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Readers Respond: What Book Can't You Finish?


Previously, we asked our librarians what books they've never been able to finish—yes, even librarians have books we just can't make it through—and now we'd like to know yours!

Here are some titles that our readers mentioned frequently on social media.



Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace




Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas



Ulysses by James Joyce


Let us know your literary Waterloos! And if you're looking for a book you can finish, check out our Staff Picks browse tool for recommendations! 

Have trouble reading standard print? Many of these titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.



Patron-generated content represents the views and interpretations of the patron, not necessarily those of The New York Public Library. For more information see NYPL's Website Terms and Conditions.

Book unable to finish

Moby Dic by Herman Melville

Book I cannot finish

Moby Dick. I'm not so married to tightly woven plots. I don't always even care if there is one. I could listen to Garrison Keillor wax on for days about whether the Lake is frozen enough yet for ice fishing. But I cannot care about what happens to the whale for more than a third of that book. Fortunately, I do know what happens and why it might matter, thanks to a good scene in Star Trek: First Contact.

Books unfinishable..

The Goldfinch! The Goldfinch!! Stop writing! Get an editor!

LOVED The Goldfinch...

LOVED The Goldfinch... finished in a few days! Some of the best writing I’ve read in years!!

Book I can't finish

Le rouge et le noir

cant finish

catch 22

Book I want to like, but cannot finish

Everything by William Faulkner. I tried so hard, but he bores me to tears.

I made it through Gravity's

I made it through Gravity's Rainbow, all of Shakespeare (Macbeth's the best), Moby Dick, all of Faulkner, and loved and appreciated them all... But I just cannot seem to get more than 20 pages into Proust's Remembrance of Things Past

The Last Black Unicorn and other things I can hate

Just THE WORST! I'm not the demographic she's going for but it doesn't matter--it's just a terrible book. Books I've thrown across the room? Lolita, Lovely Bones and Running with Scissors.

Books I could not finish

The DaVinci Code


You name the book. Vollmann is my literary rope wall I'm too feeble to climb.

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