Do you finish a book no matter what?
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Steven Pinker has this observation as quoted in an interview (link below)
"A neurotic part of me worries that if I start a book without finishing it I will become a dissolute dilettante. But the cognitive psychologist in me knows that this is a classic example of the sunk cost fallacy – the delusion that one should pursue a course of action because one has already pursued it for so long."
I have struggled with this and feel guilt if I abandon a book before finishing.
I used to feel such guilt, but no more. The economist in me is fully on board with the sunk cost reference - I see no need to labor through a book I am getting nothing of value from, just so I can say that I finished it.
I don't feel bad about not finishing a book I started, there are many more good books that deserve my time, although I may revisit it later to see if my perception of the book has changed.
>1 Forthwith: If I'm not getting along with a particular book then I certainly won't waste my precious time struggling through it, I'll pick up something else (and I'll venture to say that most of us here will have libraries which give plenty of choice). To think that if one starts a book one has to finish it seems to me to have a very rigid view of one's self. The average person has different moods and outlooks at different times, so what works and is gripping one month may be decidedly boring the next. Don't feel guilty, life's too short and is full of enough negativity, read what you please when it suits you to do so.
>3 davelin:,>4 HuxleyTheCat: I’m the same...would stop but might go back to the book in a different mood. The one FS book I’ve bought and really struggled to finish was Every Man for Himself...could not get into it and really disliked the characters...ended up skimming it and would give it away if I knew anyone who would want it. At the time I felt like it would be a failure to have bought it and not finished it. Now I agree, different moods and also life is short and time is precious!
I will almost always finish a book I have started. I can only think of a few instances where I have not. For the fiction books, once I stop* I won’t go back. But for the non-fiction ones, I do intend to continue someday.
* actively decide I’m not going to continue, as opposed to pausing to start a new title with the intent to go back to the other
I wonder if this is related in any way to the almost compulsion to complete a collection of a series of books. Do we need to get just that one additional book to complete it?
Can the same person who walks away from a particular book before completion more easily resist the need to acquire a complete series of books?
I finish every book I start, not out of guilt but so it can be banished from my 'TBR' pile :)
>7 Forthwith: Maybe. If the last three Aubrey/Maturin vols don't turn up at the right price then I'll happily walk away and read them in paperback in my dotage.
Absolutely don't waste my time finishing books off if I'm not enjoying them: life is far too short, and there's far too much good stuff out there waiting to be read. As for banishing from my TBR pile - if it isn't worth finishing, it gets banished off it anyway!
I find it very hard to resist acquiring complete series of books, but am getting better at it!
>9 HuxleyTheCat: f the last three Aubrey/Maturin vols don't turn up at the right price then I'll happily walk away and read them in paperback in my dotage.
Well said, Fiona. I'm with you 100%. The key is formulating a price above which you won't go and sticking to it. It can be difficult and I've weakened more than once (completing the Folio Press Fine Editions from the late 80's/early 90's leaps to mind) but it's the best way to deprive the price-gougers of a living. Or at least, of another willing victim. I have accepted the fact that I may never own the complete Folio O"Brian. It hasn't blighted my life. Much.
On this topic...what do you do with a book that you’ve decided you won’t finish and will never try again? Do you give it away? Or keep it in your library in case another person with access to the library might like it?
>7 Forthwith: - an interesting thought. I bought only selected titles from the Conrad and Hardy series when they were offered last century, so you might be correct on that.
>12 RRCBS: I give them away. I want my library to reflect only books I have read or want to read (or that are my wife’s books).
Usually keep it in case other and/or future members of the family might have an interest in it. Fortunately, running into a book I dislike and find not worthy to continue is a rare occurrence.
I guess a few of the books I have had to force myself through eventually ended up being some of the more memorable ones.
I have about a 60 page rule. If I am not enjoying the book at that stage, I will ditch it and start another book. Life is too short to spend time reading books that I am not enjoying.
I'm usually reading about six different books, and I rarely decide not to finish one if I've read much of it at all, but there are many that I haven't finished: I just forget I'm reading them and notice months or years later that they still contain a bookmark at whatever point I had reached.
The completion or otherwise of sets of books by multiple authors (Folio's various themed sets, say) never bothers me in the least, indeed I can't think of such a set that I do possess whole, but I've a mild to moderate preference for owning uniform sets where they exist of any author I hope to read entire.
If I find a book is not meeting my expectations, I will not waste time with it. I have been known to defenestrate a book that so offended. Fortunately, it was a mass-market paperback. However, I promptly sold my first edition copy of it -- at a profit, I might add.
