Nathan Bransford, Author


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

When You're Not Liking a Book Do You Stop Reading or Power Through?

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.







165 comments:

Matthew Rush said...

I've only ever given up on two books. No I'm not going to say which ones.

I would like to think it's because I have excellent taste, but who knows.

barbylucedistelle said...

I've given up so many books I can't even remember. Life it too short and they are not worth my time.

Laura Campbell said...

I usually stop, but find my way back to the book. It all depends on how I feel and where I am in my life. All books deserve a good effort.

Ted Fox said...

This post has brought out one of my many annoying habits: Seinfeld quoting (although I admit I had to go to IMDB to get the wording right for this one).

Elaine: I've eaten 23 bad subs, I just need 1 more! It's like a long, bad movie, but you want to see the end of it.

Jerry: No, you walk out.

Elaine: Alright, then, it's like a boring book, but you gotta finish it.

Jerry: No, you wait for the movie.

Best show ever.

Liana Brooks said...

Unless the book comes highly recommended by people with similar reading tastes I skip the end and read the last chapter.

Really, if I can guess the ending from the first three chapters I can't imagine wasting my time on all the useless filler the author stuffed in the middle. There need to be hooks and twists to keep me reading.

Amanda said...

Just like you, I used to power through. Now, I'll give a book about 75 pages tops (which I think is pretty generous).

My "to-be-read" list verges on insanity -- there's simply no time for a bad book.

Karen Akins said...

I'm a cheater even amongst the stoppers. I'll skim ahead to see how it ends (assuming I make it to the point where the conflict emerges...and if I don't make it that far, that's probably why I put it down in the first place.)

Phil said...

I usually have a stable of books going at any one time, one or two non-fiction, a fiction re-read and a new novel. If any of the new one's aren't up to snuff, they slowly migrate to the bottom of the pile and are then eventually culled a few weeks later.

Often, however, I'll read a bad book on purpose to find out what about it isn't working for me--and to learn from that author's mistakes.

Anonymous said...

I have a rule that I give any book 50 pages of courting before giving it the ax. And yes, there are a handful that never made it to page 51.

Rob Crompton said...

I'm definitely a stopper. But right now I'm wading through a novel where the story is well and truly buried underneath a mass of pointless detail. And, damn it, the author obviously realises what he's doing. At one point we get: Sorry about that. I go off at a tangent sometimes. This is going to be tedious. But the trouble is, I've been asked to review it. So sometimes I'm a power througher.

Tommy Salami said...

It depends on the book. Sometimes a book just takes a dump in the middle and I'll see where the author is going. Example: F. Paul Wilson's The Keep, when the major plot twist comes and the revelation isn't as unique as it was upon publication. I finished that.
I gave up on a bio of Houdini that became "Hey, this mama's boy dominated his wife, and oh yeah, he was also good at escaping stuff, when he wasn't doing that."

I got so aggravated that it became the first book I didn't slog through out of pure stubbornness, and now I don't waste time when the writer loses my interest.

Heidi said...

In High School, I had to stop reading a Stephen King book I'd started because it was too scary!
There have only been a few books since then - and only in recent years - where I thought, "why am I wasting my time reading this with no enjoyment?" But I do give it a valiant effort before throwing it against the wall.

Mary Aalgaard said...

I can power through if there is a redeeming quality - unique setting, thought-provoking topic, everybody's talking about it. But, just last night, I tossed a book on the floor that was just so boring I couldn't even fall asleep reading it! It bugged me too much. Life's too short and the book reading pile is too high to waste it on reading boring books.

Nikki said...

I actually skip to the end and if it's an amazing ending, I usually go back and power through. Otherwise I stop!

Claire Gregory said...

The older I get (says this old crone of 30), the less patience I have. It's not so much about the books that don't grab me as the books that actively turn me off with bad writing, bad characters, bad plots and the like. If it has those, it hits the wall, and makes way for an author who does it right.

Lori Benton said...

I stop, but I might skim through it quickly and then read the last page to at least get a sense of the story.

Nick said...

Depends.

Usually I just get bored with it, put it on the shelf, and come back to it later (although there are some I still have yet to return to).

If it's really, really, REALLY awful then I just outright give up and tuck it away on the shelf to never be taken down again (I can't bring myself to get rid of a book, no matter how bad it is).

Emily White said...

There's only been one book I've ever really stopped reading. Actually, that's not completely true, because I'm STILL reading it (oh so slowly). I started it years ago and pick it up from time to time to see if I can get through a few more pages.

But every other book I've read, I just plow through, whether I like it or not. It hurts thinking about wasting money I've spent on something and not seeing it through to the end.

Raj said...

Interesting. I faced this question recently regarding two books. The Last Theorem by A. C. Clarke and Black Man by Richard Morgan. The former never really picked up the pace while the latter lost it's grip somewhere half way through. Still, I finished them both. What I did was to skim through it very fast and read only the essentials so as to understand what happens in the end.

I guess that's another way of dealing with such type of books. :)

@Ted Fox : GMTA. When I was really frustrated with Black Man, I remembered this same dialogue. Yamahama! :D

Rosie Lane said...

I will power through a paper novel more often than not, but I stop reading an ebook as soon as I lose interest.

