Thursday, August 22, 2013

How Long Do You Stick with a Book?


                                          Music at the Diego Rivera Court at the D.I.A.


How long do you stick with a book? With me, it varies. Sometimes I know in a page or two. The voice or writing style just puts me off. I have also put a book aside 40 pages before the end. I recently read that you should give a book 100 pages minus your age. I guess the older you are, the less time you have left to read so don't tie yourself up with a book you don't like. Do you have a rule?

29 comments:

Al Tucher said...

Certain clunkers make me do more than put the book down. I throw it across the room:

"Unphased" for "unfazed."

"Most well-known."

"That" for "who."

Anonymous said...

I'm with you. I used to go with the 50 page rule but lately I've dropped a book after 100 or more pages. If I get that far and it doesn't seem to be going anywhere (or at least not really engaging me) and there is another 300 pages to go...life's too short.

At the other end I just started two books (which shall remain nameless) and after a couple of pages thought, 'naah.' Just not in the mood.

The days of finishing every book I started, or at least pushing through a book I didn't like because I'd read the rest of the series, are over.

Too many books, too little time.

Jeff M

pattinase (abbott) said...

Age does factor in although I never remember being very patient with a book unless I had to read--like for my book club where many of the books are ones I would never have finished. Often I am glad I did though.

James Reasoner said...

I recently gave a book almost 100 pages before I abandoned it, but that's rare. Usually 30 to 40 pages, which means that 100 pages minus your age thing works for me. Occasionally I give up in the first few pages.

Charles Gramlich said...

Usually, if I make it past 20 pages I will finish it, although at times I'll end up just scanning the ending

pattinase (abbott) said...

That scanned ending is something worth talking about because it does mean the writer has intrigued you in some way.

sandra seamans said...

I'll give a book a few chapters and if it doesn't grab my interest, it's back on the pile. I found that some books I hate one day will capture my interest months later. I think a lot depends on the mood I'm in when I'm reading.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Yes, mood is a factor. Sometimes I can read depressing stories and sometimes not, for instance. I wish there were more people writing funny novels.

John said...

No real page limit for me. It's moe like three or four chapters. If a book tends to drag on and on with exposition and pretentious prose, I will rarely finish it. I also have no patience for youthful, naive worldviews that paint the characters in black and white. Thoroughly evil villains and super-good and scrubbed clean heroes. I'm seeing too much of that in new books and I think it has a lot to do with the "pulp" and comic book influences.

Ron Scheer said...

Putting a book down unfinished goes against the grain for me in a way I can't account for. I don't have a rule, but if I'm reviewing a book, I'll at least skim read it to the end. Or use it for bedtime reading, when I don't care whether I get sleepy reading it. A book can last me months that way. Ha.

Kent Morgan said...

Until recent years I almost always finished a book I started. Earlier this year I read about 200 pages of a 400-page clunker before I asked myself why I was continuing and then dumped it. I think that would be my record.

Anonymous said...

It varies. Sometimes I know almost immediately that I've made a mistake. Occasionally I read most of a book, put it down, and never pick it up again. I do have a sort of rule of thumb (not really a rule) that if I'm conflicted about whether I want to continue, I should read at least half the book before quitting. Sometimes something clicks and i really enjoy the last half. I remember one novel , 200 or 300 pages long, that suddenly seemed to come together in the last 30 pages. Before that it was a slog.

Anonymous said...

Usually I give a book 50 pages, but there are some things that will turn me off: anachronisms, especially in regards to "morality" such as children born out of wedlock, couples "living in sin," etc. Also, any book where the story is told from opposing viewpoints and one of them is the psychotic evil genius (whose chapters are inevitably presented in italics). Those things will make me give up on a book waaaaay before page 50.

Deb

Joe Barone said...

It varies with me, too. Some books bore me quickly. Others I keep thinking show some promise until I finally give up.

Chris said...

