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Do you ever just stop reading a book?

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I'm curious how many people do this. I never used to. Maybe it's because I read some books based solely on a recommendation, but I've really noticed a trend lately. This is the third book this year and I was almost finished and I just couldn't take it anymore! Worst part, it was recommended to me by an editor. I can't even believe it was published! I won't say the title (and it wasn't written by anyone here), but it was senseless violence, third-person POV's all over the place and it felt more like a middle grade than YA. Obviously, because of the violence there's no way it would be MG. I haven't read a book with so many main characters killed off. As soon as the story was in one character's perspective, you could almost guarantee they'd be killed off.

 :!  :violin :flamethrower
#1 - September 04, 2010, 10:17 PM

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Pshaw. All the time!! I probably start more books than I finish. Sometimes I go back and try again and fare better, but often I don't bother. And I wouldn't worry about the editor's recommendations; I've been utterly unable to get past the first chapters of two of my editor's most beloved novels. They're just "not right for my list." ;)

Several years ago I belonged to a neighborhood book club, and one of the other members told me she had a 100 pages rule for novels: she'd read at least the first 100 pages of any book before giving up. I tried that for a while, and it worked well. Either the book would pick up by that point, or it wouldn't--but at least you felt like you gave it a shot.
#2 - September 04, 2010, 10:34 PM

I have a 50 page rule. It was my New Years Resolution many years ago after I slogged through a Dickens novel and hated it all the way. (Previously, I had also slogged through Charlotte Bronte's Shirley.) And I must say it's been the easiest resolution to keep. Sometimes I'm a little on the fence about when to stop reading, so this is my test...if I realize my reading level has dropped because I don't want to pick up THAT BOOK, it's time for a new book. (Of course I'm always reading a bunch of books at a time, but they belong to different locales, so like, if my bathroom book is so boring that I'd rather stare at the wall than read it, it's time for a new bathroom book.)
#3 - September 04, 2010, 11:05 PM
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Never used to be that way, but then I started writing and I learned, and my BS meter recalibrated.  :smile
#4 - September 04, 2010, 11:53 PM
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I don't continue reading a book if I don't like it, unless I am trying to analyze why it doesn't work for me. Usually I make the decision pretty early, but occasionally I get almost to the end and give up. I may appreciate the writing and like other books by the author, but if it becomes a struggle to continue, I usually don't (or I start skimming). Often, I recognize that a book is well crafted, but that I am just not into it and it's not my cup of tea. I don't feel guilty about quitting a book and I wouldn't expect my own books to appeal to everyone.
#5 - September 05, 2010, 12:48 AM
« Last Edit: September 05, 2010, 01:04 AM by Lenzi »

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I used to force myself to finish, but lately I've given myself permission to stop. There are just too many books on my TBR list to spend time reading books I don't enjoy.  :yup

And I agree with Aimee too, my standards are much higher than they used to be!!
#6 - September 05, 2010, 12:53 AM
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This is where I have a little dilemma. 
There will be a writer at the conference and I admit, all I know is that I'd heard about her, so I decided to borrow one of her books.  I started to read it and can't identify with the character at all and cannot understand how they get into themselves into certain situations.  It was also long-winded (but I've been guilty of that myself), so after the first chapter, I put it down and decided to return to it afresh.
I want to feel I know something about the author and her style, but I just can't identify with the character in her book. Particularly hard since this is a series.
#7 - September 05, 2010, 02:33 AM

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I will not force my way through a book. Some I abandon in the the first chapter, some maybe mid-way. If plowing through it is too laborious .. I'll just skip to the end.
#8 - September 05, 2010, 04:10 AM
Making metaphors out of molehills for over thirty years.

I usually make myself read it all the way through. Unless it's an adult book. I just don't know my own tastes with adult books well enough, so I figure it's not my type of book and let it go if it doesn't hold my attention. But, with kids books. It's hard to give myself permission to stop a book. I once did it with a Newbery winner and felt so guilty! But, boy, it was so not my type of book. Couldn't stay awake reading it.

Because I make myself finish (99.9% of the time) I am so much more careful picking out books to read. I don't pick up just anything, because I know I'm stuck with it even if it's just my mood that's interfering. Sometimes I'll have a few going because of that. If I'm in one mood, I'll read the humorous book. If I'm in a more intense mood, I'll read the dramatic one. If I can actually concentrate well, I'll go for non-fiction (adult level.)
#9 - September 05, 2010, 04:25 AM

