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III. Goodreads Readers > Ever Get That Guilty Feeling When..

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message 1: by Jill (new)

Jill Lovelace (Bookaddict559) | 10 comments Ever feel guilty for not finishing a book? It seems when I pick up a book, get halfway through and realize that I don't care to finish, a guilty twinge pricks my conscience. I think my inner goddess feels bad for not liking a book... She's like, "WHY CAN'T I LOVE THIS?" *sniffle*


message 2: by Jade (new)

Jade Varden (jadevarden) | 42 comments I'm the same way. I've stopped reading books and ended up going back to them because of the guilt.


message 3: by L. (new)

L. Gibbs (ldgibbs) Yes, I want to give the writer a chance. I used to always make myself read to the end. Now I feel halfway is enough. But the twinge remains.


message 4: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Sharpe (abigailsharpe) I feel no twinge. And just because you don't like a book, it doesn't mean the book is bad. It just means it's not for you.


message 5: by Jill (new)

Jill Lovelace (Bookaddict559) | 10 comments I'll have to remember that when I feel a twinge for putting a book down. :)


message 6: by Jade (new)

Jade Varden (jadevarden) | 42 comments Well sometimes the books I pick back up actually do get better. I remember on in particular that I hated, but then when I went back to it I really enjoyed it.


message 7: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (quill_n_ink) | 6 comments I'm fairly picky about the books I start reading. Check ratings and reviews, get recommendations from friends and people who like the type of books I do. So, it is rare I don't like a book. Having said that, I started one last year (prior to joining GoodReads!) that I really truly wanted to love. (The reviews were 5 stars and 1 stars and not much in between. That should have been my first clue but I ignored the warning signs.) Probably not even half way through, I couldn't stand it but I also wanted to give the author a chance, and I wanted to know what happened to these characters, so I continued reading. By the time I finished, I thoroughly hated the book and what the author did to the characters. I left one of my few 1 star ratings, along with an explanation, and will not read any of the other books in the series. Hours of my life that I cannot get back, and images I'd rather not have in my head, but I had to finish. So, I'm even more careful now!


message 8: by Cathryn (new)

Cathryn Louis (CathrynLouis) | 6 comments I love to read, but am even more picky now that I'm writing. Every book takes time away from creation time for my own books, so I'm extremely careful what I pick up. I want my time away from writing to be worth it.


message 9: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Lawston (andrewlawston) | 227 comments It's rare that I don't finish a book, but I don't feel guilty about abandoning something I'm not enjoying. Not since I managed to sneak through an entire Balzac seminar without admitting I'd not finished Le Pere Goriot.

Since I started reading 'indie' books, I've had to give up on more than a couple. Some were so bad that I felt compelled to write a 'reader beware' review. Others just weren't for me, and I take the view that if I give up on a book, no one else ever has to know, after all...


message 10: by James (new)

James Hankins | 6 comments I don't often leave books unfinished . . . but it happens. And when it does, I do feel a bit guilty about it. As an indie writer myself, I can't help but think about how I'd feel if I knew someone had just set my book aside for good before finishing it (though I do like Abigail's observation that simply because a reader stops reading a book, it doesn't mean the book is no good; rather, it just might not be good for the reader). That said, there are some books that I simply can't read to the end. The funny thing is, I can never seem to bring myself to get rid of them. I keep thinking that I'll get back to them one day, with a fresh eye and renewed hope. But I never do. So I come across them from time to time and feel a slight twinge of the old guilt. I really should do a little book purge.


message 11: by Yzabel (new)

Yzabel Ginsberg (yzabelginsberg) | 262 comments I'm not sure of "guilty" is the exact word in my kind. More like "annoyed at having wasted time/money on something I didn't even finished"? I usually try to finish the books I start, even the ones that are barely OK or even bad; the ones I really can't finish are either really crass-bad, or make me feel like breaking stuff around me (and not in a "because I'm so involved with the characters' suffering" way).

I know some books get better as you go on reading, which is why I do my best not to stop after a couple of chapters only. On the other hand, there's a limit point after which I just can't go on. (Just like I wouldn't, say, go on eating a badly cooked dish in the hopes that the remaining 20% will taste good at last.) Sometimes I'll try again later on, if I know I had to put it down the first time because it didn't fit my mood (e.g reading a very depressing story when in a bout of depression myself: this just makes no sense, and I'd better pick upbeat books at such moments). Some other times, I won't bother.


message 12: by Jenelle (new)

Jenelle No, I don't feel guilty for not finishing books.