Before I started reading ebooks there was only one book ever that I didn't finish, so reading on a screen has made me more of a stopper in general.

Stephanie Barr said...

Your description of yourself fits me. When I was younger, I needed to fill my time. I'd read anything, even the most heinous book (and I have, oy!). Now, my time's far too scarce to spend it doing anything I don't find fulfilling.

crow productions said...

There are a lot of books that promise to be a great read. I usually give to at least page 30. After all, I bought it. Then I compare it to my current novel I'm trying to get published. If it is equal to or above what I've written, I will definitely finish it. But so often the book is just plain boring.

Jessica Bell said...

I used to power through, too. But now there just isn't enough time to be wasting it!

Evon Davis said...

If I'm invested enough, I'll skim through a "boring" part and usually find it gets better. If I'm not invested, the book has to hook me by the first page or I move on to the next book, wondering, "How the heck did that book get published?"

Kristen My Bookish Fairy Tale said...

I have only stopped reading one book. ever. I always find something I like about a book. I dont know maybe it's just me but I can always find something that I like or love about a book.

Anonymous said...

I've stopped on 3 books and they were horrible. The first one, I was 2/3 of the way through before I realized I wasn't gonna get those brain cells back in better condition than when I started.

Stephanie {Luxe Boulevard} said...

Funny enough, I power through it, and I have a shelf dedicated to what I consider The Worlds Worst Books. I just don't have it in me to throw away a perfectly good book.

Josin L. McQuein said...

I might *might* skip to the end and see how the story's wrapped up, but beyond that I couldn't care less. Books I don't like, but own, go to the library.

M.J.B. said...

I recently put down "The Remains of the Day" (after reading "Never Let Me Go" and loving it to pieces). But then I read an online synopsis of the movie and realized I was just getting to a turning point in the story...and I decided to power through, and I'm glad I did. I didn't adore the book, but I definitely liked it, found value in it, and learned about writing by reading it. So...it's a gamble when one decides to stop reading (or not)!

Hillsy said...

Where's the category of "Obsessive's who feel that, somehow, should they leave a book unfinished the world will implode a few seconds before the universe follows suit"?

I've read through some dog awful books. Hell, I got 6 books into the Terry Goodkind series before I gave up. It's quite hard to read through tears.

L.G.Smith said...

Nope, won't finish the book if it's not for me. I'll pass it on to someone else who might have a use for it.

But a book I love I will read over and over and over.



word verification: unalitical

Maybe that's the term for someone who doesn't finish novels. Or a skimmer. LOL

Kevin said...

My girlfriend always powers through, and I shake my head in wonder. She'll spend every day complaining about a book she's reading, and then finish it in the same speed as her favorites.

Mr. D said...

I can't read a book that doesn't interest me. I'm pretty clear on that by page five.

Anna said...

How bad is the book? And how long is it? I usually power through, but I also read on average 8-10 books at a time, so it may take a reeaaaaallllllllly long time to finish a book that I don't enjoy.

Heidi said...

I used to power through everything, but now I stop. There are too many excellent books out there for me to waste time on the ones I don't enjoy. Occasionally I'll skim through the ending, though.

Sherri said...

I'm the same as you, Nathan. I used to read all the way to the end, no matter what. Now when I realize I'm avoiding picking it back up, I call it quits. I sometimes still power through and you know what? I usually regret it.

Matt Uhrich said...

I used to power through, but then I started reading ebooks. Now I have a list of five-dozen books (many of them I'm really looking forward to) staring me in the face. And I can be reading one of them with just a couple of button presses. I tell myself, "I'll just take a look at another book to see how it starts," then four books later I realize I'm never going back to the one I quit on.

Shanella said...

I generally continue reading. For example, there was this trilogy that I thought had a lot of potential - after reading the first book - but by the middle of the second book things started getting weird, but I kept reading. The last book, it got to a point where I was just looking for dialogue and skimming the rest. But I couldn't stop reading because I kept HOPING that it would get better.

Most of the times that's what I end up doing.

Chuck H. said...

When I was a young man I would read anything--cereal boxes, labels on cans, The Wall Street Journal--you know. And I have been sent places by our benevolent government where reading was just about the only form of entertainment and certainly the safest. However, I'm old now and realize that there are only so many precious years, months, days, hours, seconds and pico-seconds left and, if one subtracts the time that MUST be allotted to riding motorcycles, the time left is shorter yet. I don't have time to read crap, so, yes, I stop and, for that I do not apologizde.

Courtney Odell said...

I used to give up, but in the last few years, I've become a power through-er. I think it was in Stephen King's ON WRITING that it was said all writers learn more about their craft through reading and sometimes you learn more from bad writing than good (not an actual quote). When I find myself disinterested I switch modes from reading for enjoyment to reading for learning.

Subcreator said...

It really depends, for me, on the book and also on the extent of the problems with the book. If I'm trying to learn something from the book, I'll keep going. For instance, as an aspiring fantasy novelist, I am pushing myself to read more material in my genre to become more familiar with it. I'm currently reading the second book of the Malazan Book of the Fallen series and not enjoying it at all, but I'm going to finish it, because it's part of my fantasy education.

Rick Daley said...

