How long do you give a book before giving up?
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When I'm reading a mystery, thriller or crime novel, I want to be gripped with suspense. I want the feeling of not being able to put the book down, of wanting to keep reading to find out what happened or what will happen.
But sometimes, a book just doesn't deliver that, or doesn't at first. But how long should you give a book (in this genre in specific, since it's even more important here) before putting it away for good? A certain amount of pages, or a chapter, or until the first murder/situation arises? What would it take for you to give up on a book?
The longest possible time I give a book is about 50 pages. The shortest? Well, I've dropped a book after a single page.
If the first chapter doesn't catch my interest I'll skip to a chapter in the middle to see if it gets better. When the middle chapter fails to peak my desire to go back and start reading it again I'll skip to the last chapter and call the book read.
I can't help myself when it comes to reading mysteries - I have to finish the book, even if it means slogging through page after page of mind-numbingly inane characters and plots. Sigh.
It depends on the book but if I find myself uninterested in the probable outcome I will read the last few pages. If I then decide that I need to know how the outcome was reached I'll go back and read the book. If, as with Dan Brown's latest, the ending makes me want to upchuck then I discard the book at the earliest opportunity via BookCrossing.
Generally, if I haven't engaged by Chapter 3 (not including any Prologue), I won't continue reading unless I have to read it for book group or to review it.
The trouble is that I usually find myself reading bad crime stories on occasions when there's nothing else on offer except the phone book and the Gideon Bible. So I've slogged through quite a few. In normal circumstances, you can usually tell after a page or two that this definitely isn't for you. In my case illiteracy, lovingly described violence, and quasi-pornographic descriptions of guns and motor cars are all strong indicators for tossing the book aside. I don't think I've ever got to page 2 of an Ian Fleming.
I usually give a book two or three chapters. If it hasn't caught my interest by then I'll read something else. Unless I have to reveiw it. Then I'll read it all to give the author a fair reveiw.
I'm terrible at giving up on books. Just don't know how to do it. For better and for worse, I always read everything through once I've started it. Oh, in some cases it may take years (Nimeni on Punainen -- "My Name is Red" in English -- being a good example, it has taken me close to 4 years and I'm still only half-way through)... but I simply can't stand half-finished books, they bother me. Just knowing that there is an unfinished book on the shelves makes me edgy.
So this means that usually I'm _very_ careful with what I start to read...
And just to make this clear: I'm NOT happy with being like this. I'd love to be able to browse through three chapters and be able to say "rubbish!! out with this!!" -- but so far haven't "learned" how to do this. Annoying as hell!
I don't know that I ever truly admit I've given up on a bad book, but once I get around to taking out one of my "good" bookmarks for a ratty "old" bookmark, the odds are pretty long that I'm going to go back to it.
On the other hand, sometimes I'm just not in the right mood for a book, and if I put it down and go back to it months or even years later, I'll fly through it and love it.
I am compulsively driven to finish a mystery, no matter how bad/unappealing it is, which, as someone else says, makes me very selective in what I choose to read in the first place. It also means I've read some very bad books cover-to-cover. But no matter how badly written, how predictable, how horrid the characters, I'll be compelled to see it through to the bitter end, even if I saw that end coming from chapter one.
Even though this has made me very picky as of late, I still find myself trapped in reading some series books when I don't really like the series anymore (it's gotten silly, repetitive, annoying, etc.). It would seem that I'm also bad at putting down former-favorites, too.
I'm a sinker, I have to finish. It may take me months (years) but I do it.
I have to say I'm surprised by how many people will keep reading, even though they don't like the book. I have to admit I used to be that way as well, but have become more capable of putting down a book without feeling guilty. There's just so much books out there, why waste time on a book I don't like?
13: "why waste time on a book I don't like?"
Pure stubbornness?? ;)
I think I have two reasons for reading even the books I don't much like. First: I hate the feeling of "giving up". May be a character fault there, but I can't help it. It feels sort of embarrassing to admit "I can't read this". Second: I really like to feel I've given the book (and the author) a fair chance. Maybe the book will get better towards the end? Maybe the book itself is very good and I'm just not "getting" it at first, so maybe if I keep reading I will get immersed in the story?
Oh, there is actually a third reason as well: I like to be able to discuss everything I read. For me, "I gave up after 3 pages as I didn't like it" does _not_ constitute a valid argument. Even when I sort of know (after the three pages) that this is poorly written or that I don't like this story type, I like to "gather evidence" until the bitter end. A few chapters just doesn't cut it with me.
(Of course, I'm talking here about books in general, not just crime/mystery genre.)