Feel guilty when I get a read-to-review and end up not liking it and having to give the promised review, but it's not a good one? Yep. I always feel guilty about that. Even though I know negative reviews can actually be a positive thing... as they lend a bit more credibility to an author's resume... nobody likes getting them... and I, for one, don't like giving them.


message 13: by Peggy (new)

Peggy Holloway | 393 comments There have been very few books I've given up on. There are times when I finally finished a book and said to myself, "Why did I waste my time finishing that book when there are so many good ones out there. But there have been book that just started off slow. One in particular I started reading and almost gave up on. It was a very thick book and on around page 100 it really started getting good. When I finished the 500+ page book, I noticed there were two more and I couldn't wait to get those and read them. I wouldn't mind reading them again if I could remember the name. It was about a lady doctor who visited Scotland and, while looking at some old stones, she was pulled into one and went back in time. She falls in love with a Scottish man who wears a kilt, but she needs to go back to her own time to her husband there. It's very involved. If someone knows the one I'm talking about, let me know.

When I read Atlas Shrugged, I almost gave up on it but I was determined to finish it. Around about page 700 I suddenly couldn't put the book down and I began to see the whole point of the book. It is brilliant! Glad I didn't give up on it!


message 14: by Jenelle (new)

Jenelle Peggy wrote: "There have been very few books I've given up on. There are times when I finally finished a book and said to myself, "Why did I waste my time finishing that book when there are so many good ones ou..."

There's a whole group dedicated to helping you find a book if you can't remember the title. http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/185


message 15: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Sharpe (abigailsharpe) Peggy, that would be Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. She's up to book 8 now. My most favorite series ever.


message 16: by Peggy (new)

Peggy Holloway | 393 comments Oh thank you so much! I have been racking my brain trying to remember that. I believe I read three of them but I read 4-7 books a week and couldn't remember. That one really stood out in my mind.


message 17: by Peggy (new)

Peggy Holloway | 393 comments Jenelle wrote: "Peggy wrote: "There have been very few books I've given up on. There are times when I finally finished a book and said to myself, "Why did I waste my time finishing that book when there are so man..." Thabks. I didn't know about this group!


message 18: by Denise (last edited Jan 22, 2013 02:11AM) (new)

Denise Baer | 321 comments I used to feel guilty because I felt I owed it to myself and the author. Now I find myself getting frustrated with bad writing, because I buy all my books. It's one thing if I'm not crazy about the story, because we're not all going to like every book, but the writing better be good. I expect good writing, if not exceptional writing...and it better be edited.

I recently read a book that made me so mad that I've considered requesting a refund from Amazon. I stopped reading it because the story and the writing was poor...and this book went from self-published to traditional.

Jenelle wrote: "Feel guilty when I get a read-to-review and end up not liking it and having to give the promised review, but it's not a good one? Yep. I always fee..."

I've had several review swaps that I couldn't write a review for because I wouldn't waste my time finishing the book. I've felt bad having to contact the author to let them know why I wouldn't be able to write a review. I've also told them they didn't have to bother writing one for me since it was a swap.


message 19: by Richard (new)

Richard Sutton (richardsutton) | 198 comments Ever buy an apple that looked good, but when you bit into it, it was...

There are lots of bad products out there, but it seems that a crummy book really gets us mad. I'm not sure why the book should be returned any more than the apple. We're educated consumers, and our primary advocates are ourselves. Sometimes we get it right, and sometimes we get it wrong. We look for as much guidance as we can, and even there lots of it is just publicist/media hype. I guess it's all part of our job description.


message 20: by Joe (new)

Joe Dombrowski | 5 comments Nope. All I owe the author is my money for the book, not my time. It's nothing personal. Same with walking out on a movie. It's not like breaking up with someone, it's just a business arrangement. My money for entertainment. If I'm not being entertained, screw it.


message 21: by Richard (new)

Richard Sutton (richardsutton) | 198 comments Denise;
FYI: If you ever do a swap or get a free book or even pay for one, NEVER feel bad about letting the writer know why you had to stop reading it. That is the reason they asked you to read it. They really, really want to know. Most writers can get a book proofread, but readers comments and impressions are really, really important. They also appreciate your letting them know which books you did enjoy, so they can determine if you're even the right target reader.


message 22: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Richards (sarahjorichards) | 11 comments There have been many books I have not finished. Two facts keep me from falling into the guilt trap.

