Author Topic: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread  (Read 6954 times)

What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« on: October 26, 2017, 11:49:37 AM »
I have lots of lovely things to read, but sometimes I get so far in and either get distracted, or need to pause and then find it impossible to pick up again. Here are my current books. What are yours? Don't be shy now...



Scarred For Life: Read as far as the Harlech TV bit, and then paused because I was getting info overload from the sheer richness of detail - saved the eBook to my iPad and haven't picked it up again yet...

Folk Horror: Good book, but a mixture of trying to be over-academic and not very well edited. Started reading on holiday in August, stopped when I got home.

Le Tour des Geants: I don't speak French but thought it would be fun to translate as I read using a dictionary. Got to p8 (of 78pp) on holiday and then forgot about it.

Concretopia: interesting book but put it down about three chapters in. I'm not sure why - I was enjoying it.

Yeah Yeah Yeah: at p235 (there's a bookmark in it). This is a similar story to Scarred For Life - the richness of the detail, coupled with nipping off to the internet to listen to a song he's mentioned every half-page.

From Beautiful Downtown Burbank: I'm three-fifths of the way through this (another one with a bookmark). I think I stalled because I started watching episodes, and also because I subconsciously don't want to read about the inevitable decline and cancellation of the show.

The Thrilling Adventures Of Lovelace And Babbage: A lovely book, but I stopped where the story departs from the historical. Not sure why. I'll probably love, but...

S.: This is such a beautiful book with diversionary inserts and notes (if you love books as objects, buy this - it's wonderful). You read the story of the book and the story of the two people who are reading and dissecting it for its true meaning. It's another overload book, where I need to be locked in an empty room without distractions to finish it off.

Serge

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2017, 01:37:45 PM »
I don't tend to have unread books around - if I've abandoned a book, it's generally for good, and I can't read more than one book at a time, so if I'm reading a book, I'm reading that book and nothing else until I finish it. Having said that, there are a small handful of books that I have abandoned over the past couple of years that I just wasn't in the mood for at the time, but hope to pick up and re-read sometime in the future.

One of them, funnily enough, is Concretopia, which like studpuppet, I was enjoying but....something else obviously came along. Two of the others are Owen Hatherley's Landscapes Of Communism and Neil MacGregor's Germany: Memories Of A Nation. In both of these cases, I think they'd benefit from being read in short bursts rather than as one continuous read, as it does seem a little like information overload to try and plough through them all at once. The Hatherley book would also have benefitted from being published in a larger format with more pictures of the buildings that he's writing about.

I also stalled about ten pages into Colin Thubron's Among The Russians, though this is more to do with the fact that other books came along that I wanted to read sooner, so I will pick it up again at some point.

There are four books that I've abandoned completely this year, which I have no intention of going back to - 'The Shepherd's Life' by James Rebanks (dull), 'Daniel Defoe's Railway Journey' by Stuart Campbell (even more dull), 'The Crow Girl' by Erik Axl Sund (padded out to fuck and with a twist that's easily guessable before page 100 that means you don't have to read the other 600 pages), and 'A Man Called Ove' by Fredrik Backman (just bollocks).

Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2017, 01:49:01 PM »
...Neil MacGregor's Germany: Memories Of A Nation

I gave it to my wife as a present when I discovered that the podcasts of this were the book's text verbatim!

Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2017, 09:02:17 AM »
What's the matter with you lot?!? Concretopia is marvelous read - I whipped through that in a couple of days!

I know what you mean, Serge, about Owen Hatherley's Landscapes of Communism. I started reading it on a flight in the summer of 2016 and got about 100 pages or so in. My flight ended and I haven't picked it up since, not because it was boring - far from it! - but just because...I'm not sure. This is something I always find with Hatherley. I love the themes he covers, I love the sheer scope and breadth of information he provides, but his writing style is occasionally a sticking point. When I'm in the mood, his rambling, information-overload style is utterly immersive; when I'm not in the mood, reading a chapter of Hatherley's is like wading through mud. Also, the book could use much better photos - something that applies to all his books. The grainy little black-and-white photos always seem a bit stingy and half-hearted.

I made 2017 the year I would start reading on a regular basis and I'd read about 20 books by the summer. Then I picked up Asimov's Foundation Trilogy and the wheels seem to have come off about 200 pages or so in. I dunno, it's just not my thing - the trouble is, I'm finding it hard getting back on track. I don't know whether to continue with Asimov or just scrap it and start on something else. Two months I've been wondering, now.

Serge

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2017, 08:56:35 PM »
I only ever got on with Asimov's short stories, always struggled with his novels.

The other stumbling block to my continuing to read 'Concretopia' is the fact that it's currently in a box in storage along with most of my other books. I'm not going to buy another copy just to carry on reading it!

I think we have talked about the stinginess of the photo sizes in Hatherley's books before.....!

Howj Begg

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2017, 11:35:30 PM »
I started Gravity's Rainbow in the Summer, read a quarter of it, then realised then it was extracting far too much of my attention and energy, and I wasn't going to get anything else read if I continued with it... so I put it down. This is unrelated to how objectively brilliant it was. I will return to it probably next Summer, ha.

