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Books you never got through


alison
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As a companion to the "What book are you reading?" thread http://www.balletcoforum.com/index.php?/topic/874-what-are-you-reading/page__pid__16560__st__60#entry16560, and prompted by some recent comments on there, what books did you struggle with and never finish?

 

For me (and I really must try again sometime to see whether it's persisted), I seem to have a bit of a black spot with Dickens: even as an avidly-reading teenager, I couldn't make it through David Copperfield (the only set book at school I never read), and struggled even more with Oliver Twist. Oh, and I fear I may have a similar problem with Henry James, at least if The Bostonians is anything to go by. (And it generally takes a lot to make me give up on a book: I mean, I even got through Gone With The Wind by hook or by crook, even if it took me 9 weeks and 3 borrowing periods at the library!)

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Henry James's The Golden Bowl - I gave up shamefully early.

 

War and Peace - made it almost to the end but then my Kindle rudely failed to deliver the last few chapters!

 

Then in non-fiction there's "The Mind of a Dog" bought for me as a kindly-meant present. I struggled valiantly but when the author (whose name escapes me) started using Jungian terminology I threw the book at the wall ...

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"Too Far Afield," by Günter Grass. Maybe my fault because I don't know German history in such a detail able to help me to navigate more easily through the book. Nor I know Theodore Fontane, even if I enjoyed some of his novels, well enough to understand all the citations coming from Grass hero "Fonty" (named after Fontane). I gave up quite early.

 

I've never read The Golden Bowl, but Henry James is an author I really like. The one I have difficulties with is Nathaniel Hawthorne.

 

The oddest relationship I have with a book is with Anna Karenina. I started reading it more than 25 years ago: I started it and stopped a few times, then read the whole first volume (my edition is in two), made some other attempts, and finally was able to finish it. When my sister read it several years later, I was still remembering it in detail, and every time I opened it (at any point) I was just absorbed and couldn't stop reading it. I read it again the past summer, just before Mariinsky Anna Karenina.

If you ask me which book I would bring with me on a desert island, that is Anna karenina.

Of course I love the beginning, that I've read more than10 times, but my favorite page ever is for me another Tolstoj incipit: the first page of Resurrection.

Edited by annamicro
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I had the same thing with Far From the Madding Crowd - too much description!

 

I find Dickens really hard-going. I love the stories but I just can't get on with the way they're written, as much as I want to and have tried to. I even found A Christmas Carol hard to get through and I would have thought that one would be easy!

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Of books that I wanted to read (or so I thought) - "Paradise Lost" and "The Spiral Dance" - I found both to be very boring! Of books that I had to read at school - "Tess Of The D'urbervilles", "Jude The Obscure", "Lord Of The Flies", "Catcher In The Rye" and "Brown Men, Red Sand" - again, all extremely boring. Actually, the only book that was required reading that I did finish was "The Secret Agent", but I'm not including the works that we did by Billy Shakespeare - I finished reading these, although they are much better to see live.

 

Unlike AnneMarriott, I did finish "War & Peace", but I really struggled. It's a much better film than a book; I attended a screening of the 8 hour 1968 version, which was one session, with two much needed comfort stops along the way. Having seen that , I thought I read the book to see what was omitted. From memory, there wasn't anything.

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I'm another who struggles with all things Dickens. I did manage to make it through Oliver Twist and David Copperfield but both were more endurance feat than enjoyable read. However, despite numerous attempts, i've never got to the end of Great Expectations and I don't think I ever will now!

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So relieved to find I'm not the only one who struggles with Dickens! Taxi, I threatened to throw my Toshiba VHS recorder out of the window on several occasions - it was a nightmare to programme (program?), to the extent that I never dared unplug it in case it lost its settings!

