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The Endings to Those Famous Books You Never Got Around to Reading

How to cut countless hours from your busy reading schedule: We give away the endings to 10 books you were probably never going to finish anyhow.

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War and Peace

There are some books that always seem to make it onto lists of books readers couldn’t finish. As a public service, we’ve chosen 10 of them and tell you how they end, so now you can pretend you’ve read the whole thing and no one will ever be the wiser. You can use all the time you’ll be saving to binge watch the next season of Game of Thrones. With that said, at the end of War and Peace, he gets the girl. Pierre and Natasha, that is. It’s as simple as that. And, oh yeah, there’s a lot of fighting between the Russians and the French. The French lose. Even though this book is a little too long to get through, you really should have gotten through these books by now.

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The Brothers Karamazov

The butler did it. Really. (Well, he’s a servant, anyhow.) But the bad news is, brother Dmitri has to take the fall. The good news is, like in War and Peace, he gets the girl in the end. Sort of. I mean, they can’t really be together—this is Dostoevsky, after all—but it’s close enough. The story doesn’t lend itself to, say, a Disney version. These great books will definitely make you cry.

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Moby-Dick

In the film version starring John Barrymore, The Sea Beast (1926), Ahab gets the girl in the end. In the book, however, there is no girl, and Ahab, caught in the ropes attached to the harpoons, disappears into the ocean attached to the great white whale who destroys the entire ship, and one wonders which one is the real prey (especially if one is writing about it for a school report). Only Ishmael survives. If he gets the girl in the end, Melville was keeping quiet about it.

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Lord of the Rings Trilogy

After all the good guys defeat Sauron, you would think that it’s all over. (It pretty much is all over in the movie version.) Nope. Not even close. The book goes on for a zillion more pages as the Hobbits make their way back to the Shire, fighting yet more battles, including overthrowing an evil Hobbit overlord. (In other news, there’s an evil Hobbit overlord.) Finally everybody goes off into the sunset leaving Middle Earth behind, except Sam, who returns home to his family, thus, shockingly, getting the girl in the end. Looking for something shorter? These are the best short books you will ever read.

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Atlas Shrugged

This is a book readers either love or hate, depending on their reception of author Rand’s Objectivist message. The end of the book is a seemingly endless didactic radio speech delivered by John Galt, following which the government collapses, apparently because they were put to sleep by Galt’s endless prattling, and Galt eventually goes on to rise again and lead the world to Objectivism. True to Ayn Rand’s vision, Galt couldn’t care less if he got a girl in the end or not. These are the most iconic books set in every state.

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David Copperfield

He gets the girl in the end. The other girl, that is. Not ditsy Dora (although they are briefly married until her traditionally Dickensian death), but savvy Agnes. In other words, answering the question posed in the opening sentence, David does indeed turn out to be the hero of his own life.

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Don Quixote

The book we read today actually includes the original book and its sequel, now referred to as Part Two in the modern single volume. At the end of this final book, Don Quixote regains his sanity, bars his niece from marrying anyone who reads books of chivalry, and promptly dies. Dying promptly is the choice authors tend to use when there is no girl around at the end for the hero to get that makes any sense plotwise.

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Les Miserables

This book is so long that it should come with a warning that dropping it on your foot can result in permanent damage. The good news is that the book ends just like the musical, which by now everyone in the universe has seen either in the theater or in the movies. Javert tosses himself into the river, Marius gets Cosette, Valjean and Marius are reconciled, and Valjean promptly but contentedly dies.

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Frankenstein

Most readers come to Frankenstein from varied exposure to the dramatizations created over the years, and are surprised to find that there’s nothing here even close to Boris Karloff, hence they stop reading. Here’s what they miss: After the creature kills creator Victor’s wife, thus depriving our creator of keeping the girl he got in the end, Victor chases the creature to the Arctic and dies of hypothermia. The creature is last seen floating off on an ice floe, with no girl in site, presumably to die, albeit not promptly.

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Gravity’s Rainbow and Infinite Jest

Sorry, but we have no idea how either of these end. For that matter, even though we started reading both of them, we’re not even sure how they begin.

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Ulysses

After a long day trekking around Dublin, Leopold Bloom finally makes it home and tells his wife about his day. Lying in bed, her mind wanders and she remembers when she agreed to marry Bloom way back when. In other words, she said yes. (When you put it that way, James Joyce seems a lot less profound.)