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Q and A > Do you feel you have to finish a book?

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Betsy (ebburtis) | 641 comments I used to feel like I had to finish every book I started. But then I started my book swap and I have so many books waiting to be read that I am putting quite a few aside to pick up another. It seems like this has happened a lot lately - I've started books that I probably could have finished but didn't really grab me: Heat, The Meaning of Night (I might go back to this one; it was slow going but essentially well written and interesting), Charlemagne Pursuit.


Lisa (lbhick) | 986 comments I rarely put a book aside once I start to read it. I'm not sure why I feel obligated to finish a book that doesn't hold my attention, but I do.


Quiltgranny I still try to finish each book I choose. It's sort of like my ex-husbands, you know...I chose them, so they can't be ALL that bad, eh? And my friends recommended them...

I have gone back a couple of times if I thought I was just not in the right frame of mind (Like Middlesex), but since I've put all my TBR books in one place, I find that I am able to "allow" myself to leave the ones I just don't love and never will. Now, mind you, I still try and try, but then decide that it's just not worth it. According to my GR "abandoned" list, I've done pretty well - only 12 (books that is!)

Tomato Red
The Quiet Girl
Love the One You're With
Dreams from My Father
Tales of a Female Nomad
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Animal Crackers
An Infamous Army
Moon Tiger
A Fraction of the Whole
The Elegance of the Hedgehog
Music & Silence


LynnB | 1433 comments If I find a book that is really horrible and not worth it, I can put it down...though that doesn't happen often. I usually give a book about 100 pages to catch my interest. Sometimes I'm not interested in a book at the moment, but I usually realize that is a different feeling than just simply not liking the book. If that's the case, then I just put it aside for a later time.


Stephanie Quiltgranny - You have three books on your list that are on mine!

This is going to be an upcoming blog on my website, so please stop by and post your comments.

The question of "How far do I go?" is one of my favorites to discuss with other book lovers. (All of these comments are about my adult reading life.) I used to always feel compelled to finish a book, regardless of my feelings towards it. Then, I started thinking that if I read half and gave it a fair shot that would be sufficient. Now, I follow the 50-page rule. If I am not into by then, I probably won't enjoy it. My TBR list is so long I cannot invest time into books that are not interesting/enjoyable. The only caveat to this is if a fellow reader (whose opinions I often share) encourages me on.


Melissa I select my books pretty carefully, so I usually finish the books I start. If I don't, I put it aside for a few months (or a few years) and try again. Sometimes it's not the book, it's the timing. At another point in my life, the book I discarded may suddenly be relevant.


Betsy (ebburtis) | 641 comments I find with so many waiting that I am putting aside some that I probably would have finished in the past. They aren't terrible, but just not "grabbing" me. Charlemagne Pursuit I picked up because I hadn't read a thriller in a while and I made it about 1/2 way through, but I just didn't care how it ended or about any of the characters. It started feeling more like a chore to finish it, so I put it down yesterday and listed it on my swap site. I picked up Girl with the Dragon Tattoo which immediately "grabbed" me.


Jaime | 216 comments I used to feel very guilty about not finishing a book that I started, but I have let that feeling go in recent years. As a stay-at-home mom, I rarely get any time for myself. It's funny, because many people think that when you don't work for a paycheck you have lots and lots of "free time". No lunch breaks or any other breaks (including bathroom) for me, though! My reading time is usually the only time I have that is truly mine. I figure, why should I waste that precious time on something I am not enjoying? It has been very easy the past three years to let the guilt of not finishing a book go! That said, it is common for me to start a book and realize that I would probably enjoy it, but that it just isn't the right time. I can usually tell if it's one I'll never pick up again or if it's one that I just need to pick up at another time.


Jaime | 216 comments Of course, what am I doing now with my free time? Playing around on Goodreads! No wonder why I haven't gotten any reading in lately!


LynnB | 1433 comments Jaime wrote: "I used to feel very guilty about not finishing a book that I started, but I have let that feeling go in recent years. As a stay-at-home mom, I rarely get any time for myself. It's funny, because ma..."