I usually power through them. If I'm particularly leery about a read I don't start.

Najela said...

I typically just put the book down and come to it later and usually that does the trick. There's only a few books that I powered through that weren't very good to me.

josephinemyles.com said...

I'll power on through a short story that doesn't agree with me in the hope of learning what not to do in my own writing, but life is way too short to carry on with a poorly written novel.

I did once or twice for a book group I was in, but I resented every minute that I wasted on those novels.

Rebecca said...

If I like a book, chances are I will devour it in 48 hours or less. If it doesn't grab me, I put it back on the shelf and forget it for several months. I've found that there's rarely an in-between!

Stephanie McGee said...

If by the end of chapter 1 or 2 I can't care about the characters enough to care whether things work out in their favor, I stop. There are too many books in my TBR pile to waste time on a character I can't care about.

Elizabeth said...

I stop. There are too many books I want to read to waste my time on ones I'm not enjoying. Though I might finish a book that annoys me if there are parts of it that I like.

Sometimes I just stop, sometimes I flip to the end (once I read the last chapter, then the next to last, then the one before that, then large chunks until I'd read most of the book in reverse), sometimes I stop with less than a quarter of the book to go, sometimes the book just gets set aside for a day and I somehow never get around to picking it up again.

Kat said...

I usually try to finish a book in one sitting, which would mean that it's good and I can't put it down. But if it takes me longer than that, well, that means the book isn't really to my liking and I stop. I will give it a second chance but if it's the same, then I totally set it aside and move on.

Fenris said...

I voted as one who powers through, but admittedly I have stopped reading books before. Typically those were books that I felt absolutely no inclination to keep reading.

The ironic thing is that I went back and finished at least 50% of them years later. "OUTLIERS" was really good...maybe the reason I didn't read it at the time was because it was for class, and class took a backseat back then. Yeah. My priorities needed a little readjusting.

S.P. Bowers said...

I used to keep reading. Now I stop. Sometimes. I often keep reading just because I want to figure out what they did to get published. Even "bad" books have something I can learn. Sometimes they are too much for me though.

annie diamond said...

i've got eye problems so i cant afford to power through a book that's going nowhere.

Nick Lewandowski said...

Usually I power through, but recently I stopped halfway through James Clavell's Whirlwind due to its extraordinary length and my general indifference.

Granted after 600 pages I felt like I'd read a whole book anyway...

abc said...

If it is YA and I'm not into it or don't connect with the writing, then I can give up, but for some reason if it is literary fiction then I feel I have to power through. Especially if someone I respect likes it or I feel I SHOULD like it. I assume it will be one of those books I just have to give some time to, that I'll get hooked in eventually. And then by page 50 I feel I've gone too far to give up, I might as well find out how it ends. Then I spend about 2 weeks to a month trying to finish it (reading other books besides) and accruing library fines. This sounds complicated and pathetic. Perhaps I need therapy.

Annikka Woods said...

I read the first 4-5 chapters. If I've made it that far, I'll keep going. But if I get to chapter five and I've had to put the book down every few pages because I can't get into it or the author/characters irritate me...or it's just really bad writing, I put it down and don't pick it back up.

I've stopped reading a few series like that. If I can't make it through an earlier book in a series, I won't waste time/money on the rest of the series. The only exception to that was "Twilight", and only because my friend who loaned the books to me told me that by book 4 it got REALLY GOOD.

No, it never did.

Elen Grey said...

I only ever power through a bad movie looking for some redeeming quality. Sadly, I rarely find it. I'm a book stopper.

Katy Bell said...

I voted that I stop, but actually now that I think about it, I do often come back to the book although it's often years later. I gave up on Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance which I'm pretty disappointed with myself about. War and Peace has had a steadfast place on my nightstand for the past year and a half. I will get back to it eventually....

John Jack said...

Neither power through nor stop. What's with these either/or worlds?

I read according to the text. If it's quiet, I read silently. If it's loud, I read furiously. And all the worlds between.

A long time ago, I'd lay a book aside when my reading skills weren't up to snuff. I've since come up to speed. There's still one or two writing aesthetics that escape me, although they too will come within reach soon enough.

Sure, there's too many novels for any one reader to read in a lifetime. Each novel, though, that comes into focus I will read. I've made a pretty good dent in more than one library.

Nath Jones said...

lol~! I love that you're aging into a stopper. I'm aging into a finisher. Ethan Frome was a snore until the ending. So glad I stuck it out.

Robin_Lucas said...

Tough one. I usually skim through it to the end, then fling it across the room in anger.

Khanada said...

I think all you "life's too short to waste on a bad book" people are right on, but for some reason, I'm still not one of you. I can usually find something to like. Recently, I picked up a book on recommendation that didn't work for me. I ended up skimming through much of it -- I still, somehow, cared about what happened.

And every now and then, I'm greatly rewarded. I HATED the first chapter of Pullman's THE GOLDEN COMPASS - must've been bad timing for me when I read it or something. But I stuck with it and it became one of my favorite books ever.

Steve said...

Both, and for different reasons.

A bad book badly written, stop.

