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Belated Booking Through Thursday | Abandoned Reads

We often talk about what we’re reading, what we’re planning to read, and what we’re buying, mooching, and checking from the library. This week’s Booking Through Thursday asks book bloggers to share a few titles that they cannot finish–to call it a quit.

Today’s suggestion is from Cereal Box Reader

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?

1. Everything is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer. A young American Jew, who shares a name with the author, journeys to Ukraine in search of Augustine, the woman who saved his grandfather’s life during the Nazi liquidation of Trachimbrod, his family shtetl. I was interested in reading it at first because the novel takes its title from a quote in Milan Kundera’s novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being. But something about the organization of the book, the non-linear (not that I haven’t read anything that has a non-linear narrative) plot that thwarts me to read past the first two chapters.

2. The Egyptologist, Arthur Phillips. The most thrilling aspect of this novel written in an epistolary format is the historical aspect. A devoted archaeologist Ralph Trilipush is obsessed with finding the tomb of an apocryphal king, Atum-hadu, the main subject of another novel The Egyptian. The unreliable narrator erroneously gives away the story. A major let-down.

3. The Island of the Day Before, Umberto Eco. Having read The Name of the Rose and loving it, I sought out this book after the New York Times Book Review deems it grand and entertaining, belonging in the great tradition of the conte philosophique. I was wrong. It’s a story of how a 17th century nobleman who finds himself on a mysterious ship anchored in the bay of a beautiful island (interesting enough right?) he cannot reach. I will give this one a second try, but it won’t be anytime soon.

4. Anything in the Thursday Next series. I simply could not get into the books. I returned the whole pile to the bookstore!

16 Responses

  1. I’m with you on 1 & 3. Couldn’t get through them either.

  2. Haven’t tried any of these… and now won’t!

  3. I loved the unreliable narrator in The Egyptologist but I agree with you 100% about the “Thursday Next” series of books. My BookCrossing friends think I’m nuts about my negative feelings on Fforde’s books.

  4. There’s a lot of fish in the sea, or in this case, books on the shelf. Why waste time on a book you can’t get in to?

  5. It’s hard to imagine you’d abandon a book! I guess sometimes you’re just hit by bad luck. I couldn’t get into Everything is Illuminated either, but I enjoyed the movie.

  6. I almost never give up on a novel. I’ve got a few novels I can’t seem to start, but once I pick something up, I stick with it until the bitter end (relationships have been like that too). But nonfiction on the other hand–I gave up on a fascinating book on a Russian village and a charming biography of L Frank Baum. Nothing wrong with the books, but nonfiction…sigh. Hard to feel passionate about it.

  7. I did finish both 1 and 3 in your list. I think there are some interesting ideas in both, though neither are easy reading and Eco in particualr just goes on too much.

  8. Don’t worry about Everything. 75% of the people in my book group couldn’t get it either.

  9. I’m just tickled that someone else can’t get through Foer. For me it’s because he reminds me of Updike and all his stereotypical maleness. Bah.

  10. The most recent such books for me were “Dreamcatcher” by Stephen King and “Pylon” by William Faulkner. King’s book surprised me by being utterly clichéd with certain characters, portraying them the way every other author of Sci-Fi channel movie creator seems to portray them, and I couldn’t take it anymore. As for Faulkner, I couldn’t get past his lack of sentence structure, becoming more and more lost with regards to who was speaking at which point and what the entire story was about. Too confusing.

  11. Ted:
    The Eco book is promising at the beginning, then it became a sleeping pill.

    I wish I’d enjoy more of Eco’s works. Some of the writings are a bit schizophrenic and drowsy.

    Welcome! When I first heard about the series, I greeted the books with much anticipation because it’s communicating with characters of classics. But I couldn’t get into it, I was bored.

  12. lisamm:
    Welcome! I totally agree with ya. So many books, so little time.

    I should check out the movie as a consolation to not understanding the book! 🙂

  13. mapelba:
    I tend to stick to the end even if I don’t enjoy a novel, for the sense of completion. But I’ll skimp through it instead of paying very close attention.

    Crafty Green Poet:
    I admire your patience! 🙂 I have been a bit disappointed at Eco after The Name of the Rose. He is not my top priority anymore.

    Thanks. 🙂

  14. Andi:
    Oh really? I didn’t read much of Updike but I have attempted to read another of Foer, I couldn’t get into the book. Foer is off the list!

    William Faulkner is another curse to me. I have only got through, with much perseverance, The Light in August. Some of his prose can be disjointed and spinning off the tangent.

  15. I have to say I could not get into the Thursday Next series either. A coworker loaned me the first one, which I read. It was okay–very creative, but I don’t think I could read multiple novels like that, which are sort of beyond quirky.

  16. One book that I wished I could have finished was “A Suitable Boy” by Vikram Seth. The book had way too many characters and was hard to follow.

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