I was a stay-at-home-mom too when my kids were little and I totally understand about not having any time for yourself. That's a 24/7 job and a lot of people (including spouses!) don't really get the truth of that.

And I find your comment about surfing around on goodreads so true! My reading time seems to be getting smaller and I find it's because I'm reading about all the good books that I don't want to miss!!


Barbara (babyruth) | 9 comments As a mom with 3 kids under 10 and a full-time job my reading time is limited. I used to feel guilty about abandoning a book but I've managed to get over it. If I can't get into a book after a few chapters I usually put it aside. Sometimes I'll pick them up again because as many others have mentioned it may not necessarily be the book but rather the timing. Recently I abandoned a book that I was 3/4 of the way through. I enjoyed it for the most part but at some point it I became bored because it was dragging on.


Stephanie I would agree that reading about books on goodreads cuts into reading time. ;)

I can easily get lost on here looking at lists and upcoming books.


Becky (BeckyMurr) | 629 comments I used to feel that I had to finish each & every book, but as I got older & my time became more precious I started to set books aside & would pick them up at a later date & then I figured if I really didn't like a book, what was the worse thing that would happen if I didn't finish it....so I don't carry any guilt!! & there have only been a few....


Miriam (chkntza) | 43 comments I am committed to finishing a book I started. I want to see what happens even if I don't like it. Most of the time I like the books I read. A few times I discovered that the best parts were at the end and if I would have quit I would have missed it.


Ivan Once I past a certain point, I do feel obligated to finish.


Elena I don't feel I have to finish a book I don't like. It has to be really bad for me to put it down, but I do.


NancyL Luckey I used to make myself finish every book. Now there are too many good books out there to waste time on ones I find I don't care for.


Patti | 136 comments The only books I feel I must finish are book group books. Having led two book groups for several years I know how hard it is to discuss a book that not everyone has finished. It is one book a month and more often than not, I have been glad that I finished it. Otherwise, life is too short to waste on a book that bores you silly or is horribly written.


Stephanie My 50-page-rule has changed since my last posting. If a book doesn't grab me in the first couple of chapters, back into the library tote it goes. I have about 40 books out from the library right now, so if something doesn't get me excited pretty quickly (or people haven't recommended it to me) "g'-bye."


Kathryn (KathrynH) Stephanie wrote: "My 50-page-rule has changed since my last posting. If a book doesn't grab me in the first couple of chapters, back into the library tote it goes. I have about 40 books out from the library right no..."

Ditto! Ditto! Ditto!


PookyGurl I pretty much keep to my 100 page rule. I figure it's enough to get me truly into the book so if I haven't been pulled in by then...well it's not going to.
There are just too many books out there waiting for me that I no longer feel guilty if I have to leave one behind so I can delve into the next.


Sera | 1202 comments I'll put a book down if I'm not into it, and pick it up later (sometimes a year or two later), but in the end, I will almost certainly finish it. I've only abandoned books on a couple of occasions. The first was Gilead by Marilynne Robinson and the other was Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer. I gave them both away, too, so I know that I won't be picking them back up :)


Stephanie Gilead was literary NyQuil. On the other hand, I really liked EiI. I listened to it on audio and the narrator was FANTASTIC.


Linda | 657 comments I trudged through Gilead


Sera | 1202 comments One of my book clubs picked Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer for our April pick. I plan to pass.


Stephanie Sera wrote: "One of my book clubs picked Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer for our April pick. I plan to pass."

This is one of my favorite books, again probably largely due to the amazing narration on the audio format. I am telling you, this guy is incredible. He also read Everything is Illuminated.


Sera | 1202 comments Stephanie, you have reconsidering checking this one on audio. Maybe later in the year.


Linda Boyd (lboyd5900attnet) | 30 comments Yes, I feel bad when I don't finish a book that I have started - not sure why.......