I'm uncomfortable with not finishing a book of which I've already read relatively much, but it happens, though rarely. There are books where it's clear after a relatively short number of pages that they're really not my cup of tea at all - in that case I stop gladly. If I get the impression that I'm just not in the right mood / frame of mind at the time I might give them another chance when this has changed. I've enjoyed some of those in the end.
It partly depends upon the pedigree of the book and if I gain any cultural and or intellectual superiority from having read it. :)
I have perhaps 20 years left. Hoping for more, but could be much less. In five years I will be the same age my father died.
I have shelves full of books to be read still.
If I am not enjoying the book, I have no guilt in putting it down, no matter how much time I have invested.
It depends how far I’ve got before I start struggling. If I’ve read, say, 80% of a book, I may as well finish it so I can say “I’ve read it”. The sunk cost fallacy doesn’t quite apply here, as sometimes the ending can redeem a book. The life of Pi is an example.
Although as I read multiple books at once I usually get round this problem by kidding myself that I’m still in the process of reading it and have a vague intention of going back to it, even though I last picked it up over a year ago and will probably never go back!
May I recommend to you, then, Uncle Tom's Cabin, and let's see if you still have that same rule.
seldom bail intentionally. Usually I just stop reading something for an extended time period and never get back to it. One recent intentional bail was "a collection of orwells essays". Made it through "such, such were the joys" and halfway through the dickens essay before saying "that is enough of that".
Yes I start what I finish.
Not because of what Pinker says.
Rather, I see it as good old Stoic training in perseverance and determination, and rarely if ever do I reach the end and regret that effort.
The Reader's Bill of Rights makes a lot of sense.
It is on the FSD wiki here.
I wouldn’t force myself to finish a book, although I can’t think of one that I’ve ever abandoned.
I rarely abandon books completely - I think I can count on the fingers of one hand the books I had started and then decided consciously to never finish.
But I do leave a book alone if something does not click - some of them I pick up a few days later, some had seen decades between the first and the second attempt.
>12 RRCBS: My local library is an awesome place and helps me spend less money and experiment with my reading - so any book I do not plan on keeping gets donated there. I don't care if they will add it to the collection or sell it and use the money - it still is help. An exception is made for books that I know a friend will really enjoy - the friend in question will get these.
DP basically says do whatever you want! I enjoyed the book, but you can hardly miss the irony in his list of universal rules that amount to no advice whatsoever.
>28 LesMiserables: "Yes I start what I finish."
Brilliant! I never thought to read them backwards.
I consider leaving a book when I'm still at the opening pages, unsure whether or not I'm ready for the story. I did this with In Cold Blood and Lord of the Flies, and when I read them, they turned out to be among my favourite books.
Generally I start what I finish excepting some non-fiction that frankly you really only need to read half the book for anyway. Last year I believe I only abandoned one book and that was a fiction book that was so bad I could not read another sentence of it.
I am with >6 jsg1976:, I almost always finish a book I have started, and I can see that I have at least 100 part read books on my shelves (currently reading, for example a book of Rushdie's essays started in about 2003).
And I would agree that for the fiction books, once I stop I usually won’t go back. >12 RRCBS: With fiction, I will eventually give away, although there are some classics which I have kept as I think that I will one day read. Middlemarch and Tristram Shandy are both works that I attempted in late teens or early twenties and have not yet read, but I mean to... (although I am with >22 sdawson:, conscious that mortality encroaches)
For the non-fiction books, I usually intend to continue reading them someday, and may have stopped reading as I feel I need to read another, related book, first. Watson's Ideas: A history from fire to Freud and Davies' Europe: A History are cases of this.
I suppose that I need to face my - to be finished - collection or admit that I will never return.
Do you finish a book no matter what? No, maybe and yes.
1: Not if it doesn`t offer me anything (Dr. Sleep Stephen King to mention one ..) didn`t offer me any stimulus, so it is there now on the shelves, but with a bookmark in the middle (which means i will complete it someday)
2: .. or if it is too early. This is often relevant for the classics. As mentioned earlier with Wuthering Heights, also there with a bookmark in the middle.
3: If it is a really bad book, i don`t complete it, but i might if it has good reviews, which can make me want to tackle it from another angle
4: .. and if the book is indeed worth it, but heavy and boring at the same time i will complete it, just at my own pace (this can apply on study books and it`s like, taking notes etc - i can do to make it more interesting and playfull)
Reason: Life is too short, and i have to be offered something as a reader, a good indicator of not being stimulated by a book is heavy eyelids and wandering thoughts and me saying to myself `why do i bother, why am i reading this, and is it worth it .. insert yes or no and take it from there)
My preference for always finishing a book is a reason why I haven’t acquired a copy of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire!