A good book is different. I couldn't read Dostoevsky for 15 years. Just didn't get him. I started and stopped all 4 of his big novels, stopped them early, too. Dostoevsky was my problem; there was no way I could argue Dostoevsky was a bad writer, because history and millions of literate people have said he's great. And then one day I got him. I got through CRIME AND PUNISHMENT and could not believe how great it was. The other novels came easy after that.

It's important to know why you stop or power through, which really means why you're not enjoying your reading experience. Maybe it's the author's fault; but many times it's down to you.

The Writers' Salon said...

Look, it's not you. It's me. I gave you a chance. Fifty pages, in fact. But it's just not working out. I think deep in your heart you know it's true. Life it too short for us to continue when we know it's not right.

Cheryl said...

I almost always keep reading so I voted that I'll plug through it but I have thrown out books. Typically I'll stop reading a so-so book and pick it back up when I've run out of great books. I have to really *hate* a book to put it down forever and I usually get that intense feeling of disgust rather early. In the last year I put down 3 books which is unheard of for me so either my tolerance is going down or my ability to choose books has gotten worse. Anyway, I won't really consider myself a "Life's too shorter" until I see a clear pattern - I'll find out this year, I suppose. I guess I need more data before changing my vote! :)

Marlan said...

It depends on how far along I am. I have gotten into books only to be disappointed in the last act. In that case I usually power through.

If the book blows in the first couple chapters, I will just put it down.

Kerrie T. said...

I used to power through, but like you, I now stop.

Mim said...

For me I'll give it a few chapters, and if I don't like it I skip to the end. If I like the end I might read it, I might now. If it is a book by an author I previously loved, I'll try again in a month or two. If it has a premise that I think is awesome, and I'm not digging the writing, I read it until I figure out what's wrong with it. If the book is getting lots of buzz I might try again. I might not.

Joy D. Fanning said...

I stop. It just kind of happens. Like I forget I was ever reading it and I'll find a new book and when I go to set it down on my nightstand I am reminded of the one I left behind, because it is just sitting there with dust.


Now, on occasion I have gone back and tried a book again and have had a successful experience. Sometimes you just have to wait for the right timing.

Arief_Zainal said...

I usually stop and let it sit for awhile until I think I can handle the story and try again.

Misha said...

I power through.

Shoot me if I know why, though.

:-/

gordonzola.net said...

First I get mad at the author. Then I stop

Jessica said...

Usually I'll finish it anyway. I don't often come across a published book that doesn't at least leave me wondering about how SOMETHING will end.

But last week I put down a book that I got about 30 pages into. I'm sure the idea was great, and apparently lots of people respected the authors as being the guru's of the genre. But in 30 pages I didn't wonder if the characters would succeed, or get hit by a bus. Then I finally gave up trying to parse the convoluted sentece structure.

I like to learn from what I read. I don't like to get a headache from it. Usually I get guilty, or eaten up about "wait, how did she resolve..." but there was really nothing TO resolve, not in 30 pages at least.

TraciB said...

Depends on the book and why I'm reading it. If it's for a review for my blog or because a friend asked my opinion of it, I'll finish it eventually. If I'm reading it just for myself, then I'll power through a book that starts slow, but I'll put aside one that has a lot of typos or just doesn't live up to its blurb and cover art.

Word verification: gonasing

Deb said...

I'm like you, Nathan. I used to suffer through. But now, I invoke the words of Milan Kundera (told to me by a fellow-writer friend) ... "Life is short; reading is long."

That being said, I think about the books that I have suffered through only to be completely wowed by at the end (A.S. Byatt's POSSESSION) and wonder if there are gems I'm currently tossing aside. Oh well.

J. R. McLemore said...

I have to admit, I power through. While there have been times when I've wanted to quit, there is always the voice in my head chastising me for entertaining thoughts of quitting something that I've started. The only book I've ever stopped in the middle of was THE HISTORIAN. No matter how much I tried to power through, I just couldn't do it. The story was too arduous to finish.

jimgraham said...

people admitting that they power through things they don't like doing are need in psychological help ....

stop before you make yourself sick

Skipetty said...

If nothing about the book grabs me at all, or I dislike the writing, I just put it down and don't bother with it again. Usually before the end of the first chapter.

If I have read a few chapters and then decide I can't bear to read anymore I might first skip to near the end - to see how it finished, without having to go through any sort of reading torture first!

Ashley said...

I won't stop right away, but I'll definitely stop before just powering through. Maybe at the 30-70 page mark, if it's not showing signs of life or if there are plot gaps and typos everywhere, I'm just done.

If it's considered a classic, however, I might just read it through to say I've read it.

Aurlumen said...

It really depends. If I borrowed it from the library I'll stop anywhere from page 50 to 100 (to give it a chance) and just let it go.

If I bought it and it's too late to return (I often buy books in bulks of like, you know...6 or something) I'll finish it (and cringe the whole time or criticize it, etc).

MJR said...

I sometimes stop after a few pages, and sometimes even 50 pages toward the end if I've lost interest in the characters (or if a major character dies for no particular reason except to add some drama to the story and it isn't a mystery--I hate that!)

Sometimes I'll power through a book if I have nothing else in the house to read or if it's a book everyone's talking about. I put down FREEDOM and was about to take it back to library and then powered through and was glad I did.

David said...

