Author Topic: Difficult Books  (Read 487 times)

BooksCatsEtc

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Difficult Books
« on: October 16, 2016, 12:47:07 PM »
I've been trying to read Sam Harris' Waking Up: a guide to spirituality without religion (actually about consciousness and meditating) for over a month and I'm finding it a really tough slog.  Some of the stuff on consciousness is interesting, a lot goes right over my head no matter how many times I re-read and, no matter how I try, I just can't get interested in meditation.

Has anybody else read this book?  What was your experience of it?  And failing that, anybody have stories about difficulties with other books?
Sandy

  
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Ecurb Noselrub

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Re: Difficult Books
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2016, 01:26:10 PM »
If a book doesn't grab you, it just doesn't.  Not your fault - just not for you.  I read Faulkner (Absalom, Absalom, and Sound & Fury) just because I thought I was supposed to - never got into it and couldn't understand what was going on half the time.  I kept at it and finished both, and will never go there again.  It's the author's job to reach you, not the other way around. Some writers are purposefully inscrutable, I think, just to make you think they are saying something.

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Re: Difficult Books
« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2016, 02:00:44 PM »
Moby Dick. Getting past "Call me Ishmael" was easy enough but the rest of the book was almost excruciating. It's a good book, I'm sure, but I found it difficult to read. I was able to finish the entire thing, though. :grin:
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BooksCatsEtc

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Re: Difficult Books
« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2016, 02:18:53 PM »
If a book doesn't grab you, it just doesn't.  Not your fault - just not for you.  I read Faulkner (Absalom, Absalom, and Sound & Fury) just because I thought I was supposed to - never got into it and couldn't understand what was going on half the time.  I kept at it and finished both, and will never go there again.  It's the author's job to reach you, not the other way around. Some writers are purposefully inscrutable, I think, just to make you think they are saying something.

I think my problem is I wanted so badly to understand it that I'm resisting not understanding.  It's just so frustrating, but yeah, I am on the verge of adding this, unfinished, to the library donation pile.

Moby Dick. Getting past "Call me Ishmael" was easy enough but the rest of the book was almost excruciating. It's a good book, I'm sure, but I found it difficult to read. I was able to finish the entire thing, though. :grin:

You're better than I am -- I spent nearly 30 years trying to read Moby Dick before admitting defeat.  I spent half my time reading it wanting to throttle Melville while screaming "get to the point!" at him.  I don't think it's the old-fashioned slow writing style either, because I have no problem with Hawthorne, and I read all one million words of Clarissa without wanting to strangle Richardson even once.  It's just Melville.
Sandy

  
"I think this is the prettiest world -- as long as you don't mind a little dying, how could there be a day in your whole life that doesn't have its splash of happiness?"  from The Kingfisher, by Mary Oliver

Pasta Chick

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Re: Difficult Books
« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2016, 03:04:28 PM »
I'm with EN - I just quit. There are too many books in the world to waste time on one that isn't working for you. My stubbornness and tough of OCD hate me for it, but I know it's ultimately not worth pushing through something I don't connect with.

BooksCatsEtc

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Re: Difficult Books
« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2016, 03:27:29 PM »
I'm with EN - I just quit. There are too many books in the world to waste time on one that isn't working for you. My stubbornness and tough of OCD hate me for it, but I know it's ultimately not worth pushing through something I don't connect with.

The older I get the more I think "I don't have time for this", literally now.  But hanging in there is a tough habit to break.
Sandy

  
"I think this is the prettiest world -- as long as you don't mind a little dying, how could there be a day in your whole life that doesn't have its splash of happiness?"  from The Kingfisher, by Mary Oliver

Velma

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Re: Difficult Books
« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2016, 09:32:10 PM »
Moby Dick. Getting past "Call me Ishmael" was easy enough but the rest of the book was almost excruciating. It's a good book, I'm sure, but I found it difficult to read. I was able to finish the entire thing, though. :grin:
Moby Dick was much easier as an audio book.
Life is but a momentary glimpse of the wonder of the astonishing universe, and it is sad to see so many dreaming it away on spiritual fantasy.~Carl Sagan

Gloucester

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Re: Difficult Books
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2016, 02:27:06 AM »
I'm with EN - I just quit. There are too many books in the world to waste time on one that isn't working for you. My stubbornness and tough of OCD hate me for it, but I know it's ultimately not worth pushing through something I don't connect with.

The older I get the more I think "I don't have time for this", literally now.  But hanging in there is a tough habit to break.

Yeah, age brings all kinds of things! But I still feel a tad guilty about reading space operas or fantasy rather than something "meaningful".

