Cannot Finish Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain

Title:  Life on the Mississippi
Author:  Mark Twain
Published:  1883
Challenges:  Back to the Classics (non-fiction); Literary Movement (realism); The Classics Club

Everything was in my favor: Mark Twain, non-fiction, realism, a little bit of history, a memorable journey down or up the famous Mississippi.  All of these factors whet my appetite, and I was going dive into this book and love, love, love it.  

Unfortunately, before the first chapter was over, I wanted to jump overboard and get caught up in one of those steamboat paddle wheels and drown myself.  Ugh!  Life on the Mississippi was so boring; I could not appreciate it for one more sentence.  

I forced myself to read more than half the book, which is a pathetic way to waste precious reading time.  I forced myself - not because it was difficult material that must be ingested because of its significance to learning and life - but because I wanted to finish the challenge, which is also the wrong reason to read.  It was supposed to be for pure enjoyment and pleasure, but it was more like torture.  

So what is it all about?  It is an assortment of Twain's life stories connected to his time on the Mississippi as a steamboat pilot.  Apparently, he traveled all over the United States and Europe, but he always came back to the Mississippi River; all of those River stories are recollected in Life on the Mississippi.  If you have read Huckleberry Finn, which he mentions in this account, then you will understand where he gets his knowledge of the great river.  I almost imagine that he wrote this more for himself than anyone else's potential interest.

Unfortunately, with the exception of his occasional sarcasm and humor, I could not get into his long personal tales of people and places and events that he experienced during his life on the river.  It was just terribly boring to me.  When I told a friend what I was reading, she said, "Oh no!  You picked the worst one to read.  You have got to try Roughing It or Innocents Abroad."  However, I declare that it is too late for me, and I am going to have to regretfully forfeit my challenges this month.   I cannot make it.  At some point I have to be ok with this. So, I am.  Life goes on.  I can sleep tonight with a good conscience. And no matter what, I harbor no disagreeable feelings towards Mark Twain.  This was just not for me.


  1. I HATE not finishing challenges! So I completely feel your pain. If it makes you feel better, I've never managed to read more than a chapter or two of this one either.

    1. Well, from what I am hearing, this was not an easy one to get through. I don't feel so bad now.

  2. My condolences! I didn't care for this the first time I read it years ago, but I keep hoping that it might have improved with time. I may try it again, but first I have to read Huck and Tom, books I either haven't read before or don't remember reading.