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How hard do you try?

 
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How hard do you try? - 30/1/2013 4:29:27 PM   
Meve


Posts: 431
Joined: 18/7/2006
When you're attempting a classic, or in fact any novel, how hard to you work to get through it just for the sake of having read it?

I recently started reading War and Peace, and throughly enjoyed the first few chapters, but, once I'd got about 28 chapters in and realised that I'd done nothing but read about Russian socialite parties I swiftly reevaluated my commitment to the book. I gave up, and it now sits on my shelf (actually a stack on the floor) waiting for me to have a surge of will power, though I've pretty much decided I do not like it.
Is that too soon to make such a judgement? Maybe.

So perhaps I am an uncultured swine, but I had a similar experience with Sons and Lovers, except this time I ploughed on (the less intimidating length helped) and though I don't regret reading it as such, I definitely didn't enjoy it as a book and never *really* got into it. So, when it came to W&P I made the call early.

What about you? How far do you have to get into a book before you can make the call on if you want to finish it? And conversely, how far is too far to give up after?

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RE: How hard do you try? - 30/1/2013 7:10:32 PM   
Rinc


Posts: 12760
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From: A park bench, with a newspaper quilt
I'll always try to finish a book. I can only remember not finishing two books and they bored me to absolute tears. Neither were considered 'classics' though so I didn't force myself.

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RE: How hard do you try? - 31/1/2013 12:33:39 PM   
sharkboy


Posts: 6272
Joined: 26/9/2005
From: Belfast
I, on the other hand, will happily abandon a book if it isn't holding my interest.  There's no point-of-no-return and no minimum page limit.  In this I would include classics, though I tend to give them a bit more leeway before setting them down.  I just figure that there are too few days and too many good books in life to waste time reading one you're not appreciating.   Sometimes I return to the abandoned books for one last shot and am pleasantly surprised (Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell being the most recent example of that I can recall), other times I pick them up again, last a few more pages then remember why I set them down in the first instance.

Personally, I blame English Lit A level for my stance - there were just so many books in my year that I found turgid, boring chores that did nothing to foster a love of literature, but that obviously needed to be read from cover to cover.  What makes matters worse was that the books in my O Level years were excellent and really went some way towards making me the bibliophile I am today.  But now that I'm not obliged to do so, finishing a book has become an option for me rather than a necessity.  Having said that, I still finish the vast majority of the books I start

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RE: How hard do you try? - 31/1/2013 3:33:43 PM   
Meve


Posts: 431
Joined: 18/7/2006
Ah, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel is another one I gave up on actually, maybe I should return to it...

I do finish books most of the time by the way, I don't spend ALL my time quitting!



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RE: How hard do you try? - 31/1/2013 5:07:19 PM   
impqueen


Posts: 7474
Joined: 24/7/2006
I finish books that I start even if Iím not overly fond of what I am reading. Iím not too sure why but I know itís not for the sake of it and I have always done so, it might be because my motherís a Librarian and eats books for breakfast, in fact sheís a ridiculous reader. When it comes to classics I do like to have read the big ones but if I and the book arenít getting along I will pick up something else and read both using the new book as an escape of sorts. Once Iíve finished a book I havenít enjoyed I tend to avoid the author but if a summary takes my fancy Iíll give them another shot. Tolstoy is one of my favourite writers but I didnít love War and Peace and it took me ages to get through. Moby Dick took me a couple of attempts too but ended up being brilliant. I can take or leave D.H. Lawrence.

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RE: How hard do you try? - 31/1/2013 5:24:04 PM   
Professor Moriarty

 

Posts: 9869
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I'm such a quitter I didn't even get to the en....

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RE: How hard do you try? - 31/1/2013 5:30:58 PM   
Harley Quinn


Posts: 5792
Joined: 23/1/2008
From: Arkham
Two chapters if a book hasn't got my attention or I'm aware I'm reading rather than being caught up in the story I shelf them. Some I go back to and finish The Lord of the Rings. Others I just give up on.


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RE: How hard do you try? - 1/2/2013 1:41:53 PM   
Chief


Posts: 7745
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Banshee
I've hit a bit of a reading wall at the moment, the book that killed me was Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? I almost gave up on it out of boredom but persevered and now I'm struggling to get into any books. I've just quit Dune after only a few pages.