I treat a book I don't like, the same way I treat food I don't like. I'll take several bites and if I still don't like it I don't eat it. I am not a member of the "Clean Plate Club". I read three chapters and if I don't like it I don't read. Maybe when I'm old and have more free time on my hands then I know what to do with I'll read books I don't like all the way through. But till then if the writer doesn't capture me in the first or middle chapter I'll just read the last chapter and call it a day.
I don't usually give up on fiction, I grit my teeth and finish it. As I get older I find that I don't have a problem because I've gotten much better at purchasing books that I will like, a direct result of my LT membership. That doesn't mean I don't get a dud now and again, but for the most part even if it is a stinker I can find something that made it not a waste of time, a quote, an interesting minor character, even just a different perspective on a disliked subject.
Non fiction, well I tend to finish those as well, but if I can't get into a groove reading it then it goes on a to be finished shelf (I think there may be 5 or 6 there now). I'll pick one a year to finish, even if it becomes the car book, or worse, the bathroom book :)
If I am 2-3 chapters in the book and it does not hold my interest, I will put it back on the bookshelf... and try again in a while,
I am yet to find a book that I cannot finish. I had skipped stories in anthologies (after reading a page or 3) but other from that, if I start it, I will finish it.
I have read some amazing books that I would have quite reading if I went by the 50 or 100 page theory. That is the main reason that I hang on. I believe that a lot of reading is personal: what's happening to you, your state of mind, where you are at in your life, your age, etc. Some books would be unfairly judged if I read them at the beginning of a reading funk or when my son has been causing trouble or when I've had a bad stretch at work. I am just giving them a chance.
Well, I used to never, ever give up reading a book. But here lately, there are too many books, not enough time! I will give a book a few chapters at first. But if there is alot of profanity or too much graphic information, then I will definitely quit reading. But some books...just give them a chance! God Bless! ;o)
Here's a fun (and short) article on this topic:
I really like LA12's analogy - it's like finishing a meal you don't like. Why bother eating food you don't like? You might force yourself if you're at someone else's house and you want to be polite (a book for book club or for a ER book review), but if it's actually making you feel ill, for heaven's sake, stop eating! Why make yourself sick? That's just silly! If a book is that upsetting or stupid or mindnumbingly boring, what's the virtue in saying you finished it? You don't get a badge when you're done or dessert when you're finished. Pass the book on to a friend or a charity shop. Then it's out of the house and you don't have to look at it ever again.
I do agree that sometimes it's not the book, it's me. I can just tell that I'm not being fair to the book. In another time, I might enjoy the book. I just can't get into it, maybe because I can't concentrate enough on the plot or the characters aren't grabbing me or something. Then I just close it and try later. But if I'm hating it, that's different. Then I just close it and forget about it. But if I give a book another chance and it still doesn't work for me, then I decide it really is the book. The Cliff Janeway books sounded like ones I would really enjoy. But every time - and I think it's three - I've tried to read the first book, I couldn't finish it. So I'm moving on, no more chances. It's just not my kind of book after all. No regrets.
I rarely fail to finish a book. It might sit on my nightstand and get a few chapters read between other books but I really try to plod through them. However, it after a couple of books in a series, it degenerates into inane self-evaluation and no movement in the storyline, I give up.
I have only stopped reading a few authors in mid-book. Normally books progress from "buy the hardback as soon as it is out" to "buy the paperback" to "maybe if it is on the bargain table", to "don't waste my time". I actually have a couple of authors that I don't like to read but find the condensed audio book version to actually be enjoyable when driving cross-country.
I also rarely fail to finish a book. Mostly because I feel that each book should be given a fighting chance, and I have often really enjoyed a book after a dull beginning. (I usually use Nancy Pearl's 50 pages rule, of course.)
There are exceptions, however. :) I don't often come across duds, thanks to LTer's fabulous recommendations, but every now and then I do. And they generally get dropped after only a day or two. (Badly written, horrible characters, unfunny humour, dullness beyond belief, etc, are my criteria. Only come across one or two a year, luckily!) And sometimes I struggle to the end, and think "was it really worth it", and sadly the answer isn't always "yes".
Plus, there are always a few books that I get distracted away from, but really will return to. One day. (I promise.)
It depends on the book. I have just read about a third of The Truth Hurts by Nancy Pickard but it is a real "edge of your seat" story and I have enough stress in my life at the moment without adding to it so I skipped to the last few pages to see if I had guessed whodunnit (I didn't ) and I will delete it from my e-reader without regret.
