I always feel a profound sense of defeat when I give up on a book. I force myself to choke down some of the dryest texts until my will finally expires and crumbles into dust.
What is your criteria for giving up the ghost on a book? Do you have a set page/chapter number you must reach? If you're not gripped right away, do you put the book back on the shelf? What emotions do you experience when you don't finish a book---grief, guilt---do you cry? Discuss.
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If a book hasn't hooked me in the first 20-30 pages, it's not going to hook me at all. I really hate to give up on a book, and sometimes I'll go beyond that 30-page mark just to see if it gets any better. But I usually have to admit that not every book is worth reading and put the thing down.
I hate to give up on a book, but sometimes it just has to be done. The old adage in screenwriting is that if the reader isn't captivated in the first 10 pages, it's a bad script. While 10 pages may be a bit harsh for a novel, if I'm not drawn into the story and feel something, anything about the main character within 20-30 pages, I start to lose interest. This can be a tough rule to apply to older classic literature that sometimes take a while to get going, but I generally try to stick those out. I'm not always successful (cough, Steinbeck, cough).
I decie that I am not actually giving up on a book. If I lose focus and anything beyond the second chapter is a chore, I simply return the book to my 'not yet read' shelf (or list if its a borrowed book). In this way, I have never given up on a book - although I have been 'reading' The Hobbit for thirty years...
Life is too short to read books you don't like. Quit when you realize you don't like the book. There are hundreds of other books out there just waiting for you to love them! The books are not alive to feel rejected...
I have a pretty simple rule: If I am still bored or feel like it's a waste of time after reading 30 pages, I give it up. There haven't been too many books that I've failed to complete, but occasionally I pick up a novel that has been suggested to me and it just doesn't click. I'll give it 30 pages and then decide whether to go further.
With quitting never having been an option, abandoning a book has been a defeatist action. However, life teaches us that sometimes it is, indeed, better to give up on foolish ideas, etc. So, I give a book a trial of 2 or 3 chapters. I did read one book because a friend of mine asked me to since it had been highly recommended to her and she had not found the worth of it, herself. When I finished it, I told her it was a waste of my time for certain reasons. My friend felt so much better that at least her reaction justified my reading time.
I will confess it took me nearly fifty years to learn to not finish a book. But once I learned that, I never looked back, even not finishing books lent or highly recommended by close friends, even occasionally not finishing a book for my book group. Once you let go, you can really let go! I love books, and it might not be too extreme to say I even worship them. However, a book is a medium like any other. Do we listen to an entire song that we don't like? We turn it off or switch stations. We do the same thing with television programs.
There was an interesting story recently on the impossibility of keeping up with all that is offered to us, and while I have searched again for that story, I cannot find it right now. Perhaps someone else will remember it. But the point is that we cannot read everything. We will always have deficits because there is simply too much. I, too, suffered all the way through Atlas Shrugged. I don't think I would today, either because I can now put a book down or because it has become a sort of symbol of politics that offend me. But in any case, we cannot know all the wonderful people in the world, we cannot see every single movie that is made, and we cannot read every book. It takes me about fifteen or twenty minutes to make a decision on all of them. Am I missing something great? I have learned not to worry about it.
I, like others, find it very difficult to abandon a book, and see it as a personal challenge to make it through each one. However, books that I must admit to having given up on are books that are either terrible, badly written books or books that are just so obscure and require so much attention to keep track of that I finally give up. If I find myself thinking that reading this book is a waste of my time and I can be using my time profitably elsewhere, I normally give up.
It is often quite difficult for me to abandon a book; but sometimes, the book just doesn't hold my interest. I find my mind wandering off the page, and reading to be more of a chore than an accomplishment. I do not have a set number of pages or a criteria; I simply reach the point that I know my reading is going nowhere, and put it down. Normally, I will have two or three "false stops" before I finally give up altogether. I still feel a great deal of guilt at not finishing a book, as I feel as if I have abandoned a responsibility; but then again, not all books are for everyone. I did manage to slough through Atlas Shrugged, long soliloquies and all; however I have started and abandoned War and Peace at least six times in the past ten years. I haven't given up yet--probably part of my guilt complex--but at the moment it's back in my "one of these days" stack.
I don't have a set criteria. It's a sliding scale based on how much I think I ought to read the book. If it's a classic or if it's something everyone is raving about, then I tend to plow on well past the point when I think I should give up. If it's just some random book I've picked up at the library, I'm happy to just toss it aside with very little in the way of guilt.
I felt a lot more guilty about not finishing books (particularly "important" ones) back when I was younger. But now, I'm a lot more at peace with who I am and what my literary tastes are and so I don't sweat it if I can't finish a book, even if it's "important."
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