The last book I gave up on was Dracula, a few chapters in when it moved back to England it just lost my interest.

I've just started re-reading The Hobbit (with plans to read LOTR after it) after not enjoying it first time around. I'll see how far I get with it.

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Post #: 8
RE: How hard do you try? - 1/2/2013 1:48:16 PM   
Sway


Posts: 9085
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Albuquerque
I'm stubborn by nature, and I really don't know why, but I'll refuse to not finish a book, no matter how much I'm not enjoying it.

There's no reason behind it, and I get frustrated with myself when I'm taking ages over a book because I'm not enjoying it, and I have dozens of other books I can crack onto, but I insist on waiting until I've finished the one in hand.

Saying that though, it's actually fairly rare for me to find books I don't enjoy because they're all non-fiction.

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RE: How hard do you try? - 1/2/2013 2:33:56 PM   
matty_b


Posts: 14445
Joined: 19/10/2005
From: Outpost 31 calling McMurtle.
If I've paid for it, I'm finishing it, and that goes for films and TV shows as well.

I managed to finish The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, for example, even though every badly written page managed to squeeze another drop of enjoyment for the written word I've ever had out of me.

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RE: How hard do you try? - 1/2/2013 2:34:42 PM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.

quote:

ORIGINAL: matty_b

I managed to finish The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, for example, even though every badly written page managed to squeeze another drop of enjoyment for the written word I've ever had out of me.




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Post #: 11
RE: How hard do you try? - 9/2/2013 6:08:55 PM   
Cloud Cuckoo


Posts: 408
Joined: 7/2/2013
From: Mind your own
I do try to persevere to the end but do not always make it. I failed at War & Peace too (though my folks gave it to me for Christmas so I should have another crack). I had to give up on Moby Dick as I was tempted to go and play on the railway just to get some excitement - I have never been so bored!

The one that has foxed me most though is the His Dark Materials trilogy. I have tackled it with determination at least three times, and each time I've made it about halfway through Northern Lights before abandoning it. I love good literature and well written books but I just don't get it!

quote:

ORIGINAL: matty_b

I managed to finish The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, for example, even though every badly written page managed to squeeze another drop of enjoyment for the written word I've ever had out of me.


I can sympathise with that, it was a slog that didn't even get going till towards the end. The writing irritated me too, especially the author's sleazy preoccupation with dominant women and breasts.

Mind you, it's like Nabokov compared to the dreaded 50 Shades of Grey.

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Post #: 12
RE: How hard do you try? - 9/2/2013 6:27:40 PM   
sanchia


Posts: 17997
Joined: 3/1/2006
From: Norwich

quote:

ORIGINAL: Meve

Ah, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel is another one I gave up on actually, maybe I should return to it...

I do finish books most of the time by the way, I don't spend ALL my time quitting!




I wouldn't bother. An awful, awful read (now getting a television adaptation). It took me three months to get through when usually I can finish a book that size in about two weeks of average reading. I think I have only given up on a book once and I cannot even remember what that book was.

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RE: How hard do you try? - 10/2/2013 9:25:31 AM   
Le Tenia


Posts: 1187
Joined: 4/3/2006
From: Blue Heaven
I think it was Maggie Smith who said " The classics are a good hiding place for mediocrity ".

Sounds about right. I always give a book a right good go, but i have given up if they don't hold my interest.
It's funny, i have no qualms binning a film, but giving up on a book is done with a heavy heart.

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RE: How hard do you try? - 10/2/2013 2:27:13 PM   
Cloud Cuckoo


Posts: 408
Joined: 7/2/2013
From: Mind your own

quote:

ORIGINAL: Le Tenia

It's funny, i have no qualms binning a film, but giving up on a book is done with a heavy heart.


Perhaps because you invest in it more; you create a world for it in your imagination, populated by characters you must visualise. Everything you read has to happen in your head; it's your creation as well as the author's. Whereas with film, you're just witnessing another person's interpretation. It's a lazier form of entertainment.

I dunno; just a theory!

