Books You'll Never Finish Reading

Over 99.9K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of Books You'll Never Finish Reading
Voting Rules
Upvote the books that might be great, but no one will ever finish them and find out because who has the time and/or patience?

As Emily Dickinson famously said, "There is no Frigate like a Book / To take us Lands away," but sometimes you get halfway there and are all "Frigate, WTF, where are we even going?" There are some books that you will just never finish, no matter how many times you try. Maybe the authors of these hardest books to read are laughing at all of us right now, or maybe they didn't even mean to make the book so tough, but here we all are, slogging through these book swamps, trying to figure out what the hell James Joyce is even on about with Ulysses.

Hard books to read run the gamut. Some are just too long, like War and Peace. Others are just perplexing and no one will ever know what's really going on in them, even that kid in your Honors College literature class who thinks he is so cool. Still others of the most difficult books ever written aren't even really that complicated, they just happen to be as boring as listening to anyone, anywhere, at anytime, talking about traffic.

What books have you put down after just one chapter? What books sit proudly on your shelves, 90% unread because life is more than sticking it out with a book that is just too much? Sure, a lot of these books you are never going to actually read are classics, written by famous authors and some of the most influential writers of all time, but let's get real, Jonathan Franzen, there aren't enough hours in the day to wade through The Corrections.

Upvote the books and novels below that you have sidelined for whatever reason and be sure to add any great books you have started, and then immediately been like, "NOPE."
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Ranked by
  • The Bible
    25,657 votes
    The Bible is a canonical collection of texts sacred in Judaism and Christianity. There is no single canonical Bible and various religious traditions have produced different recensions with different ...more
  • Moby-Dick
    Herman Melville
    21,745 votes
    • First Published: 1851-10-18
    • Subjects: Whaling, Popular literature, Literary, Education, Literature
    • Genres (Book): Fiction, Sea story, Adventure fiction
    • Original Language: English Language
    Moby-Dick; or, The Whale is a novel by Herman Melville considered an outstanding work of Romanticism and the American Renaissance. Ishmael narrates the monomaniacal quest of Ahab, captain of the ...more
  • War and Peace
    Leo Tolstoy
    18,630 votes
    • First Published: 1869
    • Subjects: Popular literature, Name day, Napoleonic Wars, Russia, History
    • Genres (Book): Romance novel, War novel, Historical novel, Philosophical fiction
    • Original Language: French Language, Russian Language
    War and Peace is a novel by the Russian author Leo Tolstoy, first published in 1869. The work is epic in scale and is regarded as one of the most important works of world literature. It is considered ...more
  • Ulysses
    James Joyce
    17,218 votes
    • First Published: 1922-02-02
    • Subjects: Ireland, Men
    • Genres (Book): Fiction, Novel
    • Original Language: English Language
    Ulysses is a modernist novel by Irish writer James Joyce. It was first serialised in parts in the American journal The Little Review from March 1918 to December 1920, and then published in its ...more
  • The Canterbury Tales
    Geoffrey Chaucer
    18,436 votes
    • First Published: 1475
    • Subjects: Storytelling, Astrology, Pilgrimage, Middle Ages, England
    • Genres (Book): Anthology
    • Original Language: Middle English
    The Canterbury Tales is a collection of over 20 stories written in Middle English by Geoffrey Chaucer at the end of the 14th century, during the time of the Hundred Years' War. The tales are ...more
  • A Tale of Two Cities
    Charles Dickens
    20,668 votes
    • First Published: 1859
    • Subjects: Literary, French Revolution, Revenge, English Language, German Language
    • Genres (Book): Fiction, Novel, Historical novel, Social criticism
    • Original Language: English Language
    A Tale of Two Cities is a novel by Charles Dickens, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. The novel depicts the plight of the French peasantry demoralised by the French ...more