28 Books We Couldn't Finish
It takes determination, probably pride, and lots of time to persevere through a book you don't hit it off with. Sometimes we finish and it's worth it; other times, it's not. A while back, Goodreads released an infographic on the psychology of book abandonment, listing these five as the top most abandoned books on the site:
- JK Rowling's The Casual Vacancy
- E L James's Fifty Shades of Grey
- Stieg Larsson's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
- Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love
- Gregory Maguire's Wicked
You agreed with some of these selections when we asked what books you cut loose, but you also shared a plethora of other books that were hard to finish. On a Facebook post, your unfinished reads included City of Bones, Freedom, The Time Traveler's Wife, and Outlander. Now check out our list of books we just can't seem to turn the final page on, and share yours in the comments!
— Additional reporting by Tara Block
Fifty Shades of Grey
This was one of Goodreads' top five most abandoned books, and I have to agree. I couldn't stand either of the protagonists (Anastasia, especially), and for all the sex hype, I didn't really find the sex scenes that titillating.
"Worst book I've ever read. Garbled, pretentious writing, horrible characterization, and awful plot development. I slogged through 3/4 of the book waiting for it [to] get good, and when I finally realized that was never gonna happen, I stopped."
Eat, Pray, Love
"By the time she got to India, I had had enough."
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
"I couldn't get past the first chapter."
"Gave up after he described a vase for like two pages."
The Casual Vacancy
J.K. Rowling's first post-Harry Potter novel made Goodreads' top five abandoned books, and it's also one I haven't finished. I haven't been able to get into the characters, and the plot just hasn't drawn me in, but I'm not throwing in the towel just yet.
"It was just so poorly written."
"I heard nothing but rave reviews about it and I can't understand why. There are too many characters and it's so redundant. An example:
'What is that?
What kind of egg?
A hard-boiled egg
What kind of hard-boiled egg?
A fresh hard-boiled egg.'
And that stupid conversation continues for like 2 pages but 10 times more annoying."
"I loved The Last Song and Dear John, but The Notebook and Nights on Rodanthe were horrible. Couldn't get through the second chapter on Rodanthe. The Notebook bored me the first few pages!"
"I've read 3/4 of the book approximately a dozen times now and cannot seem to finish it. I always end up putting it down to do something else for a while and never picking it back up. It's still on my list though."
East of Eden
"It's beautifully written but the mood of the novel is so dry and depressing it always manages to wear me down by Chapter 3. I gave up after the 4th attempt."
The Crimson Petal and the White
"I just wasn't into it and the thing was too big for me to ever want to lug anywhere so I just eventually stopped reading."
"I like messed up books, but that one was pretty bad even for me."
"I've tried so many times, including audio, but I can't keep track of the names! They all sound the same to me and I lost track of who was who and it got too much! I try to read it like once a year and I never get more than 60 pages in! I will get it done one day!"
"I found the characters to be absolutely loathsome."
Julie & Julia
"The protagonist, Julie, is the most whiny and annoying thing I have ever encountered. I was appalled. Every chapter was 'woe is me' while being entirely narcissistic, and peppered with descriptions of her absolutely filthy living conditions. I read almost all of the book, hoping she would develop a semblance of self-awareness. She didn't."
Les Misérables (Unabridged)
"The story has great characters and moments, then about 2/3 of the way through Hugo decides to go off on a complete tangent about a battle that happened decades ago and how it loosely ties to the current Revolution occurring in the book."
Life of Pi
"I tried so hard to like the book, but it was so boring to me. And I know so many people liked it."
The Lovely Bones
"I know everybody just loves it, but it bores me to tears."
One Fifth Avenue
"There were too many one-dimensional characters that I just didn't care about."
The Complete Works of Shakespeare
"ALL of Shakespeare's works — They give no satisfaction as I spend more time trying to translate Old English to modern day English & thus lose any enjoyment for the stories."
"I love the movie and the storyline. The book seems like old English. There are phrases and words that are very specific to that period. I may try to read it again."
Wheel of Time Series
"I made it a few books in because one of my friends recommended it to me, but I had to quit. His writing is TERRIBLE the characters are awful, selfish people and he keeps separating them more and more until you can't keep track of who is where/doing what."
"I cannot seem to finish any of the Shopaholic books, I just don't feel sorry at all for the main character and can't get past the first few chapters."
On the Road
"I had to return it to the library, but never bothered to get it again. I told a few people who loved it that I didn't care for it, and they all said something like 'You have to be at a certain point in your life when it's the right time to read that.'"
Lit: A Memoir
"I was so excited to read it but I just don't like her writing style. I read the first chapter or two and returned it for something else."
"I loved Pride and Prejudice, but Emma annoyed me to no end. I know she redeems herself at the end, but that's not worth a whole book of wanting to slap a character. Loved Clueless though!"
"Tolkien spent 6 pages describing grass on a hill, and I had to put the book down."