I do both. It really depends on whether I have something else more interesting to read at the moment. I'll rarely give up on a book entirely, though, unless I need to return it to a library.

Mira said...

Lol. Something about this whole poll just tickles me.

For me, a book has about 2 pages to lure me, or it's a goner.

Except classics. Classics, I'll read the whole way through even if it's torture. I want to see what the big deal is. I read Lawrence's Women in Love that way, and I hated every single second of it - that book makes no sense whatsoever. I still hate that book. Just typing its name makes me see red. But hey - I read it. Yay!

Fun poll. :)

D.G. Hudson said...

I've only powered through on a couple of books by new writers, but by the end it didn't get better.

I don't throw books, why destroy a book that may not be to my liking? I give them away hoping they may appeal to someone else's taste. That said, I don't keep reading it.

I usually look for authors who write on their own, who don't piggyback off a successful author. I've never found one to be as good as the original. I tend to read through an author's list if I find a writing style I like.

Right now I'm reading two books that are old - a French historical - Madame Bovary, and an early Agatha story. Makes me wonder why some books stand the test of time better - maybe because the writers put more quality in their writing?

Doug said...

I read mostly free e-books, so "I bought it and I'm danged well gonna read it" doesn't factor in. Also, I have hundreds of free e-books waiting to be read. There's no reason for me to waste time reading stuff that's either awful or simply not to my taste.

There are two spots I'll typically bail out: about page 30, and about 1/3 through.

There are occasional exceptions. "Everyone" raved about The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, so I pushed on through. That didn't pay off.

I recently pushed through "How to Write a Sentence" because I thought there had to be a pony in all of that manure. Nope, no pony.

It's often been said that life is too short to read good books--one should only read great books. Reading books that aren't even good seems like a poor usage of one's time.

Cynthia Lee said...

I never have as much time to read as I'd like so I just have to stick with books that I'm enjoying.

I do skim through chapters that are boring me and sometimes I skip them entirely. I do this quite a bit with Dickens, who I LOVE, but, let's face it, sometimes he was boring.

Kiki said...

I usually know if I'm going to like something after a page or two but I'll give it 20 pages or so before I chuck it. I used to power through but I realised I'd never have enough time to read all the books I DO enjoy in my lifetime so why waste time on ones I don't like.

Gina said...

If it's really unbearable I'll cheat and read the ending. If it has any redeeming qualities at all, I'll go back and read more to figure out how they got to the conclusion.

Meg said...

As long as the book isn't really long, I keep reading unless I absolutely hate the book with a passion.

Maybe it's the obsessive writer in me, but I like to get a firm concept of why the book isn't working for me and what I would have liked to see done differently.

Also, I like to see what happens at the end for some reason, even if I'm not enjoying the book.

Maybe I should just start skipping to the last chapter like some others have mentioned ...

CageFightingBlogger said...

Even if the book is awful, I don't believe you can pass judgement until you've read through to the last page. I powered through The Shining and it was a harrowing experience. Don't read it. But if I found myself in a similar book I'll still finish it. You've gotta read a few stinkers to appreciate fine lit sometimes.

kathrynleighaz said...

I generally weigh my expectations for the book against my experience of it. If it's a classic that everyone loves, I'm way more likely to power through. But if I'm reading a little-known story with no literary merit, I'm flinging it in the fire for sure.

Rebecca Stroud said...

I always stop after about the first three chapters if I can't bear any more but I will read the last page just to see if it's as awful as the beginning.

There have been exceptions, though. As in: I used to be a major James Patterson fan until he went off on an exclamation-point tangent. So I read a couple all the way through just to see how many !!!! there were...both times, I lost count and never read any of his books again.

Kathleen@so much to say said...

Actually, the answer is "it depends." If it's something I really WANT to get through, I muscle through. Most of the time, though, I give up.

Kristin Laughtin said...

Ugh, it depends so much on context. If it's a book I have to read, for some work-related function or because somebody is expecting me to discuss it with them, then I try to power through. I'll also try to power through if it's a book I feel I should have read, usually a classic. As I get older, I find I give up on a few more books if they really irritate me, but I still finish the majority of them, gritting my teeth if I have to.

Leanne (Ironic Mom) said...

I teach Junior High students, and I regularly teach them to abandon books they are reading for pleasure. There is enough reading in our every day life that we have to do (in our jobs, etc) that is not fun, so we need to ensure that when we are reading for pleasurable that it is indeed pleasurable. It's not just that life is too short; it's that there are so many good books out there.

I love Daniel Pennac's Rights of the Reader (taken from the book Better Than Life)
1. The right not to read.
2. The right to skip pages.
3. The right not to finish a book.
4. The right to reread.
5. The right to read anything.
6. The right to escapism.
7. The right to read anywhere.
8. The right to browse.
9. The right to read out loud.
10. The right not to defend your tastes.

Backfence said...

I keep plugging. Occasionally I am rewarded for my diligence by a really inspiring, or at least memorable, second half. I figure if it found its way through the complex maze of agents and editors to the point of actual publication, somebody saw something in it I may miss if I don't finish reading.

Lynda Young said...

There's been only 2 books I've plowed through and both times I only prolonged the pain and swore I'd never do it again.

E.D. Lindquist said...

