A few months ago I finally bought a used copy of J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy. I was excited to finally have in my possession and dove in with abandon. After the first chapter, I put it down for what I thought would be a day; it turned into a week as I read another book. Following the completion of that book, I tried it again. This cycle of read a chapter, read a different book has continued until now, almost five months later, the books remains unfinished. Last night I picked it up and thought about trying to finish it before realizing that I don’t really care. Not about the story or the characters. If I do ever finish it, the reason will be wanting to avoid giving up.
I rarely walk away from books. Out of principle, I trudge through even the worst ones. However, there are a few that I just can’t ever seem to finish. And as a writer, I think there is something to be learned with every reading experience, even if it is just what not to do. I keep them in the back of my mind like badges of failure that I must conquer someday. Here are a few of my unfinished reading projects:
- Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert–Just ugh. I love women’s travel writing, but I cannot finish this. It’s so self-indulgent and borderline Orientalist.
- A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens–Some Dickens sweeps me in. This one makes me tired.
- Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon–I actually do not think I am smart enough for this book.
- Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner–Faulkner is usually hit or miss for me. Either I love it or it drives me crazy. This definitely falls in the crazy spectrum.
- Dune by Frank Herbert. Apologies, Sci-Fi lovers. I just can’t get into this one.
What about you, dear readers? What books remain unfinished in your world?