Forget writing books. I don’t even know when to stop reading them.
It’s true. I don’t quit books. Even if I can’t stand the story, the characters, the sentences, the dialogue. Doesn’t matter. I plow through.
I’ve been told over and over that this is a mistake. “Life’s too short,” they say. “So many great books out there, don’t waste time on bad ones.”
Yeah, yeah. I know.
But I have my reasons. And they are four-fold:
1) The book might get great right after I put it down. This is my major fear when it comes to quitting books. What if I give up one page before the big car chase scene where everything gets turned on it’s head and suddenly it’s the Best Book Ever. Take The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Everyone knows you need to give that one a good 100 pages. Maybe 125. If I’d quit 50 pages in I would’ve missed one of my favorite literary characters of the last five years. (Lisbeth, not Blomkvist.)
2) Quitters never win. Or something. I keep a running list of the books I read (started in September 2002 and still going strong), and if I don’t finish a book, I can’t add the title to my list. Feels like cheating. And I crave adding to my list. It’s the Rachel Bertsche version of the gold star.
3) Someone put their heart into this. It’s totally cheesy, but when I consider quitting, I can’t help thinking that someone out there sat at her desk day after day, pouring every ounce of her being into this book. I feel like I owe it to that writer to at least finish the story, even if my final verdict won’t be so positive.
4) If I don’t finish it, I can’t speak to it. Since MWF Seeking BFF hit shelves, the reviews I find most frustrating are the ones from readers who didn’t finish the book. I’m of the opinion that if you don’t get to a book’s end, you can’t comment on the story as a whole. It’s not an informed opinion of the entire book if you tossed it aside after 50 pages. So when I read, I want to read to the end. Even if I don’t like the book, I want to be able to say why. I hate coming to book club with only one comment to offer: “I couldn’t get through it.”
So that’s my story. I finish books. I took an extremely informal Twitter poll once and learned I’m in the minority, but at least I have my reasons.
All that said, I wouldn’t mind changing my ways. I get the sense that I’d read a lot more if I didn’t force myself to stick with books I didn’t enjoy. I move through the tough ones mighty slowly.
So, now’s the time. Please convince me to start quitting books. Ok? Go.
What about you? If you don’t like a book, do you put it down or suffer through?
6 Replies to “Deb Rachel Has A Quitting Problem”
Rachel, I was hoping one of us would tackle this subject–and your points are spot-on. The one book that comes to mind for me was Olive Kitteridge. It took me a bit to get into it, I’ll admit it. But then, once I was in, I was IN. In fact, I consider it one of the best books I’ve read in the last 5 years. I am so glad I stuck with it. So, so glad.
The higher my TBR pile stands, the less likely I’m going to finish a book I don’t like. In fact, some I’ve put down after only a page or two, if I know I’m not going to enjoy the writing style. The exception to this is BREAKING DAWN. I will admit here that I enjoyed the first three Twilight books, so I went out on the day of BD’s release and sat down in a quiet room to devour it. I was, er, less than thrilled with the beginning, but was sure that it HAD to get better. But then it got worse. And worse. And I really wanted to put it down, but I was so sure it would get better by the end, right? No. At least, not for me. I know there’s plenty of people out there who liked it, but I’m not one of those people. I should have gone with my gut.
p.s. I lasted four pages on The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
But I so get where you’re coming from, Rachel. You don’t want to put it down and miss the awesomeness that might be lurking right around the corner…
I crave adding books to my list, too – and I hesitate to review or comment on books if I didn’t finish them. I feel like it’s cheating. (This, among so many other reasons, is why we’re kindred spirits, Rachel!)
However, I’ve recently realized it’s OK to put a book down if every page is truly a slog. I usually give books 50-60 pages, and if they’re not doing it for me, I move on. I can always pick up the book again later, and give it another go.
(Also: did you mean to echo the Friends episode in which Joey had reasons, and they were threefold? Just curious.) 🙂
How about this: For every book you have to force yourself to finish, you are less likely to stumble across a truly amazing one. Because you won’t have time. But you already know that.
Consider this: Would you fill up on a food you tried and didn’t like, just because you started eating it? Even if it meant you wouldn’t have room for something you love? I sure wouldn’t waste the calories. *grin*
Now, all that said, if a book has been recommended to me by someone who loves it, and it doesn’t catch me right away, I’ll give it a fighting chance. Some books really do take more than a few pages to get into. 🙂
Linda’s so smart.
I never used to abandon books, but now that I have an e-reader I do it all the time. Frankly, I forget I’m reading them. There’s one black mark against an e-reader, anyhow.
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