Skip to comments.The books many start, but few ever finish: Survey reveals the reads nobody reads (HRC 1.9%)
Posted on 07/08/2014 6:44:44 AM PDT by InvisibleChurch
It's the cultural crime we don't dare admit - starting that big, high-brow book with the best intentions before leaving it half-read down the back of the sofa.
So those who give up on tough reads will be relieved to hear they're not alone.
A mathematics professor has singled out which books are our most 'unread' - and intellectual big-hitters are far and away the worst culprits.
Readers in their droves gave up on Hillary Clinton's memoirs, Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time and Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century before they were even a tenth of the way through.
Far more bookworms persevered with the light erotica of Fifty Shades of Grey and the teen violence of Catching Fire, part of the Hunger Games series.
The ingeniously simple test was devised by Jordan Ellenberg from the University of Wisconsin, who studied the Popular Highlights feature on Kindle e-readers.
The function allows users to select their favourite sentences from a book, and the results are collected centrally to build up a picture of which phrases are the most popular among the public.
(Excerpt) Read more at dailymail.co.uk ...
Why would anyone care about Hilary Clinton’s memoirs? I mean I can understand if it was like Teddy Roosevelt...he can talk about his exploits with the Rough Riders or Grant’s memoirs. But Hilary Clinton? What has she done that’s worth that many pages?
there is one book i have started at least three times and i cannot get passed the third chapter, and that book is A Tale Of Two Cities (Dickens)... i want to read it... i have read a lot of Dickens, but cannot follow through on this one... it took me two tries to get through Lolita (Nabokov)...
Never read a politician’s memoirs within 20 years of being written.
Pap and political BS like Clinton’s will fade very quickly. Truly historical and useful autobiographies or histories (like Churchill’s) will increase in stature as time goes on.
I never trust a book written by a prospective candidate for office; of course it will be material putting him/her in their best light, and redefining their own history. The lamestream media and the dems substitute autobiographies as “vetting the candidate”, using King Obama as an example.
Currently reading "Enemies Foreign and Domestic".
Lolita is difficult but well worth reading. It’s pretty fantastic.
The Great Gatsby and Infinite Jest are certainly worth reading.
Math professor? Sounds like he's got an axe to grind with the English department.
I couldn’t put this book down. Read it straight out in 60 minutes.... And only $1.99 to boot.
Hmm. I read the Kahnemann book cover to cover. Really enjoyed it, actually.
My personal formula ... if a book hasn’t grasped my interest in the first 100 pages the rest goes unread. Often times it’s just a couple of chapters.
Hillary has the intellect of a three year old, “her” book is worthless.
Piketty’s book is the economics equivalent of that hocky stick glow-bull warming joke.
Let’s not confuse things like that with Stephen Hawking’s book, please.
Try Victor Hugo...I couldn’t even put Hunchback of Notre Dame down and did not really understand it fully until the second time I read it.
Whatever happened to the “Totally Tasteless” series of books??? :)
The Brothers Karamazov in my case. I got half through it twice. Its a great book, but man, its a chore to read and follow casually.
I can proudly say that, of that lot, I have read exactly none.
But as evidence that I do not lack perseverance, I have actually read “War and Peace” (twice!) AND “Moby Dick.” Furthermore, I enjoyed them both.
On the other hand, I struggled with Dostoevsky and found “Ulysses” (Joyce) unreadable.
i guess it is preference... i got through Hunchback the first time--but the French are so different from what i know... from Americans... some of their ways are kind of spooky to me... spooky is not really the word--i cannot put my finger on it... i loved Victor Hugo's Les Miserables... i think it is the best book ever written...
speaking of the French, i read a really good "new" book called The Paris Wife... it is about Ernest Hemingway's first marriage and their time in France as he was making his way as a writer... very good story... i did not want to read the last few pages because i knew how it would end... and i did not want that ending... :(
Three times I started “Lord of the Rings.” And three times I made it about half way through the third book and then tossed it aside. To this day I don’t know how it ended.
The trouble is....I don’t like Fantasy. I was only reading it because everybody else was reading it.
oh!!! tears are practically coming to my eyes as i think about Lord of the Rings... the themes of valor and honor, perseverance... catches me right in the throat... but i do like fantasy and scifi...
You’re proud that you’ve never read The Great Gatsby? :)
Most unreadable books ever:
1.Gravity’s Rainbow- Thomas Pynchon
2.Ulysses- James Joyce
3.Satanic Verses- Rushdie
4.Anything by Umberto Eccho
5. Cryptonomicon- Neal Stephonson
I couldn't put down Les Miserables because I rested it on my lap and was pinned there until I got some help. :-)
Seriously, it was on of the best books I've read. It even made me wish I understood French so I could read an untranslated version.
Anything discursive or difficult then?
Do you like the musical? On stage I mean. That recent film was terrible.
I read the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy when in my early 20s (a long time ago, I'll grant you!).
The Hobbit was kind of slow until the Battle of the Five Armies, upon whence it's pace picked up considerably, leading in to The Fellowship.
I was at the beach when I finished The Two Towers, and once I put it down, I simply had to have Return of the King at that very moment! My mind demanded it!
So a neighbor took me down to the local bookstore and made my vacation the smashing success it eventually turned out to be.
I read a lot of books (too many, thinketh my wife!), but there are books out there whose turgid prose will simply turn me off and not permit me to finish them, they are that bad.