Linda | 657 comments Yes


Beth Harati | 6 comments I used to feel bad mainly because I thought it was a statement about me- that I didn't have the intellect to understand the book or to be patient enough to get through the first 50 pages or so. Recently I changed my mind, I look at books like I do people. There are many people I really like a lot but there are some I just can't understand or relate to. Besides, if we all liked the same books it would be a boring world, at least I think it would. I also believe that we bring our life experiences, our interests, our passions to the world of reading and we find different reasons to love or hate a book or even a writer or writing style. Oops, I hear my mom in my head saying I shouldn't use the word "hate". Too many books, too little time!!!


LynnB | 1433 comments Beth wrote: "Besides, if we all liked the same books it would be a boring world, at least I think it would."

I totally agree on that! I always told my kids -- To have a discussion, you need different points of view; one point of view is a pep-rally.


Beth Harati | 6 comments LynnB wrote: "Beth wrote: "Besides, if we all liked the same books it would be a boring world, at least I think it would."

I totally agree on that! I always told my kids -- To have a discussion, you need diffe..."


I love that! I do feel that sometimes I am just not ready for a certain book. It helps to wait & try again but truly if a book doesn't grab me in some way within the first 50 pages I will usually put it down.


message 33: by Victoria (last edited Dec 13, 2011 11:25AM) (new)

Victoria (Vicki_c) | 145 comments I love this thread, because I'm still trying to figure out my feelings on abandoning books. I do it. But I have guilt over it. So silly, I know. Even when I haven't paid for the books! Maybe it's the feelings described above as that somehow it's me, or I am less because I didn't like it and Bookmarks / Books on the Nightstand / others / my friend / my husband / whoever like it so much. I think I will institute a 100 page rule for myself. Previously I didn't have a set point. Maybe that will allay some of my guilty feelings. As others said, I have WAY too many books I want to read to spend my time on things that I find laborious. It's supposed to be fun!


Sera | 1202 comments Victoria wrote: "I love this thread, because I'm still trying to figure out my feelings on abandoning books. I do it. But I have guilt over it. So silly, I know. Even when I haven't paid for the books! Maybe i..."

I've only abandoned 3 books in my life, and only because I knew that no how, no way was I ever going to try to read them again. However, usually if I'm not into a book, I will put it aside (sometimes for a year or two) and then pick it up later and try it again. I bought the books that I own because I was really interested in reading them so I figure that if I wasn't into it, it was because I wasn't in the mood or had the right frame of mind. Interestingly, the 3 books that I have abandoned were either book club reads (2) or came highly recommended from a large number of people (1). Frankly, I would not have picked these books up on my own so I didn't feel that bad about letting them go, but I gave it 110% effort to muddle through before doing so. Once started, I really believe in giving a book a chance.


Nancy | 269 comments As I approached 60, I realized just how quickly those years had gone and that I had 30, 40 years tops to read all he books I wanted to (not even counting the ones that haven't been published yet). My 92 year old mother is still in a book club, so I'm hopeful I can squeeze in a few years after 90! I figure I shouldn't waste any time reading something I don't like or that annoys me. I have a low tolerance for the little things that annoy me about a book so if my annoyance meter goes up, the book goes out! Happy holidays to everyone!


Sera | 1202 comments Nancy wrote: "As I approached 60, I realized just how quickly those years had gone and that I had 30, 40 years tops to read all he books I wanted to (not even counting the ones that haven't been published yet). ..."

I can't argue with you there, Nancy :)


Laurie (LaurieLH) | 92 comments As a teacher of English for over 30 years, and a person who has read and not finished books, I am of the opinion that life is too short to read bad books -- give a book a fair trial, but if it isn't gripping you, move to another. Somewhere, some reader loves the book you put down -- neither you nor the author should feel inferior if the book isn't read by everyone who picks it up. Too many other things to feel guilty about in life, anyway. Too many "just right for me" books out there to discover. Yep, life is too short to read "bad for me" books. :)


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Books mentioned in this topic

Everything Is Illuminated (other topics)
Gilead (other topics)
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (other topics)