I only put one book down after starting it this year, and maybe one last year. It's just not something I ever really do. In both cases they were books carrying a bunch of 5 star reviews as well, and that probably contributed to my irritation because it makes we wonder how genuine they actually are.

Chris said...

Another good question might be, "How many times do you try and get the capcha right before you say 'to hell with leaving a comment'?"

pattinase (abbott) said...

I am more persistent in leaving a comment than in finishing a book.

I am a promiscuous book picker-upper because I go to the library about 3 times a week and see lots of stuff. I don't regard opening a book as a commitment.

R.K. Robinson said...

I think that age based rule is hogwash. Why should a person who is 30 give a so-so book more pages than a person who is 60?

minI don't have a hard and fast rule. I usually give a book at least 30 pages. Many say there is the "40 page rule" which is just another arbitrary page count. I give non-fiction a little more than fiction, SF more than mystery, short stories and essays a lot more than other books, since I can just turn to the next one. I do not feel compelled to finish just because I started!

I also will set a book aside if I think I'm just not in the mood for it. I'll try it again later.

seana graham said...

I'm not a compulsive finisher of books, but I tend to let them just drift away rather than give up on them decisively. Since I tend to read several books at once, I don't always notice that I've stopped reading one of them.

pattinase (abbott) said...

A good approach. Don't execute just put in solitary confinement.

Dana King said...

I have no rule of thumb. I get a strange feeling that grows as i read, then something inside me says, "You're 57 years old. You don't have time for this shit," and I'm done.

seana graham said...

Not solitary confinement--it's a pretty crowded cell block I've got going here--so much as banishment.

Randy Johnson said...

I've spoke of my three strike rule before. If I can't get into a book, I lay it aside and move to another. I try that same approach three times. if I can't manage after three tries, I'm done.

I try not to blame a book because it could be my mood getting in the way. But three times is enough to convince me that it might not be me.

Charlieopera said...

I'll give a book 2-3 tries ... and if I get a headache early at #3, that's it. I've apparently felt this way about a few books others loved ... so it goes ... Ellroy's The Cold Six Thousand ... 3 strikes and I was out ... then I met a guy in LA who said you had to hear Ellroy read from it (his cadence) ... I didn't have the coin to follow Mr. Ellroy so I canned it ... meantime, his American Tabloid remains one of my favorite all time. Same with some of Higgins ... some of his non-crime gave me headaches ... totally unreadable for me ... I'm going to wax on that domain on my blog ... how even though Higgins first 3 books are probably my favorite 3 crime novels, nobody was more consistent than Elmore Leonard ... anything he wrote was/is a pleasure to pick up.

Anonymous said...

One thing I have found lately: if I read a series of books in the '70s or '80s and try to go back now and catch up my tastes seem to have changed as I just haven't been able to get involved with the books I've tried. I'm talking people like Emma Lathen, Nicolas Freeling, even P. D. James.

Other authors I've read occasionally (or annually) over time and I can still return to them and enjoy them - John D. MacDonald, Ross Macdonald, Donald Hamilton come to mind.

On some authors with a series I get bogged down on one title (Reginald Hill) and can't get past it, to the point where it's either skip the book or quit the author.

Jeff M.

Kelly Robinson said...

These days, I'll just about finish everything. I'm pretty picky about what I'll start. Because I tend to review what I read, I'll finish it to be able to make my argument well. If it's really awful, I might start skimming, though, just looking for the extra-bad stuff to make my case.

Ed Gorman said...

Great question, Patti. I'll give a book forty pages or so before I set it aside. But all sorts of things can make me finish a book but mainly it's voice (best) or (second best) a story that keeps me going. Voice to me includes character btw.

Cap'n Bob said...

I stay to the bitter end, to my occasional chagrin. I've probably abandoned only half a dozen books over the years. When I did, it was very early on.

Margot Kinberg said...

Patti - I don't actually have an algorithm for sticking with a book. I try to read the entire book, but if I can't bring myself to open it up where I left off (wherever that is) than that's where I stop reading.