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The Best Boring Books

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English Muse: The Best Boring Books

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Best Boring Books


Guardian books columnist Robert McCrum believes "there are times when dullness is exactly what you want from a book."

Here are his favorites:

1. Robert Burton: The Anatomy of Melancholy
2. Robert Musil: The Man Without Qualities
3. Kazuo Ishiguro: The Unconsoled
4. Malcolm Lowry: Under the Volcano
5. Virginia Woolf: The Waves
6. James Joyce: Finnegans Wake
7. Thomas Wolfe: Look Homeward, Angel
8. William Thackeray: Pendennis
9. Karl Marx: Capital
10. James Woodforde: The Diary of A Country Parson

Do you stick with boring books or give up mid-way through?

(Photo by Uncommon Destinations.)



Blogger vanessa joie said...

i only recently realized that it's okay to put a book down part way through it. I always made myself finish a book no matter how bad, or boring, it was. But sometimes I'll ready a book that's boring just because it's comforting in some way.

January 24, 2011 at 8:11 PM  
Blogger Jg. for FatScribe said...

honestly, I was totally about to give up on Steve Martin's new book "An Object of Beauty" and then around p.70 it came to life. so, yeah, Tina, stick it out.

January 24, 2011 at 8:14 PM  
Blogger SAMI. said...

i have a list on goodreads called ick, ick, ick, which means i left them unfinished. one of them being malcom gladwell's blink. i just couldn't get through all those statistics, so blink, i put it down.
i want to read the waves. i love everything by v woolf


January 24, 2011 at 8:49 PM  
Blogger Tonia said...

I used to stick with them but my time is too short and there are too many really excellent books in the world to keep on ploughing through something I hate. Recently waved goodbye to Orlando for that very reason.

January 25, 2011 at 12:57 AM  
Blogger andrea said...

I stick with them as long as I find them interesting (yes, they can be boring but interesting) but if I'm really not enjoying them at all I leave them

January 25, 2011 at 2:18 AM  
Blogger laurie said...

i don't intentional give up on them but, because a boring book does not call to me, it tends to just sit on my nightstand until it gets buried.

January 25, 2011 at 4:25 AM  
Blogger REread said...

I do try to stick it out ... but sometimes you just can't ... I've a few of those lately and I think 'why am i wasting valuable hours of my life on this book, I didn't even pay for it I borrowed it anyway!

January 25, 2011 at 4:53 AM  
Blogger Sophie Isobel said...

Oh my Finnegans Wake... it is amazing, and most unreadable. Not quite dull, but just not quite in English. Dear old Joyce. Ah, books are so interesting, a film, you can stop or walk out of, but a book, now a book has soul, passion, time, it is hard, to leave a book to collect dust.
Sophie x

January 25, 2011 at 5:57 AM  
Blogger Daniel Cecil said...

I think there is a benefit to powering through some books, especially if you are a writer. There is something instructional in the boring book. To understand why it doesn't work may just make you better. Under the Volcano is a good example. Although it can be a bit boring, the ending is worth the entire thing, and to see why he did what he did throughout the rest of the book gives you a sense of process.

If the notorious drunk Lowry did have a process I mean.

January 25, 2011 at 6:28 AM  
Blogger Molly said...

If I encounter a boring book, I usually skip through it and read the beginning and ending of each chapter. Because once I start a book, I have to know what happens at the end. Even if it's a huge let down.

January 25, 2011 at 7:46 AM  
Blogger DENISE. said...

I definitely give up. Too many good books to read, movies to see & things to do to waste time!

January 25, 2011 at 8:30 AM  
Blogger Giulia said...

Oh yes,this was a heated discussion on Twitter (which I did not enter but watch:)

I put them down but usually return to them to make sure. I've found that even a few years later I wonder "why didn't I like this before? I love it now." So, it just wasn't the right time to read something. Some books are actually well-written but not "me" - I put them in the charity shop pile. Someone else might like it.

January 25, 2011 at 9:23 AM  
Blogger Mademoiselle Poirot said...

So, does that make this the most boring list ever then? Makes me wonder why one would go through the process of putting it together in the first place...hmmm...

I'm afraid that since I have the attention span of a fruit fly, I will give up half way through a book...and find a more interesting one instead. Life's too short... Love from London xo

January 25, 2011 at 11:41 AM  
Blogger Hilary Claire said...

Unfortunately, I usually give up on boring books after about 100 pages. If the plot isn't thrilling, I go looking for a more adventurous tale :)

January 25, 2011 at 5:28 PM  
Blogger alexkeller said...

What? No Mailer?
I used to have a 50 page rule, which was borrowed from a friend. I usually will put it down before then if I'm bored.

January 25, 2011 at 6:07 PM  
Blogger Victoria said...

You've got to give it up! Too many other good things to read out there....although some books do deserve a second chance...

January 26, 2011 at 2:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting concept! I always try to finish a book or movie I've started. It's rare that put one down/turn one off...but there have been times...!
By the way, I love that you write about books...few of the blogs I read do. So it's a nice break. And I've given you an "award" on my blog. I hope you enjoy it!

January 31, 2011 at 12:53 PM  
Blogger Teleri said...

My favorite boring book is Dostojewskis "Crime and Punishment". I'm almost through it and still wait for the plot to start. The boringness of this book is amazing, but I nevertheless want to finish it. Even if it's just to see _how_ it ends.

February 1, 2011 at 1:18 PM  
Blogger Er-H said...

I love some boring books just for being boring, especially when they're audiobooks and read by someone in perfect received English pronunciation. I have Proust on my IPod. A great sleep aid.

April 7, 2011 at 8:09 AM  

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