Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Books I Couldn't Finish: For Whom the Bell Tolls, Tender is the Night & More

For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway:
a book I couldn't finish!

I love to read, as shown by my blog. However, occasionally there's the odd book that never obtains my complete interest and remains unfinished. Often these aren't particularly celebrated books, but other times they are texts which I held high expectations of. I hope that many of those who read this dispute my opinions on the following texts:

  • For Whom the Bell Tolls - Ernest Hemingway - Perhaps if I didn't study examples of bad translations at university, I would like the way this book was written. Whilst reading it, I was constantly preoccupied by better ways to express passages. That didn't make for an enjoyable reading experience at all. 
  • Dissolution - Matthew Shardlake - I was given this book by a friend of my Dad's. Whilst I didn't hate it, it just wasn't really my type of novel. 
  • The Master and Margarita - Mikhail Bulgakov - I really wanted to love this book, and I'm still determined to give it another go. I was drawn in by the opening, but lost interest about halfway through the novel. I think this was partly due to how I didn't give complete attention to the novel, and read with distractions around me. Therefore I got confused at crucial passages, and couldn't follow the plot fully. 
  • Tender is the Night - F. Scott Fitzgerald - It was unusual for me not to like this novel, as I usually enjoy F. Scott Fitzgerald's writing so much. Perhaps I was too young when I read the book to appreciate it. I would like to try reading it again one day. 
  • Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe - This seemed interesting, and I liked the setting. Nonetheless, I wasn't completely absorbed by the plot. 
  • The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories - Angela Carter - I found these stories very brutal, although that's exactly the point of the text. Perhaps I'm just too delicate to read Carter's writing. 
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Jonathan Safran Foer - For some reason that I cannot remember, I gave up on this book in the opening pages. 
  • Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro - I didn't think too highly of the plot. I've heard good things about his other novels, such as The Remains of the Day, so perhaps I'll enjoy those more. 
  • Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell - I've had so much trouble with this novel. Some parts I enjoyed, but others I found painfully long (and dare I say it, slightly boring). In the end I skimmed through the remaining one hundred pages and decided to call it a day. 

I'm afraid this list was quite negative, but it's given me the opportunity to consider which of the aforementioned books I should forgive and start over. Also, part of the excitement of reading is the difference of opinion between one person and the next. Whilst I'm sure that I'll read many more incredible books, there will inevitably be those that get neglected on my bookshelf.


10 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is a good topic for a post. I actually haven't read any of these, though I did start Things Fall Apart. It was a long time ago -- I don't remember why I decided not to finish it.

Anonymous said...

You really must give "The Master and Margarita" another chance. I started it. Made it halfway through the first section on Jesus/Pilate gave up on it. Then a few years later, bored out of my mind came across a copy, and was unable to not finish it. Of course translation is very important....Or can you read Russian?

Lucy said...

Thank you for your comment. I'm sure that "The Master and Margarita" is a book that I'll love eventually! I've heard so many good things about it, and I love the concept of the plot.

I can't read Russian (although I wish I could), and so I'll certainly consider the translation that I read. I'll give the one that I own another go soon, and if I can't get into it again I'll purchase a new edition.

All the best.

Lucy said...

Thank you for the comment. I recall that it was quite a short story, and so it's unusual that I didn't finish it.

I think there was a bit of a lull halfway through, or something along those lines. It is a book that's generally praised, however.

Glenn H. Shepard said...

PS - I can't seem to subscribe to your blog directly through blogspot, you haven't activated that widget? I'll subscribe through email in the meantime.

Lucy said...

Thanks for the feedback - I have one now.

All the best.

Anonymous said...

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Alan said...

The comments thing doesn't seem to work on google chrome.

Anyway, I like this idea for a list. I've read a few on there: FWtB - really enjoyed that; Cloud Atlas - ditto; NLMG - was ok but unconvincing plot, I read The Unconsoled by KI and loved that though. EL&IC - loved this book, I usually don't like gimmicky, but this was good and had a small but poignant revelation at the end that I liked.

Books I couldn't finish:

The Crying of Lot 49 - it's only 120 pages but I gave up after 80 wondering what the heck that was all about
Catch 22 - didn't do it for me, same joke repeated over and over
there are plenty more

Glenn H. Shepard said...

PPS - An earlier comment of mine praising your blog and eagerly awaiting your opinion on 1Q84 may have wound up in your SPAM pile since I included a link to my blog on the tagline. Just curious why it wasn't yet published. No need to publish this follow-up comment.

Lucy said...

Thanks for the comment.

Hmm, it should work - I post my comments on Chrome. I've disabled some moderation restrictions, so perhaps that will help.

It's interesting that you enjoyed so many of the books that I mentioned. Maybe I should give them another chance.

I enjoyed Catch 22, although I do understand that some could find it boring. It's very long, and it wasn't a fast read for me by any means.

All the best.