I usually give it about 50 pages unless it is a book club read or an ARC I won. I am 81 and so want to read what I like.
Yes, I agree with LesMis about the Stoic training (though I need to learn more about that).
I do finish that with which I have started, but that’s maybe because I rarely read fiction and buy books that have weathered the test of time as classics and seminal and popular non fiction books in history and biography. I guess I’m reading what is regarded as important and to acquire knowledge so it makes it less likely that I’ll skip it. The only instance I can remember skipping and could not go through was a fiction novel by guardian journalist that was made into a movie starring Pierce Brosnan as the prime minister echoing Tony Blair and he hires a ghost writer to write his memoirs. A serial twister and stuff. The novel’s name has escaped me, no wonder, but it maybe ghostwriter or something. Movie was entertaining though, mainly because I like Brosnan as he has that smirk on his face all the time always reminding you that he’s just robbed you and you didn’t realise it and you were happy that he did. A bit like Obama when he received the Nobel Prize. I can only say bravo. Just amazing.
I guess life is too short to waste time on something that has no intellectual value to one’s self.
>42 ironjaw: The Ghost, Robert Harris. I agree, for such novels you may as well just watch the movie (if there is one) and save yourself several hours.
Thank you. It was an utter disappointment. It makes me vexed just thinking about it. For a journalist to write like that. But I know that he wrote the popular Fatherland.
>42 ironjaw: "I guess life is too short to waste time on something that has no intellectual value to one’s self."
Crickey Faisel, don't you ever read just for relaxation and entertainment?
I have to disagree with you on the merits of The Ghost, which was, to many typical Guardianistas, quite cathartic to read, but perhaps one has to be of a certain demographic to fully appreciate it. Not only did Harris write Fatherland, but also Enigma, Munich, Conclave, Pompeii and the Cicero trilogy, all of which are very good and worthwhile for anyone who enjoys historical fiction.
>44 ironjaw: Interesting you should mention Robert Harris... I recently gave up on his book Enigma. Interesting premise, poor execution. Not my cuppa.
I recently tried to re-read Gone With the Wind, after having watched the movie for the umpteeth time. Hadn't read the book since my pre-teen years. Gave it up as a lost cause. I kept wanting to say "oh, get on with it"... skipped through the book, reading snippets here and there... Scarlett was still whining. Enough! Frankly, my dear, I didn't give a damn!
Fiona. Of course I did amuse myself with an article of the Daily Mail this morning on the rumblings in the British Monarchy and chuckled at term “Megexit”. But please do not infer from my example any disrespect, I am but a humble future British subject, being Danish by birth in hoping to finally join my family whom have been under Her Majesty’s Crown since colonial India.
I think personally, I have realised that I have far too many books and my to-be-read list has grown exponentially so that if I don’t concentrate I will not be able to read them all. What annoys me the most is that I try to advocate to my niece and instil the importance of reading and never leaving a book in one’s collection unread, while at the same time I being guilty of permeating such a breach.
Edit: just to add that I am still planning to add the complete Loeb Classical Library to my collection, as well as Encyclopaedia Britannica and the Dictionary of National Biography and I intend to read them. Possible you may ask? I hope so but I rather not think otherwise: Momento mori.
>47 ironjaw: Whatever floats your boat, I guess, but personally the idea of wishing to be the 'subject' of anyone who is in a position through anything other than merit strikes me as being bizarre in the extreme.
Fiona, forgive me if I am mistaken, but are not armed forces personnel bound by the Oath of Allegiance?
But you are subject to a higher power / hierarchy / intelligence whether you like it or not.
All the wishing that away won't do a thing.
>46 rhinemaiden: I will admit that Gone with the Wind is one that I have not finished.
I was reading on a Kindle (and am on chapter 34 our of 60 odd), but made the mistake of relying on the Kindle to give me a feel as to how far as I was through the book. The edition I had indicated that I should have finished the book about four chapters ago, and I only kept going (yes, Scarlett keeps on whining) because I thought that end must have been nigh... But it is over a year since I last put it down, so it may go forever unfinished.
I also have not made it through the film, having seen snippets on the TV at various Christmases long past.
Yes I find the kindle chapters and pages and position quite troublesome. It’s not easy to rely on say a physical book to compare. Although I do like the fact I am able to have the kindle handy for reading I much prefer reading a physical book.
