What books haven’t you read?

First thing’s first: I love books and I love reading. If there’s anything I wish I had more time to do, reading would tie for the number one spot (along with “learning languages”). But as Jason Henninger so delightfully pointed out last week (“How to Lie About Books“), there are just too many books. There’s no way one could possibly read every work of science fiction and fantasy, let alone every book ever written! And let’s face it, not every book is for you: you might think Lord of the Rings is a masterpiece of English literature, but your friend may find it utterly impenetrable.

Since there’s not enough time in life for all the books out there, there’s certainly not enough time to be ashamed of not reading them all. So here’s my question:

What books haven’t you read? What “classic” could you just not get into? What was it that made it unreadable? Will you ever try to finish it?

Ground rules:

1.Don’t list more than three—pick the big ones.
2.You have to explain why, even if your only explanation is “I just couldn’t get into it.”
3.Only books (no TV or movies), and only books you never finished. Don’t just list books you hate.
4.No shame! Any comments to the effect of “But how could you have never read X?” or “But Lord of the Rings is a brilliant work of staggering genius and you just don’t appreciate it, you buffoon!” will be replaced with cat macros.

Be nice. Remember that everyone has blind spots, and of course, there’s just no accounting for taste. :)

I’ll go first.

Dune, Frank Herbert. I’ve tried to read it three times, and I just cannot penetrate it. I always stop about 100 pages in, having utterly forgotten why I was ever interested in picking it up in the first place. The prose is too dense and too dull for me. One day, when I’m really really ill, I may pick it up again.

Neuromancer, William Gibson. I’ve only tried to read it once a long time ago, and it’s possible that I was simply not in the mood for that kind of book, but I don’t believe I got past the first chapter. I would consider giving it another chance next flu season.

Edited to add: Just to be clear, do not list books you haven’t gotten around to/aren’t interested in. These should be books that you at least attempted, presumably because you wanted or expected to like them.


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