That is, until this week when I tried (really tried) to read a book that is utterly boring and unrealistic. I had to stop reading.
Do you read everything all the way through or do you feel life really is too short to read bad books?
Drop them like a hot potato. I used to suffer through bad books, believing that some literary overlord was tallying up my unfinished books and making black marks on my record. This was why I made it all the way through The Devil Wears Prada and The Time Traveler’s Wife. (I know. I am one of the fourteen people in the universe who dislike this book.) Now, if a book isn’t working for me, I stop reading. This can happen for a number of reasons. Sometimes, a book is annoys me so much (Goldengrove, Julie and Julia, We Need to Talk about Kevin) I have to quit reading it. It can be the writing, it can be a character that rubs me the wrong way, you name it. My general rule of thumb is, if this book were a person, would I really want to be friends with them? Or, if the characters are intentionally difficult, am I learning anything here? Expanding my understanding of human nature in any way? If the answer is no, I stop.
Sometimes I stop reading a book because I am simply not in the mood for it, or can’t focus for some reason. Those books I generally place in a “save for later” pile, and I return to them and generally like them. When I first picked up Marisha Pessl’s Special Topics in Calamity Physics, I thought it was pretentious and annoying. But one day, I saw it there on my shelf and thought, why not give it another go? I picked it up from where I left off, and I absolutely could not put it down. In fact, when I finished it, I turned back to the beginning and started over! The only book in the latter category that I still haven’t been able to finish is The Little Friend, by Donna Tartt…but I love The Secret History, so I keep trying!
What about you? What makes you give up on a book–or what convinces you to stay through the bitter end?