Dosed

Quitter's Club: Don't be afraid to quit the book

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I thought that the prequel to this thread in the gaming section had significant ratings to warrant a sequel so why the heck not? 

 

I've just gave up on The Spanish Farm Trilogy today because that thing is dry. It's not typically something I'd read, which is what attracted me to it in the first place, and it was also recommended to me by a customer at my old work place. I can pin point the exact moment I gave up on it where the narrator is describing a scene between a young woman and an old man and it went something like this "the cooking was good, the choice was of the most digestible meals". I mean how fucking boring is that? "The most digestible meals". Jesus. Christ. 

 

I was attempting to stick to my 100-pages-before-I-quit rule, but I was beaten into submission by this sentence at page 80 something. Has anyone else had similar moments? Does any one else quit books or have rules before they do? I used to just read everything until the end and go "yup, I still hated it even after readin 600 more pages" if I didn't like it, but now I've decided life is too short and I'd rather read something good. 

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I hate quitting books because I once I commit to reading something, I like to finish it (plus I cannot handle the book guilt). But the one book that I quit reading and refuse to return to is Anna Karenina. I generally am not a huge fan of Tolstoy, and that book was so infused with everything that I hate about him as a writer -- thinly-veiled author insertion characters, long scenes of peasants tending to crops -- that there was no way I was going to finish it. Give me 1000 pages of Dostoevsky's ponderous philosophy any day.

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Yeah Anna Karenina is pretty rough, although I finished it. I was utterly defeated by War and Peace, though. 

 

Recently I got part of the way through John Dies at the End, which appears to be internet-beloved but really kind of sucked. It's purportedly a horror/comedy, but isn't actually scary or funny. It's also really badly edited; not just rife with grammatical errors, but totally meandering and repetitive and dull. I quit about half way through and am glad that I did. 

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I don't quit books.  Except Joyce.  I can quit Joyce.  But I still have a niggling feeling in the back of my head that I'm going to revisit Ulysses.  Please stop me.  No good can come of this.

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Most of the books I have given up on seem to be ones that I have picked up as audiobooks to listen while I'm doing things that do not require my full attention. I only remember these because I listed them on Goodreads:

 

- Joseph Conrad's Lord Jim (audiobook): Just couldn't get into it. Loved Heart of Darkness, though.

 

- Fyodor Dostoyevsky's The Idiot (audiobook): Gave up after I realized that only half of the book was narrated at the time. I quite liked, but not enough to keep going after the sudden stop.

 

- William S. Burroughs' Naked Lunch (audiobook): Literally no idea what was going on. I suspect audiobook is not the optimal format for this.

 

- Carlos Ruiz Zafón's The Shadow of the Wind (audiobook): The beginning (roughly 100 pages or so) way too cheesy for my taste.

 

- Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days (audiobook): I was near the end, but somehow lost my interest completely and just didn't finish it.

 

- Franz Kafka's The Castle (book): The book simply beat me. It was so slow, depressing and oppressive that I had to give up.

 

 

The only book I think I should have given up on was Günter Grass' The Tin Drum. I struggled with the book for 4 months or so, and even though the ending was OK, I felt like it was not worth the effort. 

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Too bad about The Idiot, the ending is pretty incredible. I also liked The Tin Drum; if you have any remaining interest in Gunter Grass, you could try Crab Walk, which is much shorter and more recent, and on somewhat similar themes (legacy of National Socialism in Germany). I learned a lot from that book. 

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I forced myself to finish Metamorphosis & Other Short Stories by Kafka last year. I absolutely loved Metamorphosis on it's own, and there was a few more other ones, I think there was a one that was about a page long about a girl standing on a train platform that was just really beautiful. Metamorphosis was something I studied at university and it was something I actually found interesting to interpret during my studies, everyone in the class read it really differently. But the rest of his stuff was just bizarre. It's been a while since I read them, but there was just a sense of trawling through these stories that were just so purposefully oppressive it was difficult to digest them.

 

But that brings up a subject that really interests me about art in general: if it sets out a goal, for example, to be incredibly oppressive and dark, and succeeds can this darkness soil the experience so much it ruins the rest of the novel? My favourite example is 1984. I still struggle to this day deciding whether or not I actually like 1984. It was sooooo utterly depressing and upset me so much I'm not sure I can look past it and accept it as something I like. 

