There are two types of people in this world.
There are those who, when they realize they’re not enjoying a book, fling it against the wall or “lose” it on the subway or let it languish on a nightstand gathering dust. They don’t look back and consider life to short to waste on substandard reading experiences.
And there are those who, whether through guilt, optimism, or thriftiness, power through even the most excruciating of books and don’t feel at peace until they know how it ends. Even if they stopped caring somewhere around Page 5.
Which kind are you? Poll below, you’ll need to click through to see it if you’re in an RSS reader or reading by e-mail.
Me: I used to be a power through-er, but in my old age I’ve become a stopper.
I used to power through in my youth. Now, I know better. As The Librarian Nancy Pearl advised in a radio interview I heard: Life is too short so give a book about 50 pages, and if it doesn't click for you, move on to another book. For every year over 50 in your age, subtract a page.
I'm currently subtracting a few pages.
Tess Cox says
Reading a book is like getting to know a lover…you have to invest your love wisely….when I was younger, I could afford to waste my affection on fly-by-night tomes knowing that there would be the occasional Lord of the Rings or Tale of Two Cities to carry me in a long term relationship.
But now? I don't have the time or energy to invest in creating a relationship with a story if it's not satisfying me. Live and Learn. And I don't want to WRITE a story that doesn't seduce and ultimately satisfy my readers. I want my story and my characters to be faithful companions for the long run that will stick with my readers through thick and thin…Friends they can mentally and emotionally return to when the going gets tough. Now That's Love!
Funny – I just wrote about this exact same thing on my own blog (last week, beat ya!). I've decided life's too short for literary guilt. Move on…
Eric J. Krause says
I usually power through books I buy (can't waste money) but give up on books I borrow. Luckily, though, with books I buy, I usually know what I'm getting, so there is no need to worry about giving up on them–I enjoy them. I'm much less discerning with books I borrow (usually from the library), so I start many that I decide I'm not that into. Usually, though, I discover that the books I figure I'm not going to enjoy turn out to be excellent reads, which is why I choose a wide variety from the library.
I normally power through. Every now and then I might take a break, read a different book, and then come back and start all over.
But admittedly there is one book that I just cannot (and will not) finish. I was so excited to get my hands on it and finally start reading after all of the praise and good reviews that I had heard! But when I finally started to read The Bell Jar I just couldn't do it.
S.L. Stevens says
If I bought it or won it in a giveaway, I'll power through. I might as well since it's my own copy. However, a few years ago I bought an historical novel that was riddled with lazy inaccuracies, despite the fact that in her afterword the author practically bragged she had gone to great lengths to make the details accurate.
Because of that book, I'm a lot more careful now about what I buy. I read several reviews as well as actual samples from the book if they're available. Only then do I purchase the book. Now I rarely have to worry about putting down a book in the middle.
Both. If's it a book lent to me/highly rec'ed by a friend (or it's for class) I try to push through it. Everything else, I stop.
I stop. I have read a lot of books half way through. The last one I stopped in the middle was: The Breach. The story became too absurd for me to want to finish.
Debra Baseden says
If the language has a rhythm I can't get into (like someone talking over you), I stop. For YA books that don't work, I rapidly skim through the rest, so I know what went wrong and do my best not to have MY writing turn out that way! 🙂
I finish them, even when they're so bad it's driving me crazy. I never feel I can pass proper judgement on a book unless I've read the whole thing. Yes, there's a chance it'll get better, but if it's truly diabolical I know that's highly unlikely. But I have to get to the end so that I can look at the book as a whole and then sum up my feelings about it. I keep a journal of little reviews of all the books I read, and there's nothing more satisfying than summing up with a rant-infused diatribe just how bad a certain book was. And then I appreciate the next good book all the more for it.
I take a different approach. If it's not holding my interest, I also consider the mood I'm in. I'll put it aside for a few weeks, read something else and then come back to it. If it still fails to keep my interest, I give it to someone I think might enjoy it.
On the other hand, if it is one of my favorite authors, then out of loyalty, I might try it more than twice. But I simply won't finish something that can't keep me engaged.
Amy Lynn says
I keep reading, not regularly because I believe the book will get better, but because I like to finish what I start. Even if it is the worst book I've read.
If you do not like a book, you can collect and read more strength. At first I did not like "Robin Cook – Chromosome"'s book. In the end I was quite good. I do not regret that I have read. However, I do not like the classical Russian literature and I have never read one either.
How do you know if you've never read one? Neither have I, and I PRESUME I wouldn't like it. I've seen the Dr Zhivago movie and it wasn't really for me, so didn't read the book. But it was still a presumption.