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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Thursday, September 28

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Andrew Huff / June 1, 2010 12:35 AM

Question suggested by Rose. Got a good one for us? Email it to

Mine? Across Five Aprils and The Scarlet Letter. Both for school. Both dreadfully boring.

shechemist / June 1, 2010 7:04 AM

The Fountainhead. I have tried 3 times, then decided it just wasn't worth it.

Amanda / June 1, 2010 7:32 AM

Anna Karenina. Not bad, not boring, just confusing with all the names. Every year, I swear I'm going to make it through.

Dutch101 / June 1, 2010 8:25 AM

Gravity's Rainbow, I've tried to read that twice and only gotten about a third through each time. I just don't know if that book is worth the effort.

rick / June 1, 2010 9:28 AM

"Henderson the Rain King" by Saul Bellow. I tried to read it twice and couldn't finish it.

mary / June 1, 2010 9:30 AM

sadly i have four books i have begun only to quit about 30 pages into. catch 22, ultimate hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy, atlas shrugged, and fargo city rock. Hitchhikers and Atlas I only quit because the books were too large to carry in my purse (I get most of my reading done on the train to/from work). the other two i just couldn't get into.

mary / June 1, 2010 9:31 AM

sorry, dyslexic. it's fargo rock city.

joshua / June 1, 2010 9:39 AM

Stranger in a Strange Land. Supposed sci-fi classic = huge let down after 50 pages.

Krista / June 1, 2010 10:02 AM

Mists of Avalon. I can't believe I only had a hundred and fifty pages left (out of just under 900!), but I just couldn't take it. That was ten years ago.

Otherwise, I am always racked with guilt when I don't finish books, so I finish books I don't really enjoy (see: Gravity's Rainbow, An Imaginary Tale, any Eudora Welty...).

Y A J / June 1, 2010 10:14 AM

Infinite Jest. It is a close friend's favorite book, so I have tried more than once. But I just can't do it.

eee / June 1, 2010 10:24 AM

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Bored me to tears. Ugh.

Cheryl / June 1, 2010 10:34 AM

I threw
Bridget Jones across the room in disgust after a couple of chapters.

kate / June 1, 2010 10:52 AM

I couldn't get into Enders Game and Pygmy was impossible to make sense of.

mike / June 1, 2010 11:26 AM

I gave up halfway through Giles Goat-Boy and about forty pages into The Russian Debutante's Handbook. The former was boring, the latter bad.

laney / June 1, 2010 11:50 AM

The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell. I promptly sold it as soon as I realized I was never going to finish it.

flange / June 1, 2010 11:53 AM

lord of the rings. i was halfway through the second book. i didn't see the movies either; life's too short.

Jerry Schwartz / June 1, 2010 12:21 PM

The Laws of Our Fathers by Scott Turow. See I also could not get into Confessions of St. Augustine.

Rose / June 1, 2010 12:31 PM

I guess I should answer this, since I suggested it: Jane Eyre. Hated the plot, and the writing was so dull I wanted to cry. Sorry Brontë fans.

teresa k / June 1, 2010 12:34 PM

infinite jest, seriously way too many foot notes.

tried the scarlett letter three times, had to force myself to finish. i'm 35 and i hated it, why torture high school students with it?

geraly / June 1, 2010 12:43 PM

i couldn't get thru "jonathan strange & mr. norrell" by susanna clarke... was neither bad nor boring... just an everest of sorts and i found myself completely unprepared and desperately in need of a sherpa.. :)

lmy / June 1, 2010 12:44 PM

i've picked up zen and the art of motorcycle maintance so many times, but just can't do it.

Spook / June 1, 2010 1:17 PM

My internal hardwiring won't allow me to not finish a book that I've picked up, no matter how bad or boring, combinded with being long.

But I did find an escape clause with
All the Pretty Horses by leaving it on a plane.

p.s. I'm a huge Cormac McCarthy fan

MEH / June 1, 2010 2:03 PM

Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat, Pray, Love." I've tried to read it twice and I haven't been able to get out of the first part where she's in Italy.

gate / June 1, 2010 2:10 PM

The bible, which is weird because I usually like fiction.

holden / June 1, 2010 2:51 PM

Born on a Blue Day.
I was listening to the audiobook and just was not feeling it.

greg / June 1, 2010 3:26 PM

The CEO of the Sofa by PJ O'Rourke. I think I read a chapter, wondered just when he had become Andy Rooney, and got rid of it.

Kevin / June 1, 2010 9:51 PM

I have several books that I just sort of put down a few pages before the end, but Gravity's Rainbow takes the cake. Like a previous commenter, 1/3 of the way in, two different times, couldn't take it. And I loved LOVED Foucault's Pendulum. Also, some book by Mamet that I can't be bothered to remember. Five chapters in, and I couldn't tell one character from the next. Bitch, please.

Leelah / June 1, 2010 10:06 PM

I loved "Infinite Jest"... It's crazy, but it's SO funny.