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2017, 10:43:15 AM »
s. is definitely a tough read in a kinda shallow way. I couldn't find an easy way to digest it without getting lost, whether you read the whole page and then all the notes, or the notes as they go on.

I almost wish Doug Dorst had just released Ship of Theseus without all the metanarrative stuff, because I found it quite a genuinely strange, beautiful and ethereal little book, but then all the stuff with the grad student wankstains being really self-congratulatory and just spewing exposition (as kinda made inevitable by the format) really dragged it down for me.

It is a beautiful package though, all done up like a faded old library book.

Sony Walkman Prophecies

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2017, 12:40:49 PM »
Jonathan Meades - An Encylopedia of Myself. Quite a good snapshot of life in post-war Britain, but just too many non-contextual rants about religion/vegans/eco-types and the like to be sustainable. Obviously, having been a Murdoch columnist, a lot of it is for shock value. But part of me couldn't shake off the feeling I was reading the semi-coherent rantings of the local nutter who suddenly starts fulminating about the Virgin Mary in the middle of Tesco. Some people are possessed by the things they can't stand. I suspect Meades, in his life as well as his artistic output, is one of them. 

Blinder Data

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2017, 10:36:44 AM »
This is the same as 'books you've given up on', right?

I always try to finish books unless they're a slog and the end is not in sight.

Henry James - The Portrait of a Lady: some amazing pyschological examinations of characters and a great insight into a uniquely fascinating time in history and society, but there's only so much I can care about fabulously wealthy people struggling to be sufficiently honest with each other over hundreds of pages. I was maybe a quarter through it and it's a bloody big book. Sorry Henry, ain't nobody got time for that.

Michael Herr - Dispatches: I wanted to see the real 'Nam, man. Should've just watched a movie. Maybe I was stupid to expect an overarching plot, characters and a semblance of a through-line from a collection of articles written in that 60s Gonzo journalism style. But again, I can only take so many three-page chapters of descriptions and dialogue that must have been revolutionary at the time but feels painfully conceited now. "Saigon was a pit, the armpit of a whore waiting on a dream that was never gonna pass, shit piss and resentment all over, GIs hoping for a way out before the big bug catches and you go for one last ride", etc. Occasional moments of greatness but there's nothing to keep you reading. Maybe the other book sections are less transitory and wearing...

Cuellar

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2017, 11:11:39 AM »
Really don't have much of William Gass's Middle C left, and I have been enjoying it, but I've ground to a halt on it and can't summon the energy to finish it. Can't be arsed with reading books.

Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2017, 01:07:58 AM »
The vast majority of nineteenth century novels, even Great Expectations I have never finished the last few chapters.

Edit I absolutely love Dispatches, one of my solid classics that I often dip into.

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2017, 10:34:45 PM »
Sunnyside by Glen David Gold - Can't understand why at all as I fucking loved Carter Beats The Devil and the subject matter is one I've always been fascinated by, but I've been struggling with this for years and have only made it to about 70 pages in before giving up on it.

Bhazor

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2017, 12:45:36 AM »
Infinite Jest. I can handle the non linear structure. I can handle the constant swings in tone. I can handle the dozens of characters across 5 currently unrelated storylines. I can't handle the tennis talk.

Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #13 on: November 16, 2017, 01:45:15 AM »
Most of my library is partially read or unread as of now but fuck me Les Miserables. It's like pulling teeth.

Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #14 on: November 16, 2017, 09:53:39 AM »
Infinite Jest

I gave up this (as opposed to stalling on it), because the copy I had was just really badly typeset (or more likely scaled down from the original hardback setting).
The second or third chapter became impossible to read as there were no paragraph breaks, so I put it down in protest.

Jockice

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #15 on: November 16, 2017, 10:15:54 AM »
There are three acclaimed novels that I have tried reading several times and never finished. Saturday Night And Sunday Morning, The Secret History and American Psycho. All totally different subjects, all totally different styles of writing but all had the effect of boring me into a stupor, so much so that on each attempt I'd totally forgotten about the bits I'd previously read.

Serge

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #16 on: November 17, 2017, 09:25:47 PM »
Sunnyside by Glen David Gold - Can't understand why at all as I fucking loved Carter Beats The Devil and the subject matter is one I've always been fascinated by, but I've been struggling with this for years and have only made it to about 70 pages in before giving up on it.

Wow, really? That surprises me. It's not as good as 'Carter', granted - what is? - but I loved it, and had no problem geting through it. And I can't stand Chaplin.

Black Ship

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #17 on: November 18, 2017, 12:50:19 AM »
I don't think I've ever stalled on a book, not even Finnegans Wake, but it took me about 5 goes to get through "On the Road".

touchingcloth

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #18 on: November 18, 2017, 12:55:57 AM »
Have you ever finished Ulysses? You haven't, have you. I've started it god knows how many times, but whenever that stately cunt Buck Mulligan starts with the al fresco intoning over a bit of shaving foam I look at the remaining one thousand pages and lose the will to live.

Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #19 on: November 18, 2017, 02:16:51 AM »
I'm about 100 pages into Stephen King's It. I was thoroughly enjoying it, but struggle to read when I'm not travelling. I'll pick it up again next time I have to fly to Cornwall for work.