1. I am probably not the target audience for that particular book.

I am an odd duck (woof!). I know this, so I do not expect all the books other give rave reviews for to be something I will also enjoy. For example, Janet Evanovich is an author many enjoy. I read her work on my sister's recommendation. I disliked it strongly; the taste of the shallow characters on my mental pallet was like rotted meat. (This is a strong statement to make, sorry if it offends.) My sister and I do not get along fabulously, so obviously we are going to have strong opinions against what the other likes to read.

2. If it is truly bad writing, give a "criticism sandwich" review.

I learned this one very quickly in design college. Say something you really liked about it, like the premise was a great concept. Then move onto your biggest problem with the book; for example flawed logic. (That is always a spine breaker for me.) Then you end with something else you liked about the writing like the nemesis keeps me thinking about the book even when I stopped reading.

There is no need to rip into an author with a bad review. Limit yourself to one maybe two complaints. This will make you a better writer because it forces you to think about why the book it isn't working. Follow the string of issues you have about the book back to the source, and then mention it. Make sure to find the good qualities too. The things the author did well so they can build upon those in order to become a better writer.


message 23: by Richard (new)

Richard Sutton (richardsutton) | 198 comments Well, Sarah, that's great advice, but between us, that kind of sandwich is usually called a s__t sandwich.

Not really. LOL, one of those saved me on my first book when a bad file upload put out a stinker of a draft instead of the edited book. I ate that sandwich gladly and thanks to POD, fought on through to another day!


message 24: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Richards (sarahjorichards) | 11 comments The term "constructive criticism" always makes me bristle. It's like an excuse for people to be rude. That's why I liked the sandwich review method.

Personally, I like to think of it as an Oreo; each part palatable on their own, but so much better to swallow down when you eat it whole. Preferably with a glass of milk or cup of coffee!

This is the method I hope for when people leave reviews of my writing. I also make sure to read bad reviews with an open mind. Maybe the book wasn't aimed at them, and they just failed to see it.


message 25: by Jacqueline (new)

Jacqueline Patricks (jacquelinepatricks) | 41 comments Sarah wrote: "The term "constructive criticism" always makes me bristle. It's like an excuse for people to be rude. That's why I liked the sandwich review method.

Personally, I like to think of it as an Oreo; ..."


Well said Sarah. That's the method of critiquing I was taught years ago and I stand by it. Negative reviews with details are important (not just for authors but for other readers) and freedom to express one's opinion is paramount, but I have definitely seen a tendency for over the top negativity with an expectation for the target to listen. When the target doesn't listen and lashes out, then war ensues. Both sides seem bend on escalating things while poisoning the author/reader relationships. It seems the days of healthy adult discourse between authors and readers is gone in some forums. Which is sad. It's not that way on all forums. Deivant Art has a great author/artist/reviewer critique exchange system. An author or artist can post original work and have an intelligent conversation about the work with commenters. They have a standardize system to leave official reviews or ways to leave casual ones. I've been a member for several years and have nothing be great things to say about the site, its members and how it's run.


message 26: by Leigh (last edited Jan 23, 2013 12:52PM) (new)

Leigh Lane (leighmlane) | 152 comments I do feel bad when I start a book and don't finish it, especially if I see talent in the work but cannot get past grammatical issues. (I'll admit it; I'm a grammar Nazi.)

Sarah, your "sandwich method" really is a good rule of thumb. Most authors want honesty above all else in their readers' reviews, and examples of both the good and the bad are definitely helpful. I have always started with what I felt to be a book's strong points, writing a second paragraph with my thoughts on the weak points, and then a third paragraph offering my overall impression of the book.

