in Marginalia

Ten books I can’t finish reading

My facebook update

(This is part of my #30dayblogging challenge and I already skipped yesterday. Challenge unmet. Oh well.)

Amado Bajarias Jr. led me to it. [See: Amado Bajarias Jr.]

It was a link to a piece on the website of the UK newspaper, the Guardian.

Entitled “My top ten unfinishable novels,” it was posted by John Sutherland—whose profile says he currently teaches at the California Institute of Technology—that cited novelist Nick Hornby’s advice about reading; that readers “shouldn’t be scared to abandon a novel if it proves tough going.” [See: My top ten unfinishable novels]

Even before I was done reading the piece, I knew I was going to share it in my corner of the InterWebz.

But before I did, I felt I had to put a spin to it—something that would prove intense enough to curb our enthusiasm on Facebook—our relentless Like button-clicking, dumb-ass commenting, nonsensical status-updating, incessant trolling, never-ending one-upmanship, and indiscriminate ranting (the very emotion I’m expressing now).

So when I shared the Guardian link, it was accompanied by my Facebook status update, indicating a short list of ten books I’ve tried to read but can’t.

The list remains incomplete because ever since I began to read for entertainment—the only reason to read, if you ask me—I’ve begun reading so many books without finishing them that I’ve lost track.

Not long after, perhaps inspired to do the same, Amado—my friend both online and off—sent his own list. Same with Carla Montemayor, who lives in London, but contributes pieces to several local news websites. [See: Carla Montemayor]

Amado Bajarias Jr.'s Facebook comment

I may not agree with Amado’s second book selection because I have read that in college, during my pretentious Roman Empire phase (pretentious because I can’t recall any other emperors save for Julian, Claudius, Caligula, and this guy who sold the empire—yep, lock, stock, and coliseum—for 300 pieces (and I’m not even sure of that) of whatever they called their currency back then.)

This Roman Empire phase was the result of reading Robert Graves’ I, Claudius and its sequel, Claudius the God—copies of which I have lent out but were never returned.

However, Amado’s sentiments, as indicated in the comments to my Facebook status update, are perfectly understandable.

After all, another reader’s unfinished book is another reader’s bible.

Carla Montemayor's status update

Just recently, a close friend told me that he didn’t like Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s The Black Swan so much because his prose and style of writing is disjointed.

However addicted I was to the Black Swan, this didn’t get me upset.

To each his own demographic, I always say.

Here now is the updated version of my top ten books I can’t read:

1) Third volume of the History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon (but I did manage to finish the first two; there are six, I think)

2) The Island of the Day Before by Umberto Eco

3) Ulysses by James Joyce

(In college I really had a pretty copy of this book. I gave it away.)

4) The Famished Road by Ben Okri

5) A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

6) Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon

7) Iliad

8) The Odyssey

9) Hamlet (and any other work by Shakespeare save for A Midsummer Night’s Dream which I had to read to write a paper for English 23)

10) [I’m checking out my bookshelves—which have been pared down through the years—and it appears I don’t have anything in them that I wouldn’t like to read]

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