I think it's a defense mechanism of some sort my mind has devised over the years.
I agree with your list, except for this one. I find some of Eco's work quite entertaining, especially Foucault's Pendulum.
I’ve only seen the “in concert” version on PBS. It seemed like a thin veneer compared to a great tree: a couple of hours were only enough to give a hint of the book.
But I never could, and still can't, understand or enjoy Shakespeare. Most of the modern adaptations are fine, but not the originals.
I guess I have no taste or class. That's what some English teachers told me when I'd say I'd rather read Poe than read Shakespeare. Even Chaucer, Melville, Niestche, Dostoyovski...no problem.
Heck, we don't even know who Shakepeare really was. Probably some serial killer royal.
Kahnemann and his previous partner, Amos Tversky's works about risk analysis and the various biases that go into human judgement are all excellent. Its not done so with a lot of scientific jargon either.
Camp of the Saints depicts an invasion from the third world underclass that ends Western civilization.
that is because Shakespeare was meant to be watched! watch the plays... they are fantastic... try not to watch adaptations before you watch in the original language... i introduced my sons to Shakespeare while they were tots... they love him... i first showed them Shakespeare: The Animated Tales dvds... these are adaptations for children done in several styles of animation... then i showed them movies like Two Gentlemen from Verona and Taming of the Shrew... than MacBeth and Othello... then we started going to plays when they were grammar school/middle school-aged...
and there is a new Julius Caesar movie coming out soon... i cannot wait to take them to watch this... the love Shakespeare and Roman history, so this will be a double shot of enjoyment for them... :)
rent Taming of the Shrew starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton... it is fantastic!
The only book on this list I’ve read is the “50 Shades” book. I only read it because an old girlfriend compared me to Grey (of which I disagree). I found the book to be horrendously bad and wish I had never read it.
when reading Fahrenheit 451 i asked my students and their parents: "if books were outlawed (as in Fahrenheit 451) which book would you want to commit to memory? for me it would be either Les Miserables, or the Book of Romans... i might forgo Les Miserables only because i believe my two sons know it by heart... but i think my husband knows much of Romans, so i might consider something else altogether :)
as is said in a previous comment, i think Les Miserables is the best story ever written... (not counting the entirety of the Bible)...
I must have no class or taste either. I can’t and won’t read Shakespeare. I went to see A Midsummer Nights Dream at a live theatre and left during intermission. Of course it was half in English with Vietnamese subtitles and half in Vietnamese with English subtitles (this was when I was in Hawaii). Way too confusing.
i thumbed through it and the writing looked atrocious... so i skipped it... i took a second stab at Lolita instead... that time i finished it...
LM was a huge best seller upon release. When Hugo wanted to know what the sales figures in America he sent a telegram to his American publisher with a single ‘?’. His publisher’s response: ‘!’.
let me recommend something better in DVD--like Taming of the Shrew or Hamlet... or Much Ado About Nothing with Emma Thompson, the fantastic Kenneth Branagh and Denzel Washington... this is a wonderful movie... Shakespeare's comedies are so clever and witty... his tragedies so--well, tragic! the characters in these plays are the same characters of today... the themes so relevant even today... Othello, MacBeth... King Lear!
Joss Wheldon filmed Much Ado About Nothing last year. He filmed it in 12 days at his home (in black and white), presumably in California. The dialogue is Shakespearean but the surroundings are modern day including Mercedes Benz’s, iPods, iPhones, modern kitchens, etc. This helped me understand the story better than had it been done as a period piece (subtitles help, too!). I think the b&w helps you focus on the characters instead of the background, too. It’s on Netflix, maybe Amazon Prime, but give it ten minutes and tell me what you think.
i love that!
Another interesting factoid about Hugo...he asked for clemency for John Brown.
John Brown the abolitionist???
Oops. Missed that one. I can assure you, I’ve read “Gatsby” at least four or five times, along with everything else Fitzgerald wrote, including “The Last Tycoon.” For a time in college, Fitzgerald was my favorite 20th-century writer.He still rates high on my list.
this conjures up another literary work--Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin... i believe John Brown read it several times, and had his children read it... it moved him... our family listened to the unabridged version on audio when we were studying the Civil War...
Cryptonomicon rocks. It’s not light, late-night reading, but it is a worthy tome—this from a math- averse reader. Lol
A good assessment of Hunchback...
“The novel as Epic Theatre: that is what Hugo brought to narrative fiction that wasn’t there before. ‘Notre Dame de Paris’ (Hunchback of Notre Dame) was published in 1831. A giant epic about the history of a whole people, incarnated in the figure of the great cathedral as witness and silent protagonist of that history. The whole idea of time and life as an ongoing, organic panorama centered on dozens of characters caught in the middle of that history! Beggars as protagonists of a novel? Not before Hugo!
‘Notre Dame de Paris’ was the first work of fiction to encompass the whole of life, from the King of France to Paris sewer rats, in a manner later co-opted by Balzac, Flaubert, Proust many others, including Dickens, who certainly knew this novel by heart, so often does he imitate it.”
Tale of Two Cities is largely a set-up to the last 40 pages, where suddenly you find yourself so caught up you can hear your pulse pounding in your ears.
I just finished “The Book Thief” and it is a masterpiece. Highly recommended as a book you won’t be able to put down, and will stay with you for a long time.
sheesh! i will have to give it another shot!
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