I recently had a very interesting conversation with a friend regarding books both of us abandoned for various reasons. The majority of these reasons, it comes as no surprise, were along the lines of not liking the book after all or getting bored middle way. While these sound like legitimate reasons to close a book and call it a day, I admitted in having some very peculiar examples of my own. Here are my four books that I really liked, but never finished:
Stephen King, The Stand (1978)
I love Stephen King. Love him. The very first thing I bought with my first earned money was a Stephen King book (Bag of Bones). I don’t like watching horror movies, but boy do I love reading that stuff. I like Stephen King for a variety of reasons, but mostly it’s because he really exploits people’s common fears. It’s from these ‘’exploits’’ I got so scared as to never finish The Stand.
Here’s what happened: After purchasing the ´´Complete and Uncut´´ a.k.a The Super Efffing Long Edition, I embarked on a journey of reading one of the most acclaimed works of Mr. King. It was great. I loved it. For those of you who have not read The Stand (yet), I can tell you that it’s about a strange experiment gone wrong that pretty much kills everyone except a lucky few. These few embark on a 1000 pages adventure that is bound to gross out a road kill, but is strangely addictive. Surely, if you read and liked King before, you know what I mean. And so, a couple of days passed while I read the book. Until I got a cold. Oh didn’t I mentioned? Before everyone died, the symptoms were exactly like those of a nasty cold. That week I did not go to school, almost convincing myself I was going to die. This was apparently extremely funny to everyone around me, especially those who had previously read The Stand and who, like true friends that they were, didn’t say one single comforting word, but instead mocked me endlessly and hinted at all the horrible ways I was going to end. At least there was the thought that my cat was going to make it(cats and deer I think were immune to the virus). Needless to say, I didn’t want to finish the damn thing and I stopped somewhere mid-way, where yet another character’s death is featured- a woman who only started from a small fever and ended up in a coffin. Hmpf.
Stephen Fry. The Fry Chronicles (2010)
Although no plague hits in Stephen Fry’s book, the reason why I didn’t finish it turned out to be similar: I am such a wuss. After getting this great autobiographic book, amazed at the life Mr. Fry lived (until the page 93, that is) and the level of literacy I will never achieve, I had to take a small break from it in order to finish my readings for school. Priorities first and all that. While my literature class readings were great and I ended up with a good grade, my Fry book ended up in the hands of my boyfriend who was enjoying it tremendously. Days would go by where I would hear him laugh out loud, mumbling to myself things that are not proper to write here. He would take it with him to work, leaving me no chance to snatch it back. But he was obviously enjoying the book, and I didn’t want to tell him I wanted it back. I was too much of a chicken since I knew he would give it back to me and I would feel guilty afterwards. So a month or so later, I got in another literature class, and that meant other readings…
Cormac McCarthy. Blood Meridian (1985)
The book sign remains even today at page 173, which is somewhat in the middle. Also, writing this feels like I am narrating one of those documentaries about the Titanic: ´´The pair of boots remains a the shipwreck site, a testimony that…´´.
Sometime last year I took a course on Representation (Cultural Studies stuff). As a part of my final grade I had to make a presentation regarding how the Danish National Museum chose to represent a different culture than their own. My group and I chose to focus on a temporary exhibit about Native Americans. At the presentation (which was a success) our teacher showed a special interest in our subject. To cut things short, he recommended us Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, with the side note that it’s really sad and depressing and we should not read it over Christmas. The book is about the massacre of Native Americans by ´´scalp hunters´´. So what did I do? Yeah, you guessed. I tried reading it juuuuust as I entered the Christmas break. The level of craft blew me away! Day after day I was making weird connections with my own presentation and was becoming so sad about that particular time of the past and everything that was built around it. I stopped in order to continue it after the holidays but somehow every time I looked at the book I was afraid. I don’t know of what. I guess I am afraid to read what people can do, what people can be like. I’m afraid I care too much and can never finish this book while keeping my sanity intact.
Hunter S. Thompson. The Rum Diary (1998)
I got this book after it sounded like it could be something I’ve never read before. Unique. The good stuff. I heard about it on a video(link at the end) were Johnny Depp, apparently a good friend of the author, was talking a bit about the movie they made after the book. Clips were showed, Depp talked a bit about his friendship with Thompson. Oh, and that part about how he was talked into blowing the cremated remains of Thompson from a cannon. Yeah.
Totally convinced I have to read this book I bought it fast, dreaming at all the fun I was going to have.. I have a faint recollection of starting to read it somewhere on a beach where the sand was not as I remembered it, and where dad kept motioning me to take his picture all the time. The book follows the story of a journalist that goes to the Caribbean to work for a paper (which is why reading it on a beach sounded like a crazy good idea, but proved to be quite the cliché, as my stupid picture to the left shows). Little does the main character knows, but he ends up in a place where pretty much everyone seems to be as crazy as you can be while still being allowed to roam the streets. It’s funny, and witty, and unbelievable, and I loved it. Hoooowever, as you might have guessed by now, I didn’t finish it.
I was at a friends’ house, discussing what movie we should see, when THEY all agreed upon The Rum Diary. Me, the chicken that I am, didn’t say anything and prepared myself for two hours of spoilers. Ah well, I’ll still enjoy the book, I said to myself. Well I thought the movie wasn’t that super great or funny (except the chicken/rooster/whatever that was. That part was pretty good), and it really discouraged me to keep reading the book.
So this is it. My list of books that I think are great but never finished. I think I should take a deep breath and try to read these books this summer. There really is no reason for any of them to gather dust unread, so I should just do it. Except The Stand. Don’t think I can go through that one anymore. I believe I am forever scarred.
Link to the mentioned Johnny Depp interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRUYbSlrGAg