Books you just can't get into

asp3

Silly con valley guy
Joined
Aug 10, 2021
Messages
101
Location
Silicon Valley, CA
A friend raved about Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, but I just couldn't get into it. It moved far too slowly for me.

I've started reading Machinehood by S. B. Divya but it isn't really moving me to continue.
 

Bick

A Member of the Forum
Supporter
Joined
Jul 26, 2012
Messages
3,431
Location
Auckland, NZ
Despite having read most of his other novels, I found it impossible, on my first attempt to get into The day of the Triffids, by John Wyndham, and had to give it up, even though it was popularly meant to be his best book.
A few years later I tried again and enjoyed it immensely, although I still don't rate it his best. (I can see why many people do , however.)
I think this illustrates that if we struggle to get into books that are widely regarded as classics, it’s probably more about our current mood than the books themselves. I struggled with books and put them down, and enjoyed them later myself.

One that I’m not sure I could ever get going with is Saul Bellow’s More Die of Heartbreak. I’ve enjoyed other stuff by him, though, so I don’t preclude the possibility it was just my mood at the time.
 

Rodders

|-O-| (-O-) |-O-|
Supporter
Joined
Nov 6, 2008
Messages
5,599
Ancillary Justice for me too, i'm afraid. I tried to read it this year and got half way through.
 

biodroid

A.D.D.
Joined
Oct 11, 2007
Messages
2,745
Location
Johannesburg, SA
I got to about page 50 in that one.
Lucky you, I gave up at page 300 and realised that Patrick Rothfuss was more interested in how awesome his writing style was than banging out a good story. Seems like he still thinks he is so good he doesn't need to finish his trilogy.

I am reading Dean Koontz - Elsewhere but struggling because the blurb sounded interesting, a story about parallel worlds but in this case he is only focusing on 1 and it just so happens to be an authoritarian/totalitarian earth with lots of chase scenes where the protagonists keep fleeing the danger only to be confronted by more weird danger.
 

BAYLOR

There Are Always new Things to Learn.
Joined
Jun 29, 2014
Messages
18,818
The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy. The edition we had at school described the opening chapter, where the protagonist gets drunk and sells his wife to a passing sailor (!) as particularly good. Having finished the opening chapter, I thought "Uhoh" and the rest of it was like wading through treacle.

I hated every character in that wretched book.
 

BAYLOR

There Are Always new Things to Learn.
Joined
Jun 29, 2014
Messages
18,818
I recently tried to read Dhalgren but gave up after 50 or so pages. The story seemed interesting but the writing style was just to cumbersome for me. However, that was only one attempt - a second try might be different. I've also failed with Moby Dick a couple of times.

Thomas Covenant (the first two trilogies) took three goes. The first two times I got maybe 100 pages in, but at the third attempt I devoured all six books. So I suppose that doesn't count for this question - ditto Dune which also took three goes.

I Like Moby Dick , read it in about two weeks . Thomas Covenant , ive yet to fish book three Dune I liked.

Dahlgren is utterly incomprehensible
 

Toby Frost

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2008
Messages
6,049
"Wretched" feels like a good description! What really irritated me about TMOC was that the story was just miserable because Hardy rigged it to be: I can understand a miserable book like 1984, where the misery is there to make a point. Hardy's setting was full of depressing events just because he seemed to find it satisfying to have his characters bashed into the ground by fate/hubris/the gods/authorial intervention.
 

Astro Pen

Write now.
Supporter
Joined
Jan 24, 2020
Messages
1,002
Location
Wales UK
Anything with multiple chapter starts introducing a new and apparently disconnected characters. Yeah, I get that they are all going to come together later but is such a cliché it turns me off.
Chapter1.
Melissa picks up the kids from school they both have a strange rash.
Chapter2.
Inspector Jenkins shuffled the papers on his desk...
Chapter3.
Dr Velovski, now old and feeble, climbs the steps of the academy, as he has for the past thirty years

Chapter4? Who knows? the book is in the charity bag
 

AE35Unit

]==[]===O °
Joined
Dec 8, 2007
Messages
7,139
Location
Somewhere near Jupiter
I can now add Let it Bleed by Ian Rankin to this list. Twice I've attempted it and I got bored around about the same place, twice. And, in this book at least Rebus is a character that's really hard to like.
 