I no longer commit to reviews, mainly due to health issues (but that's definitely not the only reason). It's too stressful when I take on a book for which I cannot find anything positive to say, and I have had some really bad luck in the past when privately writing the author with reasons why I did not feel comfortable reviewing him/her.


message 27: by Jacqueline (last edited Jan 23, 2013 01:19PM) (new)

Jacqueline Patricks (jacquelinepatricks) | 41 comments I no longer commit to reviews, mainly due to health issues (but that's definitely not the only reason). It's too stressful when I take on a book for which I cannot find anything positive to say, and I have had some really bad luck in the past when privately writing the author with reasons why I did not feel comfortable reviewing him/her.

Sorry about your health issue. I know how much that can take out of a person. And writing a thorough review is mentally draining. And, as an author, I'm sorry you've had bad experiences in the past. Even after PMing them, which is a very respectful way to communicate online. Especially when you're explaining why you don't feel comfortable reviewing. There's been times in the past when I wish a reviewer would've privately opted out with me rather than feeling obligated to review. Sometimes life or taste differences just get in the way regardless of best intentions. IMO, it should be no harm, no foul on both sides. Unfortunately, I know there are few bad apples from every camp that tend to make all of us nervous. Which is a shame. We're all here to chat about books! Yours, mine, his, hers, whichever!


message 28: by chucklesthescot (new)

chucklesthescot No guilt at all. When I pick up a book, this is my entertainment time, and if I'm not being entertained, the book is put down and I start on something else. It doesn't always mean that there was something terribly wrong with the book, just that it didn't appeal to me. I always fully explain why I gave a book a particular rating, what appealed and didn't appeal.

I always put all my reviews up on goodreads mostly for my own reference. I have only put reviews on amazon for those where the read and review rules on a site require me to do so. At a later date I might upload some of my other 3-5 star reviews to amazon if I get time.


message 29: by Richard (new)

Richard Sutton (richardsutton) | 198 comments Abigail wrote: "I feel no twinge. And just because you don't like a book, it doesn't mean the book is bad. It just means it's not for you."

Abigail's comment is one that every writer needs to take to heart. Genres exist and styles exist because readers all spell enjoyment differently. Finding out who your readers are is critical to making connection with them and establishing loyalty. That's why I generally shy away from open-call book giveaways, etc.


message 30: by Kaine (new)

Kaine Andrews (kaineandrews) | 48 comments Let me say first that I'm a voracious reader, who doesn't sleep much and has a nonexistent social life. I have nothing but time these days (though not necessary in a good way.) I'm certain that colors, at least to a degree, my opinion.

I finish everything. Even if I think it's awful, even if I can't find the sense in it and don't care about the characters. I'm a sponge, and I like being able to call on knowledge from all manner of sources and experiences; I like being able to converse logically about a book (even if I think it's atrocious) with others, and being able to give my opinion with specific examples. So if something's terrible, I finish it anyway and put it under the header of "research." Research for social experiments, and "what not to do" with my own work.

If sometime prevents me from finishing - losing the book, not getting to it due to interruptions from health, work, whatever... then I do suffer guilt. But work to fix it as fast as possible. Heh.


message 31: by Christie (new)

Christie (cbilbo) | 11 comments I have only read a handful of books that were so dry I couldn't force myself to finish. I felt so guilty for not finishing the books. I felt bad because I know that author poured blood, sweat and treats into that book. I know to them it should be on everyone's lips about how wonderful their book was. But, it all comes down to what the reader thinks. I wrote my review of the book...then moved on. It's life. You can't please everyone.


message 32: by Sara (new)

Sara Barton (sarambarton) | 17 comments I started a very funny book several days ago, read a hundred pages, admired the writing, but felt like it wasn't going anywhere. All flash and glitter, but no real substance behind the slapstick storyline. I picked up the new book I ordered and I'm already engrossed in the subject, the dialogue, and the pacing. Will I go back to the other book? I'm not sure.

As an author, I struggle with this conundrum, especially during giveaways. Not all books are for all people. In this day and age of freebies, everyone seems to vacuum up whatever is offered, and then feels compelled to offer a critique. But does that really make sense? If I get a book on the greatest baseball season EVER, you really don't want me to read it or review it -- I'm not a baseball fan, I don't get the game, and I probably won't appreciate the finer points the author makes about his or her love of baseball. The only thing I'd be qualified to comment on is the author's writing style.