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This thread should be subtitled "don't be afraid to book"

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By the time I was getting into A Dance with Dragons, my patience with the A Song of Ice and Fire series was hanging by a thread. I labored through half the book before tossing it across the room and reading a wiki. 

 

I don't regret it one bit. There's only so many preposterously detailed descriptions of tunics that I can take. 

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I quit The Templar Chronicles which i got in an "eBundle", it felt like I was reading a novelization of a AAA horror shooter like F.E.A.R. and some other book in the same vein, I just had to quit when the horrible female protagonist met a werewolf who said she had amnesia and that he was her lover.  :getmecoat

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Robert Jordan's Wheel of time series. After two books of that it was more than enough :-/.

The other book I actively remember quitting (as opposed to just getting bored with an not finishing) was Tess of the D'urbevilles by Hardy. Never could get into that.

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Gravity's Rainbow and Ulysses are the only books I can remember just giving up on. I tend to stick things out.

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Everything I've read in the last three months, I've quit. Nothing is holding my attention and I fall asleep on the third paragraph. Chalk it up to actual, thorough exhaustion.

 

The books are: Catch-22 (Joseph Heller), Candide (Voltaire. It's 110 pages, and still a struggle), A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (James Joyce), Mrs. Dalloway (Virginia Woolf), The Inheritors (William Golding), The Dragonbone Chair (Tad Williams), and The Colour of Magic (Terry Pratchett). There's a few more, actually, but these are the more recent failures.

 

Maybe I'll snap out of this state soon and read something.

 

By the time I was getting into A Dance with Dragons, my patience with the A Song of Ice and Fire series was hanging by a thread. I labored through half the book before tossing it across the room and reading a wiki. 

 

I don't regret it one bit. There's only so many preposterously detailed descriptions of tunics that I can take. 

I'd say pick it up again once The Winds of Winter hits. I suspect it'll be worth it.

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I tried reading some more books I got from video game related bundle and I tried to read a book about the creation of the Magnavox, but... Wow, it was so ridiculously technical, it was full of diagrams, legal documents and similar stuff that made the book way too boring for me.

 

I then tried to read "Pheonix: The Rise and Fall of video games", which was more about video game consoles than games and kinda bad? It was way too Atari focused, but a mess too? They mention every US game related items, down to the most obscure peripheral, and yet they barely mention any of the games, sure they might talk about the Tetris debacle, but nothing about the game itself. It seemed it would rather talk about the most obscure and boring peripheral than talk about an actual game and they even seem reluctant to talk about non-Atari consoles, which is weird since it covers everything up to the Dreamcast. Not to mention it never mentions Europe or Japan at all. 

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By the time I was getting into A Dance with Dragons, my patience with the A Song of Ice and Fire series was hanging by a thread. I labored through half the book before tossing it across the room and reading a wiki. 

 

I don't regret it one bit. There's only so many preposterously detailed descriptions of tunics that I can take. 

 

This makes me sad.  I'm surprised you got through Feast because to me that was the boring one.

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By the time I was getting into A Dance with Dragons, my patience with the A Song of Ice and Fire series was hanging by a thread. I labored through half the book before tossing it across the room and reading a wiki. 

 

I don't regret it one bit. There's only so many preposterously detailed descriptions of tunics that I can take. 

I quit A Song of Ice and Fire at around the same time. It just felt so ponderous and pointless. I feel the same way about a lot of epic fantasy series: it just feels way longer and more convoluted than it needs to be. Fantasy can be effective without spending thousands of pages "world building". I mean, you can read the entire Book of the New Sun series in the same time it takes to read a single volume of the Wheel of Time or A Game of Thrones, and I think the Book of the New Sun is just way more interesting, creative, and effective. 

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I was thinking about picking up Wheel of Time, but I've now accepted that I can quit it any time so it doesn't seem as daunting as it originally did. I like to have a big long series to split up my other reading, or the other way round. It's basically how I got through The Dark Tower series. Although, how I didn't quit reading that series during Wizard and Glass is a fucking mystery to me. In fact, why I didn't just set fire to the book and fling it from a speedboat into a pile of shit is beyond me. But I'm glad I just powered through and finished that series.  

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This makes me sad.  I'm surprised you got through Feast because to me that was the boring one.

 

Agreed on Feast, I'm surprised I got through it too. At the time of reading I had no idea to expect anything less than the quality of A Storm of Swords, and I labored through A feast for Crows expecting it to pick up. It, uh, didn't. 

