Nick Hornby recently told a book audience that it was ok not to finish a book if they weren’t enjoying reading it. It’s a subject of much debate among book readers I know – my husband makes a point of finishing books where I am much happier giving up if I don’t like them. I think he’s only been defeated by Paradise Lost.
So what’s my list? What books haven’t I finished?
War and Peace – Tolstoy
I had a copy of this on the shelf for years before I plucked up the courage to read it. Friends had assured me it wasn’t as bad as I might have thought. It wasn’t difficult to read but my god, it was boring. I had an idea who most of the characters were after a while so that was one criticism out. When does it start to get good? I asked. It may well have been after page 613 which is where I stopped.
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis de Bernieres
Everyone loved this a few years back when Paxman talked about it. I hated it.
Scoop and Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
I’ve not finished Scoop more than once. The first time I tried to read it was in my teens and I had the idea that Waugh was a grown up author who should be admired. I picked Scoop because I wanted to be a journalist at the time. It was bewildering and I managed about halfway before realising I had no idea what was going on.A few years later I tried reading Brideshead Revisited at university. Bleagh. A few years after that I thought I’d try Scoop again in case my understanding improved with age. It hadn’t. The only Waugh I have finished was Vile Bodies for my reading group and I hated that too.
The Hobbit/ Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkein
As a 13-year old I tried reading a lot of things. I finished Les Miserables that year. I did not finish this. A boyfriend at university was terribly shocked and tried to get me to read Lord of the Rings to make up for the gap in my knowledge. That was even worse – no further than the first line when I got cross at the ghastly twee-ness of it all. Eleventy first birthday. Ugh.
So those are the most obvious gaps in my list. I’d like to hear yours. What have you not finished reading?