Extollager

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2010
Messages
7,864
Anything with multiple chapter starts introducing a new and apparently disconnected characters. Yeah, I get that they are all going to come together later but is such a cliché it turns me off.
Chapter1.
Melissa picks up the kids from school they both have a strange rash.
Chapter2.
Inspector Jenkins shuffled the papers on his desk...
Chapter3.
Dr Velovski, now old and feeble, climbs the steps of the academy, as he has for the past thirty years

Chapter4? Who knows? the book is in the charity bag
I really appreciate your writing this. That kind of thing he put me off more than one current novel. Dickens can do something like this (e.g. in Our Mutual Friend), but he's a truly great author. When I encounter this in contemporary fiction, it often seems like, well, typing; "writing for length." I just can't bear it.
 

Guttersnipe

logolept
Joined
Dec 28, 2019
Messages
875
Location
Limbo
The King of Elfland's Daughter
LOTR series
Game of Thrones series
Paolini books
The Worm Ouroboros


Tbh I am a bit picky.
 

Bick

A Member of the Forum
Supporter
Joined
Jul 26, 2012
Messages
3,431
Location
Auckland, NZ
Anything with multiple chapter starts introducing a new and apparently disconnected characters. Yeah, I get that they are all going to come together later but is such a cliché it turns me off.
Chapter1.
Melissa picks up the kids from school they both have a strange rash.
Chapter2.
Inspector Jenkins shuffled the papers on his desk...
Chapter3.
Dr Velovski, now old and feeble, climbs the steps of the academy, as he has for the past thirty years

Chapter4? Who knows? the book is in the charity bag
Can't see anything wrong with this approach to be honest - it's a perfectly acceptable structure used in countless classics. Whether it's done well or not, is everything.
 

Extollager

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2010
Messages
7,864
Can't see anything wrong with this approach to be honest - it's a perfectly acceptable structure used in countless classics. Whether it's done well or not, is everything.
Bick, would you like to name some books outside the canonical classics that use this structure successfully? I’d be particularly interested if you had any from, say, 1990 to present that you’d name.
 

Danny McG

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 9, 2016
Messages
5,966
Location
Cumbria UK
A very recent one, Termination Shock by Neal Stephenson.

It set off so good in the first three chapters, but then it turned into a very dull ecology/climate change lecture that went on and on and on until - - book closes - - DNF - - on with my life
 

Bick

A Member of the Forum
Supporter
Joined
Jul 26, 2012
Messages
3,431
Location
Auckland, NZ
Bick, would you like to name some books outside the canonical classics that use this structure successfully? I’d be particularly interested if you had any from, say, 1990 to present that you’d name.
Well, I don't read many modern books, so I'm not sure I can help you much. My point was that I don't see how a blanket statement can be made that this sort of novel structure is unreadable or challenging, when so many great books seem to follow it. You mentioned Dickens, I might mention Titus Groan or Gormenghast. Of modern books, SFF I've read and enjoyed that certainly follow this structure (but which you will not have read and might not like) are Eric Flint's 1632 series books. Outside the SFF genre, Alan Furst's spy novels, such as Night Soldiers follow the structure also, and they are modern (and critically acclaimed).
 

Rodders

|-O-| (-O-) |-O-|
Supporter
Joined
Nov 6, 2008
Messages
5,599
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie.

A shame, as i really wanted to read this. I struggled with it and gave up after a hundred pages or so. Not a bad book, at all. I just struggled with the use of pronouns as it made me unsure of which character i was reading.
 

Similar threads


Top