This has been a subject of many sighs and argument between me and my husband. He powers through everything: bad movies, bad food, bad books.

I've never been able to understand. There are a bazillion books out there. Why waste my time on the bad ones? I'm already not going to live long enough to read them all.

Plus, writing is infectious. I can always tell what I was reading when I read back over my writing. I get folksy when I read Stephen King, or flowery when I read Tad Williams... or crappy when I'm reading someone bad.

Teri Bernstein said...

I stop reading...but now I often just download the audiobook. In the car or on the elliptical machine, I don't mind being passive. If the book gets better...I go back to print. Most recent case: FREEDOM.

Anonymous said...

I can't find the poll on the post, so I guess this is where we take a stand?

Anyway, younger, I also read all the way through. Now, if the book bores me or offends me or just isn't for me, (unless it is required reading for something), I lose it.

Anonymous said...

Ahh, the poll is back up, but I couldn't vote as I was on the one side and now am on the other.

In addition to feeling I can stop reading, I also, in certain cases, will skip forward to peek if I really need there to be something else down the road.

Spoiler Alert:

In the Twilight Saga, second book, I needed to know Edward was coming back. After all he was the story.

And in the middle of the fourth book with Bella as POV, when the author suddenly drops us into another character POV, I had to know she was going to return the POV to Bella. It was like it vacated Bella's story right in the middle of it.

Elise M Stone said...

I responded "stop" but it really depends. Is this a book by an author I've read and enjoyed before? Then I'll probably power through, trusting the author to pull it all together in the end. Am I reading this book for "research", i.e., because it's in a genre that I'm writing in or by an author who is agented by someone I'd like to represent me? Then I'm also more likely to keep reading. But if it's a book I've picked to read for pleasure and I'm not getting pleasure from it, I'll stop. There are just too many good books to read.

christian yorke said...

I'm grinding my way through Freedom (I enjoyed The Corrections though) which feels about 250 pages too long. However i will power on, assisted by starting The Rum Diaries as an antidote.

Brooke said...

It depends.

I don't even think the idea of just stopping occurred to me until the last year or two. And once I realized I COULD stop, I did. Sometimes I return to the book. Usually I don't, especially if it's a dense book. I find fluffier books easier to power through.

Shannon Chamberlain said...

I was a giver upper--until I got to grad school in English, where I'm forced on a more or less regular basis to read things I don't like. I've developed a strong tolerance. It's changed my pleasure reading habits: I'm very careful about what I pick up, because I'm pretty sure that habit will compel me not to put it down. I'm more attentive to the selection process. I don't read things just because they got reviewed in the New York Times (cf. "Freedom", which I was absolutely sure from the description I would powerfully dislike). Now it usually takes a recommendation from a friend, or a long history with an author. I'll read anything that Lionel Shriver writes.

Deb said...

I'm a freelance line editor, so I'll edit just about any writer who pays me. I have to read a lot of bad manuscripts. I don't waste too much time with bad books, although I give them a good, fighting chance.

Juliette said...

I actually threw a Buffy book against the wall once. It was a very small, light book. I can't remember what on earth was so awful about it.

Bryce Daniels said...

Having just received a Kindle as a Christmas gift, I thought I was in nirvana when I stumbled across all the free downloads. Never has the adage "you get what you pay for" been more appropriate.
This really concerns me. Now, I am no Vonnegut or Cheaver, but sheesh, the fact that ANYONE can post an e-novel really bodes ill for the industry and our craft.
For me? The author gets two chapters, period. If I am not intrigued by either the character(s) or story by then, it's delete time.

Horserider said...

If I hate a book by page five then I would put it aside and never return. But if, say, the pacing is too slow through the middle of the back or I hate one of the characters, then I'll power through.

Terry Towery said...

I've also become a "stopper." Life is too short to read something I don't enjoy. The last one I stopped was "South of Broad" by Pat Conroy. I wanted to love it, but put it down about midway through and ended up sending it back to the library, unfinished.

And I love Pat Conroy. Sigh.

scruffy said...

i've been both. Lately i'm more likely to give up on them due to a lack of reading time. i'm not going to waste what little i have on ... um... mediocrity.

Becca said...

Generally, I stop. But it usually depends on a few things. The voice, the plot, or where I think the book is going. There have been instances where I'm very glad I read all the way to the end, but there was usually that little something special towards where I wanted to put it down that told me to keep reading.

Very long sentence.

Anonymous said...

Like Nathan. I once HAD to finish...for all of the aforementioned reasons and then some. Then it was, "Life's too short."
Now...I'm very selective about what I start (check: back blurb, first page, general skim of book and if it's looks well-written, but so depressing that it may lead to suicide I actually Check The Ending, which goes against everything I believe in...except for not killing onesself over the ending of The Awakening, etc.).
Fun question, Nathan. Thanks, I'm kinda in a funk. You guys often brighten my day.

Wendy Scott said...

I used to be a "finish no matter what" reader, but I've gotten less indulgent as I've gotten older.

I don't decide to quit a book lightly, but generally, if I get 50-100 pages in and I'm having trouble coming up with good reasons not to put the book down, it's over.

I came across a recent post on Boxing the Octopus that talks about this issue and
The Rule of 50. Interesting idea.

