Posted by: Jeanie F | February 17, 2011

When Is Enough, Enough?

I hate to say it, but I give up! I’ve been trying to get through this book for weeks now but, for some reason, I just never want to read it. I’m somewhat curious to know how it turns out, but apparently not curious enough to actually dedicate the time to finish it.

I put it on my Kindle after reading a brief review in The New York Times. Sansom is a new author to me (not a new author to those who read historical crime novels, as he has many books in print). I liked the aspect of solid historical research combined with a tight plot, which is what the review indicated I would find in this book. And I did. What I didn’t realize was how much the attention to minute historical detail – whether or not it advanced the story – would drag down the plot.

So – I’m not going to rate this book, and I’m not going to finish it, either. But  it has got me thinking – how do you know it’s time to give up on a book? I know people who insist on finishing any book they start. I know other’s who give it a certain amount of time, read a certain number of pages, or set other criteria for how much to devote to a book that’s not working for them. What’s your policy?


Responses

  1. Doesn’t your blog name say it all? Too many books, too little time. When you think a particular book is taken too much time away from you, in which time you could read a *really* nice book, it’s time to give up.

    I read a book this weekend – a shorty, 90 pages, that I really did not enjoy, so after 30 pages I put it away. I mean, I think I liked page 1, but nothing after that.

    In your case it’s not so black and white, but your “symptoms” sound to me, that it’s time to stop. You never want to read it let alone that you’re looking forward to reading it. Well, are you reading for pleasure or what? So there’s your answer. 🙂

  2. Generally, if a book doesn’t grab me after 100 pages and has become a chore to read, the book is on the chopping block. I then go on some program such as Shelfari and look at the reviews. If several people give the book low likability scores, I will dump it.

  3. I give a book 50 pages. That’s it. If it hasn’t captured me by then, I move on. There are too many good books waiting in the wings to waste my time on one I don’t like.

  4. @Judith, you’re right – it’s not completely black and white because I do have some interest in the conclusion. However, I’m giving up on it. Maybe someone who has read it can fill me in on the ending. Life IS too short to read bad books (not that this one is really “bad” – just not my cup of tea).

    @John – Looking at the reviews before giving up on it is a great idea. I think I’ll try that next time. Thanks for the suggestion!

    @Susan – I typically give 50-100 pages, too. This one was a little unusual in that it wasn’t immediately evident that I didn’t want to read it. I was engaged initially, but the story just got dragged out too much to keep me going. I agree – there’s not enough time to read the books you’ll end up loving, so why spend time on the ones you won’t? Thanks for your comment!

  5. I don’t have a particular policy. I used to really try and finish a book once I started but increasingly I am willing to give it up. I will try as long and hard as I can, but in the end if it isn’t doing it for you, you don’t need to finish it. The most recent books I started and didn’t finish were The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen and From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne

  6. Becky, I liked The Corrections but didn’t love it. I must be in a slump. After deciding to give up on Heartsteone, I thought I would read Model Home, which I was interested in when it first came out. I downloaded a sample onto my Kindle, but don’t like it either. Time to look for something else!

  7. I feel your frustration. I don’t have a set “page number” policy on when to give up on a book. Generally when I’m reading a book that I’m not that into if 4-5 weeks go by and I haven’t made much headway I usually decide to stop. By that point I’m annoyed b/c I realize that in the weeks I wasted trying to finish the unenjoyable book I probably could’ve read 3-4 books from my never-ending list of books to read.
    Books I’ve given up on: The Rug Merchant, Two Lives by Vikram Seth, Waiting by Ha Jin, Breakfast of Champions by Vonnegut (by the 164th page I was getting to aggravated so I just stopped reading.)


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