Books Books You'll Never Finish Reading  

Amy Boal
1.4M votes 78.8k voters 928.2k views 174 items

List 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."
list ordered by

1
19,212 12,592
The Bible is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
Daniel Arana added 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 ...more

2
16,026 11,563
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
Herman Melville 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

3
13,357 10,024
War and Peace is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
Leo Tolstoy 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 ...more

4
12,130 9,599
Ulysses is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
James Joyce 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

5
12,855 10,743
The Canterbury Tales is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
Geoffrey Chaucer 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

6
1,745 1,376
The Good Earth is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
Chester Angelico Mercado added Pearl S. Buck The Good Earth is a novel by Pearl S. Buck published in 1931 and awarded the Pulitzer Prize for the Novel in 1932. The best-selling novel in the United States in both 1931 and 1932, it was an ...more

7
13,733 11,893
Gone with the Wind is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
Scott Shafer added Margaret Mitchell Gone with the Wind is a novel written by Margaret Mitchell, first published in 1936. The story is set in Clayton County, Georgia, and Atlanta during the American Civil War and Reconstruction ...more

8
14,194 12,530
A Tale of Two Cities is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
AnnaKorba added Charles Dickens 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 ...more

9
11,357 10,319
Anna Karenina is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
PaulArdoin added Leo Tolstoy Anna Karenina is a novel by the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy, published in serial installments from 1873 to 1877 in the periodical The Russian Messenger. Tolstoy clashed with editor Mikhail Katkov ...more

10
11,334 10,358
Wuthering Heights is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
secretigoo added Emily Brontë Wuthering Heights is Emily Brontë's only novel. Written between October 1845 and June 1846, Wuthering Heights was published in 1847 under the pseudonym ″Ellis Bell″; Brontë died the ...more

11
8,498 7,844
Jane Eyre is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
Pam Smith added Charlotte Brontë Jane Eyre is a novel by English writer Charlotte Brontë. It was published on 16 October 1847 by Smith, Elder & Co. of London, England, under the pen name "Currer Bell." The ...more

12
13,928 12,925
The Grapes of Wrath is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
John Steinbeck The Grapes of Wrath is an American realist novel written by John Steinbeck and published in 1939. The book won the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and it was cited ...more

13
10,309 9,643
The Red Badge of Courage is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
John R. Bair added Stephen Crane The Red Badge of Courage is a war novel by American author Stephen Crane. Taking place during the American Civil War, the story is about a young private of the Union Army, Henry Fleming, who ...more

14
11,937 11,220
Atlas Shrugged is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
Ayn Rand Atlas Shrugged is a 1957 novel by Ayn Rand. Rand's fourth and last novel, it was also her longest, and the one she considered to be her magnum opus in the realm of fiction writing. Atlas ...more

15
8,529 8,011
Les Misérables is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
RodneyBlair added Victor Hugo Les Misérables is a French historical novel by Victor Hugo, first published in 1862, that is considered one of the greatest novels of the 19th century. In the English-speaking world, the ...more

16
1,289 1,135
Iliada/ The Iliad is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
Stephen James Richard Rodda added Homer

17
14,221 13,556
The Scarlet Letter is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
coyotedoorknob added Nathaniel Hawthorne The Scarlet Letter is an 1850 romantic work of fiction in a historical setting, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and is considered to be his magnum opus. Set in 17th-century Puritan Boston, ...more

18
6,206 5,882
In Cold Blood is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
Danielle McAfee added

19
3,148 3,006
The Bridges of Madison County is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
Siersha 2 added Robert James Waller The Bridges of Madison County is a 1992 best-selling novel by Robert James Waller that tells the story of a married but lonely Italian woman living in 1960s Madison County, Iowa. She engages in ...more

20
6,917 6,780
The Last of the Mohicans is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
Kimber Highfill added James Fenimore Cooper The Last of the Mohicans: A Narrative of 1757 is a historical novel by James Fenimore Cooper. It is the second book of the Leatherstocking Tales pentalogy and the best known to contemporary ...more

21
6,025 5,923
Don Quixote is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
Le Roy added Miguel de Cervantes Don Quixote, fully titled The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, is a Spanish novel by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. It follows the adventures of a nameless hidalgo who reads so many ...more

22
8,704 8,606
Crime and Punishment is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
Robert L. Schreiwer added Fyodor Dostoyevsky Crime and Punishment is a novel by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky. It was first published in the literary journal The Russian Messenger in twelve monthly installments during 1866. It was ...more

23
7,217 7,134
Walden is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
Lynn Sabin added Henry David Thoreau Walden, by noted transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau, is a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings. The work is part personal declaration of independence, social experiment, ...more

24
4,827 4,760
Lord of the Flies is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
ChloeFletcher added William Golding Lord of the Flies is a 1954 dystopian novel by Nobel Prize-winning English author William Golding about a group of British boys stuck on an uninhabited island who try to govern themselves with ...more

25
7,675 7,667
David Copperfield is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
Avada added Charles Dickens David Copperfield, . is the eighth novel by Charles Dickens. It was first published as a serial 1849–50, and as a book in 1850. Many elements of the novel follow events in Dickens' own life, and ...more

26
4,990 4,987
Animal Farm is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
ChloeFletcher added George Orwell Animal Farm is an allegorical and dystopian novella by George Orwell, first published in England on 17 August 1945. According to Orwell, the book reflects events leading up to the Russian ...more

27
5,497 5,528
The Sun Also Rises is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
David Carter0 added Ernest Hemingway Hemingway´s book abot the San Fermin Festival