Laura Martone said...

Funny you should ask. I'm reading Wizard's First Rule right now - mostly because I loved the Legend of the Seeker television series and wanted to see what the books were like.

I know this is a beloved, bestselling fantasy series for some, but I have to admit... I'm really not enjoying this first book. I'm at the halfway point, though, and powering through it anyway, with the (futile) hope that it will in fact get better.

Laurie Boris said...

I've thrown two books against the wall. Given up on dozens more. Stayed with some even though I hated the characters, just so I could see them get their due. Holy crow, I hope no one throws my book against a wall!!

KH said...

I usually power through. There is something about putting down a book half read. I just can't do it.
A friend of mine advises reading to page 50. If you are over 50 years old, subtract a page. So if you are 60, only read to page 40.

Brenna said...

The only times I don't stop are when I'm more personally invested into it - i.e., it's something a close friend or family member read. Then I feel like I owe it to them to read it through . . . But I'll take my time about it if it's really bad.

8one6 said...

If I'm not impressed within the first hundred pages of a book I'm going to move to something else. If the book is only 200 pages long I might stick with it but any longer it stops being worth it.

Elaine AM Smith said...

I have to keep reading. If I park it on the shelf it sits there like a dirty little secret.
I've read with a book in one hand and a dictionary in the other or an atlas/photocopy of the map provided/scientific journals /physically acted out the scene to see how on earth it worked: I don't give up.

Lucy said...

I stop. Reading time is too precious when you're a mom to young children.

Michele Stefanides said...

It's rare for me to stop, even now when my pile of books just keeps getting taller and taller.

Don't really know why, but I will push through all but the most awful books!

Anonymous said...

The thing about when you are younger is that "finishing" a book can be like an achievement or a marathon where making it to the end implies you are a winner, smart enough, educated, a person "who can complete things."
In addition, in high school, college, grad school, etc., we are given "required reading" whether we "like" it or not.
But eventually, we trust our own reading and we don't have to prove or achieve anything outside of our own interest, pleasure, understanding, etc.
Sort of like dating. You may not fall in love with everyone you go out to dinner with, however there comes a time when you don't date outside of what is, for you, "good material."

Darcy said...

I usually power through, because it counts towards my Good Reads challenge!

Anonymous said...

It's not like it used to be, Nathan. I used to plow through. However, nowadays you can't be sure what you're reading unless you do a thorough background check on the book, the publisher, and the author.

For example, I downloaded a book on my e-reader without checking it out first. The back cover copy looked interesting, but that's all I had to go by when I purchased.

The book was awful. And when I checked it out online two days later I found it was self-pubbed and I was basically reading throught the slush pile.

Like I said, it's different nowadays.

Roza M said...

I've given up on two books. One because the first ten pages of the novel described the forest. I was like okay, I'm done. The second was the charcters doing the same thing over and over from one house to the next. I was like ummm seriously if it was the same results at the school and the first two homes why would the third be different?this is the definition of insanity and I think I am going insane reading this. Ugh. Then I was pissed I spent money on it knowing I won't finish it.

Anonymous said...

I usually stop. There are so many books on my to-read list that I do not want to waste time on something I am not enjoying. I do give the author a generous amount of pages to try and entice me, but sometimes it just doesn't happen.

Holly said...

I buy millions of paperbacks and skim them to see how the author set up the dialogue, pacing, etc. Very few grab me enough to read cover to cover.

Right now they're stacked in double and triple rows in my bookshelves. I'd like to give them to the public library, but the library throws books in the trash.

WritersBlockNZ said...

There are far to many incredible books out there to read to bother with ones that don't catch my interest!

Remilda Graystone said...

For me, it depends on what I dislike about the book and/or what I've heard about it. If the plot is boring or moving at a slow pace, but I've heard people say it gets better and is worth it, I'll power through. If the main character is aggravating me, I stop.

I've powered through books and thought the experience was worth it, and I've done the same and regretted every moment wasted on it. Other times, I powered through then decided the last forty pages couldn't possibly make up for what a miserable reading experience the 2-300 pages before it were. Then I go on to Amazon and see if I was the only one not feeling it, and I find out how it ended. There. Curiosity satisfied, time saved.

At the end of the day, there really are tons and tons of books that are/will be better then the one you currently don't like, so you have to decide which book(s) are worth your time and what you have to gain/lose from going on or quitting.

Most times, I quit, though.

Alicia said...

I used to power through, but with so many books waiting to be jumped into on my nightstand, I have to admit I've been giving up on the ones that don't catch my interest with the first few chapters.

wendy said...

There are very few fictional themes I'm prepared to take up. There needs to be something very original or sweet or with fantasy elements for me to enjoy it - preferably with all three. Even if a book has all three of these, there's no guarantee it will sit right. The Harry Potter books I couldn't get into and never finished the first one. The Twilight books I liked more but, again, never finished the first one. I prefer non-fiction, usually spiritual. Well, I've no trouble finishing them.

Wild Child said...

I will admit that I could not get through Blindness. That was the first book that I let myself give up on. Just could not do it.

Adam Heine said...

I used to power through until I realized that at my current reading speed I can only finish about 1,000 more books before I die. Do I really want to waste one of those slots on a Jack Higgins novel?

