I’ve read a lot of books. My dad travels around the world telling random people how many books I’ve read. I can barely even fit any more books on my shelves — some of said shelves may or may not be sagging, even screaming for help — and I definitely don’t want to talk about how many (read: too many) books I bought in the year 2016 alone.
But, for every book I’ve read, there are just as many I have either opted not to read and series I’ve never been able to bring myself to finish. There are few books I’ll give up on in the middle — friends and family have been known to yell at me for how much I moan about books while still refusing to stop reading them — but I often will give up on series partway through. Here are just a few of those books and series I’ve never been able to finish.
J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series: Honestly, I’m surprised my brother and my best friends still talk to me after I admit to this particular shortcoming of mine. I’ve started Fellowship of the Ring multiple times; one time I even tried to jump ahead to The Two Towers because it was my favorite in the movie franchise. (Yes, I’m one of those awful people who saw the movies before reading the books, I apologize profusely.) No matter how hard I try, though, I can’t get passed the archaic speech patterns, random musical interludes, and slower pacing. Per my latest endeavor to read the series, Frodo and the fellowship have been trapped in Moria for four years. (Poor hobbitses.)
Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series: I don’t even know which book in the series I got to — I got relatively far — before I refused to read another book about Clary Fray, the most author-insert character I’ve ever had the misfortune to read. The main concern for falling out with the series was because, at the end of whichever book to which I’d made it, I felt like we’d had a conclusion, a tying-off of loose ends. Sure, I saw potential for a Simon spin-off series (still waiting for that with bated breath, by the way), but I was no longer invested in anything Clare might offer in this or her other series.
Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series: So I didn’t finish this series because, at the time, I thought I’d read the last book when I finished its fourth installment, Battle of the Labyrinth. I don’t know how I figured that because it didn’t seem to really be a proper ending, but I was very thoroughly convinced I’d finished the series! Then I started working at Barnes and Noble Booksellers and found out I’d come nowhere close to reaching the conclusion of Percy and Annabeth’s adventures. (And, honestly, now, there are just so many books, I’m probably going to have to wait till I’m an old lady before I’ll be slowing down enough to read all of them in succession.)
Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses series: My reasoning for not finishing this series is quite simple. My coworker told me everything that happened in A Court of Mist and Fury two days after I bought the book, and to this day, I can’t bring myself to read it. I love you with all my heart, Sarah, but it’s been ruined and I just can’t. (Same goes for Queen of Shadows, unfortunately. I now try not to ever talk to this coworker about books under any circumstances.)
Colleen Houck’s Tiger’s Curse series: I got maybe ten chapters into the first book of the series — I’d heard great things, and my beloved former manager had recommended it to me — but I just couldn’t get past its main character’s personality or the way it was written. Same goes for Houck’s Reawakened series: Both its characters and its writing seem to have matured in comparison to Tiger’s Curse, but both still grated on me as I read it. I’m sorely guilty on both accounts, because both series sound fascinating!
Suzanne Collins’s Gregor the Overlander series: Yet another case of I-didn’t-even-know-there-was-a-fifth-installment, and, at this point, it’s been so long since I originally read series, I can barely recall anything but the basic plot and that one scene where Gregor hands out bubblegum to everyone on the expedition because it’ll keep them from getting too hungry. (I think about that scene way more often than I should, mostly when I’m starving.)
Alexandra Bracken’s The Darkest Minds series: Unpopular opinion in this day and age, but, while Bracken’s writing was stunning, I wasn’t particularly invested in the series’ cast of characters. When the main character doesn’t hold a candle to her surrounding troupe of characters, I find it hard to keep interested in continuing the series. I also struggled with how the major themes and overall conceptual conflicts of the book had yet to be handled or considered critically in-text. I don’t doubt Bracken covers it in the rest of the series, but I needed it a bit sooner.
Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina: This is one of the few books I’ve gotten halfway through and had to put down. Honestly, I’d picked it for class work and found it to be too hard to read in time for when the summer assignment would be due. (I ended up reading Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park instead.) Then I watched the 2012 movie adaptation, learned the final plot twist, and could never bring myself to pick it up again.
Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series: I started the series’ first installment, Outlander, as a summer read. I was enjoying it and was expecting it to be an immersive historical novel — I’d just returned from studying abroad in the U.K., and I’d loved my visit to Scotland — not a fiction-turned-steamy-romance novel. I stopped halfway through the first book because I just couldn’t stand how sex and sex partners were used, abused, and objectified throughout the text. (Fun fact: The series was actually moved more recently from the romance section to the fiction section of most bookstores because of its popularity — because obviously nobody’s going to go into the romance section to buy a popular book.)
Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle: Listen, when Eragon first came out in 2003, I was obsessed. I wrote an entire book report on it for class. My hardcover edition of Eragon is slightly tattered because I re-read the first several chapters over and over and later lent it to my younger brother during his high fantasy phase. But then — Paolini announced it wouldn’t be a trilogy, but a tetralogy with potential for a quintology; I was seriously weirded out by the portrayal of Arya, one of the series’ only female characters; and I figured out that most of the plot is copy-and-paste George Lucas’s Star Wars saga with slight embellishments. At the time (circa 2008), I was livid; these days, I’m just mildly annoyed, like when your foot starts to fall asleep without your permission.
Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth: I love you, Mr Campbell, but this book is just so hard to read all at once. I’ve been known to randomly pick it up and read intermittent chapters, but I have yet to read it in its entirety. I originally bought it for pleasure, but it demands to be read thoroughly and academically.