It's very rare for me not to finish a book. Sometimes, I like the general idea and the characters, but the plot is not especially interesting to me. In that case I might read a bit at a time, with other books in between. If I really HATE a book, I know within the first 20 pages. Maybe twice in my life, I have forced my way through something that I considered ridiculous because there was nothing else around to read. In those instances I have quit reading at the last few pages. Just as a show of resentment :)
Have you ever tried the page 69 test (or the page 99 test, I've seen it both ways)? This is most handy when browsing in the bookstore or the library. The theory is that if you read page 69/99 and like it, chances are, you'll like the whole book.
I'm pretty ruthless about abandoning books. I might not be so choosy if I didn't have a TBR shelf a mile long and a wishlist 2 miles long. I usually use Nancy Pearl's 50-page criteria, or I give it one or two (maybe three) good reads before deciding to put it down.
Couple of pages, max. And I've been known to drop one after the first sentence if it's bad enough, say, on the order of, "It was a dark and stormy night. . ."
And if the flap tells me how beautiful any females in the book might be, I'll drop it before I get to the first page!
Life is short. Don't waste time.
I HATE not finishing books once I've started them, in fact I can count on one hand the number of times I've decided to give up on a book.
When I have, it's been by the second chapter. Sometimes I surprise myself. Reading Wuthering Heights right now and it took 100 pages before I really engaged with the story, had I not pushed myself I would have given up on it.
I used to force myself to read to the end of some pretty dire books, then I read Songs of the Humpback Whale by Jodi Picoult. Since then I don't force myself to read anything I'm not enjoying, but I don't have a predetermined page number or anything like that, where I decide, "ok, enough is enough, I give up!"
In my opinion, a really good thriller will hook you in by the end of the first chapter... the reader should be yearning for more, finding it hard to put down the book. I've always viewed a good book, thrillers especially, as a magnet: it should draw the reader to it.
If one is not completely drawn in by the first three chapters, it's time to look elsewhere.
At one time I had to finish every book I started,after 60 odd years of reading decided that it did not hold my interest after a few chapters I would cheat and just read the last gew pages.
It used to be easier to not finish a book when I borrowed all my books from the library. Now I buy books because I have a large bookcase to fill. Even if I pay only $1 for a used book, I hate not to finish what I paid for.
It would have to be a really poor book for me to give up on it. I usually choose books that I know are going to be good based on the fact that they have stood the test of time. Jim
I usually give a book 2-3 chapters and then dump it if it hasn't engaged me. That doesn't happen very often, though. There are so many good writers out there I have trouble finding a book I haven't read. I ALWAYS go to the library for my books but it was closed the other day when I got to the last book I had checked out only to find I had already read it (see?). I went to the store and paid $10 (holy cr--) for a paperback. I've been reading since I was a little girl and when I was working, they called me the book lady because I always had a book. So many years reading have taught me that if they can't engage me by the 2-3 chapter, give it up. Time is too precious to waste on a book that can't hold my attention.
It depends. If I get the feeling that I'm just not in the mood for this particular type of book, I'll shelve it and try again another time. If I've read on into the book, and am sorta-kinda interested, but not enough to read every word, I'll skim through or skip to the end and read the last pages. Don't do that too often though, thank God and I don't recommend it.
This one happens a lot, but it's always with authors who are new to me: I just dislike the book for whatever reason -- bad writing, main characters I want to slap, etc. I put that author on my Tried it, didn't like it list, trade the book, return it to the library, delete it, whatever it takes to get it out of my immediate universe. I move on to try reading material I just may salivate over.
There are a thousand authors out there in the mysteries world alone whose books I haven't gotten around to yet, and I'm postive I'll enjoy or love 75% of them. I can't waste time on the stinkers.
Many times I have tried to read a book to its completion, one that had been previously abandoned years or decades before. It never fails. If I didn't like it the first time, I won't the second or third time. Something about it just doesn't work for me. As others say, there are are too many books waiting for me, why waste time on something that just doesn't work.
By the way, twice I've given up on books when I was close to the end. I remember the books, but won't list them here.
I always give at least 100 pages. Rarely do I put a book down, but often won't read follow up books in a series if they are bad enough.
I have no respect for people that dis a book for reasons other than the plot of the book was bad.
Check out the following URL.
When there, scroll down and click on the "Customer Reviews". When there, go down to "Sort by", and click "Highest Rating" twice (i.e. so that it sorts from Low to High), and look at the very first review, dated 2007, titled "Couldn't get past page three".
People like this have no business writing a review. The review should be about the entire book, not the first 3 pages. Also, so what? There's profanity. People like this need to get a life.