 

To me though, Dance wasn't much of an improvement. The voice in the back of my mind saying, ''George R.R Martin has no idea what he is doing and he is making this up as he goes along'' just wouldn't go away. Infuriating, meandering, convoluted plot lines. 

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Agreed on Feast, I'm surprised I got through it too. At the time of reading I had no idea to expect anything less than the quality of A Storm of Swords, and I labored through A feast for Crows expecting it to pick up. It, uh, didn't. 

 

To me though, Dance wasn't much of an improvement. The voice in the back of my mind saying, ''George R.R Martin has no idea what he is doing and he is making this up as he goes along'' just wouldn't go away. Infuriating, meandering, convoluted plot lines. 

 

The problem is that there was supposed to be a time skip.  George didn't seem to have the heart to do it so many of the events in these books were originally going to be summed up in a hundred pages or so.  I didn't mind Feast but it was nowhere near the quality of the first three books.  I think in Dance he started to get his momentum back, but it's as if he's stalling his characters so they will follow his originally planned timeline.  None of his books are abysmal and I'm thoroughly invested in the characters so I will soldier on.

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Everything I've read in the last three months, I've quit. Nothing is holding my attention and I fall asleep on the third paragraph. Chalk it up to actual, thorough exhaustion.

 

The books are: Catch-22 (Joseph Heller), Candide (Voltaire. It's 110 pages, and still a struggle), A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (James Joyce), Mrs. Dalloway (Virginia Woolf), The Inheritors (William Golding), The Dragonbone Chair (Tad Williams), and The Colour of Magic (Terry Pratchett). There's a few more, actually, but these are the more recent failures.

 

That's really unfortunate. Catch-22 and Mrs. Dalloway are two of my favourite novels.

 

The only books I can think of that I've quit reading recently were for school and that's more to do with being overwhelmed by school work than not liking the books. I generally try to finish reading everything I start and don't start a book unless I think I can finish it.

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The latest Storybundle had yet another History of Atari book, which I only glazed over because I'm sick of hearing about Atari's history. They all stop at the same point in time, when Atari is first sold... They never even cover the Atari ST!

 

 

I also quit "The Camelot Papers" which had a humorous cover, but wasn't very funny, I almost quit at the start when the protagonist was almost raped by Arthur's father...

 

I did when the main protagonist caught Arthur masturbating. The reviews call it a "satire", can it still be satire if we don't even know if Arthur ever existed? Also "Arthur is actually an idiot, HA HA!" is very witty and has been done before and done better. Apart from the book yelling at me how stupid Arthur was, even though he just seems that he thinks he's stupid to me, I don't see any humor in this book at all... 

 

I'm currently reading "Motorcyclus", which seems like a compilation of creepypastas, one story is just "You succeeded at building a time machine! YAY! But I'm your GHOST! BOO!", but I think it's fun in a cheesy way.

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The last book I gave up on was Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan. Man, that thing was just painful. Almost every male character the female protagonist ran into she fell in love with instantly, despite the fact that all of them seemed like immature, selfish buttholes. I've heard really good things about Ian McEwan and that book has put me off reading anything by him.  

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I just quit Breakfast of Champions, very early on. 

 

The way it starts, with an extended section where Vonnegut tries to be clever or transgressive in looking at some bits of human culture in an alternative light, or from an outsider's perspective or something, seemed incredibly hackneyed to me and was off-putting. His observations were not interesting, and his shitty drawings of vaginas stuck in the middle of the prose didn't feel transgressive in anything but a childish way. And worst of all, it didn't seem to have anything to do with the characters or world of the novel at all, but was just a chunk of musings by the author himself.

 

Maybe it would have been more cool when it came out. Maybe it gets better further in (I "bounced off it, hard"). But I have a bunch of school and other stuff to do, so I returned it to the library. Maybe I've made a mistake?

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I recall liking that book but if you had such a bad initial experience it's hard to think you will be able to get back in.

I am probably an outlier but while I like Vonnegut quite a bit, I also sense this sort of babyish-douchey thing you are describing. Radiohead and Flight of the Conchords to me are also that way a little ... Like unjustifiably smug, maybe? Anywho either you can look past it or you can't, I like all of the things I just listed but meanwhile can't get past it in Zoe Deschanel.

So those are my tastes and feelings, presented as facts.

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