Though, having learned to discriminate between "good" and "bad" authors, I have come to find wisdom in books by the likes of  Assimov, Heinlein, Atwood, Pratchett and many others.

In the 60s the in books for pseudo-literatti were Homer's Illiad and Plato's Republic. Amazing how much crap was uttered about these by pretentious people. Gave up struggling with both of them and decided I was just a pleb who wanted to read for pleasure, not mental pain,

Never completely killed the guilt that my own pretensions generated though!
Tomorrow is precious, don't ruin it by fouling up today.

Ecurb Noselrub

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Re: Difficult Books
« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2016, 08:12:56 AM »
In the 60s the in books for pseudo-literatti were Homer's Illiad and Plato's Republic. Amazing how much crap was uttered about these by pretentious people. Gave up struggling with both of them and decided I was just a pleb who wanted to read for pleasure, not mental pain,

Never completely killed the guilt that my own pretensions generated though!

It's just a form of elitist manipulation.  They make you feel that way to keep the things they consider important at the forefront.  If you don't like it, don't read it, and don't worry about it.

Gloucester

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Re: Difficult Books
« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2016, 08:47:07 AM »
In the 60s the in books for pseudo-literatti were Homer's Illiad and Plato's Republic. Amazing how much crap was uttered about these by pretentious people. Gave up struggling with both of them and decided I was just a pleb who wanted to read for pleasure, not mental pain,

Never completely killed the guilt that my own pretensions generated though!

It's just a form of elitist manipulation.  They make you feel that way to keep the things they consider important at the forefront.  If you don't like it, don't read it, and don't worry about it.

Since "elite" has a valid value "elitist" is so often a misuse of a perfectly good word! "Pretentious plonkers"  is longer but fits better.
Tomorrow is precious, don't ruin it by fouling up today.

Davin

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Re: Difficult Books
« Reply #10 on: October 17, 2016, 09:21:40 AM »
I haven't read Waking Up by Sam Harris, but I have read other books by him (Lying and Free Will), they weren't too bad but I'm not a fan of his writing. So I think if he tried to explain something difficult, I can imagine that no going well. He had kind of a more, "just trust me now and read the references later" take on writing, than a trying to explain all the things approach, but it kept the books short. Also, many of the sources cited were available without paying, so maybe you could try reading the references, then you might have an easier time understanding what he's trying to get at.

Difficult books for me are ones where I don't like the style of writing, but I still feel compelled to finish reading them because I like the story. I read Moby Dick when I was fairly young, it took me several months, but I finished it. I liked the story, but it felt like it suffered from many tangents and overly described things that had little to do with the story. I like the story in the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin, but I find his style of writing to be extremely difficult to trudge through, it's like listening to someone with dementia teach history. But I liked the story, so I was able to force myself through the first three books. They were difficult.

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Re: Difficult Books
« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2016, 09:29:26 AM »
Currently trying really hard to get through The 5th Gospel,  by Ian Caldwell . I have never gravitated towards mysteries, and this just confirms again why. I just get very impatient, waiting for The Answer.  And it's a National Bestseller too!  As much as I love to read, one would think that it would hold my attention better. But I have to finish, so I can find out what the point of the book is.  >:(
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. ~ Plato (?)

Gloucester

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Re: Difficult Books
« Reply #12 on: October 17, 2016, 09:46:10 AM »
Quote
But I have to finish, so I can find out what the point of the book is.

Dragonia, that's either dedication or sheer bloody minded stubborness!

 ;)
Tomorrow is precious, don't ruin it by fouling up today.

xSilverPhinx

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Re: Difficult Books
« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2016, 01:45:00 AM »
Moby Dick. Getting past "Call me Ishmael" was easy enough but the rest of the book was almost excruciating. It's a good book, I'm sure, but I found it difficult to read. I was able to finish the entire thing, though. :grin:
Moby Dick was much easier as an audio book.

I believe it is, but audio books have always been powerful lullibies in my case, no matter the story.  :P
I'm just a student of the game that they taught me.


xSilverPhinx

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Re: Difficult Books
« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2016, 01:58:52 AM »
I like the story in the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin, but I find his style of writing to be extremely difficult to trudge through, it's like listening to someone with dementia teach history. But I liked the story, so I was able to force myself through the first three books. They were difficult.

While I don't consider his books to be difficult to get through (maybe except for the third, which is the most boring of the series IMO), I wouldn't call his style of writing good either. It isn't among the worst but it isn't excellent. Also, the sheer number of characters doesn't help, I felt lost on more than one occasion. I am still a fan though, perhaps mostly due to the HBO series.
I'm just a student of the game that they taught me.