Apparently I should give up

See above for my reading theme song.

Truly, I rarely abandon a book. In fact, I can list the books I marked DNF on one hand –

  • Wolf Hall (abandoned at 20%)
  • Eat, Pray, Love (30%)
  • This Blazing World (10%)
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran (75%)

And I’ve forged my way through some crap (examples here and here).

According to this article and common sense, I should simply STOP READING books I’m not enjoying. But why don’t I?

Sometimes it’s because a book is popular and I think it’s rubbish but in order to voice my opinion loudly, it’s only fair to have read the whole book.

Sometimes I think a book will get better…and then it doesn’t.

Sometimes it’s by an author I like and I give them the benefit of the doubt – not always a great strategy.

Are you a finisher or an abandoner?

28 responses

  1. I rarely abandon a book…but, when I do, I’ll rationalize my decision by saying to myself,
    ” David, you’re almost a senior citizen…and, with so little time remaining to read so many books, many that are already scattered around the house, precariously positioned in nonsensical piles or stuffed into overstuffed shelves, well, there’s no reason to struggle with this particular read just because it was shortlisted from some sort of prize.”

    I’ve got to go…the doorbell is ringing…I’m expecting a delivery of newly published books from Amazon.

    • Haha! The sensible part of me knows that life is too short for bad books! Reading entire shortlists is actually where I do get into trouble, reading books I would otherwise not choose. While one or two are okay (broaden the reading boundaries etc) more than that feels like a slog. Case in point, this year’s Stella Prize shortlist was really not my cup of tea…

      • In cases like that I think your habit of sampling books, or skimming them, would be perfectly justified. Trust yourself to know what books just won’t be right for you.

  2. I’m a finisher. Mostly, there have been a few crap audiobooks I’ve abandoned. And I enjoyed Wolf Hall – it fitted in nicely with all the Philippa Gregory Tudor romances I’ve read.

    • My book group all loved Wolf Hall but I just couldn’t get in to it. There was a tv series (I think on SBS) and I tried that as well… no luck.
      I probably avoid a fair bit of crap by reading (or listening) to samples.

      • Bring Up the Bodies is much better than Wolf Hall and could probably be read as a stand-alone if you’re interested. I did eventually get through Wolf Hall but didn’t really see the fuss about it, and couldn’t make it through the TV series.

  3. I mostly keep going with books, for much the same reasons as you, but I’ve recorded 109 books as abandoned in the 10 years I’ve been on Goodreads, so that’s an average of 10 each year. Mostly it’s because they’ve bored me…

  4. I don’t like abandoning books – even though I know I should probably give up. Side note – I thought I was the one and only person in the universe who couldn’t stand Wolf Hall. I abandoned at maybe 50% or greater – but the World sure loved that book – I couldn’t understand it.

  5. I rarely abandon books either because I have this competitive thing inside me to finish and count a book as read. I got better at not finishing books last year, however, when I was a judge for a book award. I had too many books to look at to finish all of them. And btw- I didn’t finish Eat, Love, Pray, either. I simply hated it.

  6. I have become an abandoner over the course of my blogging career. I used to think I owed an obligation to books to always finish them, but I just can’t anymore. I own too many books to spend time on the ones I’m not enjoying. Also, love the inclusion of Kate Bush in any post! I love her!

  7. I used to plough on regardless but now I’m definitely an abandoner. There are so many great books I’ll never get to read (I’m hoping I get to haunt a library in the afterlife), why torture myself when I could be reading something so much better? It’s still rare I abandon a book but that’s due to my incredibly discerning good taste 😉 And all the wonderful bloggers such as yourself who recommend great reads!

    I also abandoned Wolf Hall. So many people loved it but I got to page 300 and thought ‘Why am I doing this to myself?’ so into the charity pile it went. Then a friend told me it gets much better after that point!

  8. I’m an abandoner. I’ll give a book a fair shake, but if I get to the “why am I spending time on this?” point, I’ll DNF. I’d rather spend my time on something I enjoy.

  9. For most of my life I’ve been a finisher. Of books and movies. But once I started reviewing and the amount of reading I did increased exponentially I realized I couldn’t stick with books I disliked. I’ve even stopped parsing the reasons why- bad writing, improbably plot- it doesn’t matter. There’s just too much out there to read and only so much time.

  10. It’s taken me a LONG time to be okay with quitting a book, because I’m of the same mindset, I usually think it’s bound to get better. Either that or I sometimes feel like I’ve picked it up during the wrong mood and I should stick with it.. it’s my fault, not the books fault. But honestly, there’s no sense in spending time reading something that you’re not enjoying. That’s why we do this, right? 🙂

  11. I’m a finisher. I keep hoping/thinking that the book will get better. I’m fairly selective with what I read, so I rarely start books I know I won’t enjoy. And, I am a senior, so (remaining) life is too short to spend with unsatisfactory books. But I persist ….

  12. I’m mostly a finisher, and the reasons are varied. I’m a finisher if: I like the author because I don’t want their effort writing to be wasted; the book is popular because FOMO; it’s so bad that I’m enjoying being annoyed by it and can’t wait to demolish it in a review; it’s a book that’s part of a reading challenge so I have to finish it – on one occasion this led to me ripping a book up so that nobody else would have to experience it – it was so satisfying. I abandon sometimes knowing that I will return, that the abandonment is about where my head is and not about the quality of the book (Tristram Shandy, Don Quixote, War and Peace all take a bow). I also abandon when the book is such a grind that there’s no entertainment value to its awfulness because life is too short and there are plenty of other books waiting to be read. I stick by the principle that if reading the first page doesn’t grab me while standing in a book shop, it’s not the book for me.

    I loved Wolf Hall, but then I love the sting of Hilary Mantel’s prose. It’s like walking in long grass for miles and then suddenly encountering nettles or gorse or something equally violent that focuses your attention.

  13. I abandon ship regularly. There’s the quick flick when a book fails to capture me in the first page – they’re the ones I don’t purchase/borrow etc. then there’s the ones that I start off loving but something happens – I keep trying for a bit in honour of the initial love, but if the trail has gone cold, then hasta la vista baby!
    Life’s to short….

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