Giving Up On A Book

Roger Sutton has a post here about giving up on a book that's just not clicking with you as a reader. I have to say that I fully support this. Life is finite, you know? I'm not going to stick with a book or a movie or a television show that I feel is a waste of my time.*

Of course, there are some things that are worth the time--David Foster Wallace for me, Faulkner for my friend Anonymous, we all have our little ballywicks--and I believe in giving a book a fair chance. A book under 200 pages gets at least 50 to get moving for me, and a book over 200 pages gets at least a 100, but if I'm not interested by then?* Forget it. I'm not going to be interested.

Another factor that sometimes comes into play is how long it takes me to read the pages. I'm normally a very fast reader. Fifty pages of your average level adult fiction won't take me a half hour, even if (or especially if) I like it.** If it takes me an hour, or two, or three, I don't like the book. I may not realize it until I take a break, but I'll realize it during the next fifty pages, and I'll put it down.

Life is too short to read books that you don't like, man.*** There's too much good stuff out there.


*True story: just last night I gave up on the film version of Snow Falling On Cedars because it was taking too long to get started. I guess that there was a lot of "cinematography" going on, but when I could fast forward through, literally, minutes of set-up shots, from an assortment of angles, I knew the movie was doomed for me. I haven't read the book, so I don't know if, perhaps, the author had a contemplative style or something that encouraged this kind of scenery shooting in the director, but either way it did not work for me.

**This is why I read a book I like two or three times. If I'm really into a book, I'll end up going so fast that I miss things. Strange, but true.

***This is not a quality judgment, but a value judgment. Books that are good to me aren't good to others, a fact I had to face when I tried to give my mom one of the books I loved when I was a kid. She was really not into The Wind in the Willows, for reasons my six-year-old mind could not grasp, as that is a kickass book.


FYI: Snow Falling on Cedars (the book) was just as slow and deliberate as the movie. The movie was faithful to the book and neither one was very good.

I've given up on very few books in my life but I also try to avoid reading something that I suspect will not work for me. I find that my attention span is getting worse because I was reading a bunch of short stories the other night and while they were actually very good, I kept flipping ahead just to see how LONG the short story was, ha ha. Not a good sign. I'm having trouble losing myself in books these days. Maybe having a three-year old around just isn't conducive to immersing yourself in a book!

I recall giving up on Ulysses and something by Dostoevsky once. Russian authors just wear me out.

So now we know that you'll give a book a decent shot. Your loyal readers now want to know if there are things you read over and over again because you like them so much or do you consider that a waste of time? It will come as no surprise to you that I reread Faulkner over and over and over again. It's so dense that I typically find something new every single time. How about it, do you have a favorite author or series that you like to reread every now and then?

Friday, March 6, 2009 at 10:53:00 AM EST  

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