Culture
99.5k voters

Books You'll Never Finish Reading

Updated September 13, 2019 1.9m votes 99.5k voters 1.2m views169 items

List RulesUpvote 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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  • 26
    In Cold Blood
    8,962
    9,011
    Amazon buy button
  • 27
    Catch-22
    12,933
    13,165

    Catch-22

    Joseph Heller

    First Published1961-11-11

    SubjectsDrama, World War II

    Genres (Book)War novel, Black comedy, Satire, Historical fiction, Absurdist fiction

    Original LanguageAmerican English, English Language

    Catch-22 is a satirical novel by the American author Joseph Heller. He began writing it in... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 28
    The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

    First Published1989

    SubjectsFinance, Philosophy, Entrepreneurship, Calendar, Self-help

    Genres (Book)Non-fiction, Self-help

    The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, first published in 1989, is a business and... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 29
    Roots
    7,320
    7,586

    Roots

    Alex Haley

    First Published1976-08-17

    SubjectsMiniseries, Slavery, Kunta Kinte

    Genres (Book)Biography, Autobiographical novel, Autobiography, Novel

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Roots: The Saga of an American Family is a novel written by Alex Haley and first published in... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 30
    The Sun Also Rises
    7,576
    7,860

    The Sun Also Rises

    Ernest Hemingway

    First Published1926-10-22

    SubjectsLiterary, Education, Literature, France, Classics

    Genres (Book)Roman à clef, Children's literature, Fiction, Novel

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Hemingway´s book abot the San Fermin FestivalAmazon buy button
  • 31
    The Silmarillion
    11,807
    12,362

    The Silmarillion

    J. R. R. Tolkien

    First Published1977

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Fantasy

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The Silmarillion is a collection of J. R. R. Tolkien's mythopoeic works, edited and published... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 32
    Tess of the d'Urbervilles
    7,265
    7,637

    First Published1891

    SubjectsPopular literature

    Genres (Book)Tragedy

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Tess of the d'Urbervilles: A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented is a novel by Thomas Hardy. It... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 33
    The Count of Monte Cristo
    5,927
    6,230

    The Count of Monte Cristo

    Alexandre Dumas, Auguste Maquet

    First Published1844

    SubjectsRevenge, France, Redemption, Classics, Wrongly Accused

    Genres (Book)Romance novel, Fiction, Historical novel, Adventure fiction

    Original LanguageFrench Language

    The Count of Monte Cristo is an adventure novel by French author Alexandre Dumas completed in... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 34
    Lord of the Flies William Golding
    9,201
    9,756

    First Published1954

    SubjectsMonarch, Ethics, Literature, Young adult, Classics

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Allegory, Fiction, Young adult literature, Novel

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Lord of the Flies is a 1954 dystopian novel by Nobel Prize-winning English author William... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 35
    Exodus
    7,059
    7,496

    Exodus

    Leon Uris

    First Published1958

    SubjectsLiterature, Classics, 1948 Arab–Israeli War, 20th century, History

    Genres (Book)Fiction, Novel

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Exodus by American novelist Leon Uris is about the founding of the State of Israel. Published... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 36
    Paradise Lost
    6,627
    7,128

    Paradise Lost

    John Milton

    First Published1667

    SubjectsThe Bible, Astrology, Paradise of Fools, Fall of man

    Genres (Book)Poetry, Epic poetry

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Paradise Lost is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton. The... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 37
    Pride and Prejudice
    13,777
    14,939

    First Published1813-01-28

    SubjectsPopular literature, Literary, Education, 19th century, English Language

    Genres (Book)Romance novel, Satire, Novel of manners, Fiction, Novel

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Pride and Prejudice is a novel of manners by Jane Austen, first published in 1813. The story... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 38
    Animal Farm
    9,240
    10,066

    Animal Farm

    George Orwell

    First Published1945-08-17

    SubjectsMonarch, Literary, Literature, Classics, Drama

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Roman à clef, Satire, Children's literature, Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Animal Farm is an allegorical and dystopian novella by George Orwell, first published in... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 39
    Watership Down
    7,560
    8,238

    Watership Down

    Richard Adams

    First Published1972-11

    SubjectsLiterary, Epic film, Literature, Rabbits, Classics

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Fiction, Fantasy

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Watership Down is a classic adventure novel, written by English author Richard Adams,... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 40
    The Three Musketeers
    4,905
    5,353

    The Three Musketeers

    Alexandre Dumas

    First Published1844

    SubjectsMusic, France, Musketeer, Heroism, History

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Fiction, Historical novel

    Original LanguageFrench Language

    The Three Musketeers is a novel by Alexandre Dumas. Set in the 17th century, it recounts the... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 41
    1984
    13,988
    15,308

    1984

    Kit Reed

    SubjectsMonarch

    Amazon buy button
  • 42
    Water for Elephants
    7,743
    8,528

    First Published2006-05-26

    SubjectsLiterary, Circus

    Genres (Book)Romance novel, Fiction, Novel, Historical novel

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Water for Elephants is a historical novel by Sara Gruen, written as part of National Novel... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 43
    The Picture of Dorian Gray
    5,655
    6,248

    First Published1890

    SubjectsMusic, Popular literature, Supernatural, Literature, Classics

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Fiction, Gothic fiction, Philosophical fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The Picture of Dorian Gray is an 1891 philosophical novel by writer and playwright Oscar... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 44
    The Fountainhead
    4,287
    4,812

    First Published1943-12

    SubjectsLiterary, Literature, Classics, Aesthetics, Individualism

    Genres (Book)Fiction, Philosophical fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The Fountainhead is a 1943 novel by Ayn Rand, and her first major literary success. More than... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 45
    Dracula
    11,331
    12,809

    Dracula

    Bram Stoker

    First Published1897-05-27

    SubjectsLiterary, Ghost, 19th century, Vampire, British Cuisine

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Horror Film, Mystery, Fiction, Epistolary novel

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Dracula is an 1897 Gothic horror novel by Irish author Bram Stoker. Famous for introducing the... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 46
    The Lord of the Rings
    16,949
    19,284

    The Lord of the Rings

    J. R. R. Tolkien

    First Published1954-07-29

    SubjectsLiterary, Epic film, Literature, Classics, Drama

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Chivalric romance, Fiction, Adventure fiction, Fantasy

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The Lord of the Rings is an epic high-fantasy novel written by English author J. R. R.... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 47
    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
    12,366
    14,121

    First Published2005

    SubjectsCrime

    Genres (Book)Crime Fiction, Mystery, Thriller

    Original LanguageSwedish Language

    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a crime novel by the late Swedish author and journalist... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 48
    The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
    9,025
    10,330

    First Published1892

    SubjectsEngland

    Genres (Book)Short story, Detective fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a collection of twelve stories written by Arthur Conan... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 49
    Origin of the Species, Charles Darwin
    On the Origin of Species, published on 24 November 1859, is a work of scientific literature by... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 50
    Fifty Shades Darker
    6,113
    7,116

    First Published2011-09-15

    Fifty Shades Darker is a 2012 erotic romance novel by British author E. L. James. It is the... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button