Thursday, October 25, 2007

Booking Through Thursdays -- The Rejections

It's Thursday and here's our question:

I would enjoy reading a meme about people’s abandoned books. The books that you start but don’t finish say as much about you as the ones you actually read, sometimes because of the books themselves or because of the circumstances that prevent you from finishing. So . . . what books have you abandoned and why?

I routinely stop reading books that I don't enjoy. There are too many good ones to waste my time. But this question reminded me of a few notable rejections. Was there a pattern or consistent rationale? One trend is definitely my dislike of certain writing styles. I am annoyed by paragraph long sentences, lengthy descriptive passages which fail to move the narrative forward, and those books in which everyone is completely, hopelessly miserable throughout the entire work. Here are a few examples.

Dickens: A Tale of Two Cities
Faulkner: As I Lay Dying
James: The Golden Bowl
Larsen: The Devil in the White City
Joyce: Ulysses (This particular book was completely unintelligible for me.)

In an entirely different category are those few works that offend me in some way. I've had a few that surpassed my gross-out level, some that I've found morally or spiritually offensive, and a few more that were rejected for ethical reasons. I particularly hate being lied to and find myself easily irked by materials of a political nature or ill disguised propaganda tarted up to look like history, science, biography, etc. I read few autobiographical works by polititions. Books written by members of the press are often rejected as well. We've lived with our work prominently in the news long enough to know that much of what is reported is simply untrue.

On the basis of moral and/or spiritual rejections I can think of only one book, Anne Rice's Memnoch the Devil. I'm a huge fan of the Vampire Chronicles and have read all the other novels to the end. I'm not afraid of printed words and have a very open mind in terms of subject content for both fiction and non-fiction. For some reason this book just seemed wrong for me, and I decided to stop reading it about a third of the way through. I did cheat though and skipped to the end making sure Lestat survived. While my religious sensibilities were a bit shaken by the novel, my loyalty to the evil undead of Rice's universe remains. (I wasn't the only one to dislike the book and it is commonly called Memnoch the Doorstop among her fans.)


John Mutford said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one that didn't like As I Lay Dying. Though, the title certainly captured how I felt reading it. I did finish, but I'm not sure why or how.

Star said...

Anna Karenina. Can't do it, no matter how many times I try. I really want to read it and love, really...I just can't.

As for Memnoch, I think I read it at the right time in my life. I actually did like it, though I can see why it may not be a fan favorite. It was less subtly challenging than her other books.

Happy reading.

Melody said...

Nowadays I'm more picky with the books I read because there are so many good books lying around... and another reason is I have an active toddler around and finding a good time to read is hard to come by!

Crafty Green Poet said...

I wasn't a big fan of Tale of Two Cities either, though I have enjoyed other books I've read by Dickens

Ullysees - I've never got past page 4

Tink said...

Memnoch was a hard one to get through. I did read it and eventually came to like it, but in no way was it one of her best books. It was almost as if she was tired of the whole thing.

I tend to stay away from auto-biographical or biographical books as I always find myself disappointed or doubting the validity of the written word. I read to escape from reality for a while.

PJ said...

very interesting...of course, I chuckled, since I'm a Dickens fan your choice of Tale of Two was not my fav and hard to get through (although I'm glad I did as I followed a on-line source with prompt questions..which really helped me!) I have the book pictured next to it in my hands, but choice something else yesterday in Borders. Very good thought provoking question. A few of mine was East of Eden, American Gods, & Pride and Prejudice (beleive it or not) my mind just wasn't there sometimes for some. There are so many factors that can lead to not finishing a book.