April 26 12

The English Patient.

It that book. That one book that I just cannot bring myself to finish. I have tried—many times, too many to count, even. The writing is lovely and lyrical, sure, but, well, every time I sit down with the book in hands, it’s like suddenly I’m Elaine Benes.

I can’t do this any more. I can’t. It’s too long. Quit telling your stupid story about the stupid desert, and just die already! DIE!

There’s way too much non-activity on those pages for my taste. My mind wanders and I find myself doing things other than reading—my taxes, filling my car up with gas, unloading the dishwasher, flossing, talking to telemarketers, eating olives. You know, all the things I love to do. I apologize a thousand times over to Michael Ondaatje, as I’m sure he’s a lovely, lovely (and smart!) person. I just…can’t.

The English Patient, for me, is the exception, not the rule. Typically, even if I don’t like the book that I’m reading, I follow through and finish, no matter how much I hate it. I have hopes that it will get better! I know it! Just a few more pages! It has to pick up steam!

Also, I’m stubborn.

But there’s another book in my life that may just be going the way of the poor English patient.

Back onto the bookshelf.

I have tried. So so hard.

I have read over 200 pages. I keep picking it back up. It’s going to get better. SOMETHING is going to happen. I’m going to like it. The short, disjointed stories are going to come together. There will be an AHA MOMENT! There will be one single character that I actually care about.

Only, there’s nothing.

I wonder what Elaine Benes would think of this one.

Please please please tell me I’m not the only one. Have you ever quit on a book?

  1. I couldnt finish the English Patient either. I listened to The Forgotten Garden on audio, and it was kind of forgetable. Her other books are great though. I also never could finish reading Wicked.

    Comment by Cristan on April 26, 2012
  2. I quit Eat, Pray, Love. I picked up The Forgotten Garden after reading Jonna’s rave review on Goodreads and … loved it. So has everyone I’ve lent it to. :)

    alimartell replied on

    Did you read The House at Riverton? I have that one too but haven’t read it yet…maybe Kate Morton’s writing style I don’t love?

    Comment by Angella on April 26, 2012
  3. I quit books all the time! I am like the bad boyfriend of books! I just figure there are so many books and I love to read so if one is not making me happy, I say sayonara sweetheart!! Unless it is a book club book which I feel obligated to finish if possible. I also gave up on a Kate Morton book, Distant Hours. I really love stuff about Britain during WWII and I tried to listen to DH on CD in the car but it just dragged on for far too long to capture my interest. I think I made it to Disc 16 and gave up.

    Comment by Jen on April 26, 2012
  4. I bought that one and the other one after the Forgotten Garden. Same writing style, and similar in how the story spans different generations. I liked Forgotten Garden the best of the three, but they were all great beach reads last summer.

    Comment by Angella on April 26, 2012
  5. Ya .. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo .. way to dry at the beginning as they set out each character .. must have re-read that chapter 5 times because I’d put it down and then start from the beginning again ..

    Comment by Sarah on April 26, 2012
  6. All the time! And it’s always the acclaimed books – Tale of Two Cities, Love in the time of Cholera, The Three Musquatiers – it’s not that they’re not good, clearly they are. They just involve a lot of concentration and well, you know…Hey! There’s a squirrel!

    Comment by Heather on April 26, 2012
  7. Catch-22. I just can’t do it, despite having tried several times. Like you, I almost never give up on a book, but sometimes you’ve just got to let yourself move on to something more captivating to you.

    Comment by Stephanie on April 26, 2012
  8. I never quit books. I’m stubborn and I just have to finish, even if I hate it. But The Lonely Polygamist. I tried so hard. I renewed it the maximum number of times at the library. I just couldn’t finish it.

    And then I found out it’s actually really good at the end!

    Comment by Kristabella on April 26, 2012
  9. My favourite line from that Seinfeld episode:

    Elaine’s friend says, “We just saw The English Patient again – it’s even better the second time.”

    Elaine: Did they make it longer?

