(This isn’t so much a reading list as a non-read list)
As a self-confessed book-lover, I always feels a little bit ashamed when I put a book down before I’ve finished it. And it may feel like defeat, like maybe you’ve missed the point, but it’s important to remember that some books just aren’t for you and no matter how much you try you just can’t push past the first few chapters. It’s okay. If we all liked the same things then conversations would never turn into passionate debates. Life would be pretty dull. So, here’s a handful of books (that I can remember) that I never managed to finish:
- The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
- The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
- The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
I know, I know, its the quintessential coming-of-age story, and it wasn’t that I didn’t like the book. There were parts of it that hooked me. I tried reading it at 14 and 16, but my enthusiasm peetered off half-way through. In the end, I gave it to my older sister who finished it in three days and I hungrily devoured Chuck Palanuik’s Fight Club and Invisible Monsters instead. That’s not to say I won’t read it at some point, but at those times, it wasn’t for me.
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
My reasons for not finishing this book are based on personal experience. I bought it to read at colleged when I was studying English and that year we focused on war literature. I might have finished it, but that year my History class visited Auschwitz and since then, I haven’t really been able to emotionally distance myself from stories that depict that persecution and suffering. I did the one thing that is always guaranteed to spoil a read: I looked at the last page. That, was that. I think I donated the book pretty soon afterwards.
The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
I used to work in a charity shop when I was at university, which meant I got the pick of any donated books. This is one of the books I acquired at the insistance of my manager who told me that if I hadn’t read Doris Lessing then I had to. In defense of the book, there isn’t anything in particular that made me stop reading it that I can remember, just that I didn’t engage with it and with a book of its size, I think you need that instant connection to pull you through to the end, and I just didn’t have that.
Maybe in 2 or 5 or 10 years time, I will come back to these books and find that my relationship to them has changed, but for now they will remain on my list of unfinished book.