Tuesday, September 29, 2009

To finish or not to finish, that is the question

I'm talking about books, in case you're wondering. Because if I were talking about chocolate cake, finishing wouldn't even be a question.

What I want to know is, do you finish a book even if it's not holding your interest? Or if it's just an okay read? Do you keep going, hoping the story will take some amazing turn that will redeem everything else you've slogged through? Or do you stop, put the book aside and reach for something new?

I used to be a compulsive finisher, but now, not so much. I figure life's too short to read boring books, you know? And I'm struggling with this decision right now - I started reading a book that's the first in a very popular YA series and while it started out pretty good, it's quickly gotten very "meh" for me. I don't care about the characters, which to me, is a big downfall. Why should I keep reading about people I have no empathy for?

So what do you do? Finish or put it aside?


  1. Like you I would finish no matter what. Not now. I have kids and my time just seems way too short to finish a book I don't like. But, if I know the author I will finish it no matter what. :)

  2. I used to finish books, but now I don't. If they don't keep my interest, I won't pick them back up again. There are too many books in the world to waste my time on one that isn't working for me. That doesn't mean the book is bad--it just means I'm not into it.

  3. Anonymous10:57 AM

    I thought you were talking about starting to WRITE a book and getting bored with the story and not finish writing it!

    Boring books- Nope. I quit. Now, I usually read the last 1/4 or so just to know the outcome. But wade through it, nope. Life's too short.

  4. I've never not finished a book - something compels me to always finish. Maybe it's the hope that it will get better, but I think it's the idea of a story only half told.

    I wish I could just put down books I don't like. as you say life's too short to read bad books. Maybe I'll get there one day!

  5. Most books get 100 pages to really grab me, and if they don't then they go on the shelf or back to the library (depending on where they belong). I used to be a compulsive book finisher, too, but then a friend handed me a book that she was sure I'd love (Outlander by Diana Gabaldon) and I wasted a lot of time getting 500 pages into that book and still loathing it with every fiber of my being before I put it aside and returned it to my friend. Had I actually spent money on the book, I would have thrown it out a car window on the freeway to get it as far from me as possible.

    Since I know know I'd rather have the time back to read something I absolutely enjoy, I have the 100 page rule.

    Oh, and I'll add that, sometimes, there are books that don't pass the 100 pages rule, but I suspect that faiure is a function of my mood or the place I'm at in my life. Those books get saved on the shelf for later. Books that make me want to hunt down the author and do him/her bodily harm tend to leave the house never to darken my door again. (See above for said book as well as a few others ~ don't get me started on Jane Eyre).

  6. Amanda Brice12:18 PM

    I used to be a compulsive book finisher. I think it was a holdover of English class, where we had to read the whole thing, regardless of whether we liked it. It got drilled into me.

    Then I read 4 BLONDES by Candace Bushnell. Or rather, I read the first of the 4 mini-stories, then got about halfway through the 2nd and called it quits.

    Now, I give a book about 25 pages. If I still can't get into it, or absoluely hate it, I don't bother. Life is way too short.

  7. It was hard for me to put down that first book unfinished, but like everyone agrees - life is too short to read bad books.
    Its not even that they're bad, they just aren't right for me at that particular moment.

  8. I always try, I push and push, but if after half the book, I am still dragging my feet to read, I put it down. Sometimes I go back and finish later. Depends.

  9. It used to be really rare that I didn't finish a book, no matter how bad it was. It seems more common for me to put one down nowadays... but I almost always pick it back up eventually.

    I tried REALLY hard to read this week and just couldn't. But today I'm sitting up without drugs and Kate Pearce and SL Kenyon have releases today. I may be forced to send a minion to BN!!

    Kristen-- I LOVED All Fired Up!! I read it last week and never got a chance to gush.

  10. Unless there's a compelling reason that i need to finish the book- like I'm doing a book report or something;) - then no. Reading is entertainment and if the book can't keep my attention, then it gets banged against the wall. My TBR stack is too high to waste time on a book that I have to struggle to finish.

  11. I'll drop a boring book faster than a hot potato. My TBR pile is too big and there are too many books out there I want to read to stick with something that isn't holding my interest. I'm really bad. I've put books down after the first few paragraphs - but in my defense that was only when something started out being really obnoxious or down right offensive. Usually I give it until at least the end of chapter two, but after that if I'm not hooked, it's splitsville.

  12. I skim to the finish if I think I will never like it. HOWEVER, if the book is highly rec'd or really hyped, I will sometimes give it another shot a few months later. For instance, one of my favorite books ever is BUTTERFLY TATTOO by Deidre Knight. The first time I picked it up, it wasn't right for me for whatever reason. I just couldn't get into it. I love Deidre from online interactions--she's also my friend's agent (ahem), so I gave the book another chance when I was in a different place in my head. And if I hadn't, I wouldn't know how DEEPLY that book touched me. She pulled the essence of love right out of the universe and put it into words.

  13. Like so many others, I used to read books to the end whether I liked them or not, but now I set them aside if I'm not into the story. Sometimes, though, if the story has promise, I might try it again when I'm in a different frame of mind. Every once in a while a book I thought I'd hate turns out to be good after all.