Books I Needn’t Finish?

I read the first chapter of If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller last night in which the narrator lists the kind of books that a prospective reader might encounter on a trip to a bookshop including;

Books You Haven’t Read Yet
Books You Needn’t Read
Books Made For Purposes Other Than Reading
Books That Everybody’s Read So It’s As If You Had Read Them Too
Books That If You Had More Than One Life You Would Certainly Also Read But Unfortunately Your Days are Numbered
Books That Fill You With Sudden, Inexplicable Curiosity, Not Easily Justified

I smiled as I read, thinking of examples and also consider the two books that I had been reading and decided to give up on.

I am a Cat, by Soseki Natsume
(Books That If You Had More Than One Life You Would Certainly Also Read But Unfortunately Your Days are Numbered)

After noticing this book on Paperback Reader’s blog this book first fell into the category; Books That Fill You With Sudden, Inexplicable Curiosity, Not Easily Justified. This was probably because I like cats and the idea of a supercilious cat mocking human behaviour. I decided to read it as part of Dolce Bellezza’s Japanese Literature Challenge 4.

However, although I got on well with the first chapter, by about page 85, I was finding it a little too supercilious and not funny enough to be engaging. Especially as there seem to be lots of strange, long conversations between the teacher (pompous) and his associates including one called Coldmoon (obsessed with people trying to hang themselves).

I tried, I really tried to carry on with this book for at least another 40 pages to the end of volume 1, but I just couldn’t cope with the ongoing waffling. This shouldn’t put you off at all if you enjoy books with large swathes of introspective conversation between characters. For me, life is too short.

Scottish Ghost Stories (available to read free online), by Elliott O’Donnell
(Books You Needn’t Read (All Of, Right Now))

Finding myself without a book to read on the Tube, having misplaced my current read yet again I turned to my trusty iPhone and decided to read something seasonal. Scottish Ghost Stories is a collection of 27 cases of haunting in Scotland, written in 1912.

It is an enjoyable collection to dip into for an anachronistic look at alleged haunting and spooks-past, but after reading the first four cases, I was a bit bored of reading about ‘Death Bogles and haunted attics. Because the tone of the book is very matter of fact (like a detective case-book), the reader needs to have a pre-disposition to believing in ghosts to find it frightening. While I do love a good scary movie or horror story, I need the drama built up for me Stephen King or Daphne Du Maurier style. Perhaps if I believed in ghosts and was on a holiday in Scotland in the depths of winter, this might have been a bit scarier.

Definitely a curiosity, but not enough to make me curious enough to read them all!

What books have you read lately and decided that you didn’t want to continue with, and why?

10 responses to “Books I Needn’t Finish?

  1. I adore that list in the first chapter of On A Winter’s Night A Traveller of all the different types of books there are; some made me laugh and nod rigorously in agreement.

    I’m sorry that I Am a Cat was in the end not for you; reading it is hard work and I had to split the volumes up considerably.

  2. I’ve still got ‘I Am a Cat’ on my TBR but not sure if I have enough time this year as it’s a hefty book. It’s still one I’m planning to read just because it’s by Soseki, but then I haven’t really read anything by him yet. I’ve just abandoned ‘Assassin’s Creed’ the novel. I know, it’s from a computer game but I just have this obessession with assassins and the crusades. But it was truly dire and I think I did myself a favour.

    • Haha, you make me laugh Sakura. I never knew you had an obsession with assassins!! I suggest you dip into the Soseki before embarking on it as I think reading a few paragraphs will give you a flavour of it.

  3. Oh I read If On A Winter’s Night earlier this year and loved that part too! I even noted the whole paragraph down on my review post. Also, I felt the same with I Am a Cat. I read the first chapter and then stopped. It was an okay read, but I just don’t have the inclination to continue. It was originally published in three separate books anyway, so I feel like I can at least say I finished the first book. It does bother me to leave a book unfinished. But I don’t care much to finish short stories collection. I dip in and out of them all the time.

  4. I usually try to finish until the bitter end, but two books that had me beaten were The Legacy by Kirsten Tranter and Under the Tuscan Sun. Both were boring and aimless IMHO. (My post about it is here: http://samstillreading.wordpress.com/2010/07/31/unfinished-reads/ )

    • I’m the same. I usually have to really dislike a book not to finish. In this case, I just wanted to get on with books I think I’ll like more. I haven’t read those, but have to say they don’t massively appeal so I can steer clear!

  5. I do give up too easily if a book doesn’t capture my imagine in the first few chapters. Although, it doesn’t happen too often! I was on holiday the week before last and took The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I found the beginning really dry and difficult and ended up reading the first few pages several times – this is one I’ll go back to mind you, as I’ve been dying to read it for ages. But still, disappointed.

    • That’s interesting. I enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale, but I know what you mean it is a little dry at the beginning.

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