If f-bombs and s-bombs and other forms of profanity are your basis for liking or not liking a book, what are you doing here? Mysteries and Thrillers are full of them. You think criminals and bad guys and main characters with attitudes are going to be like "Oooooh, hi sexy - aaaaah, yes, yes, YES!, I'm the one that killed your grandmother, yes, yes, YES!" Go to the Romance Group!
I figure I will give a book a few chapters before I give up on it. I feel as though there was something about that book that interested me when I read the back. If I can't remember why I was interested in that book, I turn it over and read the back again. Then I may give it another chapter or two to get to the point, or I may just pass it off to the used book store at that point.
But I try to have faith in the book and the author, and hope that eventually the book with catch me. So I give a book quite a while before I give up on it.
ThrillerFan - the page 3 thing is pretty bad, but to me, the 1st sentence of the review says it all. "When a book starts out bad." Where is the rest of that thought? Ooh, I found it! ....in the next 2 incomplete sentences! Shocking!
"I would expect an expedition of scientific professionals to be a better 'Class' of people." *snort* The reviewer obviously didn't hang out with the scientific professionals it's been my privilege to hang out with over the years. Love how s/he capitalised "class" as well, seems rather telling to me.
Although, ThrillerFan, I think you can diss a book for being badly written, even if it's got a great plot. If you're stumbling over sentences and phrasing, that is a very valid criticism. I feel a book should be effortless: I shouldn't be noticing typos, I shouldn't be thinking "hang on, what does that actually mean?", I shouldn't be sniggering at badly formed similes and mixed metaphors, etc. I should be immersed in a great story.
I get what you are saying about horrible grammar, misspellings, stuff like that. That's just as much the editor's fault as it is the author's. But that's completely difference than basing your review on something like "Oh, would you be a nice little boy now and please by quiet" vs "Shut the f*** up!" being stated from one character to another. (I don't have the book on me, so couldn't tell you the exact phrases used, but my example gets the point across).
Rollins is a late 20th/early 21st century Thriller writer (he also writes Sci-Fi under the name James Clemmens), not a romance novelist from the 7th century.
43) Jim Czajkowski writes under the name James Rollins and James Clemens. The Clemens books are fantasy not science fiction.
Oops, sorry about that. You notice I got the spelling wrong as well. Tell you how much I read of James Clemens, or any other fantasy author. Zip! Whereas the book I'm currently reading is one of Rollins' books, specifically the 5th book in the Sigma Force series, The Last Oracle - only about 50 pages in thus far, where they first run into the daughter of the killed homeless man, Polk.
Generally 75-100 pages if I'm seeing something at all promising, however if it reads like a Twilight book I've definitely said adios by about page 15.
(7) In my case illiteracy, lovingly described violence, and quasi-pornographic descriptions of guns and motor cars are all strong indicators for tossing the book aside.
That pretty much sums it up for me to, in any genre.
Years ago I started reading A Perfect Spy but put it down within a chapter or two, I think. I might give John le Carre another try, if someone wants to make a recommendation.
I think I know whether its a stayer by the fifth page ....umm...maybe the third page.
But that's the quick answer...
The fact is, I am VERY moody with regard to my reading. A book that gets tossed back on the shelf/the library/ or now - my Kindle - could well become a straight-through-read a couple of weeks/months/years later.
I also have this life belief that I call my Bandwidth of Pleasure Theory: The more you can enjoy, the more you will enjoy.
Which is to say, I *wish* I could enjoy Twilight as much as ..say ... Tinker, Tailor, Soldier. Spy or a PD James. But I did say it's a theory, right?
Hey ... I just noticed that fuzzi happened to pick John Le Carre as an example ... coincidence? ... or maybe my peripheral consciousness?
(fuzzi, mate, go back to him - you will not be sorry ... but I shall think about recommendations and come back to you)
ok. am doing the rambling thing now ... better stop.
nice thread idea though.
I use Nancy Pearl's rule of thumb. If you are under 50, read 50 pages. If you are over 50, subtract your age from 100 and read that many pages. If the book hasn't grabbed you by then, stop. If it's good enough for Nancy Pearl, it works for me.
If I find the book is poorly written or don't like the style I'll give up pretty quickly.
I very seldom give up on a plot.
I guess I'm like the kid digging through the manure, there must be a pony in here somewhere.
I give up at 87 pages if I am not sucked in. Why the arbitrary number? This year I gave up on two books on that same page, just coincidentally and it's a good number as any.
I used to power through like many of you do, but my TBR pile is in the hundreds and I just can't spend 400 pages on something that doesn't pull me in. Next!
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