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RE: How hard do you try? - 13/2/2013 2:57:32 AM   
england_cmr


Posts: 77
Joined: 1/4/2008
From: Whistler, British Columbia
This is a tough one for me, and a cause of much innter turmoil. I'm studying English at Uni and so place so much pressure on me to read all of the 'classics'. I have spent many (and I mean many) an hour struggling through tough books. The hardest was probably Anna Karenina. It was just awful...I can't even lie, it was the most boring, overlong, tedious, (insert as many words for boring here), thing I have ever read. Don't get me wrong I love many a classic, but for every book I love, there'll be one that I hate. I understand it's totally superficial of me to read books just for the sake of saying I have read them, but I literally cannot stop reading a book once I've finished. I've attempted to do so in the past and it sounds crazy but it will haunt me! So I would say I do try pretty hard. But I always reward myself by reading an 'easy' book after reading a 'hard' book.

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RE: How hard do you try? - 13/2/2013 3:20:30 AM   
Cloud Cuckoo


Posts: 408
Joined: 7/2/2013
From: Mind your own
I know where you are coming from. I studied English at uni too (though I switched degree in the end) and nothing puts you off reading a book more than knowing you have to.

I recall having to read Robinson Crusoe and Gulliver's Travels - there must have been a shipwreck theme to that particular module - and resenting every second. Fortunately neither are of the length of Anna Karenina but they bored me shitless nonetheless.

The worst though was when I was studied Sixth Year Studies English (Scottish equivalent of an advanced A-Level) in school and had to read Ane Pleasant Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis, a play in Middle Scots from 1540 so impenetrable it makes Robert Burns look like Dr Seuss. Even my teacher didn't know what the fuck was going on.

One of the reasons I dropped English at uni was because it was taking the joy out of reading for me, and I wasn't having that. But hang in there; it's a worthwhile degree to have.

< Message edited by Cloud Cuckoo -- 13/2/2013 3:23:31 AM >


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RE: How hard do you try? - 15/2/2013 9:24:14 PM   
Lazy wolf eyes


Posts: 4104
Joined: 9/9/2006
From: Royston Vasey

quote:

ORIGINAL: Cloud Cuckoo


quote:

ORIGINAL: Le Tenia

It's funny, i have no qualms binning a film, but giving up on a book is done with a heavy heart.


Perhaps because you invest in it more; you create a world for it in your imagination, populated by characters you must visualise. Everything you read has to happen in your head; it's your creation as well as the author's. Whereas with film, you're just witnessing another person's interpretation. It's a lazier form of entertainment.

I dunno; just a theory!


That's an interesting thought. I feel guilty when I abandon a book. I try to pick them up again but there's always a very good reason I gave up on them in the first place.

I had to read Robinson Crusoe and Gulliver's Travels too when I was at uni. Jeeeeesus. I finished Gulliver but abandoned Robinson Crusoe and sparknote'd the shit out of it.

When it comes to the classics, I feel as though I'm too thick to understand them when I find myself not enjoying them, so tend to persevere with them in case I get a light bulb moment. It never comes.

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RE: How hard do you try? - 15/2/2013 10:40:16 PM   
Cloud Cuckoo


Posts: 408
Joined: 7/2/2013
From: Mind your own

quote:

ORIGINAL: Lazy wolf eyes

I had to read Robinson Crusoe and Gulliver's Travels too when I was at uni. Jeeeeesus. I finished Gulliver but abandoned Robinson Crusoe and sparknote'd the shit out of it.



I'm glad it's not just me! What's worse is when I was studying a second degree, in graphic design, I had to design a book cover for Robinson Crusoe so found myself struggling through it again! So I've now read a book I hate twice.


quote:



When it comes to the classics, I feel as though I'm too thick to understand them when I find myself not enjoying them, so tend to persevere with them in case I get a light bulb moment. It never comes.


I am sure it's not because you are too thick! Let's be honest: they are often very dry, stuffy and uneventful. For an inhabitant of the 21st century, the dialogue can seem pretentious and the characters and events difficult to relate to.

Like anything, they are just very much an acquired taste.

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RE: How hard do you try? - 17/2/2013 3:17:57 AM   
england_cmr


Posts: 77
Joined: 1/4/2008
From: Whistler, British Columbia

quote:

ORIGINAL: Cloud Cuckoo

I know where you are coming from. I studied English at uni too (though I switched degree in the end) and nothing puts you off reading a book more than knowing you have to.

I recall having to read Robinson Crusoe and Gulliver's Travels - there must have been a shipwreck theme to that particular module - and resenting every second. Fortunately neither are of the length of Anna Karenina but they bored me shitless nonetheless.

