Unfinished books

Blogs are one of my favorite sources for finding books to read. I think, however, that I might learn more about a person based on the books that she leaves unfinished. I used to be a stickler for finishing books, and even when I didn’t enjoy them, I persevered. Perhaps school ingrained this habit. In the past few years, I’ve become much more willing to set aside a book because I know there is too little time to read all of the books.

Here are a few that I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) finish:

* “The Gene: An Intimate History” by Siddhartha Mukherjee
This received glowing reviews on Amazon, and so I splurged and bought the hard copy shortly after its release. My book mark is stuck at Page 208. That’s a good try, right? The book looks at both the history and future of genetics. How much of our health and behavior is genetic, and how much do we control? It’s a fascinating topic, but the more I dug into this book, the more I became convinced that those reviews had come from doctors and PhDs. This book is dense, and Mukherjee lost me when he got into the nitty-gritty of DNA. There are strange combinations of numbers and Greek letters, which would probably make sense if I had done graduate work in genetics. I might give this another chance as I’m sure there are some interesting stories buried between the Greek letters. I’ll just have to skim for the good stuff.

* “Seveneves” by Neal Stephenson
Bill Gates recommended this book. So did President Obama. I don’t read science fiction. I don’t watch science fiction. Again, the glowing reviews lured me in; maybe this was the science fiction book that would change everything for me. In this story, the moon is hit by an asteroid and broken into seven pieces. Scientists soon figure out that the fragments are going to be pulled to the earth, and the impacts will wipe out life. A frantic scramble begins to create a habitat in space so that humanity can be saved. I enjoyed the human aspects of the story, the questions about who should be sent into space and whether I, if given the option, would go and leave loved ones. A huge piece of this story is about the engineering that goes on to create the space habitat, and that part was a snooze. Thus, I only got about 200 pages into this 800-page book.

* “Morte” by Robert Repino
I’m in a book group, and the beautiful part of the book group is that sometimes I discover wonderful books that I never would have chosen (See “We Have Always Lived in the Castle” by Shirley Jackson.). The downside is that sometimes I read things that I don’t want to read. I knew that I didn’t want to read “Morte.” It’s a science fiction book about a war between super intelligent animals, and the cat was telling the story. Something like that. I don’t really know what was going on because I fell asleep.

* “Alexander Hamilton” by Ron Chernow
Maybe I should quit buying 800-page books, huh? Maybe that’s my real problem. This book needs an asterisk because I do plan to finish it. It’s enjoyable and driven by great characters who happen to be real people. I’ve read six novels since starting this book. The thing is that I’m racing through the novels because I feel the pressure to get back to this so that I don’t forget all of the characters, but I need the novels as a break from this. (All of this makes sense in my head.) I’m still reading a few pages before bed each night, so someday, assuming I avoid getting into any duels, I will finish this.

So, which books have you quit reading lately?

4 thoughts on “Unfinished books

  1. My husband LOVED “Seveneves.” I did not, but I managed to skim the technical engineering sections, and the actual story ended up being pretty good. But it should have been a 250 page book.
    Books I haven’t finished:
    “The Gracekeepers,” by Kirsty Logan. I should have known that a story about people who “bury” the dead at sea would have been a little much for my still-grieving-the-loss-of-a-child self.
    “The Raw Shark Texts,” by Steven Hall. I think I found this on some NPR book list and it was too weird.
    “All the Light We Cannot See,” by Anthony Doerr. Takes place during WWII and my heart just couldn’t handle the weight of it. But what I read was mostly lovely.

  2. How about the books I’ve never started? You’re not going to kick me out of the book group, are you? ( Happy birthday!)

  3. I am waiting to tackle Alexander Hamilton, so I’m glad to hear you still want to finish it! I skim-read the new Lianne Moriarty book. I usually enjoy her stuff, but this one involved an accident with a child (I didn’t know until I’d started it) and I didn’t want to read it but also had to know what happened.

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