J.D. Biersdorfer knows what she’s talking about:
It’s O.K. to admit it: You tried to read James Joyce’s “Ulysses” and ended up chucking the thing aside in frustration. You are not alone. According to her letters, Virginia Woolf (“Never did I read such tosh”) had a long stall after 200 pages. Several well-known authors in the Book Review’s By the Book interview feature admit to leaving the novel unfinished. “Ulysses” even notched the No. 3 spot in the Top Five Abandoned Classics poll published by the Goodreads site a few years ago.
If you’re interested, the other four of the most often abandoned classics turned out to be Catch-22, Lord of the Rings, Moby Dick, and Atlas Shrugged.
What’s Lord of the Rings doing on that list???? I’ve read it seven times — cover to cover! The others I can happily leave on the list, especially Atlas Shrugged, which I’ve never even been willing to start.
But back to the subject at hand. I can claim that I’ve read 4/3 of Ulysses: I have twice gotten 2/3 of the way through. Once was in college, once a few years after graduating. I kept meaning to finish, of course. I still do. But I need help, as do you. So I’m definitely going to try the guides mentioned in Biersdorfer’s article. Will you join me?