Monday, October 1, 2012

Fifty shades of books I couldn't finish.

 I often wonder about books I've tried  to read but couldn't and what that says about me as a reader.

So hit me, I'm a philistine, but reading Ulysses felt a bit like pushing boulder up a hill.  After all the effort, the boulder rolled back down and I was back where I started.

Well, I did try. Laboured. Swam my way through all Tolstoy's dense, tortuous detail of family trees and character background and surrendered after the second chapter.

The Master

I know, I know. He's a fellow countryman AND  still alive. But Colm Toibin's take on the writer Henry James was just too tedious. And I did go at least halfway.

Front Cover

I loved "How to Live " by Sarah Bakewell, which beautifully encapsulated the essence of Michel De Montaigne's wisdom in three hundred efficient pages. But when it came to Montaigne's ACTUAL essays, I could barely even lift the twelve hundred page tome, let alone read it. I suppose that just exposes me as someone who wants all the pleasure in as condensed a way as possible.


I suspect that a lot of people will have their own "Fifty Shades" story that sums up the essence of how this unavoidable, trendsetting phenomenon touched them (no pun intended).
I did try. Very much in a what's-the-heck-is-all-the-fuss-about-anyway sort of way. A friend (you know who you are if you are reading this) bought it for me. I opened it somewhere in the middle (is that not how you're supposed to read saucy books?) and Ana was outlining in great detail, "oh my" et cetera, how she was unable to sit down at her desk at work, so energetic were her sexual gymnastics the night before with Christian. Somehow,  I couldn't go on. What does that say about me?
I brought it back to the supermarket and exchanged it with a highly amused shop assistant for a bottle of wine.

What books were you not able to finish?


Anonymous said...

yikes, james joyce and e.l. james in the one breath. mr joyce will turn in his grave.

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Debbie said...

What a juicy topic, Mari, and I don't just mean the Grey bit. I got to page 4 in Ulysses, with a mixture of awe at the lingo jungle, and unwillingness to spend the rest of my life hacking through it. I did love Anna Karenina, though. Completely abandoned Don Quixote, Moby Dick and anything by Joseph Conrad - he might not have spoken English until he was 19 but he sure made up the turgid vocab after that. Debbiex

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Mari G said...

Hi Debbie. Nice to know I'm not alone with the Ulysses thing although maybe I should have tried a bit harder with Anna K. Not too sorry about the 50 shades though, the wine was definitely tastier.

Words A Day said...

Wish I'd known that about fifty shades... I liike a fool started on page one, I lasted to the first sex scene...I think my daughter summed Ana up best - ie -what kind of eejit is she at all? Good for you for exchanging it! With Ulysses I read the beginning and the end, I leave the middle till I've, ahem, more time on my hands:)

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Mairéad said...

I chuckled at you swapping 'Fifty Shades ...' for a bottle of wine - I looked at it in Tesco & it didn't even make the shopping basket.
Books I didn't finish, and not always because I didn't appreciate their literary merit but usually because I got distracted by something else:
'Midnight's Children' (was really enjoying it but visitors came to stay), Waterland, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Hard Times even though I was supposed to read it for the Leaving Cert, haven't even tried Ulysses even though a good friend gave it to me as a wedding present many years ago.

Mari G said...

Niamh - sad to include 50 shades & Ulysess in the one sentence but life is too short for all that effort, if you know what I mean..

Maread - When you get around to checking out Ulysses, let me know what you think!

Anonymous said...

I once got a present of Ulysses and all of the accompanying CD's, I began with great enthusiasm reading 50 pages a day, then I began to feel burdened, I reduced it to 20, the costly present prompted me to continue and continue and continue reading until I finally wanted to tear the pages from the book. I decided to stop, a entire copy of Ulysses would look better on my shelf rather than half of a book on my shelf and the remainder blocking my loo.