|I gave up on Moby-Dick the first time – even after getting halfway!
Two weeks ago, I mentioned I was reading The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux. Well…I’m still reading it, and I’m not even halfway.
For a story about a family moving to the jungle, this book is extremely slow. I keep thinking “I’m finally getting into it!” only to get bogged down by endless descriptions of Allie’s (the dad) smart-aleck comments and ego bigger than the commune he’s founding. So yeah, I’m thinking about calling it quits.
It irritates me to give up on a book…I’m a completist by nature. Since 2012 (when I started keeping track), I’ve given up on 14 books, which spread out over 6 years is still more than I’d like. On the other hand, there have been books I wish I’d given up on (Kafka’s The Castle) but for whatever reason just couldn’t bring myself to do it.
With that in mind, which are the 14 that made the unlucky cut? In roughly reverse-chronological order:
14. The Kill by Émile Zola – I talked about this a few months ago. What started out as an interesting family drama turned into a squicky romance novel. TMI for this reader.
13. Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald – This had some of the worst parts of The Great Gatsby (adulterous affairs) without any of the better parts (compelling backstory and interesting characters). Couldn’t relate at all.
12. Rhett & Link’s Book of Mythicality – This was a tough disappointment. I shared some thoughts on Goodreads.
11. The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories by Ernest Hemingway – The title story really pulled me with its misogynist protagonist. /sarcasm
10. The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro – I get really, really tired of Christians being the bad guys.
9. Through a Green Lens: Fifty Years of Writing for Nature by Robert Michael Pyle – I was hoping for some interesting anecdotes, but most of the essays I read were more like lectures. Might try it again in a decade or two, but not now.
8. The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu – Fantastic concept: Chinese history and steampunk! Sadly, after 100 pages I did not care about any of the characters, though I tried very hard. Needed better character building and less description.
7. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles – This dude is supposed to be under house arrest, but he has a more comfortable lifestyle than your average college student. After he got a girlfriend (a pushy one at that), I gave up worrying about him.
6. On Basilisk Station by David Weber – This is book 1 in a series which is supposed to be like Horatio Hornblower meets Star Trek with a female protagonist. My expectations must have been too high – I couldn’t get past the first chapter; the characterization and settings didn’t ring true.
5. The Republic by Plato – Will probably try again someday.
4. Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global Power by Zbigniew Brzeziński – Boring start. Didn’t get very far, but I’ve read another of his books so could sorta guess where it was going.
3. My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier – Another one that was hard to get into. I meant to try it again when the movie came out; will eventually do so.
2. The Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark – The language/tone turned me off. I might try it again someday.
1. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro – This also started out boring, but I plan to try it again.
Judging by this list, it looks like “boring” used to be a big factor, which means I’ve either got better at giving books a chance, or managed to choose books that are bound to be interesting. I guess that’s a good thing?