Saturday, February 05, 2011

From The Valley of Scorned Books

When to let go.

Some folk have no problems tossing aside a book. They get to page fifty, decide it isn't worth their time, and without a qualm, pitch the offender. Me? If I get to page ten, I'm probably going all the way. A book has to be something extraordinarily horrible for me to give it the heave ho. I'll curse the author, the editor, the publisher, their parents, wives, immediate and extended families, and rend my clothing---but I'll finish the damned book.

In the last few years, I've only abandoned three or four reads. One was the work of a well-known and successful genre author who heavy-handedly beat me up with his ideology (one diametrically opposed to my own). Another was a book sent my way by a publisher who asked for a review (I made it through half the novel before deleting it from the Kindle). I wrestled with this one, trying to decide how to say something, anything, which might be used for promotion. In the end, I remained silent. What else could I do?

I wonder what my inability to abandon a book says about me as a person? Is it part of the strangeness that makes me think the furniture dances when I head off to bed? That the plates convene a some sort of meeting? Or that books sit on a shelf, waiting their turn, hoping to read and enjoyed and then reshelved, rather than cast aside in scorn.


Angie said...

I didn't used to bail out very often, but I've learned to do so over the last half dozen years. There's just too much great stuff to read for it to be worth my while to waste time on something I'm not enjoying.


Anonymous said...

I've bailed on a few. "The Infinite Jest," for one. The jest was that the book never ended.

The recommendation of a friend often makes me stick with books I, for whatever reason, don't find enjoyable at the start. Often, I end up liking books I didn't think I would.

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm the same way. I didn't think there were many more out there like that. If I make it past ten or so I'm gonna go through. Although I may be scanning toward the end I will know what happens.

David J. West said...

Same here and the same goes for movies-though I might watch them on fast forward, but even when I hate them-I like to know what happens.

I slogged and skimmed through a couple different genre epics just to get to the end-have to wonder if any were the same as yours.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Angie and David..I wonder if bailing is a learned skill, a wisdom that comes with age and experience. Alas, I have yet to learn it.

Christine, it is difficult when you are reading something a friend recommended...I remember fighting my way through one steampunker you raved about---and I think you heard about it every time we met during the process and for quite some time after. I will refrain from naming the author.

Charles, welcome to the OCD fanclub. And David..don't get me started on movies. I can't believe how many films I have struggled through. It is rare for me to even consider leaving a theater..though it has happened. "Breathless" was one film that drove me out. I would have left during the middle of the second Fantastic Four film. If only I had known the person with whom I was watching it was thinking the same thing.

MKeaton said...

If I buy it, it goes on the "to be read" stack with the three million others waiting but eventually, I intend to read it. It's like a kind of limbo/slush pile for reading. But if a book makes it out of that or if someone asks me to read one or if I check it out of the library, the book will be read if it kills me (and some seem determined to do so).

It's almost like I have to punish myself for having bad taste in books or being sucked in by a slick cover and back blurb. Must read book. My problem is, if I don't like the book, I stall and read two or three other books while I'm fighting through the one I don't like. This extends the agony (and is currently financing a new wing for my local library in late fines).


Anonymous said...

Normally, I refuse to stop reading a book even when I think it's terrible.

A few years ago, I tried a new "10% Rule": I would read 10% of the book and then decide whether or not to finish it. This was a good plan but I didn't stick with it.

Recently, I donated stacks of books that I hadn't read yet and knew I wasn't going to enjoy. What a wonderful feeling to free myself of those books...

Travis Cody said...

I admit I have abandoned a read, but never have I chucked a book. There are numerous books on my shelves I've never finished.

I have a hard time working through a bad book because it's so much easier to put it back on the shelf and move on to the next one.