06/09/2013

WHAT MAKES YOU PUT DOWN A BOOK?

Daniel Pennac in his Reads Like a Novel stated it  as one of the rights of the readers: the right not to finish a book. 
How often do you avail yourself of that right? Well, you are not on trial, don't worry! I just would like to reflect with you on the reasons which bring us to put a book down at times and how often that happens in our reading life. 

Among the reasons I personally stop reading a book
- reason 1.  is  usually bad writing, - reason 2. I  can't relate to any of the characters at all 
- reason 3. I find it boring and of no interest.

The books I couldn't read to the end are less than the ones I completed, actually. Among the ones I still remember putting down after attempting reading them for a certain sense of duty, Jack Kerouac's On The Road (yeah! never finished) and Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being. I know, I know. They are best favourites of so many readers but I just couldn't like them nor convince myself to get to the end. There are many other books, especially in my recent reading life as a book blogger, that I couldn't finish reading. No sense of duty could  prevail and help me in those cases. Do I feel guilty? No, not at all. Reading must be a pleasure to me, not a duty, even less mind torture. 

Goodreads posted Top Five Most Abandoned Books. Among the recently published: 
1. J.K. Rowling , The Casual Vacancy
2. E.L.James, Fifty Shades
3. Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
4. Stieg Larsson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
5. Gregory Maguire, Wicked

Among the classics:
1. Joseph Heller, Catch 22
2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings (incredibly enough!)
3. James Joyce, Ulysses
4. Herman Melville, Moby Dick
5. Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged  



What book/s didn't you make it to the end?  What are the reasons why you decided to put it/them down? 

12 comments:

Vesper Meikle said...

Only ever didn't finish 3 books - one The Satanic Verses and another Harry Potter (badly written) - and so boring. But now that there are so many free ebooks available I refuse to spend time finishing badly written or boring books - I will read at least 20% of the books, but then if I am not enjoying it I abandon it.
Loved LOTR and Catch 22 though.

rhease7en said...

As much I loved the Harry Potter books, I couldn't get myself to finish The Casual Vacancy. Though the story begins with death, it did not inspire me to continue reading it. I love Lord of the Rings and I have been reading it every year to celebrate J.R.R. Tolkien's birthday (January 3).

Susan Adriani said...

My top two books that I could never seem to finish (and I've tried several times) are War and Peace by Tolstoy and Middlemarch by George Elliot. I wanted to get through them, but... ;)

Maria Grazia said...

@Vesper Meikle
First of all, thanks for contributing your comment! I've never even tried to start LOTR, I'm not particurlarly into sagas (with few due exceptiosns). I've read The Hobbit, though. And some of you might know what my real motivations was ;-)

@rhease7en
Hello and welcome to FLY HIGH! Thanks for sharing :-)
Apparently you were in good company in not finishing Rowling's The Casual Vacancy and the most frequent reason was: It was not at all what they expected after reading the Harry Potter saga!

@Susan Adriani
Hi, Susan. Glad to hear from you!
I read both "War and Peace" and "Middlemarch". I can't deny they were not an easy ... task :-)

Mel@Thedailyprophecy said...

I was one of those people who couldn't finish LOTR. Where I absolutely love the movies, I couldn't get pass the boring story in the books. I really wish I'd like it :(

For me, DNF a book is all based on a combination of several things I dislike. Example: When the writing-style is so so, but the plot is good: I'll read it. If both things lack, I'd probably put it down :)

Maria Grazia said...

I'm quite like you in that, Mel@Thedailyprophecy , if the plot is adequately intriguing, I get to the end even though the book lacks great writing quality.
Many thanks for contributing to the discussion here on FLY HIGH! :-)

OML said...

I agree with your reason's for putting a book down, there had been a few I have, among them: LOTR (shame on me!) and The Hobbit when I was 16, last year I read a shortened version I think so I finished it...

As Mel@Thedailyprophecy I can bear with not great writing if the plot attracts me.

Is nice to know is usual to feel a duty towards a book. I've read a few out of duty, I've started it and so I should finish it, i.e Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Although I do remeber 'scenes' from it, I can't tell what the plot is, on the other hand my brother loved it and looks aghast everytime I say I didn't like it.

Interesting post MG!

Maria Grazia said...

Hello, @OML! Glad you like this post :-) and grateful to you for visiting and commenting.
You mention being 16. Well, at that age I was less selective. I read so many books I shouldn't have read! LOL
I read anything I could find available in my relatives' houses!

Trudy said...

Just recently tried Middlemarch but couldn't get past 90 pages. It held no interest for me. I didn't like the characters. Moby Dick was tedious. I never finished it - the only required reading in high school that I skipped on.
Not sure if I'm brave enough to tackle War and Peace. My brother loved it....

Maria Grazia said...

Hi Trudy! Thanks for dropping by and leaving your comment. Middlemarch and its characters are not easy to cope with. Difficult to relate with Dorothea and her choices for me too. Though Middlemarch is a precious "encyclopedia" for someone studying the historical/social/political background: there's so much you get to know about the most relevant issues of the age. It is one of those books you don't read for pleasure. War and Peace instead has long sections/digressions dedicated to the war, so detailed and uninteresting to me. Honestly I had to skip those pages from time to time but isn't that another of the readers' rights according to Daniel Pennac?

Vesper Meikle said...

As an update - loved both War and Peace and Middlemarch - and both have been filmed as a mini series.

Trudy said...

I think I'd rather read straight non-fiction for the history, etc. of the era. I tried to watch the adaptation (Middlemarch) and couldn't get interested in that either. I never finished it. It's hopeless, I fear.