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I never used to stop reading, either, but the pile next to my bed is huge, and I like to move through it. So now I will stop in the middle of a book, especially if the writing AND something about the story is bothering me. I like the 50/100 page rule noted above because it's a concrete goal and gives the author a fair shot. Maybe I'll try that!
#10 - September 05, 2010, 04:41 AM
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It depends on why I'm reading. Obviously, stuff for grad school I finish no matter what. Sometimes I give myself little challenges, like I'm currently reading Proust just to be able to say that I did. Sometimes I'm reading for research (non-fiction) and getting the information, no matter who stiff I might find the writing, is more important than enjoyment. Or sometimes I'm reading something because I'm going to meet the author soon or I've heard great things about a particular novel and want to find out what the fuss is about, and those I'll finish. When I'm reading for fun, though, if I'm not into it within 3 chapters, I abandon it and move on.
#11 - September 05, 2010, 04:51 AM

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Never used to be that way, but then I started writing and I learned, and my BS meter recalibrated.  :smile

Yes!  In a way it makes me sad...it's very hard to just "let go" into a book unless it's so darned good that it pries my fingers off the edge and gives me a shove, metaphorically speaking. :)  I use a 30-50 page rule too.
#12 - September 05, 2010, 06:22 AM
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My attitude is that my reading time is limited, and I'm not sticking with a book that I can't get into. I have become more discerning as I've become a better writer, and feel this way more frequently.

I did stick with a book that I wanted to put down recently, and I'm glad I did. In the end it was cute and I liked it. But it was an author I'd meant and a writer friend had told me how much she enjoyed it. I don't know that I would have otherwise.

anita
#13 - September 05, 2010, 06:46 AM

I never used to either but as a reviewer I give each book the 50 pg rule: If it doesn't keep my attention after that I put the book aside.  Some exceptions included MOCKINGJAY which didn't really 'grab' me until after pg 200 and the last HP book too.  I just have so many books and not mega time.
 
#14 - September 05, 2010, 07:27 AM
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I used to force myself to finish, but lately I've given myself permission to stop. There are just too many books on my TBR list to spend time reading books I don't enjoy.  :yup



I'm the same way.  In fact, the first time I chose not to finish a book, I felt like I'd betrayed reading or something, lol.  Now I've decided that forcing myself to finish a book I'm not enjoying is even more wrong.


God bless,
Susan
#15 - September 05, 2010, 07:33 AM
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I give it one chapter. I have a million books in my TBR pile, so I don't want to spend time on things in life that I don't enjoy, especially if I have a choice.
#16 - September 05, 2010, 07:36 AM
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I have a 50 page rule, too. Life's just too short to spend reading books that I don't enjoy. Also, I tend to pick up books that I think I "should" read rather than want to read. We moved recently and I got rid of all the books that I hadn't made more than 50 pages of progress on. It was incredibly freeing.
#17 - September 05, 2010, 07:50 AM

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I rarely read books that haven't been recommended in one way or another. So I almost always push on to the end. But in a couple of instances I had to quit. One in particular was a "humorous" memoir that I found more disgusting than funny. Coupled with a VERY turbulent plane flight, the book almost made me lose my Biscoff. I left it in my seat pocket - the book that is, not my Biscoff.
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#18 - September 05, 2010, 08:01 AM
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Rarerly. Over the past twenty years there are probably fifteen books I've started but not finished.
#19 - September 05, 2010, 09:09 AM
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I only give them one chapter, also -- like Deena, I have way too many books waiting for my attention, and if any one of them can't propel me through the first chapter, it's 'not right for me' and I move on.
#20 - September 05, 2010, 09:55 AM
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I, too, used to feel compelled to finish any book I started. Not anymore. And although I still usually finish, because I'm picky about what I start, if it's too boring or too obvious in plot technique, it annoys me and I stop.
#21 - September 05, 2010, 10:27 AM

yes.

i try to give at least 50 pages usually.
but not always.
#22 - September 05, 2010, 10:36 AM
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What just about all of you said. Life's too short, and once I know why a book isn't working for me, I figure I've learned from it what I can. Sometimes, if I just want to know how the main plot turns out, I'll do a fast skim rather than just slam it shut.

I've heard enough writers say this that I see it as an occupational hazard that comes with our growing skills. But the trouble with that view is that the authors of those books had sufficient skill at least in the eyes of their publisher to get published. Sometimes I really can't believe such-and-such got published and feel like "different strokes for different folks" isn't enough of an explanation. These books/moments can make me go  :gaah and wonder if anybody REALLY knows what they're doing and how the  :eh2 we can find out. It also makes me lose confidence in the critique process at times. I mean, if we find so many published books that we can't even slog through, can a handful of critique partners with their own unique tastes really give us a sense of how ready our book is, and can we accurately do that for others? Yes, most of the time I know we can, but some days  :stars
#23 - September 05, 2010, 11:55 AM
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I always used to read to the end, until I started writing.  Now I put down books without finishing them all the time.  I never feel bad when I can't finish.  And I read so much that I sometimes go through periods where it's hard to find something that sucks me in.  I try to recognize when that is happening and then come back to a book when I'm in a better frame of mind.  And I never comment on books that I haven't read all the way through.

