(I am wearing bullet-proof underwear so no mortar fire, okay?)
The Alchemist Paul Coelho - all that predigested wisdom got right up my nose.
For Whom the Bell Tolls - Ernest Hemingway. I tried to read this many years ago. Just didn't feel that the writr wanted me in his book. Later though, I did enjoy The Old Man and the Sea.
Thus Spake Zarathustra - Niezsche - A boyfriend insisted I read it. (He thought my brain needed improving.) When I saw how much Niezsche distrusts and dislikes women, I decided that since he was wrong about half the human race, he couldn't be trusted on much else. (Should have dumped the boyfriend too.)
One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez - I did read it through once, but got totally stuck the second time, despite liking episodes in it very much. I sat back at a reading group meeting and listened to everyone else praising it and wondering what was wrong with me. It's a great book undoubtedly, but not one I connect with.
Soul Mountain- Gao Xingjian - another reading group choice. Only 2 out of 10 of us managed to get past the opening chapters. I did like some episodes, but overall found it incredibly slow, miserable, meandering and plotless. To add insult to injury, towards the end of the book the guy actually has a good laugh about his book being unreadable! If anyone has any doubt that the Nobel is awarded on a political rather than a literary agenda, this clinches it.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I was supposed to read this as a set book at school. I hated the petty living room world of the novel. (I was into adventure, science fiction, historical romance.) I refused to go past the first couple of chapters. My English teacher (wise woman!) just said that if I couldn't get on with it, I should leave it, and gave me another novel to read instead. A couple of years later I came back to the book and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Crash by J.G. Ballard. Stomach turning.
Ulysses - James Joyce. God knows I've tried, and I love parts of it, especially Molly Blooms soliloquy. But can I read it from beginning to end? Nope. Not even after sixteen million attempts.
Books I struggled through but wish I'd dumped:
The Famished Road - Ben Okri - At the time this won the Booker there was a joke that someone had put a prize voucher in selected copies of the book, but no-one claimed them. Although I very much liked the Nigerian setting, the novel seemed to me a rip-off of Amos Tutola's classic The Palm-Wine Drinkard and My Life in the bush of Ghosts (well worth reading) from which it borrows its surrealism and cast of ghosts ... but it's another horrid, overlong, plotless meander.
Great Apes - Will Self. This book has one of the most exhilarating first chapters I've ever read - I actually went back to reread it twice before moving on to chapter 2. The basic premise of the book is fascinating: the central character is transformed intio a chimpanzee and so is everyone else around him. The first part of the book was a joy, but the joke wears progressively thinner as the book goes on. It would have made a great novella, but the pressure to make it a book length thing destroyed it.
The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown. Another reading group read. (See how risky the whole business is?) I felt like I'd overdosed on french fries and jelly beans.
Your turn! What are your dumpees?
Just thought of one more unreadable to add which will probably have the rest of you screaming. Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks. I dug up this review I'd written on Amazon:
This was such a disappointing read after all the hype. I'm giving up halfway through, and passing my copy to someone who may appreciate it more. The first part of the book was so hackneyed that I found it laughable - I was not at all convinced by the love story. I got very annoyed by Faulk's omniscient narration, the viewpoint constantly flitting from person to person. As other reviewers here have pointed out, Faulks has a tendency to "tell rather than show", which deprives the reader of much of the pleasure of reading. I also found that I couldn't care less about the characters, particularly Steven, who remains vague and shadowy. That I stuck with the book so long is testimony to the fact that Faulks recreates the scenes in the trenches so well. Both my grandfathers fought in WW1 and I am so hungry to know more about what they experienced. But maybe I'd be beter off reading a good history book.