Author Topic: Books you try to read but can't  (Read 7083 times)

citoyen

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Re: Books you try to read but can't
« Reply #50 on: January 21, 2013, 05:20:41 pm »
The very worst audiobooks are on Librivox - OK, it seems a bit churlish to complain when the books are read by volunteers and are available for free, but there's a damn good reason why the best audiobooks are the ones read by professional actors. I'm not saying that all audiobooks read by professional actors are good - quite a few are rubbish - but most of the stuff I've sampled from Librivox is truly unlistenable.

d.

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Re: Books you try to read but can't
« Reply #51 on: January 21, 2013, 05:27:33 pm »
I don't actually believe anyone has read James Joyces Ullyses. This is a book that one pretends to read, or leaves lying around well thumbed, but nobody has read it in full. Its simply not possible.
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Hillbilly

Re: Books you try to read but can't
« Reply #52 on: January 21, 2013, 05:37:03 pm »
I don't actually believe anyone has read James Joyces Ullyses. This is a book that one pretends to read, or leaves lying around well thumbed, but nobody has read it in full. Its simply not possible.

I have read Ulysses and Silmarillion.  The former took me three attempts, but is actually good (nay great) literature when you get into it.  The latter is entirely forgettable, and was only read because I was young and impressionable at the time - if the telephone directory had been writen by any of Tolkein (or for that matter Frank Herbert) at the time, I would have struggled through it manfully.

citoyen

  • Cat 6 Racer
Re: Books you try to read but can't
« Reply #53 on: January 21, 2013, 05:44:14 pm »
Ulysses is on my to-read pile. I love all the excerpts I've read of it. I read Dubliners last year and absolutely adored that. Ulysses is the same but a bit longer, right?

d.

Hillbilly

Re: Books you try to read but can't
« Reply #54 on: January 21, 2013, 05:45:07 pm »
It's certainly longer.

Wowbagger

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Re: Books you try to read but can't
« Reply #55 on: January 21, 2013, 05:57:06 pm »
I never got on with Terry Pratchett. I'm actually quite disappointed with myself because my younger son has read pretty well everything he's produced and clearly enjoys it immensely. I enjoyed Hitchhiker's Guide, and I read a few of the later ones.

Mostly, I find Dickens very tedious, but I read Hard Times. That was made a lot easier because at the time the Head of the school I was teaching in was Mr. Gradgrind personified I'd burst out laughing at inappropriate moments. I'm sure it wasn't what Dickens had in mind at all.

Oh, I tried that Louis de Bernieres thing that my daughters enthused about so much but I didn't finish that either. Can't remember what it was called now.

*googles*

Captain Corelli's Mandolin. Just couldn't get on with it.

These days I read hardly anything.
Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me.

Re: Books you try to read but can't
« Reply #56 on: January 21, 2013, 05:58:05 pm »
I failed to read either the Hobbit or the Lord of the Rings.  Too many descriptions of mountains in them for me.

Other books I've started reading and been enjoying them, only to drift away from them.  Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent being one I can actually remember.

I read The Glass Bead Game in an evening but that was during my "experimental" phase so I may not have actually read it all the way through.  I certainly can't remember anything about it apart from the boy getting a glass of milk.

Haven't read much recently as having to read a lot of impenetrable academic papers for work means the last thing I want to do at home is stare at ink on dead trees.  Or e-ink on long dead sea creatures.

Wowbagger

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Re: Books you try to read but can't
« Reply #57 on: January 21, 2013, 06:00:28 pm »
Graham Greene was recommended to me by my older daughter as well. I quite enjoyed the Quiet American but started Our Man in Havana and got completely stuck.
Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me.

Re: Books you try to read but can't
« Reply #58 on: January 21, 2013, 06:07:23 pm »
I got through the Silmarillion at, I think, the second attempt. But it was definitely hard work, not least for the reasons described below:

Quote from: TV Tropes entry on Downer Endings in Literature
Tolkien's The Children of Húrin (and the condensed version of the same story found in The Silmarillion). Húrin and his brother Huor fight in the Battle of Unnumbered Tears, where Huor dies and Húrin is taken prisoner by Morgoth. Húrin refuses to tell Morgoth the location of a nearby Hidden Elf Kingdom, so Morgoth curses his family, and forces Húrin to watch the unfolding misfortune playing out on Túrin, his son, and Túrin's sister Nienor. By the time the story ends, Túrin has killed his best friend accidentally, taken a kingdown to its fall, failed to save his girlfriend, and unknowingly married Nienor. When she finds out, Nienor throws herself off a cliff (whilst pregnant with Túrin's child). Túrin kills himself with his sword. His father, no longer a prisoner, accidentally leads the enemy to the city he had tried to protect in the battle, and then he and his wife find their children's tomb; soon after she dies of grief. Hurin tries to avenge his children's death but only succeeds in bringing down a curse on another Hidden Elf Kingdom, and is finally told by Melian that he's only helping Morgoth with his actions, and he kills himself. The End.

