamcatcher. I think I got two-thirds of the way through the first or second chapter and had to stop due to physical nausea. I normally like Stephen King, but somewhere along the line he got more and more graphic with the bodily functions and I just couldn’t face it.

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. The subject matter is interesting, and I don’t think I’m too stupid for it; just didn’t get into it.

The Black House, by Stephen King & Peter Straub. I read the prequel, The Talisman, and liked it, but I got about 30 pages into this and started skipping though to see if the whole book was written in the same style. It was. I gave it up. I can’t remember if *The Talisman *was written in the exact same style, but if it was, it was more successful in not sucking my interest in it out of me.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea - Jules Verne. I was on a kick where I decided to read some older books. I got halfway through it, and hit yet ANOTHER multiple-page patch where there was a ridiculous amount of attention payed to the scientific names of various sea life they were encountering, and quit. It was reading like a catalog of sea life, with little in the way of interesting facts about each creature.

The Simarillion , by JRR & collected/published by Christopher Tolkein. Read like what it was: a history reference book for a world that never existed. I loved the Ring trilogy, FWIW.

As far as I can remember, those are the only three books I ever quit on.

Jane Eyre- I got about halfway thru before I just lost interest

Lord of the Rings- I started it, couldn’t really get into it, couldn’t remember anyone’s name, gave up

When I was little I tried reading a couple of my dads Louis Lamour books. Couldn’t make myself get through any of them and have had no interest in them since.

I’ve started Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness twice, and for some reason lost interest in it both times. I still have my copy of it, though, and when I find it (it’s with the books I haven’t unpacked yet from my move of two years ago) I’m going to give it another try.

Within the last year I finally admitted that I was never going to finish Joyce’s Ulysses. I had been trying to burrow through that book for thirty years.

I can usually muster enough interest, patience, or unjustified optimism to finish a book, but occasionally I do just put one down and never get back to it. Never intentionally, mind you – it usually begins when I say to myself, “I really don’t feel like reading any more right now; I’ll just set this down on the coffee table and resume tomorrow.” Then I begin to subconsciously avoid touching it, until a long enough time has passed to disperse the guilt. Then I’ll absentmindedly put it back on the shelf/in a closet/in a burlap sack and toss it into the river and never think about it again.

One of these was Closing Time, sequel to Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. It’s not that it was really bad or anything like that, but it was kind of disappointingly flat after the brilliance of Catch-22. I got about halfway through it and found that I didn’t really care about the story. It had a few gems in the dialogue, especially from Ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen, but not quite enough overall sizzle to keep me interested.

Dostoevsky’s The Idiot. I’m only 100 pages from the end, but it’s taken me five years to get that far and will probably take as long to finish.

This. I tried to read **Ulysses **when I was in the 11th grade, and I just gave up. Even if there WAS a chapter about visiting a brothel, totally not worth the headaches to read through. Ugh. Maybe I’ll try again in a few years. But probably not.

And Terry Pratchett’s Small Gods. But I plan on finishing that one, I just have read 10 pages of it, and then started school, and I always want to read it, I just never have the free time to do so. But it’s there! And I will finish it!

The Time Traveler’s Wife

I started reading it back in 2005. I got through a significant chunk of it during jury duty, but for some reason I never finished it. I was really enjoying it, but I do remember acquiring a sense of foreboding about the plot.

Moby Dick. I tried, I really tried. And the Gregory Peck movie was good, and the Patrick Stewart TV version wasn’t bad. But the book itself draaaaaaaged.