Saturday, June 4, 2005

Books You Couldn't Finish Reading

The book tag meme that hit the Indian blogosphere has spawned. Some of the tagged "victims" have come up with interesting variations (or additional headings/questions). Uma of Indianwriting suggested "the one book you couldn't finish reading?/the most unreadable thing you've read?" She had tagged Anand of Locana who added it to his meme.

Here are mine.
Books You Couldn't Finish Reading/Most Unreadable Thing You've Read:
1. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. Had it as a prescribed text for my masters. Tried about four times to read it and each time gave up after the first few pages. Couldn't even read the summary from a "guide" that a kind friend offered me. That's one book that has put me off all stream of consciousness fiction.

2. The Ground Beneath her Feet by Salman Rushdie. He should have stopped after Haroun and the Sea of Stories.

3. The Bleak House by Charles Dickens. The first page and a half where Dicken paints for us a picture of the chancery rising through the thick, swirling London fog is amongst the best in literature. Sadly after that you've to plod through the rest of the novel . . . and there's so much of it. I think, I read about half of it. And yes, it was a prescribed text for my masters (Why is it that some of the most boring books are prescribed for literature studies? I haven't come across a single university in India [haven't checked the syllabi of universities abroad] that discuss Wodehouse. . . and I am sure he is one of the most read authors in the english reading world.[Here's an earlier post on Wodehouse.])

4. Thomas Hardy. Any of his works. I know I will get pilloried here but I find him too depressing. Even more depressing than the Russians who have made the gloomy their specialty. I think we had Tess of the D'Urbervilles for the masters course (come to think of it, I wonder how I managed to finish my masters. It seems to be packed with the most depressing books one could ever find).

5. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. A good number of my friends swear by it. I tried reading it twice but gave up. Maybe it is my inherent bias against the self-help genre, but I haven't been able to finish reading a single of all the self-help books that I borrowed (realized very early in my life that these are one type of books I should never buy).

What about you? Which ones did you find a torture to read?

Also read: Worst Books Ever/ The Most Overrated Books/ Purple Paragraphs


Anand said...

I too found Ground beneath her feet pretty boring. But some others found it very interesting. Check the comment here for instance. Hardy: I liked reading The Mayor of Casterbridge.

iNFiNiteSaDNeSS said...

Here's my list of books I couldn't finish reading-
1. Wisdom of the West by Bertrand Russell
It is quite an interesting book and Russell has gone into quite some detail about the origin of philosophy and religion. But somehow, even after 3-4 attempts, I seem unable to finish over a hundred pages.
2. Thriving on Chaos by Peter Drucker
I picked up this book because, because, because.....I guess that's what happens when you buy a book just because everyone else is reading it.
3. Principles of Marketing by Philip Kotler
I know I'll probably be ostracised by my b-school colleagues if and when they read this, but it's true; I never could finish this book.
Special mention - All my engineering textbooks..

debangana said...

Thomas Hardy's Return of the Native (had this text for my BA, first year) and Rushdie's Shalimar the Clown....and have told you why.

anantvijay said...

definitely catch 22....cudnt go further than 4 pages before goin to sleep........

Becky said...

There have been a few for me - Catch 22 is definitely one, and so is An Equal Music by Vikram Seth. I can't read anything by Keri Hulme either, she's hard work.

mandar talvekar said...

Hi Becky,
it is surprising how often people cite Catch 22 as an impossible read. One of my office friends insists she couldn't go beyond a few pages. I, on the other hand, loved it.

Simon J said...

I was required to read Hardy and Solzhenitsyn for my English GCSE and I loved them both.

And Catch-22 is one of my favourite books ever, but I failed to complete it a few times, and I'm not surprised other people also fail. Many people will struggle with a book that uses a non-linear timeline without ever acknowledging it.