  • Everything in the Quenta Silmarillion is this, except arguably Beren and Luthien. Finwe's family ends up entirely wiped out after he gets killed by Morgoth who then steals the Silmarils.
  • His eldest son Feanor leading a Badass Army on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge to retrieve the Silmarils that ends up killing him, 6 of his sons, the surviving one (Maglor) spent wandering the shores of the world singing in despair.
  • His second eldest son Fingolfin and his three children Fingon, Turgon and Aredhel all get killed achieving nothing.
  • His third son Finarfin survives, but four out of his five children get killed (although Finrod dies saving the aforementioned Beren).
  • And then there are 3 of the 5 great battles against Morgoth that end in tragedy: The Battle of the Sudden Flame: Everyone Burns, The Battle of Unnumbered Tears: Everyone Dies, and the Final Battle: Everything Gets Destroyed. The Battle of Unnumbered Tears gets special mention though: it's the first coalition of all the races together to fight Morgoth, and the greatest army seen so far in the world outside of the gods. It gets crushed so badly and so many people die that Morgoth literally makes a hill out of the corpses. Worst is that they never had a chance: the only power strong enough to defeat Morgoth was the Valar, who sunk Beleriand in the process.
  • By the end of the First Age, the only names characters left alive (out of a cast of several dozen immortal elves) are Galadriel (Finarfin's daughter), her husband Celeborn, Elrond and Elros (Turgon's grandchildren), Gil-galad (Fingon's son), Cirdan, and Feanor's grandson Celebrimbor(who eventually gets killed by and used as a banner by Sauron, not necessarily in that order either.)

I guess Earendil persuading the Valar to deal with Morgorth for once and for all comes under the bittersweet ending category, given that the Valar break the world in the process. In the history of Beleriand and Middle Earth, bittersweet is practically a happy ending...  ;D

Hell is empty, and all of the devils are here.

Re: Books you try to read but can't
« Reply #59 on: January 21, 2013, 06:08:52 pm »
I don't actually believe anyone has read James Joyces Ullyses. This is a book that one pretends to read, or leaves lying around well thumbed, but nobody has read it in full. Its simply not possible.

There was a thread (on ACF, or the old C+?) about books that people had on their shelves or coffee table in order to look cool/improve their mating chances...  :demon:
Hell is empty, and all of the devils are here.

Feanor

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Re: Books you try to read but can't
« Reply #60 on: January 21, 2013, 06:12:59 pm »
Quote from: TV Tropes entry on Downer Endings in Literature
  • Feanor leading a Badass Army on a Roaring Rampage


I like the sound of that  ;D

Re: Books you try to read but can't
« Reply #61 on: January 21, 2013, 06:17:46 pm »
Quote from: TV Tropes entry on Downer Endings in Literature
  • Feanor leading a Badass Army on a Roaring Rampage


I like the sound of that  ;D

You note that it did not end well...  ;)
Hell is empty, and all of the devils are here.

Feanor

  • It's mostly downhill from here.
Re: Books you try to read but can't
« Reply #62 on: January 21, 2013, 06:19:05 pm »
Quote from: TV Tropes entry on Downer Endings in Literature
  • Feanor leading a Badass Army on a Roaring Rampage


I like the sound of that  ;D

You note that it did not end well...  ;)

My rampages rarely do...

Julian

  • samoture
Re: Books you try to read but can't
« Reply #63 on: January 21, 2013, 06:35:31 pm »
I did read Ulysses, in the summer between the end of A levels and the beginning of university, on the basis that it was one of those books I "should" have read.  Despite reading each page, with the words in what I assume were the author's intended order, I never understood it.  Also, I thought it was hideously pretentious crap.

I have started and not finished a number of sci-fi books because although I would like to enjoy sci fi, I don't.  Also Tolkien: I read the Hobbit but nothing else of his fiction.  I find reading Tolkien is remarkably like talking to a really stoned adolescent boy, and I know this because when I was an adolescent girl I did a lot of that. ;D  I do like Tolkien's non-fiction though.

