Goodreads has a list of the top five books that people couldn’t finish:
Hmm. I’ve already posted about my inability to finish Atlas Shrugged. Its popularity makes me realize there is a limit to my ability to understand human nature. I re-read Moby Dick a couple of years ago; I finished it, but I have to admit it was a struggle — too much stuff about whaling! Ulysses is not a book you’re going to get through without a large commitment of time and effort; plus, you’re going to need some help. But it surely repays the effort. I have no idea why anyone would have any difficulty finishing Lord of the Rings or Catch-22.
I suppose the most important book I haven’t been able to finish is Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past (if you consider that a single novel). I forced myself to read Swann’s Way a few years ago, but I hated every minute of it. I also couldn’t make it through anything by Thomas Mann except Death in Venice; I only finished that one because it was so short.
There are plenty of lesser novels that I haven’t finished, and I get more impatient as I grow older. I did manage to finish Dan Brown’s Inferno, though, and I’ll blog about that when I gather up my courage.
I’ve happily finished Catch-22, Atlas Shrugged, Don Quixote, The Count of Monte Cristo, War & Peace and a few other Russian masters besides. Three book still have a book mark half-way through – Deception Point by Dan Brown, boy is that bad; The Arabian Nights, left on holiday with it half-finished and have not picked it up again yet; and Planet Simpson by Chris Turner, I had to put it down because it was blowing my mind and gave me some much to think about.
Gravity’s Rainbow for me. I was 7/8 of the way through when I threw in the towel.
That’s too bad, because Pynchon explains everything in clear, everyday English in the last 40 pages. So drop everything you’re doing and start over again.
Never made it through Ulysses. I keep meaning to try again, but so far I just don’t get it.