28
8,254 8,378
Uncle Tom's Cabin is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
Debby Crespo Frisk added Harriet Beecher Stowe Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly, is an anti-slavery novel by American author Harriet Beecher Stowe. Published in 1852, the novel "helped lay the groundwork for the Civil ...more

29
10,649 10,889
Catch-22 is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
Joseph Heller Catch-22 is a satirical novel by the American author Joseph Heller. He began writing it in 1953; the novel was first published in 1961. It is frequently cited as one of the greatest literary ...more

30
5,320 5,399
Roots: The Saga of an American... is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
Kayode Rotato Poti Anthony added Alex Haley Roots: The Saga of an American Family is a novel written by Alex Haley and first published in 1976. It tells the story of Kunta Kinte, an 18th-century African, captured as an adolescent and sold ...more

31
10,289 10,628
The Silmarillion is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
J. R. R. Tolkien The Silmarillion is a collection of J. R. R. Tolkien's mythopoeic works, edited and published posthumously by his son, Christopher Tolkien, in 1977, with assistance from Guy Gavriel Kay, who ...more

32
4,593 4,770
The Oxford English Dictionary is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
Miranda Rose Glaser added John Simpson The Oxford English Dictionary, published by the Oxford University Press, is a descriptive dictionary of the English language. As well as describing English usage in its many variations ...more

33
2,980 3,092
The Count of Monte Cristo is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
Siersha 2 added Alexandre Dumas, Auguste Maquet The Count of Monte Cristo is an adventure novel by French author Alexandre Dumas completed in 1844. It is one of the author's most popular works, along with The Three Musketeers. Like many of ...more

34
5,549 5,836
Exodus is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
Tracie C Scott added Leon Uris Exodus by American novelist Leon Uris is about the founding of the State of Israel. Published in 1958, it is based on the name of the 1947 immigration ship Exodus. Uris covered the Arab–Israeli ...more

35
5,153 5,441
Water for Elephants is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
Notwillywonka Aintsugarcoaten Shitt added Sara Gruen Water for Elephants is a historical novel by Sara Gruen, written as part of National Novel Writing Month.

36
5,175 5,525
Tess of the d'Urbervilles is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
Monty Sahay added Thomas Hardy Tess of the d'Urbervilles: A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented is a novel by Thomas Hardy. It initially appeared in a censored and serialised version, published by the British illustrated ...more

37
10,759 11,645
1984 is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
Glenn St-Germain added Kit Reed

38
5,127 5,526
Watership Down is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
Notwillywonka Aintsugarcoaten Shitt added Richard Adams Watership Down is a classic adventure novel, written by English author Richard Adams, published by Rex Collings Ltd of London in 1972. Set in south-central England, the story features a small ...more

39
4,808 5,222
Paradise Lost is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
Greg Jones added John Milton Paradise Lost is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton. The first version, published in 1667, consisted of ten books with over ten thousand lines of verse. A ...more

40
2,921 3,153
The Picture of Dorian Gray is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
squanchy added Oscar Wilde The Picture of Dorian Gray is an 1891 philosophical novel by writer and playwright Oscar Wilde. First published as a complete story in the July 1890 issue of Lippincott's Monthly Magazine, the ...more

41
2,531 2,780
The Three Musketeers is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
Siersha 2 added Alexandre Dumas The Three Musketeers is a novel by Alexandre Dumas. Set in the 17th century, it recounts the adventures of a young man named d'Artagnan after he leaves home to travel to Paris, to join the ...more

42
10,825 12,162
Pride and Prejudice is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
Catherine Lynn Martell added Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice is a novel of manners by Jane Austen, first published in 1813. The story follows the main character, Elizabeth Bennet, as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, ...more

43
1,239 1,323
Pillars of the Earth is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
Rich Duval added

44
2,252 2,521
The Fountainhead is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
ChloeFletcher added Ayn Rand The Fountainhead is a 1943 novel by Ayn Rand, and her first major literary success. More than 6.5 million copies of the book have been sold worldwide. The Fountainhead '​s protagonist, Howard ...more

45
10,076 11,627
The Girl with the Dragon Tatto... is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
Stieg Larsson The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a crime novel by the late Swedish author and journalist Stieg Larsson. It is the first book of the Millennium trilogy, which, when published posthumously in ...more

46
14,200 16,437
The Lord of the Rings is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
J. R. R. Tolkien The Lord of the Rings is an epic high-fantasy novel written by English author J. R. R. Tolkien. The story began as a sequel to Tolkien's 1937 fantasy novel The Hobbit, but eventually developed ...more

47
8,945 10,364
Dracula is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
Manuel Bottine added Bram Stoker Dracula is an 1897 Gothic horror novel by Irish author Bram Stoker. Famous for introducing the character of the vampire Count Dracula, the novel tells the story of Dracula's attempt to move from ...more

48
6,981 8,146
The Adventures of Sherlock Hol... is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
Lorraine Zimmerman added Arthur Conan Doyle The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a collection of twelve stories written by Arthur Conan Doyle, featuring his famous detective, and illustrated by Sidney Paget.

49
406 407
The Seven Habits of Highly Eff... is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
yagnelloadams added Stephen Covey The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, first published in 1989, is a business and self-help book written by Stephen R. Covey. Covey presents an approach to being effective in attaining ...more

50
3,961 4,695
The Jungle is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list Books You'll Never Finish Reading
Samantha Sharpes added Upton Sinclair, Jr. The Jungle is a 1906 novel written by the American journalist and novelist Upton Sinclair. Sinclair wrote the novel to portray the harsh conditions and exploited lives of immigrants in the ...more