Monday, March 12, 2007

Once I put it down, I just couldn't pick it up...

I was planning to post on something entirely different today, but an article in The Times with the same title as this post caught my eye today (you can find it online here). The piece amused me after my observation yesterday that I've spent the last two weeks starting several books without finishing many of them. According to a recent survey, "the average Briton spends more than £4,000 on books over a lifetime, but leaves nearly half unfinished". I'm fairly sure I'll spend a good deal more than that, but I don't plan on leaving such a large proportion unfinished. A high percentage of people surveyed confessed to buying titles that would look good in front of others, which is something I don't think I do. I will admit to making careful selections from my shelves at times, but generally that just means leaving Harry Potter and Jilly Cooper at home! Here's the list of the top ten unfinished fiction books:

1 Vernon God Little, D.B.C. Pierre
2 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J K Rowling
3 Ulysses, James Joyce
4 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis De Bernieres
5 Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell
6 The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie
7 The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
8 War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
9 The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
10 Crime and Punishment, Dostoyevsky

I've started (and completed, before you ask) four of these - Harry Potter (loved it), The Satanic Verses (disappointing, wanted to give up but didn't), The Alchemist (overrated) and The God of Small Things (compelling but disturbing in places). Of the others, I know Captain Corelli's Mandolin is in the house somewhere, and Ulysses has been languishing on my shelves for ages, as has Crime and Punishment. I haven't even heard of Cloud Atlas, I don't think - and I'm unlikely to look it out now! How many on the list have you completed or abandoned?


Wendy said...

I've read and completed War and Peace (one of my favorite reads of all time) and Crime and Punishment. The Alchemist and Cloud Atlas are both on my TBR pile. I'm surprised people don't finish The is such a thin little book!

Bookgirl said...

I've read Captain Corelli's Mandolin, which I absolutely loved. I tried Satanic Verses and God of Small Things but didn't get much further than the first 20-30 pages.

Imani said...

I started Satanic Verses when I was a little girl and it was a bit much for me to finish at the time, but I still mean to finish it one day. The images from the first few pages have remained impressed on my mind to this day.

I've never tried the rest and the only one I own is Cloud Atlas. (The Rushdie was my mother's.)

Danielle said...

I'm working on War and Peace. I was afraid for a while that it would end up in my unfinished pile, but I am working hard on it and hope to finish before the end of the month! I have read Harry Potter, Corelli's Mandolin twice (loved it!), The Alchemist (a long time ago), and the God of Small Things (I sort of didn't like this one, though most people raved about it). There were just a few too many vomiting scenes in it for my tastes. I hate to think that is the one thing I remember from that book! I am sure I spend much more than that on books as well! I buy what I like--I don't care if people notice or not--and in my experience a lot of people are clueless. I've been dragging the Tolstoy around with me now for almost two weeks reading away, and not one person has commented on it. Apparently I am impressing no one but myself--LOL.

Danielle said...

I hope that didn't sound like I am reading Tolstoy to impress anyone!! I started reading it along with a group and I am one of the stragglers. I have dragged chicklit around with me, too, I'm an equal opportunity reader! :)

Dark Orpheus said...

Never tried Vernon God Little or Cloud Atlas. Don't think I ever will.

Ulysses - read the dirty bits at the back of the book - never completed. A few hundred pages into War and Peace - but I intend on completing it - soon.

HP & the Goblet of Fire - had to find out what happened.
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - enjoyed it
The Satanic Verses - over-rated, although funny in many places. I enjoyed the bit when the guy followed his wife and the pilgrims in his white Mercedes
The Alchemist - I found it dull and hardly inspirational
The God of Small Things - I liked it
Crime and Punishment - led me on my Dostoevsky phase - and everything Russian

Dorothy W. said...

I've finished five of these -- including Ulysses! But that one was for a class, which helped a ton. I would be at sea with it if I tried it on my own. I'm just not big on abandoning books, which isn't always a good thing.

Annabooklover said...

I’ve read Harry, Corelli, the Alchemist, Crime and Punishement and I’ve abandoned (more than once mind you, but not for ever) Ulysses and The Fod of Small Things. I was thinking of buying Cloud Atlas but now I’m put off.

Nyssaneala said...

I agree with you Wendy, The Alchemist is such a small book!

Goblet of Fire - this was my least favorite in the HP series, but of course I read the whole thing. :)
Captain Corelli's Mandolin - this book did not live up to my expectations.
Satanic Verses - Loved it.
The Alchemist - Eh, it was ok. No major epiphanies after reading it, though.
The God of Small Things - This is one of my favorite books!

Orange Blossom Goddess (aka Heather) said...

I'm so surprised by everyone's reactions to The Alchemist!! I loved it. I recommend it all the time. I'll admit that it has been some years since I read it so perhaps I should do a re-read to make sure it is still worth the happy memory!! LOL

Imani said...

Oh, of course I've read the Harry Potter. Not sure how I missed that the first time around.

rozmarins said...

I couldn`t finish God of Small Things", made it only till middle. While reading this book I understood, that India`s literature doesn`t interest me. I want to read War and Peace, but I`m not going to read HP. The Alchemist was OK, but Veronica decides to die I liked more.

verbivore said...

I've read four of these, but haven't even started the other six. I've thought about starting Ulysses about a million times but even the thought is daunting! The God of Small Things is one of my all-time favorite books.

tanabata said...

I was pleasantly surprised by Vernon God Little. I didn't love it but ended up liking it much more than I thought I would. I also really enjoyed Cloud Atlas, but I do love David Mitchell. Of course I've read Harry, and I agree with you about The Alchemist being overrated. From the comments, I think I'm the only one who hated Captain Corelli's Mandolin. That's one that I really wish I hadn't bothered to finish! I do hope to read War & Peace someday.

Anonymous said...

I remember reading this recently as well. I have read and completed Harry Potter, War and Peace and Crime & Punishment. I don't think there are any on the list that I have started and not finished, just a few that I've been meaning to read for a while...

Mellowdrama said...

Ha...that was an eye-opener. At least I am not alone:) Ulysses and Crime and Punishment make me nervous. Joyce is way too artsy for my taste as for Russian novels, I invariably get lost mid-way, muddle up the names of the characters and generally plod through it only because I HAVE TO - case in point Dr. Zhivago. War and Peace is languishing on my bookshelf and the only Cohelo I actually completed in fits and spurts is Veronika Decides to Die! Read on!