Re: Books you try to read but can't
« Reply #64 on: January 21, 2013, 06:46:55 pm »
The Social Construction of Reality, by Berger and Luckman. At some point the mind rebels against the constant stream of mixed Latin, Greek, French and German terms that get bandied about, and concludes that this sort of knowledge is unreal and probably unnecessary.
http://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=Jcma84waN3AC&oi=fnd&pg=PT1&dq=social+construction+of+reality&ots=WE47Z5KkLJ&sig=ecBDzx22xMElIrzDqV7AjJ8zyMg

Julian

  • samoture
Re: Books you try to read but can't
« Reply #65 on: January 21, 2013, 06:57:32 pm »
Maria Mies, Patriarchy and Accumulation On A World Scale: Women in the International Division of Labour. 

Re: Books you try to read but can't
« Reply #66 on: January 21, 2013, 07:06:16 pm »
The Dice Man. I need solitary time to get through it and I won't get that till easter.

This is the only book I can remember making a conscious decision to stop reading. Just couldn't cope with the idea of anyone's life being so unstructured & open to chance!  :sick:  :-[

Re: Books you try to read but can't
« Reply #67 on: January 21, 2013, 07:35:12 pm »
Ulysses (never tried) , Moby Dick (struggled through) , the Silmarillion (failed): fair enough.  But some of these seem very readable to me - To Kill a Mockingbird? Our Man in Havana?  JG Ballard? Each to their own of course and I'm sure my particular bete noir - Catch 22 - will surprise a few people.  I just found it unfunny. And I like every Dickens I've read/reread apart from The Tale of Two Cities: it was the worst of books.  I think some books have to be read at the right time of life.  I read 'On the Road' at 16 or 17 and loved it.  I thought I'd read it agin a few years back and couldn't see what I'd originally seen in it.  Ditto for The Catcher in the Rye.

Julian

  • samoture
Re: Books you try to read but can't
« Reply #68 on: January 21, 2013, 07:36:19 pm »
I couldn't finish Catch 22.

Or the Catcher in the Rye.

Maybe it's books with "catch" in the title.

nicknack

  • Hornblower
Re: Books you try to read but can't
« Reply #69 on: January 21, 2013, 07:43:21 pm »


Turns out it's just the right size for putting my computer at an ergonomic height.

In the same vein:



I haven't managed to read this either.

Yes, we're very big on dust here.  ::-)
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Cudzoziemiec

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Re: Books you try to read but can't
« Reply #70 on: January 21, 2013, 09:09:37 pm »
I couldn't finish Catch 22.

Or the Catcher in the Rye.

Maybe it's books with "catch" in the title.
I'd forgotten about Catch 22. I don't think I got as far as page 22.  :D
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Cudzoziemiec

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Re: Books you try to read but can't
« Reply #71 on: January 21, 2013, 09:12:08 pm »
In terms of sheer obstinacy, my aunt deserves some sort of prize. She started reading Middlemarch one summer holiday when she was in her early 20s. Next summer she started again where she'd left off. The summer after that she started again... She eventually finished it when she was 54!
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citoyen

  • Cat 6 Racer
Books you try to read but can't
« Reply #72 on: January 21, 2013, 10:51:11 pm »
Middlemarch takes a long time to get going and I can easily imagine a lot of people would give up on it before they get to page 200. But if you stick with it, it will reward your perseverance many times over. The last 700 pages just fly by.

d.

Re: Books you try to read but can't
« Reply #73 on: January 21, 2013, 11:09:12 pm »
Many years ago,  Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainence.
I eventually realised that I just couldn't be arsed.

That is so much one of my favourites that I even retraced the protagonists' route in 2009...
I'm with both of you here. I started it when I was about 20 and found it just boring, gave up. Then I read it all a couple of years ago and found that it's actually very interesting.

I bought it in the US about 20 years ago, and seriously struggled. This was at a time when I was travelling extensively, so got through a huge number of books. I almost didn't bother bringing it back home.

I tried again about 3 years ago, and found it quite enjoyable, but still only got about 3/4 the way through - though that was probably due to me reading whilst travelling, then being home for a while it sat unloved in my flight bag and I didn't get back into it but got distracted by the huge pile of "to read" books by my bed. One day I'll finish it.

MrsH didn't manage it either.

Mr Larrington

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Re: Books you try to read but can't
« Reply #74 on: January 22, 2013, 11:05:20 am »
Has anyone actually read The Silmarillion?  ;D

I have.

I wish I hadn't.
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