Abandoned Books

Mrs. B at The Literary Stew has come up with a great idea for a little meme about abandoned books, and I’m delighted to be joining in. Pop over to her blog post (on the link above) to see the Nancy Pearl quotation which set her off thinking – and here are my answers to her questions:

1.) What would cause you to stop reading a book?
I used never to give up on books, but in recent years I have done so more often – there are two, very different reasons. Some I am hating, and know I shan’t get any pleasure or edification from, and so give up. I don’t admit defeat easily, but it happens sometimes (hello, Tarr by Wyndham Lewis, the most recent culprit). Others simply get sidelined, and although I don’t deliberately choose to stop reading them, I realise months later that they’ve been neglected. It’s because I read so many books at once, I think.

2.) Name a book you’ve abandoned in the past that you ended up loving later on.
I can only think of one – Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy. That was one I stopped because I was reading it for a first-year class and simply ran out of time – when I returned to it last year, I loved it. Aside from that, you could count Pride and Prejudice, which I tried when I was ten, but couldn’t cope with – now, of course, I love it.

3.) Name a book you’ve abandoned in the past that you hope to finish one day.
The Chateau by William Maxwell. I can’t really believe I’ve only read one novel by him – I loved They Came Like Swallows so much that I bought lots of others, but somehow put The Chateau aside after a hundred pages. Just wasn’t in the mood, perhaps – but I’m pretty confident I’ll love it when I return to it. Now I just have to decide whether to carry on from p.101, or start again at p.1.

Oh, and the first Eye of the World book, which my brother lent me, er, quite a long time ago… I read 550pp over one weekend, in March 2010, and have only read fifty pages or so since… but I definitely will finish that one. I didn’t put in all that effort for nothing…

Thanks Mrs. B for the meme! Do have a go on your own blogs, and link back to Mrs. B’s original post when you do, so she knows who’s picked up the baton.

4 thoughts on “Abandoned Books

  • June 9, 2011 at 11:28 pm
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    Thanks for joining in the fun Simon! I've completely forgotten about Jude the Obscure. I've tried it twice and abandoned it each time. Funny because I love Tess of the D'Urbervilles and Far From the Madding Crowd. I think seeing the film first may have spoiled it for me but it's another book I hope to finish one day. It's actually on my bed side table.

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  • June 9, 2011 at 11:50 pm
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    PS. This post didn't pop up in my Google Reader. Strange. Blogger must be acting up again.

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  • June 13, 2011 at 12:14 am
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    It's funny, I was having a discussion with friends at a party last night about how long you give a book before giving up. We decided that we get less patient with age. I plowed through Saul Bellow's "Humboldt's Gift" when I was 17; now, at 50, I toss a book aside after about 50 pages if the story doesn't grab me, the writing is obtuse or just plain bad, or I hate every character. Best example of #2 for me is Mrs Dalloway, which I started twice before it captured me and became one of my favorites. I still hope to one day finish Proust's "Remembrance of Things Past"–I bogged down halfway through Sodom and Gomorrah four years ago. If "summer" here continues to be so cold and rainy, maybe I'll get back to it!

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