The more I've learned about craft, the harder it is for me to forget I'm reading and get swept up in the narrative.  I sometimes feel like Dorothy, wishing I hadn't looked behind the curtain at all.  But then some amazing book will come along and sweep me off my feet and I fall in love with the magic of books all over again.  There's nothing better than a book that you can't wait to get back to reading.

 
#24 - September 05, 2010, 12:10 PM
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They're just "not right for my list." ;) 

ecb - you crack me up!  But that is so true!!  I NEVER used to skim a book - now - sometimes I get to a point where I can't even skim.  I feel bad about it too.  I WANT to read every word on every page and love it - but I just don't.  Learning about writing definitely changed how I read books now.  And to be honest, I don't always like it because I used to love to be swept away in a story. Definitely harder to do now - but the good news is - there are lots more great books to dive into.
#25 - September 05, 2010, 12:20 PM
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I've always felt guilty about not finishing books I've started.  I try to be really picky what I pick up in the first place because of that.  These days, if a book's in my to-read pile, it's been recommended by several people and/or on bestseller lists and/or critically acclaimed, and even if it's not quite my cup of tea, I figure I may learn something from reading the whole thing and seeing how it hangs together.  So if I'm not as into a book as I'd like to be, I usually just end up reading less carefully to get to the end quickly rather than stopping. 

But there have been a few I just couldn't even skim through.  One where I wasn't engaged by the main character at all.  Another that hit a particular peeve in YA that I've almost completely lost tolerance for (I wouldn't have picked up the book in the first place if I'd known it'd have that).  One that had sounded interesting in description but ended up totally boring me.  If it gets to the point I'd avoid reading rather than finish the book, I set that one aside and try something else.
#26 - September 05, 2010, 01:15 PM
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I have completeness issues (and am also a fast reader), so I tend to finish almost all of the books I start.  The ones I don't finish account for maybe 1-2% of my yearly reading, and of those, some subset was probably not-finished for a pragmatic reason (ie I lost the book and didn't like it enough to replace it).  I'm also the type of person who continues watching once-favorite television shows long after they've jumped the shark.
#27 - September 05, 2010, 01:36 PM

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I never feel guilty about unfinished books. I am usually reading more than one at a time, so sometimes some of them just...slide on by. If the book was recommended particularly by someone whose taste I trust, I usually give it more benefit of the doubt, just to see why they like it. Some of the books most loved here are ones I can't relate to (and vice-versa). There are a couple of books I've seen as best beloved by editors that ack, I just can't get into, either. But I like to find out why someone else likes them if I can.

Like everyone else said, though--life's too short to waste on books that don't sing to me. I only need the ones that "fit my list," where I "connect with the narrative voice," etc. "'Cause in this business it's gotta be love." ;)
#28 - September 05, 2010, 01:42 PM

I'm in a women's book club where we take turns choosing a book for everyone else to read. (I'm the only one who picks an MG or YA book and right now everyone's reading my choice, A CURSE DARK AS GOLD and everyone so far has loved it! I knew they would! :yup)

Sometimes in order to finish the book club novel, I find myself skimming passages, but I've been able to finish everything in our group plus the ones other members have lent to me except for one, (MEMOIR OF A GEISHA). I flat out gave up on around 100 pages when I realized the main character, a young girl, was continually going to be maltreated and abused by the people she's handed over to while her mother is dying of cancer. I just did not have the stomach to keep reading about this.

However, I was glad I stuck through a novel lent by a book grp member who was born/raised in Germany (STONES FROM THE RIVER) even though it took @ 75 pages until I could get into it, partly b/c the main character's life unfolds with her having sensibilities that don't fit her early years from infancy to age 4, together with having a mother who is going mad. After the mother dies and the girl goes to school, it was easier to get involved with her life and that of the others in her little town. Then it became absorbing how the rise of Hitler and Nazism and the subsequent hardships/atrocities affected everyone in that town, one way or another. It is a powerful novel, but you wouldn't know that from the first few chapters. So ... sometimes, it's worth plodding through some early "set-up" chapters to get to the unforgettable chapters later on.

#29 - September 05, 2010, 02:15 PM
« Last Edit: September 05, 2010, 02:44 PM by hazelnut »

With YA lately, I read about three chapters before I buy it. If it starts reading like Twilight (with new protag. names and a different mythical beast love interest), I put it back and buy something else. Life's too short.

Btw-- I actually like Twilight. I just hate the unoriginality of a lot of Twilight-inspired books lately.
#30 - September 05, 2010, 03:12 PM
« Last Edit: September 07, 2010, 03:55 PM by florkincaid »
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