Oddly, the book I can never finish is Camus' "The Plague" which isn't boring at all. I've started it a few times and it always gets forgotten...

r / June 2, 2010 1:32 AM

Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food"

Zoup / June 2, 2010 7:15 AM

Rose- you might want to try the Illustrated Jane Eyre by Dame Darcy. It has all the original text, but also has illustrations throughout the long read, and it makes it a little more fun (bought it from Women and Children First in Andersonville). I spent a few months reading it last summer, and felt quite satisfied to have finished it.
That said, I just returned a David Mamet book back to the Edgewater library without getting through even the first 20 pages. The Old Religion stunk stunk stunk. I just couldn't give my time to that drek!

PMan / June 2, 2010 9:31 AM

100 Years of Solitude, if anything can happen, nothing that happens really matters.

Mao II by Don Delillo -- solipsistic blather.

mike-ts / June 2, 2010 8:47 PM

"A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" by Dave Eggers. My cousin gave it to me, highly recommended. I got 120 pages in, then sent it sailing across the room. I told him it fell down the stairs.

Sarah Best / June 3, 2010 11:14 AM

I agree with eee. The Time Traveler's Wife. I was so bored by the language used in the book that I gave up after a chapter or two.

I'm also solidly stuck in the middle of Tom Robbin's Jitterbug Perfume.

Other books that I've made it through that I totally hate: Native Son (the third part, which is set in a courtroom is really hard to get through), Jane Eyre (sorry, I also hate it! "So Reader, I married him!" Gag, gag, gag!), The Scarlet Letter, The Grapes of Wrath, Tom Sawyer, um yeah, lots of stuff in my high school American lit classes.

vise77 / June 3, 2010 11:49 AM

"Middlesex"--the whole brush with history Forrest Gumpy crap really ticked me off for some reason, and I found the writing less than interesting--more gimmicky than serious. Sold to used book store after perhaps three chapters.

Anything by Jane Austen. My god, I could never finish her, and even begged my high school teacher to let me read another book (she complied; she was awesome). And Dickens. I keep going back to see what I have missed but then can't get pass the 1/3 mark.

Anything I've read by Audrey Niffenger, including short stories. I really want to like her--what an imagination she has--but I find her fantasies/magic realism far too cute and childlike to capture my attention for more than an hour or so. And while she comes up with interesting scenarios, I am not sure she has much to say about life that is interesting. The same goes for Meno, another local: I really want to like him, and I have nothing but respect for his productivity and popularity, but I find his tone to be repepitive and boring and a bit too cute, at times bordering on nostalgic or hip. I can barely finish a short story by him (and his stories are everywhere, much to his credit).

I find Eggers more boring than inventive, and, again, I wonder what I am missing. I just don't get his tone, I guess.

Amanda: That is a common complaint about Russian novels. May I suggest having a chart handy to keep up with all those nicknames? I promise, it can get easier. There is a rough system for all those names,and AK is a great book even if Oprah tried to recast it as some chick-lit thing.

Kara / June 3, 2010 1:43 PM

The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan, Book 4: The Shadow Rising. Each book in the series is a million pages long. I've been trying to get through this book for at least 5 years, and every time I decide to try again I have to start from the beginning or from the previous book just so that I remember what the heck is going on.

And the urge to read the fantasy series will often occur on vacation, when I don't have the book on me, prompting a trip to the bookstore to get what I know I won't finish. As a result I think I have 3 or 4 copies.

CVAL / June 3, 2010 2:27 PM

The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss - can you say narcissistic elf?

staci / June 3, 2010 2:27 PM

I've tried to read A Time Traveler's Wife three times but could not get into it at all. I just put down The Behindlings by Nicola Barker for a second time because it was so painfully boring and I hated most of the characters. Ugh. I will not be picking up that one again.

Dennis Fritz / June 3, 2010 6:11 PM

The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Possibly the most overrated literature in the English language.

nvghn / June 3, 2010 7:52 PM

Conrad's Heart of Darkness. I know, it's a great work of literature, and it's short, but I have never been able to get past the first 20 pages or so. Boring.

I am happy to learn that I am not the only one who can't get into Eggers. I've tried to read him,

y a j / June 3, 2010 8:07 PM

I am oddly relieved to see some very popular authors on this list, I thought everyone but but me loved to read Eggers and Meno!

I second the vise77's suggestion. Most of my Russian classics have a post it guide to characters. Arguably, one should be able to read great fiction without a chart, but really, how else would you remember that the same character can have three different names, depending on who is addressing her?

Lori / June 3, 2010 8:23 PM

Um, Dan Brown? Three sentences in, and I knew: No effing way.

Andy / June 12, 2010 5:51 PM

A Tale of Two Cities. It was definitely the worst of times for me...

Leah / June 15, 2010 7:09 PM

Another vote for Infinite Jest. I think I finally gave it away - the ultimate proof I gave up.

Also couldn't finish House of Leaves. Apparently I'm not very post-modern.

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