Saturday, May 12, 2007

When do you give up on a book?

Just because you start a book doesn't mean you are going to finish it. Sometimes the thorns of life get in the way. However, when do you consciously choose not to finish a book?

It's easy to stop reading a boring book after a few pages, or a few chapters. But several times I've gotten around halfway through a book and wondered whether it was worth finishing (sometimes I did, sometimes I didn't). If you are halfway through a book and not enjoying it, do you owe it to yourself to finish (lest your previous reading be wasted--one of the reasons I'm still vegan)? Or, if you are halfway through a book and not enjoying it, do you owe it to yourself to STOP reading it and go on to read something better?


  1. This is where I would look to the opinions of people whose opinions I respect. If others who have generally the same taste as you say it is a good book, you should probably stick it out. Or, if it is written by an author you like a lot (as in your particular situation).

    If I gave up on books I hated at first, I never would have read two books I now love: Prodigal Summer (Barbara Kingolver) and 1984 (George Orwell). I am double-plus- happy I kept going with those two. My reasons for continuing despite my boredom were I had loved all the Kingsolver books I had read, and 1984 was on my Brit Lit syllabus. Both good reasons to keep reading.

    However, I wish I has given up on Heart of Darkness. Everyone talks about how it is so great and so well written, but I hated it. I thought it would end up blowing my mind at the end, but instead, I just wish I had that part of my life back.

    But if you ever do give up, don't you wonder what would havec happened? Don't you ask yourself if you made a mistake? One good thing about movies is if they suck, you can watch the DVD on 16x, so you can get the gist of what happens from then on. You give up, but you get the satisfaction of knowing you were right to do so.

  2. I give up on alot of books. I just don't have the time to waste.

    I generally think when I stop reading a book it isn't because I don't want to find out what happens. I stop caring because the writing is bad. It doesn't compel me, so I don't feel any guilt pushing me to finish it.

    The people reading this blog clearly love books, but do you think we place writing higher on an "artistic" scale compared to other forms of art? The activity of reading a book has more value than say, a movie?

    And how often after finishing a book you had doubts about are you happy you finished?

    Some books my friends love that I never finished: Underworld, A Groundbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius, Moby Dick, Microserfs, A Prayer For Owen Meaney.

  3. After the final exam.