 

JaneL, the excessive description (of what the characters were thinking) was precisely what put me off The Bostonians
:)
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I found the best Chuck Dick to be Tale of 2 Cities - less of the grotesque characters to take with the necessary pinch of salt - I always am put in mind of the Ministry of Silly Walks or Miriam Margolyes mugging her way thru a speech of Sary Gamp - the silly walks are the only thing I hate about certain productions of the ballet Onegin - by the bye didn't spot you in Brum yesterday afternoon for Billy Bracewell?

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Tim - I hope you are going to post some thoughts on BRB yesterday.

 

I can't get through Dickens; the only one I ever managed was Christmas Carol. There are just tooooooooooo many words.

 

I managed the first nine pages of Far from the Madding Crowd about 10 times before I decided the book wasn't for me! I love the ballet though!

 

I had problems with HUnchback of Notre Dame till a friend gave me an abridged version that had most of the architectural details taken out. The abridged version (still over 400 pages long) was a scintillating and very moving read.

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In no particular order:

 

Henry James - The Bostonians. Don't know what there is about James, but I find him a good cure for insomnia.

 

Dostoevsky - The Brothers Karamazov. I stuggle with quite a lot of the Russian stuff where they all seem to have 3 different variations of their name. I can never remember who is who.

 

James Joyce - Ulysses. Please, just don't go there. I really think this is a book that people only read to impress everyone else with how clever they are. I found it the biggest yawn ever, which probably makes me a dimwit.

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I think I actually made it through the Karamazovs (unless I'm getting my Dostoyevsky novels mixed up, which is totally possible), but it's good to know that I'm not alone with the Bostonians :)

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Henry James - Portrait of a Lady - which is why I failed my English "A" level.

 

William Morris - Well at the Worlds End

 

Nikolai Tolstloy - something about Merlin?

 

A couple of other books that if I ever find the packing crate they are in I may give another try :)

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Treasure Island is one of the greatest stories ever, apparently. Never got past the first chapter.

I love any of the really BIG Dickens I have ever read: Bleak House, Copperfield, Nickelby, Our Mutual Friend. But have tried and failed to finish the simple Christmas Carol more times than I care to remember.

Big books - eg Suitable Boy - need lots of space and time, and can only really be read on holiday!

 

Sorry, Fonteyn, but Ulysses would be my desert island book!

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Having read both "Wicked" and "Son of a Witch" by Gregory Maguire, I have never yet been able to finish "A Lion among men", the third in the series.

 

I found the first two reasonably entertaining, but actually preferred the storyline they'd used in the stage show. I ought to finish the wretched thing I suppose. :-(

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Any Joyce. Tried" Finnegans Wake".

 

Did finish as it was a school text "Cold Comfort Farm" but really found it tedious.

 

Similary any Austen. Read "Emma " at school. Hated it . Tried another a few yeras later. Can't even remember which but hated it.

 

I'm afraid also "The Hare with The Amber Eyes" Again I finished it but it was a struggle.

 

But I love Dickens, Hardy and the Brontes. Also loved War and Peace and Anna Karenina.

 

I liked Portrait of a Lady and Turn of the Screw but found his other stuff less readable.

 

Bizarrely one a struggled with at first was Wilkie Collins "The Moonstone". ( I was 16) but tried again 3 years later and loved it and then read every collins I could find. Marvellous.

 

Now I'm struggling with 50 shades. Only on Ch 8 but I'm finding it a difficult read style wise. But i'll keep going as everyone says its a good read.

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Julie - I love Cold Comfort Farm, just shows we are all different. Every time I prepare music for choreography I work hard at "the counting" and think of this novel!

 

Agree with MAB about the Bloomsbury set though!

 

Yes, I also loved Cold Comfort Farm. And I read A Christmas Carol ever December, to get me in a Christmassy mood, so I am surprised others don't like it.

 

I struggled to get through Moby Dick when I was a student. Never tried again, so not sure whether I would enjoy it now.

 

I was made to read Lewis Carroll when I was a child, but although I enjoyed Alice in Wonderland, I hated Through the Looking Glass. Tried it as an adult....and I still hated it.

Edited by Fonteyn22
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