Sunday, November 15, 2009

Abandoned Books


I admit it, I abandon books.

Once upon a time, I believed that I needed to finish every book I started. After all, on any page, the story might pick up - there might be some crucial scene, some plot twist, something that would redeem the story. But you know what? There usually isn't. A book that starts out badly usually finishes badly and there is no point in sticking around. It's like dating a guy you do't really care about, thinking you might learn to like him more. If there's no chemistry in the beginning, it's not likely to grow.

I have a rule - I'll give a book 100 pages. If, after that milestone, I find I am not interested in how the story ends, not interested in what happens to the characters, I figure that I have invested enough time. Sometimes I feel a little guilty, like I should really give a book another chance, but it seldom works out.

Occasionally, I break my own rule. I am slowly working my way through As Meat Loves Salt. I am sticking with this one because my friend, Ari - whose taste in books is very dependable - really enjoyed it and strongly recommended it. I hit a rough spot in the book and haven't quite gotten past it, but I am going to give it another shot.

This week's abandoned book is Nibble & Kuhn. It's supposed to be romance and intrigue at an eccentric law firm and instead? No romance, no intrigue, just an unhappy lawyer in love with a woman who is supposed to marry someone else. The quote on the cover says "Riveting" but I think that must have come from some longer quote, perhaps something about "riveting my eyes open in order to finish it."

What about you? Do you abandon books? Or do you feel obligated to finish the books you start?

I want to say a quick thank you to Peilo2006 at Photobucket, who posted the fabulous image above. All those sad abandoned books! It's a terrific shot.

17 comments:

Literary Feline said...

It isn't often I abandon a book, but I do on occasion. I like to think I'm pretty good at knowing what books will appeal to me and so I choose them accordingly. Sometimes I start a book that I'm just not in the mood for and so I'll set it aside to try again later. I don't count those as abandoned though.

The ones I abandon tend to be books that are terribly written to the point that I can't get past it to get into the story and then those books that are boring me to tears. Often in this case, I have no interest in the characters or the direction the book will go. So, there's no skipping ahead for me to see what will happen--I honestly don't care enough to bother.

I have read enough books that have gotten off to a slow start that have turned out to be awesome reads that I am not always quick to put a book down. I can usually tell pretty quickly though--the difference between a slow starter and a book that isn't for me.

bermudaonion said...

I rarely abandon a book, but I have from time to time. I think everyone just has to do what works for them.

Scobberlotcher said...

I have the same rule as you - 100 pages. Many times, I'll return to that same book at a later time and finish it. I think books come to us as certain times. :)

Kathleen said...

I just wrote about this on my own blog not that long ago. I wish I could abandon books. I have a horrible habit of having to stick with a book no matter what. I really want to work on just letting the bad ones go. I like the 100 page rule. That seems like you are giving the book a fair shot and if it isn't working, then it just isn't.

Lisa said...

Literary Feline, I've also had some books that got off to a slow start, but like you said, you get to know the difference between a slow start and a book I won't like. And I also recognize that just because *I* don't like it, that doesn't mean it's a bad book.

Scobberlotcher, I agree that sometimes you have to hit a book at just the right time. Sometimes, I am just not in the mood for a particular kind of story.

Kathleen, I think 100 pages is fair. Also, I usually only abandon the book if I find I don't care what's going on. If I am still interested in the story, I try and struggle through it.

Bluestocking said...

I liked Nibble & Kuhn. But I guess it's because I'm a lawyer so I could totally identify.

Sweet Vernal Zephyr said...

I have abandoned a few books, but usually my lack of interest is in the genre... I'm just not in the right head space for that particular story line at that moment. Those books are set aside for perusal later.

If it is bad writing skills I am aware almost immediately and will not give it the one hundred pages you are so generous with.

Literate Housewife said...

I haven't gotten to the point of outright abandoning a book yet, but I'm getting there. What I've taken to doing is skimming. I have never been all that interested in what I've skimmed through, so why do it at all, right? I just need to get past the taboo and move on to something hopefully far superior.

Greyweather said...

I have a 10% rule instead of a 100 page rule, though on one occasion a book was so unrelentingly bad I had to dump it before the 10% mark to save my sanity.

I am pretty discriminating about what books I pick up so in general I don't abandon books often. I very rarely feel guilty about it when I do. Usually the only feelings are those of relief or liberation.

Ashley @ Ashley's Library said...

I have found myself abandoning books lately. I used to have the idea that I had to read each book I came across but lately I have realized that I just can't.

I'm still trying to come up with a way to assess when I should give a book up. I think that the 10% idea sounds like a good one I may adopt!

stacybuckeye said...

I very rarely abandon a book. I may read a little faster with less atention to detail, but I usually suck it up til the end. How else could I review it accurately?

Love the photo, too.

Lisa said...

I have no problem abandoning books. I don't even have a page limit. I recently took one back to the library after only 3 or 4 pages because I could tell that the author was going to talk in ways that would bug me (in a memoir.) I figure there are more than enough books out there, why waste time on ones that don't do it for me?

LuAnn said...

It takes a lot for me to abandon a book ... for the same reason you mention. It really might pick up and turn into something worth reading. There have been a few, though, that I just couldn't read all the way through, no matter how hard I tried. They get set aside for another day, another time, to try again (maybe).

By the way, I did like Nibble & Kuhn. But I agree, the description didn't really fit the book.

christine (booktumbling) said...

I very seldom abandon a book. There have been times when after I have finished I ask myself "why did you stick with this one" but not many.

EdgyJuneCleaver said...

life is too short to read a bad or boring or book that doesn't interest me unless it's for a class and then I would gut through it.

Angela said...

I have finally given myself permission to abandon a book if I am really not enjoying it. I used to feel so guilty about giving up on a book that I would struggle through until the end even if I was hating it. I still try to finish most books I start but I've realized that I have a ton of books on my shelves and there is no sense spending time on one I'm not enjoying when there are so many enjoyable books to choose from.

Lisa said...

Angela, I look at it this way: if a song came on the radio and I hated it, I would change the station. I wouldn't feel guilty about not sitting in my car, suffering through a song I didn't like, so why should I suffer through a book I don't like?