Anna Zagar said...

I've walked away from books before, but I don't do it often. I give them a chance, just like I'd want my readers to give me one day.

Tura Lura said...

I voted that I stop reading, because I usually do.

But, if it's a book for which I had a review requested, I plow through. (Often while voicing my displease who anyone who will listen.)

stephen matlock said...

I'm actually going to modify my answer.

If it's a book I made the decision to buy/rent/borrow, then I stop. I don't owe the author anything; it was my mistake to pick it up. (I don't usually blame the author; it's usually just that the book isn't for me.)

If it's a gift, then I plough through. I need to see what someone thought I'd like, so I can consider whether to delete their number from my cell phone.

Jenn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jenn said...

I give almost every book until its halfway point. If I'm still not into it, its chance is lost. There's only one book that thoroughly bored me before the halfway point, and I did my best to give it a several-chapter go. It was sad day.

The only time a crap book gets a full read is if I've read previous works by the author and have enjoyed them. It's like listening to your friend's really boring story just because she's your friend. Most times, even though the book probably still sucks at the end, I'm happy to have supported my beloved author with the purchase and reading of their book.

Jeffrey said...

I stop and don't look back because I usually have tons of other books that I really want to read so I won't waste time.

The exception is, if I sort of like a book but am not in the mood for that genre (if I start a fantasy but am in the mood for a mystery) then I will put it down and come back later.

Claire Dawn said...

I only stop if it's too hard to continue. If the book's boring me senseless, or if I have to wade through too much description or fluff or the writing style to get to the story.

Jacqueline said...

I need option 3. :)

I used to always read to the end of a book. I saw it as a personal challenge, and hoped it would get better.

I still continue to read on, hoping it will get better, but in some cases I will eventually give up.

The first book I ever 'shelved' I loaned to a friend. I think she took it as a challenge, since she'd never heard of me putting down a book unfinished. She made it to the end. It didn't get any better.

Jessie said...

I plough through. Especially if the book was a gift. Even if I don't end up liking the book, I feel like I learn something from every book I read. Sometimes reading a "bad" book can teach you what not to do in your writing.

Sara said...

I started to drop books when I started to trust my taste.

In my youth, I finished everything because I was learning the difference between good, bad, and what I like.

After many years of reading, I have more of a clue. I'm relieved to drop a frustrating book and move on to a fresh hope.

I find I learn the most as a writer from bogglingly excellent books. Mediocre ones drag me down.

If a book is clearly good but not working for me, I will persist a lot longer, trying to figure out why, and whether I just need to push my boundaries. This pays off occasionally.

Bika said...

I used to power through because I was young and thirsty for words, but I've learned that my time is worth more than I'm willing to waste.

On the plus side, my friends are awesome and recommend a lot of winners for my reading list. I haven't had to abandon a book in ages.

Becky said...

I power through only if it's already a favorite author and can trust that it'll get better--I love Dean Koontz, and have read nearly everything he's done, and although I powered through Odd Thomas, I really wish I had that time back.

Beth Kemp said...

I usually quit. There are too many books in the world for me to read, so why waste time on one I'm not enjoying? The only time I don't follow that is when someone's chosen a book for me, or given me a book that means something to them (especially a student - I'm an English teacher to 16-19 yr olds so books are a thoughtful thank-you/parting gift).

Anonymous said...

no, if it doesnt interest me right away, it goes back to the library. Too much junk being published now to waste my time. I used to think that one had to read the whole thing now, not so much

Carol Newman Cronin said...

I still remember the incredible rush of power when (a few months after college graduation) i realized I didn't have to finish the book I was reading! What a concept, not-reading for pleasure!

Bryan Thompson said...

I'm a stopper. Like you, I used to be a power-through-er, but I just don't have that kind of time. If I've absorbed most of the meat from it, that's one thing.

Honestly, though, I'm more of an audiobook junkie as I don't have as much time to read anymore (3 small kids at home so there's NEVER down time). I can listen to audiobooks in the car and finish a book a week up. Sometimes it's harder to just stop those because they're more expensive. :)

Donna said...

If a book is difficult but intriguing, I continue.

If it's incompetent, trite, or lame, I quit.

Curiosity is the key.

Ishta Mercurio said...

I said I stop, but there's a caveat: if it's a mega-selling blockbuster of a book, I power through to see what people are so excited about.

Emily Wenstrom said...

I power through. I picked it up for a reason … a good review, a recommendation from a friend, knowing I liked something else the author wrote. And for that reason, I want to finish. Even if it’s just so I can legitimately get in an argument with whoever told me to read it over how awful it was. Sometimes it takes me forever and I pick up a second (better) read, but I finish.

The only exception to this is library books. If a library book reaches its due date and it’s not good enough to check out again, I sadly let it go. But this has only happened a couple times.

seekerval said...

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 said...

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!

Patrick said...

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 said...

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.

Caitlin said...

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 said...

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.

Jenny said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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 said...

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! :-)

Elle said...

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.

Pamela said...

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 said...

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.

boros1124 said...

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.
http://www.konyv-konyvek.hu/book_images/13a/999628613a.jpg

CageFightingBlogger said...

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.

Related Posts with Thumbnails