I abandoned a book last night

33 thoughts on “I abandoned a book last night”

  1. Oh I hate that you didn’t finish Les Mis! I struggled through the middle, but around 750 it started getting really engaging. The beginning was also great to me. I can’t say I’ve been reading it constantly though. My strategy is to read it in between other books. I also skip the bits where Hugo gets into all the historical information. I honestly couldn’t care less about the battle of Waterloo, and I don’t feel bad at all about skipping the war stories. Let me know if you ever decide to finish it!

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    1. I guess I just needed to hang in there for another 50 pages πŸ˜‰ I do remember liking the beginning, but the middle just couldn’t hold me. Maybe one day. If I can finish Moby Dick, I can finish Les Mis, right?

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  2. I agree completely. Time is too precious. Except, of course, for scholarly pursuits…I read many a novel I did not particularly relish when I was studying literature. There are important things to be learned from books that we don’t always enjoy per se. But now that I’m out of school, and if a book isn’t offering me anything–something to think about, guide me through life, or even just entertain me–then I have no hesitation in shelving it.

    I did read The Book Thief and loved it. At first I was put off by the “gimmick” of death too, but the story and characters won me over. It is truly a moving book once you get past the literary device.

    I will say though, regardless of “the message,” if a book is poorly written, I usually can’t get more than 20 pages into it before I stop. I will, however, watch terrible movies from start to finish with no problem. Haha.

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  3. I’ve been there. It’s certainly not something I do lightly, but I have found that it’s something I’m much more willing to do as I approach middle age. The first one I abandoned in a very long time was a fantasy novel that failed to explain its worldbuilding beyond some fancy imagery, and once a subplot took a turn for the disgustingly misogynistic (to explain much more would require trigger warnings, but it wasn’t so much what was done to the character as her response) about a hundred pages in I tossed my Nook down in disgust…and then browsed my library for something worthwhile.

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  4. I have the same graph in my life! My mother, in particular, gets offended (horribly so) that I don’t finish some books. If it’s something she particularly loved, she worries me to death about it. I don’t have that kind of time though. Nope. Some books just go unfinished (or unstarted…)

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  5. “Especially when there are another 700 pages to go and you realize that one day you will die, and that day is getting closer with every day, every minute, every precious second that you are alive.” Possibly the best sentence I’ve read in a long, long time, especially when explaining why you didn’t finish a book. Caught myself laughing.
    BTW, I LOVED The Book Thief. πŸ™‚ It was such an easy read for me. Less than a week. I admit, I didn’t finish Owen Meany but that was years ago. Perhaps I should try again.

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  6. For me it comes down to how far into the book I am. It sounds bad, but once I’m invested in a book past the half-way point, I tend to finish it no matter how bad it is, to see where it goes. I think subconsciously I say “well, since I’ve wasted THIS much time already, I might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb.” However, there are books I’ve abandoned very early if I decide a few chapters in that there are just too many other books I’d RATHER be spending time on.
    (Now that I read this, I realize it’s probably a bad sign, since everyone says my OWN novel draft doesn’t grab the reader at first and is better in the 2nd half than the first half. Hmm, perhaps more rewrites are in order… πŸ™‚ )

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    1. That’s how I was with Moby Dick. I had invested more than 200 pages in it not once, but twice. I’ll give you my opinion on your novel’s grippiness when I finish it πŸ˜‰

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  7. Good for you! There is enough guilt in our lives to add yet another one onto the pile.
    150 pages is more than enough to have given it a chance, and your assessment of life’s preciousness is correct.
    If there weren’t any other books you could read it would be a different story. But as it is, there are far too many better books to choose from, nevermind to write yourself!!!
    NO. MORE. GUILT!!!!

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  8. Love this! I’m reading Les Miserables right now! I watched the movie while I was struggling with those first pages, and it inspired me to keep on. I’m hooked now, though who knows how far in since I’m reading it on a kindle. Good luck with your next read!

