Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Reading Quandary

So I'm halfway through a book that I was enjoying enough to keep going. Parts of it were really pulling me in, and parts of it were good enough to have me flipping to the better parts. But now I've hit a wall. I've set it down for three days, and even though I keep walking by and looking at it and thinking, "I should pick it back up," I haven't yet been able to.

Now this was a big bestseller that got rave reviews. So that's probably why I feel compelled to keep going. I mean, if people say it's great, it's great, right? Well, not always. And I'm not talking about this particular book, but I can't tell you how many times I've read a book or seen a movie that has been lauded and lauded some more, and thought, "Well, that sucked."

(Though here's a secret: the more people I talk to about this book, the more admit that they didn't love it either, though they say so in hushed voices. Interesting.)

So my question is, do I keep at it? Is the critical praise worth anything? When do you guys abandon a book? Honestly, if something doesn't draw me in within the first 50 pages, I put it aside with absolutely no guilt. But I'm halfway done with this one, so...what to do? Complicating matters further is that I'm not someone who reads two books at once, so I've been holding off starting something new because I know that means that I'll have given up on this one forever.

So what are your rules for reading books? When do you throw in the towel?

12 comments:

Neva said...

Life is too short to waste it reading a book you don't enjoy. Some people tell me cauliflower is delicious. I tried a bit and discovered I didn't like it. I didn't keep eating it.

Don't feel guilty about setting the book aside.

Patti said...

i rarely if ever stop a book...i desperately want it to show me where i was wrong. usually though my first instincts were right. most likely there is a name for what ails me. perhaps book reading ocd...

Eileen said...

I find sometimes there are different times for different books. I've put some books down and come back to them a year later and really enjoyed them. It can depend on my mood, what is going on in life etc. If it isn't working- off it goes.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

You know, a lot of garbage has gone on to be a best-seller. That doesn't mean the book's any good. It just means that it snookered a lot of people.

Go to a bookstore. Look at how many different books there are. Realize that that's only a fraction of what is out there in the world.

Leave the icky best-seller behind. Go find one of those gems. If you find a bright enough gem, blog about it.

Maybe you'll be behind the next best-seller, and maybe it'll be more deserving than the one you don't like.

WordVixen said...

I don't think I've ever purposely stopped reading a book- I'm the eternal optimist (Ok, the first 150 pages were disgustingly bad, but maybe it'll get better...). It's only worked once. Bad book, great twist at the end. Once.

I'm just hardwired to not put a book down. However, there really isn't a good reason not to. If you're not enjoying it or learning something useful from it then your time could be better spent elsewhere.

Larramie said...

For too many years I finished -- liked it or not -- every book I opened until it became too annoying. Now it's a 100 pages litmus test and as for *those* bestsellers...let the critics enjoy them.

Otoh, Allison, you aren't referring to "TTW," are you? ;o)

Amie Stuart said...

The kiss of death for me is the Meh book. If I can sit it bakc down, chances are I won't pick it back up and finish it.

Keris said...

Okay, WordVixen "It's only worked once. Bad book, great twist at the end. Once." Was that The Day After Tomorrow? :)

And, no, Larramie! It can't be TTW. I LOVED it!

Alison, I'm dying to know what it is. (And give up, life's too short.)

Susan said...

I do most of my reading on the train or waiting to meet up with friends, so for me the deal breaker is whether the book will fit in my purse. In fact, I often read several books at once because I'll change reading material depending on what bag I'm carrying that day. Anthologies work best for this so I don't loose track of the narrative.

bookbabie said...

If it's a book club book I almost always finish, although I must say many book members have quit on books even if it means missing out on some of the conversation at a meeting. I have abandoned some books, I agree with larramie, if you're 100 pages in and not liking it,move on! And like eileen said, maybe try again in a year and see if it grabs you (if it's still laying around!).

WordVixen said...

Keris- Nope, it was a cozy/chick-lit. If I had the time, I'd have to check out The Day After Tomorrow out of sheer curiosity. :)

I did forget to say in my previous comment that I rarely pick up best sellers, and when I do, I'm usually disappointed.

Trish Ryan said...

I've finished so many books because I thought I should, convinced that they had to get better. I can't think of a single time when I was glad I made the effort. Now, if I don't love it and there is something else in the pile, I move on.

Be free :)