As a former librarian, I also come from the philosophy that not ever book is for every reader. I used to try to match readers to authors and genres I thought they would enjoy, because I think pleasure reading is what sets our brains on fire. It's comfort food for the mind.


message 33: by Martin (new)

Martin Reed (pendrum) | 53 comments To answer the OP's question: no.

As far as I'm concerned, my time is a limited and valuable thing that can be put to better use if I'm not enjoying whatever it is that I'm reading. Why should I feel guilty about that?


message 34: by Vanessa Eden (new)

Vanessa  Eden Patton (vanessaeden) | 509 comments I feel guilty that I don't like nor can I finish the sequel to outlander : dragonfly in amber


message 35: by Vanessa Eden (new)

Vanessa  Eden Patton (vanessaeden) | 509 comments I feel guilty for not finishing Bared To You and Dragonfly in Amber. Yea I feel guilty for not finishing books aswell.


message 36: by Arabella (new)

Arabella Thorne (arabella_thornejunocom) | 354 comments --I've felt guilty for finishing a book that really wasn't worth the hours I spent reading it...for the above mentioned: huge logic drops unbelievable situations. What made me finish it---pure prurient interest...That was fifty shade of grey. As badly constructed a best seller as I've ever found. really felt guilty for reading it!


message 37: by Vanessa Eden (new)

Vanessa  Eden Patton (vanessaeden) | 509 comments Amen Arabella. I read it because I was pressed to by a friend. it was torture. I am now being forced to read Bound to You. I really need to set boundaries with my friends.


message 38: by Vanessa Eden (new)

Vanessa  Eden Patton (vanessaeden) | 509 comments Amen Arabella. I read it because I was pressed to by a friend. it was torture. I am now being forced to read Bound to You. I really need to set boundaries with my friends.


message 39: by Mary (new)

Mary Fonvielle | 17 comments I'm usually sitting on several unfinished books, but in the end I try to get to them all eventually. I've only ever intentionally not finished a book a few times in my life, and even though I know I will not enjoy the book I still feel bad for not getting to the end.

A teacher I had in high school said something about writing characters that I feel applies to reading them too: "The worst thing you can do to your character is not finish his story and forget about him."


message 40: by Martyn (new)

Martyn Halm (amsterdamassassinseries) | 916 comments Not anymore. I've become a discerning reader because there are so many books that I will never be able to read all of them before I die.

Not only do I stop reading, I review books I stopped reading. See, for instance, https://www.goodreads.com/review/show....

I consider that a public service, both for readers (to avoid the book) and for authors (to avoid making the same mistakes).


Paganalexandria I'm always compelled to finish even books not particularly enjoyable. When I run across something even I can't finish, annoyance is the most common emotion for me, not guilt.


message 42: by Carolyn (new)

Carolyn  Holland (CarolynHolland_author) | 20 comments I make every effort to finish a book, but if I am halfway through and it has become "work" to continue, I'll put it down. My reading time is precious and I just can't be wasteful with it. I do not feel any guilt for not completing a book.

If I can make it at least halfway through it, I will write a review, however, if I can't find anything nice to say, I refrain from it. I very recently read half of a novel and stopped. I did write a review and gave it a 1 star but...I got to feeling guilty about that, after all, my goal in writing a review is not to dash anyone's pride. I later changed the rating to a 2.

As a writer myself, I know what it feels like to get a bad review. I find that I handle that a lot better if the reviewer includes their reasons for writing said bad review in their comments. It's only fair. Reviews, good and bad are helpful...at least they can be. My pet peeve is when someone rates my work badly and doesn't bother to tell me why.


message 43: by Lynda (new)

Lynda Dietz | 354 comments As life becomes busier and busier, I've found myself not finishing books that don't hold my interest, and not feeling any guilt about it. I used to have a rule that I would NEVER leave a book unfinished, and I just can't do that anymore.

However, if I don't finish a book because the writing is awful, I will leave a review to warn off other readers. Even if it's offered as a freebie, people shouldn't get sucked in by "good" reviews from friends who wouldn't know good writing if it bit them in the butt. I always make sure to state the specifics of why it's bad, because a one-star review means nothing if the reviewer only says, "I hated this. It's stupid." It carries a whole lot more weight when it says, "The plot had major holes in it; the sentences were poorly constructed; the editing was non-existent; spelling errors abound."