>49 ironjaw: The army and air force yes, but not RN officers, who are deemed to be loyal without the oath. MPs have to swear it too, which means that in the 21st century a republican either has to lie or forfeit their seat in parliament. As the Bruce Cockburn song goes: And They Call it Democracy. The Civil Service are not bound by anything other than the Civil Service Code and the Official Secrets Act.
>50 LesMiserables: You might believe that, I respectfully believe that you are wrong.
My mom, when she was a child met her in East Africa and has nothing but praise.
>54 rkramden: >55 ironjaw: One might feel no ill-will towards an individual, and one might not even resent paying for the institution, but my own view is that when the highest position in the land is achieved through mere accident of birth, then that legitimises and underpins much that is very wrong in the UK.
>51 CarltonC: When I first read GWTW I devoured every page... but then I hadn't seen the movie at that point (or perhaps only once)... now, having seen the movie many times, I no longer have the patience to plow through the book, battle after battle, whine after whine. But the movie is worth watching at least once. It's like Wizard of Oz... I end up watching it almost every time it's on telly.
I guess I thought that is the way it is everywhere. Maybe just not as obvious. I guess there are some rag to riches stories.
It also depends on how long the book is. If it's barely over 200 pages I'll finish it. If it's a monster of a book and I lose interest after a few pages, I'll stop and start another.
To obtain Canadian citizenship you must take an oath of allegiance to the queen, her descendants and successors. Fingers crossed behind your back. This in a country with an aboriginal population and one province largely settled by the French, who disposed of their monarch rather briskly some time ago.
Last year there was one book I just couldn't get through: The Celts by Nora Chadwick. I still feel guilty about the way I disposed of it. In the year before that I abandoned Neuromancer. I intend to take another crack at it this year. But generally speaking I finish every book I start.
Whether you like it or not, that is just your belief.
All the wishing that away won't change that.
That's pure brilliance, never seen it before, thanks so much. :)
As to the topic: it depends on the reasons I'm reading something, and the reasons, when they apply, that something is tough-going or unlikeable. I often find difficult books to be entertaining in the sense of engaging my faculties, testing my skills. But a badly written or shallow book, trivial argument--usually I've no problem ditching them ASAP.
That said, and as was already mentioned by a few, it's rare that I pick up a book I can't bear to finish.
I went many, many years as a completest before I 'gonged' my first book.
It was very liberating. Folks should do what they want and feel fine about it.
As far as "completism" goes, I hate it when I get the second or third book in a series, then cannot find the earlier ones in a similar format.
You might believe that, I respectfully believe that you are wrong.
Interesting. I repectfully believe that I am probably right to say that you are not the supreme power or intelligence out there.
I might also point out that you are subject to laws, customs and prejudices - as we all are - and there is little you can do about it.
That is just the physical before even considering the metaphysical.
>67 LesMiserables: My profound apologies for my clearly erroneous assumption that you had inserted a reference to your belief in a god into an exchange on the desirability (or lack thereof) of being subject to a hereditary monarch in a 21st century democracy.
My profound apologies for my clearly erroneous assumption that you had inserted a reference to your belief in a god
I didn't and yes you had made an assumption. But staying upon purely the political, I did not think Faisel's desire to be a loyal subject to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth was to quote you Fiona..as being bizarre in the extreme.
In fact I believe being subject to someone or something can be very good for us. It keeps us humble.
>69 LesMiserables: Those tangible things to which I am subject, the laws of the land and my employment Terms of Reference, are both capable of change and development and have come about through a rather more complex process than two people, of dubious ancestry, having physical relations and the resultant offspring, no matter what their personal qualities, being declared to be a supreme being. As for being kept humble, that’s the point isn’t it, having a hereditary monarchy is the apex of a system which hardwires privilege and inequality and denudes the country of the potential of all its people.
I'm not sure what or who you are specifically referring to in your 'two people' thesis.
Well the monarch may be at the apex, but the role when properly executed is one of serving and living a life of virtue and magnanimity.
But anyway, so you are an atheist with an anti-monarchist world view. You have plenty of friends Fiona.
I'd say it's probably best to accept that there are others out there who take a different perspective on things, and to recognise that what you think is extreme is another's norm.
The original's an old favourite but I hadn't seen the update.
>71 LesMiserables: I would have thought it was fairly clear that it would be the parents of the monarch to be.
You talk about a role being properly executed, but it is hereditary, there is no accounting for who the country will be landed with and nothing which can be done if they are complete wasters, or adulterers or those who seek to exert influence in contravention of convention (for example).
I am indeed an atheist and a republican and it is irrelevant to me if I walk with millions or alone; being a free-thinking individual I am not possessed of the herd mentality (even in relation to the enabling powers exerted to such powerful effect on this illustrious forum) (although, thinking about it, I do tend to become somewhat tribal where rugby is concerned, but I put that down to the indoctrination which I received from my father - indoctrination of children is difficult to overcome).
