Sean Lovelace at HTMLGIANT asks "When was the last time you read a book you didn’t really want to read? How did that go?"
One of the great things about not being in graduate school anymore is that there aren't too many occasions when someone can really force you to read something you don't want to read. These days I'm only pushed to read something I didn't find on my own when I'm asked to review a book (or more accurately, consider reviewing a book) for The Rumpus or elsewhere. But I'm not sure that even gets to the point of the question, since I'm not starting from a point of resistance to the book itself.
If the answer requires completing the book, then I guess I have to go back to graduate school and the Romantic Poetry class I took with Dr. Wilkie who, for some reason I will never understand (and he was the second of my professors to do this to me), assigned a Jane Austen novel, and what's more, made it a center-point of the class. We read Pride and Prejudice, and I hated it. Yes, I'm a Philistine.
Okay, hate is too strong a word, because I didn't actually get worked up over it. I just found it tedious, and I didn't care about any of the characters in the slightest. I was actively wishing bad things to happen to all of them by the time I finished the book, and have managed to forget it almost completely in the years since. Like I said--Philistine.
If I get to include a book that I started but never finished, then the answer is more recent--the book An Irreverent Curiosity by David Farley. The Rumpus needed someone to review the book, and if you scan the site, you'll notice no review ever appeared. That's because none of the three people who offered to take the book on managed to finish it. I was the middle person. The subject of the book is supposed to be this search for a really odd relic of the Catholic Church which has been missing for a long time--Jesus's foreskin. I'll leave it to you to figure out how that story didn't make for compelling reading, to imagine what the writer had to do to that premise to make me not want to finish the book.
So what about you? When was the last time you read a book you really didn't want to, and how did it go?