I know many book bloggers find it very hard to put down a book half-read. Others, like my husband, refuse to spend valuable reading time on a book they don’t like. Which are you? And at what point in a book do you say, enough.
I like to read close to half of a book before I give up, but then it depends on the reason I’m giving up, and it also depends on the type of book.
Something literary or very well-loved, I’ll give more time. There’s a reason people love it, and sometimes you need to get farther in to a book before it grabs you. So I try to read at least half of a book like that. Unfortunately (but also the great thing about books) we all read things differently. So even that a book that is highly acclaimed and a popular success may fall flat (e.g. The Passage). In fact, the more highly acclaimed and popular, the more likely you may be disappointed.
The last book I put down partway through in this category? I think The Dispossessed, by Ursula LeGuin, which I tried to read for a book club. I want to love LeGuin. Really I do. Especially when there are so few critically acclaimed female science fiction writers. But something about her writing drags for me. Another one was Jenna Blum’s Those Who Save Us, which I wrote about here.
Now if a book is fluffy – mystery, urban fantasy, whatever – it doesn’t deserve as much of a try. If I put down a book like this, it’s usually because the writing is annoying. Then it gets put down in a hurry. Or sometimes the story takes a turn I don’t care for. Last book in this category was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Sometimes I can handle violence in a book, and sometimes it’s not worth handling. This book felt like the latter. Maybe I should have stuck it out longer because people love these books so much – but I also found the rest of the storyline and characters kind of dull.
When do you know it’s time to put down a book? Often for me that realization comes while I’m on the bus. If I’m enjoying a book, the time passes quickly. But when I find I’m on the bus and finding other people or the scenery more interesting than my book – or I find myself thinking about what other books are next in line on my Kindle – then it’s probably that time. Then I’ll usually decide to read about 20 pages more, just to see if something turns around. Or maybe I’ll skim a little. And then I’ll stop.
So what kind of reader are you? Do you agonize about putting a book down unfinished? Should we feel guilty when we drop a book? Or do you move right on to the next one?
What’s the last book you didn’t finish, and why?