Quite; it seems rather obvious that everything said in such circumstances is merely opinion, in this case my own, as stated multiple times above, and perhaps you may usefully apply the concept to your own utterances.
>72 Cat_of_Ulthar: I hadn't seen it when originally shown, and it's interesting that in 2000 pollution and global warming were included in the list of ills with which Ronnie's serf was not acquainted. I'd forgotten that they were prominent issues back then.
Yes, it was perfectly obvious in your own mind.
and nothing which can be done if they are complete wasters, or adulterers or those who seek to exert influence in contravention of convention (for example).
You are quite wrong in this instance: perhaps you should do some research on the constitutional role of parliament gegarding the monarchy.
I am indeed an atheist and a republican
We know. Perhaps that's why you initiated this conversation when you decided to undermine what Faisel had said.
indoctrination of children is difficult to overcome
If you might look up the etymology of such a slur, you will find that it simly relates to teaching. I suppose the progressive way is different, I don't know. But passing down the wisdom of the ages in tradition and law and order, from generation to generation, may not be vogue today, especially amongst feminists, atheists and revolutionaries; regrdless, it has been the cohesiveness that has bound society together in the West.
in this case my own, as stated multiple times above
Can't seem to recall reading the multiple utterances, but you know best.
All the best, God bless.
Steve, you win.
Over and out, and as the late great Dave Allen would say, may your god go with you.
>66 wcarter: That was exactly my problem with the Bond series. I picked up all FS editions, but I only read Casino Royal and waited for them to publish Live and Let Die. I still haven't read the remaining books due to starting other books though.
Yet again. 'The progressive way is different'. Another thread polluted by condescension. 'May your God go with you' is perhaps the best response, even from a 'repulsive' feminist. This makes me so sad.
'God bless' - the implicit curse of the supposed entitled living in the fictional past. Where is the intelligence and the humility?
>78 Bibliogasm: Where is the intelligence and the humility?
They've been nettled, that's all. Posts like https://www.librarything.com/topic/315366#7031982 , gratuitously pronouncing that one is right and the person addressed is wrong concerning a major and enduring question about the human situation, and tentatively ascribing a low motive for their supposed state of error, can have such an effect upon the most decent of folk.
Thanks. It's horrible and unnecessary within a community that simply adores books :0(
Interesting how you completely pass over the original slight to Faisel...
Whatever floats your boat, I guess, but personally the idea of wishing to be the 'subject' of anyone who is in a position through anything other than merit strikes me as being bizarre in the extreme. https://www.librarything.com/topic/315366#7031963
But then again your ...They've been nettled... speaks at a far greater volume.
I hadn't guessed there was a slight to Faisel: I suspect Faisel hadn't either, and it seems to me most unlikely that any was intended.
I'm not clear about the supposed implication of my "they": intelligence and humility are two properties rather than one, hence the plural.
They was used to confer a pronoun to those who you don't agree with.
Once more, my "they" was referring to intelligence and humility, "nettled" - to be more prosaic about it their bearer seemingly, and with reason, was - by post 50 and the exchange that followed. The "greater volume" you heard, then, was a silence except between your own ears. We should probably quit while we're losing.
"Which disputacious Turn, by the way, is apt to become a very bad Habit, making Peaple often extreamly disagreable in Company, by the Contradiction that is necessary to bring it into Practice, and thence, besides souring and spoiling the Conversation, is productive of Disgusts, and perhaps Enmities where you may have occasion for Friendship. I had caught it by reading my Father's Books of Dispute about Religion. Persons of good Sense, I have observed, seldon fall into it, except Lawyers, University Men, and Men of all Sorts that have been bred at Edinborough." Benjamin Franklin. As a University Man bred at Edinborough, I acknowledge the reproof and pass on the wisdom.
In a group such as this, you can usually identify a Man of Disputacious Turn by his absolute insistence on having the last word.
>86 Jayked: " a Man of Disputacious Turn"
That's a different way of putting it.
Thank you for the sermon. I guess a society of individuals will vary in how each person will call out when they see poor form. But for the record my last in >85 LesMiserables: was an acknowledgement to >84 terebinth: to drop things and move on, with some irony thrown in.
And I absolutely have no issue with not having the last word. I do however wonder about those who do not have the courage to just come straight out and name names, as in your post #86.
And yes, we all suffer terribly from pride, hence #86 & #89.
I usually finish any book I've started but there are a few threads I've begun and then regretted it.
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