If I don't finish because it's just not the book for me, I simply don't review it. An author who writes well shouldn't suffer a low rating because I just don't "get" him/her. It's nothing personal, as someone stated in an earlier post. It's a business arrangement: I pay for your product, and it either delivers or it doesn't.


message 44: by Martyn (new)

Martyn Halm (amsterdamassassinseries) | 916 comments Lynda wrote: "However, if I don't finish a book because the writing is awful, I will leave a review to warn off other readers. Even if it's offered as a freebie, people shouldn't get sucked in by "good" reviews from friends who wouldn't know good writing if it bit them in the butt. I always make sure to state the specifics of why it's bad, because a one-star review means nothing if the reviewer only says, "I hated this. It's stupid." It carries a whole lot more weight when it says, "The plot had major holes in it; the sentences were poorly constructed; the editing was non-existent; spelling errors abound."

I do exactly the same thing. I don't leave a review if I don't like the book stylistically, but I tend to leave scathing reviews if my suspension of disbelief is knocked from its comfortable perch by lazy writing, bad formatting, shoddy plotting, unrealistic characters, and lack of research.


message 45: by Carolyn (new)

Carolyn  Holland (CarolynHolland_author) | 20 comments Martyn V. wrote: "Lynda wrote: "However, if I don't finish a book because the writing is awful, I will leave a review to warn off other readers. Even if it's offered as a freebie, people shouldn't get sucked in by "..."

Precisely. I will not give a bad review based on my opinion of the "idea" being conveyed. I try to write my review and rate the work based on how well or not it is written.


message 46: by Stan (new)

Stan Morris (morriss003) | 362 comments Life is too short for that and the older you get the shorter it is. (Duh!) I give up on books, tv, and even movies occasionally.


message 47: by John (new)

John Rachel (johndrachel) | 170 comments My dog loves to eat books. If I don't want to finish one, I just leave it on the floor.

John Rachel, Author of . . .
Blinders Keepers by John Rachel
http://amzn.to/122cnyF


message 48: by Carolyn (new)

Carolyn  Holland (CarolynHolland_author) | 20 comments John wrote: "My dog loves to eat books. If I don't want to finish one, I just leave it on the floor.

John Rachel, Author of . . .
Blinders Keepers by John Rachel
http://amzn.to/122cnyF"


Did you have a dog while you were in high school who ate your homework as well !


message 49: by L.E. (new)

L.E. Fitzpatrick (l_e_fitzpatrick) | 60 comments I have pushed through a book I've not liked just because I hope that it will come together at the end (mostly it doesn't), but if the writing is... I wouldn't say bad because most of the books I put down are very mainstream, popular books... I'd say not to my style then I put it down after a few chapters.

One author I just can't read is China Mieville - I've tried and tried, but it's just written in such a way it drives me nuts.

But I would never leave a poor review - it's a taste issue and apparently a lot of people like that thing so who am I to say it doesn't work!


message 50: by Carolyn (new)

Carolyn  Holland (CarolynHolland_author) | 20 comments L.E. wrote: "I have pushed through a book I've not liked just because I hope that it will come together at the end (mostly it doesn't), but if the writing is... I wouldn't say bad because most of the books I pu..."

I will leave a poor review without having finished a book but I have a couple of rules.
1) I will not leave any review UNLESS I managed to stick it out for at least 50% of the book. It's just not fair to do it otherwise.
2) If I don't/can't finish the book because I just don't like the story...I don't leave a review. The reason there are so many different genres is because there are so many different tastes, and I don't think it's fair to give a book a "poor" review just because the book falls outside of my preferences.
3) If I can't/don't finish a book because the writing is terrible and or it is riddled with typos, misspelled words, poor grammar, poor formatting etc. Or if the book possesses major storyline or plot issues, I will indeed leave a review. These are signs that the author did not invest the "care" he or she should have, and potential readers need to know before they click the "buy" button.
4) I try in all of my reviews to say something positive, even if I am giving a 1 or 2 star. After all, that book is somebodies baby and even if the quality is lacking, the commitment to finish it and publish shows that the author made a lot of effort...not enough effort in some instances but a lot nonetheless.


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