    Comment by Lucia on April 26, 2012
  10. like Jen, I quit books all the time. I think I have 3 or 4 right now in my ‘library books to return’ pile that I read somewhere between 2 – 100 pages of and decided they weren’t holding my interest.
    There are SOOOOO many books in the world, why would you read something you’re not interested in?

    Comment by suze on April 26, 2012
  11. I am the exact same about needing to finish books and have tried to read The English Patient at LEAST 3 or 4 times, determined that now that I’m older and allegedly more mature, I’ll GET it. I don’t. I can’t finish that book. I’ve never even tried to watch the movie.

    Comment by Joscelyn on April 26, 2012
  12. I quit books all the time. That said, I read The Forgotten Garden on Angella’s suggestion on her blog, and it was one of the best books I had read in a LONG time. Twists and turns that I didn’t expect in almost every chapter. I didn’t like The Distant Hours at all though. It was really slow, and the ending was a cop-out.

    Comment by Tia on April 26, 2012
  13. I quite on books all the time. I have so little time to read that if I hate it and it obviously not getting better, I stop. Life is too short.

    Comment by Corey Feldman on April 26, 2012
  14. I absolutely have wanted to quit on a book, and I think I have only once (Love in the Time of Cholera got the best of me). But, I’m with you on the Forgotten Garden!

    I struggled all the way through that one, and at some point I hit the “Well, I’m this far…” stage, and then the “the good part must be coming up” stage, and lastly the “Ok, well at least it’s almost over” stage.

    It certainly wasn’t my favorite, but I HATE quitting on books, especially ones that “everyone else” loves. Sort of makes you question yourself as a reader (silly, I know).

    Comment by Jen on April 26, 2012
  15. Oh yeah, I give up on books all the time! Life’s too short to waste time on something that’s not interesting to me, no matter how much someone else may have loved it.

    Comment by Anna on April 26, 2012
  16. Angella beat me to my love for this book. It was one of my favorites of 2011, truly! I’m sorry you didn’t dig it.

    ali replied on

    I’m sorry too. It’s totally my kind of book…historical fiction-y is usually right up my alley. I was expecting to love it. I just haven’t been able to get into it. I will probably keep going…the stubborn in me will probably—it may pick up for me yet!

    Comment by jonniker on April 26, 2012
  17. Totally quit the girl with the dragon tattoo…and another book club book that our WHOLE club quit and it was so crappy I can’t even remember the name!

    ali replied on

    I forced myself to finish the dragon tattoo. I did NOT like it.

    Comment by Sara on April 27, 2012
  18. Water for Elephants. Hated it. Didn’t finish it.

    Comment by Karen Sugarpants on April 29, 2012
  19. I’ve read “Eat, Pray, Love” and adored the book so much it’s been read at least three times. But I can’t seem to finish book two, “Committed”. I’ve tried twice, and I will try again, but whenever I’m in need of reading material I always end up reading a Nora Roberts trilogy (of which I have reread 4-10 times per trilogy, I kid you not) or browsing through Kindle eBook store.

    And just to make a point of it: I’d rather wait three days for a book to be released than pick up “Committed”.

    Of course, there are countless of books I don’t pick up at all. Gifts received that will never be looked at again. I just know myself that well. Does that make me a bad person?

    Comment by Hallie on April 30, 2012
  20. Oh man, I hate giving up on books, but I’ve done it with two that really stand out. Eat Pray Love and Anna Karenina … and I have The Forgotten Garden in my bookshelf to read, so now I’m afraid that I’ll have to make it THREE books.

    It feels weird giving up on a book … I’m glad that I’m not the only one who deals with that!

    Comment by Sarah on May 1, 2012
  21. Mine is Wicked. I’ve seen the musical 5 or 6 times — I can sing every word by heart. But I can’t get through the book. I’ve tried at least 10 times. I own it and keep hoping maybe one day….sigh.

    Comment by Cindy on May 3, 2012

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