To Give Up Or Not To Give Up (on a book) That Is The Question

unfinished-books

I’m not one for giving up on books. Until fairly recently I never gave up on a book. Ever. I have got beyond that these days but it’s still something I struggle with. Despite telling myself (and others) that there are so many books to enjoy I don’t need to persevere with ones I don’t enjoy, I do still persevere. Lets face it I’m never going to run out of books to read. The books of the world aren’t going to dry up. So what’s my problem? Why do I find it so hard to give up on a book?

This issue cropped up for me again last week when I realised I was skipping through pages of the book I was reading. I was scanning paragraphs and most significantly not really looking forward to picking up my book. So began my internal dialogue that goes a little like this:

‘I’ll give it another few pages”

“I’ll read at least the first 100 pages, and if I still don’t like it I’ll give up”

“I’ve got this far, I may as well give it a bit longer”

“Is it me? Everyone else loves it”

“I really wanted to read this book”

“I was sure I was going to enjoy this.  In fact I did enjoy those last couple of pages” (despite not being able to remember anything that had happened during the previous 20).

“I just haven’t been in the right mood for it, I’ll enjoy it more when I have more time to read it tomorrow, at the weekend etc”

And so it continues, on and on until I get to the end of the book, when with relief I can forget about it and move onto something else.

Now sometimes it is worth persevering and we can all recall books that were a struggle to begin with but ended up becoming fabulous or at least a ‘perfectly pleasant read’. As I have become a more experienced and discerning reader I find myself in this position less often, but when it does occur, what is it that I find so hard about not finishing a book?

I don’t like to admit defeat; I’m a finisher; I like to see things through; I’m stubborn. Someone has lovingly created this book investing blood, sweat and tears into it. Writing is hard for heaven’s sake. That author deserves to be given a chance, and not cast aside just because I found the first 100 pages tricky, or dull, or both. All of the above, probably.

The author of the particular wordy tome in question last week was already irritating me with his obsessive attention to detail. However the turning point came when he referred to raspberries as ovaries. (it was a book about food I hasten to add, but even so…)  That was it for me. Despite that one of my writing / foodie heroes had described this book in glowing terms and I really wanted to like it, I don’t want to think about the raspberries on my morning muesli as ovaries.  Any book that puts my off my breakfast is not a book for me.

After conveying my dilemma to a much clearer headed friend via text message the response which immediately pinged back read “shelve it, life’s too short”. And she’s right, and I did.  It took another day or so before I did, but I’m glad I did.  Moving on people, moving on….

7 Comments

  1. February 9, 2015 / 8:14 pm

    Haha! That seems like a good reason to abandon a book to me!

    I used to struggle with abandoning books too, but oddly reviewing has helped with that. Since I have a rule that I review everything I read more than half of, I now happily give up books before that point if they’re not working for me, on the grounds that I’m doing the author a favour by not reviewing it. I still only abandoned 5 last year though…

    • February 10, 2015 / 1:03 pm

      Yes I know what you mean. I think now I’m reviewing books I prefer to be able to review a book positvely.

  2. Carolyn
    February 10, 2015 / 10:24 am

    I feel the same. Particularly with the Book Club books when I consider not only the author but the Book Club member who has probably agonized over choosing it! But in the end if it really becomes a burden it is better to abandon the struggle and move on to a book that will give you more joy.

    • February 10, 2015 / 1:04 pm

      I completly agree Carolyn. I have to confess that the book in question was a book club book. I’m rarely beaten by a book but I couldn’t find much joy in this one!

  3. February 10, 2015 / 4:21 pm

    Hi Angie,

    You are definitely right about life being too short.

    I haven’t given up on many books. I like to think that I will like them before I buy or loan them. One I did have to give up on a long time ago was Gormenghast. Never got on with it which is strange as I like fantasy books.

    Jo

    • February 11, 2015 / 8:10 am

      I know what you mean Jo. I too like to think I know what I will enjoy, more often than not I get it right these days.

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