The worst though was when I was studied Sixth Year Studies English (Scottish equivalent of an advanced A-Level) in school and had to read Ane Pleasant Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis, a play in Middle Scots from 1540 so impenetrable it makes Robert Burns look like Dr Seuss. Even my teacher didn't know what the fuck was going on.

One of the reasons I dropped English at uni was because it was taking the joy out of reading for me, and I wasn't having that. But hang in there; it's a worthwhile degree to have.


Thanks for the great reply. It is so so true that having to read a book makes it it so much worse. Many books which I studied at GCSE and hated I have recently read again and loved them eg Of Mice and Men, Jane Eyre


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RE: How hard do you try? - 17/2/2013 4:55:05 AM   
Cloud Cuckoo


Posts: 408
Joined: 7/2/2013
From: Mind your own

quote:

ORIGINAL: england_cmr

Thanks for the great reply. It is so so true that having to read a book makes it it so much worse. Many books which I studied at GCSE and hated I have recently read again and loved them eg Of Mice and Men, Jane Eyre



No worries! What you say is interesting again because I have a huge fondness for the books I studied in school - Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies, Romeo & Juliet, Sunset Song - yet little regard for those I had to study at university!

It's all a bit odd, isn't it?



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Post #: 21
RE: How hard do you try? - 18/4/2013 7:12:20 AM   
steverayg

 

Posts: 11
Joined: 12/4/2013
This is a GREAT thread. For a long time, I used to try and juggle between the classics and escape fiction, with the idea of ďbuyingĒ something like a Jack Reacher book with War and Peace. There were a few tough ones along the way, such as fighting through Moby Dick, but the efforts were almost always worth it.

In one case, I started reading The Sunlight Dialogues by John Gardner and abandoned it after about three chapters. Years later, when I unpacked it after a move years later, I started reading where I had left the bookmark. In the years that followed, I must have read that book three more times.

The only way to really know if a book is worth the effort is at the end. Than you can proudly hold up the massive tomb over your head and proclaim, for better or worse, ďI waded through this!Ē


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RE: How hard do you try? - 18/4/2013 4:56:31 PM   
Izzardesque2


Posts: 2899
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Get back to Russia!

quote:

ORIGINAL: Cloud Cuckoo

I
quote:

ORIGINAL: matty_b

I managed to finish The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, for example, even though every badly written page managed to squeeze another drop of enjoyment for the written word I've ever had out of me.


I can sympathise with that, it was a slog that didn't even get going till towards the end. The writing irritated me too, especially the author's sleazy preoccupation with dominant women and breasts.



To be fair, unless you're reading it in the original Danish, its the translations fault rather than the author...


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RE: How hard do you try? - 29/5/2013 5:06:13 PM   
doubtlesswonder


Posts: 2433
Joined: 21/10/2005
From: Yorkshire

quote:

ORIGINAL: Chief

The last book I gave up on was Dracula, a few chapters in when it moved back to England it just lost my interest.



I gave up on Dracula, too. The letters from the girlfriend bored me to tears.



quote:

ORIGINAL: Izzardesque2


quote:

ORIGINAL: Cloud Cuckoo

I
quote:

ORIGINAL: matty_b

I managed to finish The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, for example, even though every badly written page managed to squeeze another drop of enjoyment for the written word I've ever had out of me.


I can sympathise with that, it was a slog that didn't even get going till towards the end. The writing irritated me too, especially the author's sleazy preoccupation with dominant women and breasts.



To be fair, unless you're reading it in the original Danish, its the translations fault rather than the author...



I agree with this, though I also agree with Cloud Cuckoo that it doesn't really get going until close to the end. The second and third books are much easier to read.

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RE: How hard do you try? - 11/6/2013 5:24:55 PM   
Mr Gittes

 

Posts: 551
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I've given up on a few. Generally, I just use the 10 percent rule. But I absolutely detest all these literary snobs with all their pretensions about what everyone absolutely SHOULD read, such as the aforementioned War and Peace and Anna Karenina. Bugger off. I'd much rather read Stephen King or James Ellroy, any day of the week. Because their books actually engage me, certainly more than any others anyway.

