Thursday, May 14, 2009

To Stop Reading or Keep Going?

I love books. Even books where, quite frankly, I dislike the characters or the writing, I will keep reading. There have only been a couple of times that I remember where I have stopped and thought "This book is sucking up time I will never get back!!" and returned the book to the library. But still, I will skip to the end (horrors!) and find out what happens.

I remember once my mom and I were reading the same book. She was fed up with the main character's stupidity and stopped reading. What she really wanted to do was throw the book against the wall. I kept going with the hopes that it would get better. It did not.

This isn't about which books are awful and which rock. Rather, I find it interesting why people either choose to finish books, decide to move on to something else, and the reasons behind their decisions.

There's a poll to the right of this post! Please pick the answer that best describes you and don't forget to leave a comment about what you think.


Anonymous said...

I find the older I get the less willing I am to keep reading. Now I will generally give a book 25-50 pages before giving up. I have such a long list of other books to read, I don't feel bad about giving up one that I don't like.

Lately though I have had the opposite happen. Several times I have gone back to a book that I had given up on before and tried it again, and this time loved it. Weird

Linda K. said...

I can't even count how many books I've given up on - some after checking the ending, others aren't even worth doing that much. And.. I have thrown one or two against the wall! Not library books of course. (Very theraputic) There's so much good stuff out there why waste the time on a badly written one? I really get frustrated with authors who are obviously under contract for x number of books and spew them out (don't you love that word spew?) on schedule whether they have a good story or not. Another pet peeve is the authors who have been writing for so long they no longer seem to have an editor and they produce 300+ page books with half the pages being blank white space. You know the authors I'm talking about. We used to love their books but they've either become lazy or they just want another notch on the "bestseller" list. Even if they're really bad, it's often fun to laugh and compare notes with a friend or co-worker who has also tried to read the same "bad" book. I actually have a list of authors who I sample at times just to see how low they have sunk! Even the best author will falter after writing book number 17 in a series.

Roberta said...

I totally agree with earlier comments - life is too short to read something I'm not enjoying. I left "required reading" behind years ago. However, I often will skip to the ending to see if I might want to skim through the rest of the book.

Strangely, this is why I often start in the third or fourth book of the series. Sometimes authors don't hit their stride right away, and I don't want to miss out on a great third book even if the first one was crap.

Heather I said...

Once upon a time, I was single, childless and fancifree and had all the time in the world to read to my hearts content. In those days, I very rarely bailed on a book, though there were books I just wasn't in the 'mood' for at a given time. I would read the first couple of pages and decide to put aside for another time. Possession, which turned out to be one of my all time favorite books was one such books - one day I picked it up for the third or fourth time and it just resonated: right book, right time.

These days, my daily reading time has been relegated to a scant 20 minutes or so between 10:40 and 11 pm each night and I don't HESITATE to bail on a book that's not working for me. So many books, so little time has never felt so true!

Jo B. said...

I have "the Rule of 25." In other words, a book has about one hour or 25 pages to entice me. If I'm not hooked by then, I move on.

Here's what Sir Francis Bacon thought on the subject:

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.

So there, Sir Francis Bacon didn't finish all his books either.

Karen Mc said...

I've bailed on plenty of books over the years. Sadly, the most common reason for this is not that I didn't like the book, although that has happened. More likely, the book is terribly overdue and I feel obligated to return it, and then never get the chance to pick it up again. I got spoiled working in an academic library for many years, where the loan period was an entire semester. Don't have that luxury at the public library! For a librarian, I read very few books. Most fiction simply doesn't interest me, and I have so little free time. I find I'd rather spend those free hours doing, rather than reading about other people doing.

Anonymous said...

I am a finisher, for the most part. But there's a reason: I'm very, very picky about what I bring home from the library. I will often read the first page or two to determine whether I'll check out a book or not. I have bailed on books in the past and was later able to read and enjoy them (Vanity Fair and Tess of the D'Urbervilles). I keep hoping that I'll be able to read Possession one day. The third time is usually a charm!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Jo B. I usually give a book to page 30. Sometimes I find myself on page 50 and wondering if I should maybe clean the kitchen instead. For me the biggest clue is when I realize that I couldn't care less about the hero/heroine - this usually means that the author has not fleshed out the character to my satisfaction. When this realization hits me, I put the book down and pick up the next one. I always take out at least 4 books from the library. Choice is everything, and time is shorter than you think.

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