Monday, November 28, 2016

In Defense of Abandoning Books

So, the other day, I decided to raid my TBR shelves.  For reference, I have five rather large shelves specifically for filling up with unread books.  My normal practices include weeding books out at the end of every month when I add to these shelves the books I had received during that month for review plus the books that I bought myself.  But this past week, despite regularly discarding books on these shelves, I cleared almost an entire shelf of books that I either no longer want to read OR that I flicked through and decided very quickly that I did not want to continue reading.  So I abandoned more than 15 or so books.

And I feel no guilt for that whatsoever. None.

And this is obviously not the first time that I've openly admitted to quitting books based on the covers, the blurbs, the first chapter, sometimes even the first few sentences. Other people have shaken their virtual heads at me in disappointment and quoted their own rules, like giving a book a 'chance' by sticking with it for 50 pages or 100 pages or a number of chapters. Some people keep with a book for the entire journey just for the sake of completion and I do not fully understand any of these thought processes.

And I think the the thing that I find the most baffling with this train of thought, these seemingly bizarre rules for reading ... is that it seems to be the only form of entertainment that is being held to this line of 'giving it a chance'  You never hear of people needing to finish 25% of their meal to see how they feel about a new food option? Or watching an hour of a movie to give it a chance? Listening to an entire song in order to respect the amount of work put into the finished product?  No. To all of the above.

If I hear a song on the radio and hate it, I'll turn the radio off or to a different station.

If I watch a TV programme and something about the first episode drives me crazy (laugh tracks, for instance) I won't sit through any more episodes to see how I feel.

I won't watch more than a few minutes of a movie if I know in those first few minutes that I don't enjoy it.

I know how I feel about stuff, I know the reactions that I have for when I'm enjoying something and when I'm not. So if I pick up a book, and I'm not enjoying it, why wouldn't I stop?  I absolutely trust my own judgement. I cannot think of many (if any?) books that I abandoned too quickly, went back to give the book a second chance and found that initial reaction was too hasty.

Also, I'm aware that there is a lot of input into going into making a book the best it can be. So much work by the authors, obviously, but agents, editors, cover designers etc. And they're all working so hard because they believe in the appeal of this particular story for whatever reason and they work in their separate or overlapping areas in order to give this book the absolute best start in life to find the right audience.

So I figure besides the cover design and blurb, the start of the book has to be it, right? That first sentence is crucial. The start of the book. That first chapter. And I think as a reader, a lot has to be conveyed right from the start. The tone of the book, the style of writing, something of the characters. And something in all of that, needs to grab me as a reader.  And if it doesn't do that straight away? Then that's a whole team of people who did their best.  But I am not the right reader for this book. And I'm okay with that.

There's a whole lifetime of other books in which to devote to my time and energy towards.

Do you have any 'reading rules' ??


  1. lol I never thought about this that way - but you're right. I don't eat 25% of a meal before I decide I like it, so why should books be any different. However I do try to finish books I start, even if I only read one or two pages every now and then over a course of 2 years. Lol - I really have done this! However if by halfway I really don't like something I generally give it up. I starting to find life is too short to spend on books I don't like! Great post!

    1. Thanks so much! I do find it interesting to hear how other people view the abandoning of books. I never feel like it's 'giving up' personally, which is where the crux of the issue is for most people, I think.

  2. I used to try really hard to finish everything I read but there are so many books out there that I'm really excited to read so why waste time on something I'm not enjoying? I will DNF a book after a paragraph, a page, a chapter or even 5 pages from the end. It doesn't matter how far I've got, the minute I realise I'm not enjoying it then it's time to move on.

    Sometimes I can not be enjoying a book because I'm just not in the right mood for it and I'll put it to one side to try again later but I know the difference between "I'm not feeling this right now" and "I hate this book" so if it's the second that's it.

    I would never tell someone not to read a book just because I didn't like it, I get that the author (and editor etc) have put a lot of work in and just because it's not the right fit for me doesn't mean other people won't love it but I usually write a quick paragraph saying how far I got and why I didn't like it so that people who might have the same issue I did will be warned in advance.

    1. Oh exactly, Sarah! Far too many books that are very, very exciting to read, why bog yourself down with something you're not enjoying. And yes, there's absolutely no limit to when I'd stop reading a book either. I did recently abandon a book 10% before the end of a Kindle book because I JUST DIDN'T CARE. And that's okay :)


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