Books started but not finished

‘A masterpiece’ The Age

‘An unputdownable page turner by a master storyteller’ The Weekly Times

This book is almost 6 cm (2.5 inches) thick, has 933 pages and is printed in the teeniest type. You would have to put it down, often, to rest your aching arms!

Described as:

This remarkable book can be read as a vast, extended thriller, as well as a superbly written meditation on the nature of good and evil. It is a compelling tale of a hunted man who had lost everything — his home, his family, and his soul — and came to find his humanity while living at the wildest edge of experience.

Have you guessed the book yet?

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts.

Have you started to read it?

Have you finished it?

Forgive me Shantaram Stalwarts!

I would count myself as an Indiaphile when it comes to books, I’ve read and loved among others The Far Pavillions by M.M. Kaye, Passage to India by E.M. Foster, The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais, the writings of Vikram Seth. So how could I not want to read this epic tome that splashes the spicy colour and mystique of India across its pages?

Gifted to me in 2005 by friends, I knew nothing of the book apart from the fact that they had attended a Roberts event and that the sentiments imparted in person and through his writings were soothing to their souls.

I started reading immediately.

Now, seven years on, the gift card still in place as a book mark, I find that I had reached page…wait for it, 48. Impressive? NOT! I was only one-third of the way through Part 1. Then there was Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and finally Part 5.

Hello-oh!

Should I feel less than a capable reader because I failed to even make a dent on this book?

Here’s another confession. This time seeking forgiveness from Stieg Larsson devotees.

Another epic tome, 672 pages, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

My dismal effort to enmesh this novel in my reading repertoire, a scant 30 pages.

The Prologue set up a premise that intrigued me: an 82 year old receiving an exotic framed flower on his birthday. Not just this birthday, but every birthday for the past 30 years. I fully empathise with the aged detective – the ‘Case of the Pressed Flowers’ had been nagging at him for years, the one case he couldn’t solve.

I would not have been so patient with not knowing for all that time, the source of these flowers and what they meant. But how contrarian am I? I could find all the available answers to this premised conundrum if only I had persevered.

So, do you have to finish a book that you don’t find engaging?

I guess it really depends on the outcome you want to achieve. If the book is selected for your book group, you should give it an attempt. I’m sure that you would like all group members to trust you and give any book you selected a reasonable crack.

But I would qualify this by saying, we are privileged to have stacks of books to choose from across the genres and the ages. If you find that a book does not satiate your literary juices, leave it and go on to the next one on your short-stack.

Life is too short to read books that don’t embellish your existence or soothe your soul.

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6 thoughts on “Books started but not finished

  1. I love your blogs! This one reminded me of the day I sat down to read Patricia Cornwell’s Port Mortuary; by the time I had finished it I wanted to stand on top of a cliff and hurl it into a raging sea. Had I been able to find a single cliff on the Perth coastline I may even have done it. I perservered with Larsson and am very glad I did. In the first of his trilogy it took more than two hundred pages to walk through his foundations, an interesting trip through the darker side of the Nordic psyche. However, I am with you. There are plenty of books I have begun and never finished.

    • Well thank you Ruth. I love that after forty (didn’t write numbers as that would be too loud!) years, here we are sharing this medium. There is a small whisper through my being to finish the Larsson trilogy but I know my reluctance is tempered by reading another book that unhappily showed the dark Nordic psyche: Elizabeth’s Daughter by Marianne Fredriksson. As for Cornwall, I enjoyed a couple of her books through the mid-part of her literary journey but found the formula became tired quickly and now have no need to continue through her catalogue of books.

  2. The Larsson books are like Jane Austen books. Many people will claim to have read them while actually only having seen the movie. I can’t read a book after having seen the movie as it ruins the experience for me as you have a picture in your head who is who. I prefer a good book to a movie, although have become lazy in my old age. As for not finishing a book, I have plenty that I start and don’t read and then go back to sometimes years later. Sebastian Faulk’s Birdsong was one such book. It turned out to be probably my all time favourite book. Some things are worth the effort. One such partly read book sitting on my shelf at the moment is the Elegance of a Hedgehog. I will start reading it again at some point. Other books that I have read and wish I hadn’t include The Slap – there’s a few hours that I won’t get back!

    • He, he I hear what you’re saying about going back to a book. One that I had about a 2 year gap between start and finish was The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. Can’t understand why I put it down in the first place.
      I do encourage you to finish The Elegance of the Hedgehog, one of my unexpected reading delights from about 3 years ago.
      Yes, The Slap was confronting, thought the ABC adaptation was very worthwhile.

  3. Life’s too short for a bad book!
    Obviously we could debate the definition of ‘bad’ until the cows come home, but I couldn’t finish Catch 22 (and I’ve tried to at least 3 times!) I also gave up on Let the Great World Spin – just too depressing for me. I also have to read a lot of teen/YA for work…and I have to give up on a lot of it – depressing really, to think of the pulp being served up to our young folk.

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