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  9. Right there with you! I used to have all kinds of rules for my reading habits, the most important being that I’d NEVER quit a book. Now I’m like, what’s the point if I’m not enjoying it or learning anything from it? Although I do like to analyze what makes a book “bad,” in hopes that I avoid the same mistakes in my own writing. :p
    And I’m glad I stuck with Owen Meany, too!

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  10. I’m with you! I REALLLY STRUGGLE over letting a book go…I keep telling myself “just a few more pages, another chapter maybe…it will get better. Don’t stop now. you’ve come so far. GIVE IT A CHANCE!” …haha…but yes, sometimes I just have to close the book. AND THEN I DWELL on it for a day or two…ugh….I think it’s the “quitter shame” I feel…but really, time is too precious and reading is meant to be ENJOYED. If we’re not enjoying it, move on. Well, if your looking for something to read, I am currently reading “Garden Spells” and I am really enjoying it. I’m about 50% through and it’s been really good since the first chapter. πŸ™‚

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  11. I well know the value of time. As they (used to) say, different strokes for different folks. I love Dickens, but a lot of people don’t enjoy his “old” English writing style or his sometimes wordiness. On the other hand, I think he was a master of jargon and unusual vocabulary. I can usually tell in a few pages whether I am going to enjoy a book, and if it has a scintilla of promise, and an obvious storyline, I might try it a chapter or a few pages at a time when I’m feeling like spending just a few minutes reading. That’s how I’m getting through “Into that Darkness” (Gitta Sereny), and a couple of other political books. On the other hand, I’m really enjoying “Driftless” (David Rhodes) huge chunks at a time, and Robert Service’s poems a poem or two or three at one sitting.
    Time is truly of the essence at our age, that’s why our patience is sometimes a luxurious virtue. Tim once told me I don’t suffer fools gladly. That was years ago. Now I don’t suffer fools at all.

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  12. Dear Butterfly,
    Amen Amen Amen.
    My husband tries to make me feel guilty about reading Harry Potter for the 50th time, instead of reading Moby Dick.
    I feel nothing.
    πŸ™‚
    Read what fills you UP!!!
    (Incidentally, it’s why I eventually gave up book club. Jodi Piccoult is total downer, and it’s all my book club seemed to want to read. I should probably feel guilty about that, too.
    Nothing. NOthing is felt.)
    hahahha!!!!
    Love, Lis
    xoxo

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  13. This post is so appropriate for me right now as I’m 458 pages into the 750 page behemoth The Winter’s Tale, which is really AWFUL!! I can’t believe I’ve made it this far. I keep debating whether to toss it out, but I feel like I’ve invested so much already. I think I’m to the point where you are: in the “life’s too short” mode! Your post may have pushed me over the edge. πŸ™‚

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    1. I’ve recently won a book called King’s Ransom. My eyes widened when I saw the thickness of it. That makes me wary. The book just published this month. Has anyone read it yet?

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      1. I haven’t read that, Eileen. I guess if you read the first 50 pages and see how it goes, maybe you’ll be hooked. Or not. For me a book has to be in a genre I enjoy, mostly literary fiction. I don’t care for fantasy or romance; thus I had to abandon this one, which was too fantastical for my taste. πŸ™‚

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      1. I read a couple of pages…out of curiosity before I laid it aside to read later, and was surprised to find that there were already large differences to the film.

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      2. Jo, I think you’re more a fan of fantasy than I am. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but at least with the movie, you don’t have to muddle through Helprin’s exaggerated and “love the sound of my own voice” writing style. I really hated his writing. But maybe it will be your cup of tea. A lot of people loved it.

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  14. BTW, I loved Les Miserables. But I know what you mean about pushing yourself to finish a book. I’ve less and less patience doing it. I read for pleasure, not pain and boredom. But we all must remember, what floats my boat may not float yours. Thanks for the post.

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  15. There are so many books out there, it is hard to feel guilty about abandoning the ones that don’t catch our interest no matter how “classic” or “brilliant” they are. Also, your graph most certainly hit my funny bone, thank you.

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