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Post #: 25
RE: How hard do you try? - 11/6/2013 5:34:38 PM   
jonson


Posts: 8919
Joined: 30/9/2005
Admittedly I'm a slow reader, in the fact that I can only grab an hour every other day (rather than I simply can't read quickly ) but will happily admit I have now given up on Dan Brown's latest bore-fest.
Sorry, but it wasn't exciting enough to grab me, I was dozing off after about 10 pages and finally I've just dumped it.
I did try. I got nearly half way through, but it was so unmemorable I was spending 5 minutes re-reading the previous 4 or 5 pages just to get me familiar, then promptly lost interest after another 3 pages. I can't believe I got as far as I did to be honest.

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RE: How hard do you try? - 11/6/2013 5:35:37 PM   
Mr Gittes

 

Posts: 551
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Oh, and I completely agree with doubtlesswonder about the latter two Millenium books. What's frustrating is I'm trying to get my brother to read Stephen King, but he just doesn't want to, and he loves the Millenium books - his exact words about The Girl Who Played With Fire: "I think it's the best-written book I've ever read". Now, it's a matter of opinion of course, but hot damn, that's like loving JJ Abrams and not wanting to give any Spielberg movies a shot

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Post #: 27
RE: How hard do you try? - 11/6/2013 5:44:15 PM   
Mr Gittes

 

Posts: 551
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quote:

ORIGINAL: jonson

Admittedly I'm a slow reader, in the fact that I can only grab an hour every other day (rather than I simply can't read quickly ) but will happily admit I have now given up on Dan Brown's latest bore-fest.
Sorry, but it wasn't exciting enough to grab me, I was dozing off after about 10 pages and finally I've just dumped it.
I did try. I got nearly half way through, but it was so unmemorable I was spending 5 minutes re-reading the previous 4 or 5 pages just to get me familiar, then promptly lost interest after another 3 pages. I can't believe I got as far as I did to be honest.

Not surprised. I had no problem with The Da Vinci Code, but Angels & Demons was one of those books I just couldn't continue reading. There was another Brown one that quit on (I even broke my ten percent rule) but it was so dull I've forgotten what the name of the book is.

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Post #: 28
RE: How hard do you try? - 11/6/2013 8:35:25 PM   
doubtlesswonder


Posts: 2433
Joined: 21/10/2005
From: Yorkshire

quote:

ORIGINAL: Mr Gittes

Oh, and I completely agree with doubtlesswonder about the latter two Millenium books. What's frustrating is I'm trying to get my brother to read Stephen King, but he just doesn't want to, and he loves the Millenium books - his exact words about The Girl Who Played With Fire: "I think it's the best-written book I've ever read". Now, it's a matter of opinion of course, but hot damn, that's like loving JJ Abrams and not wanting to give any Spielberg movies a shot


I'm in two minds about whether I need to give Stephen King another try or not. Admittedly, I've only read Pet Sematary, but I got tired of him telling me that people were going to die a chapter or two before it happened. Completely removed all tension from the story.

_____________________________

quote:

homersimpson_esq
"Will someone please get this motherfuckin' horcrux outta this motherfuckin' snake."


quote:

homersimpson_esq
"See Mr Grey.
See Mr Grey abuse women.
Run women, run."

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Post #: 29
RE: How hard do you try? - 11/6/2013 10:19:24 PM   
Mr Gittes

 

Posts: 551
Joined: 3/2/2013

quote:

ORIGINAL: doubtlesswonder


quote:

ORIGINAL: Mr Gittes

Oh, and I completely agree with doubtlesswonder about the latter two Millenium books. What's frustrating is I'm trying to get my brother to read Stephen King, but he just doesn't want to, and he loves the Millenium books - his exact words about The Girl Who Played With Fire: "I think it's the best-written book I've ever read". Now, it's a matter of opinion of course, but hot damn, that's like loving JJ Abrams and not wanting to give any Spielberg movies a shot


I'm in two minds about whether I need to give Stephen King another try or not. Admittedly, I've only read Pet Sematary, but I got tired of him telling me that people were going to die a chapter or two before it happened. Completely removed all tension from the story.

Oh, well. Different strokes...
There are few things more annoying than someone screeching "Oh, you simply MUST read this book!", but I would definitely recommend that you try out more of his stuff. Hell, we all have our personal favourites

Out of curiosity, did you enjoy Pet Semetary in spite of your said complaint?

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