A list of books that I started & didn’t finish, along with reasons why.
Griftopia by Matt Taibbi — Too upsetting.
Wild Swans by Jung Chang– I was living in China at the time and the story hit too close to home, in that it described aspects of Chinese culture, behavior, and thinking that I was witnessing and experiencing, and which I found extremely challenging to tolerate & navigate in/around/through. I was reading this around the same time that I had symptoms of cardiac arrest one day at work (in a Chinese elementary school) due to the climate of intense fear that I felt was created & deliberately perpetuated in our teacher’s office. I left there after one semester, even though I adored the students, and the person in charge of hiring told me I was the best female teacher they had had in the 10 years of their English program. It was very nice to get that feedback. I tried hard to make it work, but clearly it was not the right environment for me.
Daughters of the Witching Hill by Mary Sharratt — Boring. Though very well-written, and an authentic sense of time & place was quite impressively established, plot was tragically non-existent. Unlike other books where I tried to push myself to plug along a bit more, I put this one down with relative speed, having the thought, “No, just no. There are far too many good books out there waiting to be read to waste time reading something so boring!!!”
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy– Terrifying. It disturbed me to the core. Astonishingly gorgeous use of language at times, however. Have never read such gorgeous sentences in my life as many of those in this book. I might finish it someday.
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy– Boring. Might have had a bad translation, though. I will go back to it at some point.
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman– Repetitive. I will definitely finish it eventually, but needed to take a break. This is the only one I feel a sense of guilt about not finishing. Perhaps because it gave me so much. I did not expect to be so swept away by it. His courage, his nakedness, his troubadouric passion. Many turns of phrases that made me gasp with surprise and awe. When I was reading it, I remember thinking– “Why isn’t there someone standing in the town square every day reading these poems to the people??!! These poems are as necessary nourishment as bread and water, oxygen and sunshine!!!!”
Moby Dick by Herman Melville– Ummmm… I probably don’t need to explain why I stopped reading this. I recall hearing that it’s one of the most commonly unfinished books, due to how challenging it is to get through.