Monday, July 27, 2009

Obligation

I started reading Anna Karenina after we returned from our trip to Mexico City at the beginning of the month, and I am down to the last hundred pages. There's over 800, so I feel like I'm finally in the home stretch. This is my second time attempting to read Tolstoy's book about Russian society and all the troubles and turmoils of their love lives and I'm beyond thrilled that I'm finally going to finish it.

If you read Saturday's post you saw I have four new books to read (in addition to six or seven still unread novels on the shelf) but I refuse to let myself so much as flip through them until I finish Anna. Moonrat recently read it, and she said that she felt the eighth and final book was unnecessary. Umm, great.

Doesn't matter though, I WILL finish it! At this point it's feeling a bit like homework, but I was the girl who always did my homework, so maybe that's what I need to get through it.

What about you -- are there any books that you've had to force yourself to finish, and why?

23 comments:

Jenna said...

I don't feel this way about contemporary novels--I've put down many despite people raving about them--but I do feel this way about certain classics on my list, e.g. The Sun Also Rises.

The hubby bought it years ago and I figured I should read a Hemingway at some point and so I added it to my list. I've read several chapters but it's just not grabbing me. Old Man and the Sea grabbed me so I've at least experienced one Hemingway.

I have several other classics on my list that may or may not grab me but I will force myself through for various reasons.

Give us the dish when you've finished Anna. We don't really have the same taste in books but I'm curious to see what you think.

LurkerMonkey said...

Bleak House ... I've started and stopped that novel three times over the years. And I'm a Dickens fan, but I just can't get into it's wide-ranging, loosely jointed cast of families, houses and characters.

WendyCinNYC said...

The last book I forced myself to finish was Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. I was in India at the time and had brought that book along with Crime and Punishment. There wasn't a whole lot to do in the evenings in the village, so reading by candlelight was a nightly activity. Just like Abe Lincoln, except that we were all chain-smoking.

Kudos to you for finishing, especially when surrounded by all of life's distractions!

Janna Qualman said...

You're doing great! I've put down more than one book of late, but would probably try harder if it were a classic. Will you do a review when you're done?

JLC said...

I majored in English so I had to read a lot of boring books. Ugh!

I forced myself to finish the last Twilight book. I had already spent the $$$ and read the other three books, so I pushed through it.

Normally, I won't finish a book that I don't enjoy reading. If I can't get sucked into the story, it isn't worth my time.

You should give yourself a little reward for finishing it! *Takes note not to read AK*

JLC said...

Jenna - I didn't finish 'The Sun Also Rises.' I really didn't care about the characters, so I didn't care what happened to them either.

Melanie Avila said...

Jenna, I've only recently set a couple books down, but you're right, it's because AK is a classic that I'm determined to get through it.

I'm a little worried because the next classic on my list is The Sun Also Rises, lol. Between you and JLC, it's not looking good!

I'll probably do a post when I finish, but I don't think it'll be a "review".

Melanie Avila said...

Lurker, I think I read some Dickens in school and never had the desire again after that. Thanks for giving me reasons not to feel guilty about that.

Melanie Avila said...

Wendy, that does seem like the perfect place to read Siddartha. My sister loaned me that book when I was 23 and I gave it back to her, unread, when I moved to Mexico (almost nine years later). Someday...

Melanie Avila said...

Janna, the fact that it's a classic has pushed me through a few slower moments. :)

Melanie Avila said...

JLC, that's so funny because I had to force myself to slow down with #4 so it would last longer. :P

And about the review -- maybe I'll do a review about my joy when I shove it back in its home on the shelf.

Nadine said...

I have to say, there are a TON of books that I have never finished. But for books that I forced myself to finish, they would have to be ones from college or high school where I had to finish them.

LurkerMonkey said...

OK, I have to put in a word for the Sun Also Rises. I loved it. I can see why the characters might rub some people the wrong way. Truthfully, I know a lot of women who can't stand Hemingway because of the macho posing. BUT, if you can see past that, it's a great book about a certain time in life, in a certain era, and it's rendered beautifully.

Also, on Dickens, I pretty much love him. I just can't get through Bleak House. It's a social novel, mostly concerned with class stratification in Victorian England. It's just too dense, too distant. But Great Expectations is my second favorite book -- so much so that I read it over every other year or so just to stay in touch with it. If I was starting with Dickens, though, I'd definitely start with the Tale of Two Cities. For me, Dickens must be read slowly, sometimes even out loud, but it's so worth it. Please don't let my trouble with Bleak House steer you away from Chuck!

Melanie Avila said...

Nadine, maybe I picked up that discipline from school. I always finished THOSE books.

Melanie Avila said...

Lurker, I don't know why I don't have an interest in Dickens. Maybe it's because he was crammed down our throats in school, I don't know. But you have put up a good defense for him. :)

I'll definitely read Sun. I've heard good and bad things about Hemingway's style and I want to experience it for myself.

Jenna said...

Lurker Monkey, the characters in 'The Sun Also Rises' did not bother me and I really did not get a macho-man vibe from the writing so it wasn't that--in fact it was actually the reasons I was so curious to read the book--that and the bull fighting.

I made it to Book II (a third of way in) and there has been no bull-fighting and not a lot going on--like JLC said, I'm just not that interested in what's happening with the characters.

Except I do want to know the details of the injury. If it's the parts I'm thinking it does make the relationship with the one woman more interesting and makes me a little curious as to how it plays out.

I do think I will finish it soon because it is one that I have heard a lot about--you made a good case for it ;).

Melanie Avila said...

Jenna, I'll have to remember to compare notes with you when I read that. Now you have me curious!

Although the bull fight turns me off a bit, I'm not one to set down a book over something like that.

Robin said...

I'm pretty sure I had to make myself finish AK, also. I went through a "I've got to read Proust" phase. Yeesh. I slogged through the whole Madelaine description, but it was tough. I knew it was the most beautiful writing I'd ever seen, but it didn't captivate me the way I thought a writer should be captivated.

Now, I chuck a book as soon as it gets boring.

Melanie Avila said...

Robin, I've been curious about Proust ever since I saw Little Miss Sunshine, but not curious enough to actually read it. Can you tell me about it so I don't have to?

*pulls up a chair*

gypsyscarlett said...

I never force myself to finish any book.
Two reasons.

first: there are so many other books I want to read

second: I'm not doing the author any favor if I suffer through it. I'll just walk away with negative thoughts about it and perhaps never try another work by that author. On the other hand, there have been numerous times when I've put a book aside, but some time later, it calls to me. I pick it up, and that time, it turns out I'm just in the mood for it, and end up loving it.

Benjamin Solah said...

I'm going through this Orhan Pamuk's The Black Book.

I keep putting it down and pick up other books in the mean time, to kind of get a breather.

His writing is beautiful, his stories so keep and complex. But it's real heavy and the going is so slow.

So I need to get out and have a run on the fast track for a bit, read something lighter.

Melanie Avila said...

Gypsy, that's a good point about not doing the author any favors.

In this case, I waited until Anna started calling to me again and finally decided to do it. I wouldn't have gone back to it if I didn't want to know the story. I won't say I dislike it, but I probably won't read more of Tolstoy. Although I think that's more because of the style, not because this has eaten a month of my life.

Melanie Avila said...

Benjamin, I have a hard time reading more than one thing at one time. I've been tempted with Anna, but I figure I'll just stick it out. Makes me look forward to my other books even more. (my new ones are sitting RIGHT next to me, calling to me, lol.)