Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Great British Dumpees

Yet another survey of the reading habits of the great British public. Just a few days after readers were asked to name the books they couldn't live without, they've been asked about the books they can't finish. Here (from the Guardian blog) is the fiction list:
1. Vernon God Little - DBC Pierre
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire -JK Rowling
3. Ulysses - James Joyce
4. Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
5. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
6. The Satanic Verses - Salman Rushdie
7. The Alchemist -Paulo Coelho
8. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
9. The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy
10. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoevsky
None of which surprises me. (Or maybe the only surprise is the Harry Potter!)

Confessions: I keep dumping Ulysses and have only ever read it in parts. I've cheerfully dumped The Alchemist. I skipped a lot of pages in the Sloosha's Crossing section of some sections of Cloud Atlas. (Loved the book as a whole though.)

I can understand why Captain Corelli's Mandolin makes the list. It's one of my favourite books of all time (as I keep telling the world - I've never laughed and cried so much when reading a book and took to my bed for a couple of days in a state of total emotional collapse!) but when I've given it as a gift to less convinced readers I've advised them to skip a couple of chapters at the beginning if they get stuck, and come back to them later. One of the criticisms I have of the novel (a teensy one compared to the fact that my beloved Corelli disappears for decades) is that the first part is not terribly well structured.

Another of my favourite books of all time is a dumpee on this list - Crime and Punishment. (The Visitor will be rubbing his hands in glee!)

I guess some people dump Vernon God Little because the language offends or maybe they don't appreciate Mr. Dirty-But-Clean Pierre's pyrotechnics. Again, one I very much enjoyed.

A point I've made before: there is no shame in dumping books you aren't enjoying. Do it guiltlessly.

But some books, it has to be said, do take a bit more effort to get into ...

13 comments:

Kenny Mah said...

O dear, I'm away for my the weekend and now there is soooo much to catch up on reading here. Very quickly, congrats on appearing in the Guardian, wish I was at the poetry reading last Saturday with you guys but I was busy contorting my body into (un)heavenly poses (BodyBalance instructor training, don't get any funny ideas), and Sharon, I've only heard of three --- Jonathan Safran Foer, Nell Freudenberger and Yiyun Li, how embarrassing is that? :(

bibliobibuli said...

thanks kenny. hope the body balance went well. sorry about your dreadful spammer. what on earth did you do to deserve that?

3 is a good enough score but we both gotta play catch up now.

KayKay said...

Sharon, if you haven't already read John Crace's Digested Reads take on some of these books. It's hilarious!Here's the link:
http://books.guardian.co.uk/digestedread/story/0,,2031884,00.html

He's my new hero by the way. Super Crace, Out to demolish pompous writing, anihilate self-important ramblings and cut Pretentious Prose down to size!

bibliobibuli said...

yes, i love crace and have been meaning to blog him.. almost bought his book of digested reads the other day in kino.

Jenn said...

Sharon look at this cute ad on literacy:

http://www.glumbert.com/media/reading

bibliobibuli said...

jenn - ahhhhh unbearably cute. it made me cry all over my keyboard.

Greenbottle said...

1. Vernon God Little - DBC Pierre

An Irish guy who was one of the passangers in the same coach with me on Trans-siberian train had this book and i borrowed & read a part of it. i had to stop reading just when it gets interesting because other things get interesting on the train too....

2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire -JK Rowling

never touch this...i can never understand grown ups willing to wait in the queue at 6.00 in the morning to get their copy of harry potter and the prisoner of uzbekistan or some such thing...it’s the most successful snake oil marketing of all time...

3. Ulysses - James Joyce

hope to have a peek one day...but never seems to have the time...

4. Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres

i completed and loved this one (but the ending/last chapter was dissapointing)...
loved very much the part about that guy who speak classic greek as he was taught in oxford (or was it cambridge)?

5. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

muddled through first chapter... interesting but other books intervened.

6. The Satanic Verses - Salman Rushdie

finished and loved this one...although i feel insulted (as a fundamentalist muslim myself) and feel like breaking this guy’s hand ...i will too if i can get away with it...

7. The Alchemist -Paulo Coelho

never have interest to read this one. i get turned off by people who know shit about books who claimed that they love this book...

8. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

never attempt this one...

9. The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy

i wanted to laugh when she won the booker for this but then i read some interesting things about her, so she may not be too bad and i may try it one day. One time i saw suhaimi baba the film director reading this book while waiting in the immigration queue at bangkok airport...

10. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoevsky

read and finished it during my late teen age years...what can i say...this book CHANGED me (to the worse)...it’s one of the few books that truly changed my outlook in life...

debbie said...

I was contemplating on reading Vernon God Little... It kind of intrigued me but still never got around to buying it.

I enjoy all the Harry potter books though... But i think i'm growing out of all that magical wizadry stuff because the final book is coming out and i'm not jumping around like i used to.

The Alchemist was an odd book... It had a lot about issues in life brought up. Coelho must be very pensive about human existence. But i enjoyed it in an unusual sort of way. Very slow moving though.

The God Of Small Things had a boring beginning. But the climax and the ending managed to keep my attention. I can't remember much because i read it 2 years ago.

Wow, out of the whole list and i barely read 3 of them. sobx.

darkhello said...

*gasps* why does everyone not like the God of Small Things?! What makes it so special is the way Arundhati Roy examines the usual elements we encounter in our lives (death, love, prejudice) through such unusual and fresh perspectives (sympathetic to that of a child, which is rather unusual)you can't help but marvel, heave sigh of contentment at her amazing sense of imagery, and then slowly and unconsciously nod your head in agreement when you read the book. I absolutely loved it.

The Alchemist was...uh..baaaad! A book that wasn't orignally written in English, the language's a little rambly and frippery. I found it the core of the book too centered upon cliched 'philosophical' fairy-tale mysticism and references to obscure folklore. Bleh.

My dumpees: the Illiad (omgomgomg..yawn), The Rainbow by DH Lawrence (with such explicit sexual content too!), Stardust by Neil Gaiman (again, harping on fairytales) and Touching Earth by Rani Manicka (somehow she lost her charm after 'The Rice Mother')

Oh guiltless guiltless pleasure!

Gette said...

Goblet of Fire is one of my fave! If I had to pick a Harry Potter I didn't like, it's Order of the Phoenix because it's such a boiling pot of angst.

I didn't like Vernon God Little for same reason I never made it through Huckleberry Finn. It was in the narrator's version of English. But I finished it. It gets better towards the end. I'm a little sorry I sold it off now.

I noticed that people who rave about The Alchemist are either dedicated non-fiction readers or a-book-a-year readers. Almost all my avid fiction reading friends don't find it very remarkable either.

Anonymous said...

Vernon God Little is just a modern take on Adrian Mole.

Anonymous said...

Most women probably don't like Huck Finn because it's populated by men doing mostly male things (ie. behaving like idiots.) The tone fits the location.

The Great Swifty said...

Yeah, I've recently fallen in love with David Mitchell. I just got back from Singapore yesterday, and I bought Ghostwritten (which I finished in two days, awesome!) and Number9Dream. Want to read through these two first before Cloud Atlas.

(also bought Umberto Eco's last)