I hate leaving a book unfinished. Even with a book I’m not especially enjoying, I usually keep reading, hoping that there will be some spark or epiphany or one small moment where I will find something, even if it’s just a sentence, that makes the time spent reading worthwhile.
But, there are a handful of books that have utterly defeated me. Despite my best intentions and cheering myself along, occasionally I am unable to find anything in a book that keeps my hopes alive of finding that one small moment and I have to put the book back on the shelf, unfinished. Here are my top 5 book fails.
The Hobbits and I are not friends. We cannot find any common interests or any shared passions. I tried to read this when I was in my late teens. It’s beyond famous and I love books so, even though I’m not a huge fantasy fan, I thought I would find something worthwhile within its pages. But this is my worst ever book fail. I have read less of this than any other book I’ve had to put down. I barely made it to 20 pages. Needless to say, I haven’t tried any of the other Tolkien books.
The words comedy plus science fiction plus trilogy should have been enough to warn me off this one. I was given the book by a huge fan of the series and their enthusiasm convinced me to give it a go. I may have giggled once or twice but that was not enough, nor was the fact that it was the only book I had taken with me on a plane flight to London. I still couldn’t make myself finish it. I will never know how to hitchhike through space, but I’m okay with that.
Never have I been so disappointed with myself than I was when I put this book down. I like Virginia Woolf. Orlando and The Waves were strangely compelling. And writers who I really admire have mentioned Mrs Dalloway as one of their favourite books. I was so sure I would love it. But I just couldn’t find a point of connection with the characters or with the story. I expect I will try this one again some day and who knows, maybe at another time and in another place, I might find its beauty.
Quirky title. Good reviews. Huge sales. Another book I felt sure I would like. But it felt too strained to me and that made it exhausting to read. Another one I had to let go about half way through.
5. The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
This is the only Henry James I have tried and I’m not sure I will try any more. His writing style just didn’t draw me in. I felt as if I was on the outside of his fictional world – which of course as a reader you are, but you want to feel as if you are living in the same world as the characters for the duration of the book and I did not.
What are your top book fails? Do you try to make yourself finish a book or are you happy to put it down if it doesn’t grab hold of your attention in the first few pages?