Black Ship

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #20 on: November 18, 2017, 02:35:12 AM »
Have you ever finished Ulysses? You haven't, have you.

Given that in my previous post I said I'd finished FINNEGAN'S WAKE, I'd say you were extremely presumptuous. And utterly wrong.

touchingcloth

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #21 on: November 18, 2017, 02:46:22 AM »
Given that in my previous post I said I'd finished FINNEGAN'S WAKE, I'd say you were extremely presumptuous. And utterly wrong.

I didn't actually read the thread too closely before I made that post, so I missed your previous post and only realised that mine could have looked like a direct response to yours after I'd posted it. I meant a more general "you" rather than a Black Ship one, and I would have gotten away with it too if it wasn't for that pesky, meddling attention to detail.

Jockice

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #22 on: November 18, 2017, 08:49:15 AM »
Have you ever finished Ulysses? You haven't, have you. I've started it god knows how many times, but whenever that stately cunt Buck Mulligan starts with the al fresco intoning over a bit of shaving foam I look at the remaining one thousand pages and lose the will to live.

I left that in a hotel room in Hungary. Deliberately.

Smeraldina Rima

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #23 on: November 18, 2017, 08:49:54 AM »
I don't think I've ever stalled on a book, not even Finnegans Wake, but it took me about 5 goes to get through "On the Road".

What did you think of Finnegans Wake? I've been reading it lately in small chunks, not necessarily in order. I find that if you take an hour or two for a page it becomes more rewarding as (at least some of) the different strands start to emerge, often with overlapping readings. I suppose if you read the whole thing at a faster pace it would be for a complete appreciation of the developing sounds and the main thrusts of the story?

buttgammon

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #24 on: November 18, 2017, 09:44:38 AM »
Have you ever finished Ulysses? You haven't, have you. I've started it god knows how many times, but whenever that stately cunt Buck Mulligan starts with the al fresco intoning over a bit of shaving foam I look at the remaining one thousand pages and lose the will to live.

Only partially showing off here, but it's a candidate for my books you've read the most times, if only because I find myself reading parts of it almost every day at the moment because I'm writing about it.

Smeraldina Rima

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #25 on: November 18, 2017, 09:51:03 AM »
What are you writing about it? I think it makes sense to read a book like that (not that there are others like it) numerous times even if you don't have to write about it.

buttgammon

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #26 on: November 18, 2017, 10:31:40 AM »
I'm writing about money and ideas of production and consumption in it at the moment. More specifically, I've been writing about advertising - especially the Plumtree's potted meat. I love the way that one product keeps reappearing throughout the book, and bits of the recooked meat turn up in the Blooms' bed in 'Ithaca'. At the moment, the plan is to turn the stuff about advertising into a short paper to give at a series of seminars for postgraduates we have in my college.

I'm also thinking very tentatively about trying to do something about Joyce and post-impressionism, but that's just a germ of an idea that hasn't got very far yet. This ties in with a conference I want to go to next year, and it might just be that I'm trying to give myself the excuse to write something for it.

Ulysses definitely bears re-reading (and re-re-reading, and re-re-re-reading, etc). The attention to detail is breathtaking, and it's only really after a few reads that you start to fully appreciate how many subtle little strands and references run through the book. One thing I've observed is that the bits I didn't previously get or that weren't my favourites become the most interesting parts when I revisit it. It's got to the point that I'm really liking 'Oxen of the Sun,' despite struggling with it the first four or five times I read it.

Smeraldina Rima

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #27 on: November 18, 2017, 02:22:38 PM »
Sounds great. I'm kicking myself for taking so long to give Finnegans Wake any comparable attention - basically writing it off as impossible to read - and although I think I'll stick with FW for a long time now in fits and starts it does make me want to return to Ulysses at some point too, which I hope will then be like playing pool after snooker.

buttgammon

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #28 on: November 18, 2017, 07:11:07 PM »
Sounds great. I'm kicking myself for taking so long to give Finnegans Wake any comparable attention - basically writing it off as impossible to read - and although I think I'll stick with FW for a long time now in fits and starts it does make me want to return to Ulysses at some point too, which I hope will then be like playing pool after snooker.

I'm in a similar position, and am definitely kicking myself for not paying it more attention earlier. In my reading around Ulysses, I've uncovered some really interesting articles about Finnegans Wake and they've all made me wish I'd made more of an effort with it previously. I'm busy with other reading at the moment, but I'm going to give it a good go soon.

I hope my supervisor doesn't read this forum (he does seem the sort) because this'll give me away instantly, but there is a really entertaining and interesting one by the novelist Tom McCarthy and Simon Critchley about money in The Wake.

touchingcloth

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #29 on: November 18, 2017, 07:32:40 PM »
Are those two books of Joyce’s enjoyable books to just read, or are they the kind that reward studying rather than a casual dipping in? I’m not saying the former is a bad thing - I really enjoy going through something like a Shakespeare or a Milton with a study guide, but they’re not the kinds of thing I’ll crack open in bed or the bath, or at least not on a first reading.