To finish or not to finish, that is the question

I pick up each and every book hoping that it’ll be my new favorite book. So when books rub me the wrong way, a part of me is devastated. When it’s a book that I’ve committed to review, I feel even worse. Because there is nothing more stressful and annoying than reading a book that doesn’t interest you, or makes you straight up angry.

In the past few months, I’ve picked up and put right back down a few books. Three of them were review books. I was excited about each book, and yet I don’t think I got past the 50th page on any of them. I wasn’t excited about the characters, the plot, and/or the author’s voice, and found myself struggling to even read a sentence. It’s usually at this point that I start to stress myself out even more.

I hate falling back on my commitments. If I say I’m going to review a book, I want to review it. I feel obligated to review it. But at the same time, I just don’t have the time in my schedule to read books that bore me. Between work and being a mom, there aren’t enough hours in the day for me to read a book that forces me to slog through word after word, hating it more and more as I go on.

But getting to the point of saying “enough is enough” is really hard for me. Maybe it’s the Catholic Guilt my mother laid on me day after day, maybe it’s the strong work ethic that keeps poking me in the back of my mind saying “you promised!” Either way, putting down a book is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do since I started blogging.

As it is now, the three books I stopped reading recently are all on my maybe-I’ll-pick-this-up-again-someday list. But for now, I just can’t do it.

What about you? Do you ever find yourself struggling to put down a book, even if you aren’t interested? Am I just the odd man out? For my fellow reviewers, do you have a harder time putting down a review book than a pleasure reading book?

Comments

  1. TrishJ says

    I read just for pleasure, so I don’t feel obligated to finish for a review. But it is hard to struggle with a book by a favorite author. I feel guilty if I don’t finish, cuz it IS by a favorite author.

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  2. VickiC11 says

    It’s a dilemma! I sometimes just read the dialogue or skip ahead, and sometimes I just say no and leave it.

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  3. mel burns says

    I’m with TrishJ. There are too many books waiting and to slog through something I’m not enjoying is a waste of my precious reading time.
    I also have no problem walking out of a film…no matter the ticket price. My friend and I left after ten minutes of Austenland, it was dreadful. We went to eat instead then talked about books, husbands and kids for three hours. It was so good.
    As for the guilt ….life is short….there’s enough misery why read a miserable book even if you are committed to review. Why not write a piece on why you DNF finish the three books?
    I would find that interesting.

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  4. Amanda says

    I read for pleasure but I do have a rather large maybe-I’ll-pick-this-up-again-someday list. Sometimes a book, no matter how good it is, and a reader just don’t gel. My problem has been when I have been given books by friends with the expectation that I will read it, love it, and want to talk about it. When it becomes clear that that book isn’t for me or I am not in the mood for that type of story, the book quickly feels like an unwanted homework assignment.

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  5. says

    I do agree with you, you start a book hoping it will blow you away. I recently received an ARC by a favourite author, and I really did not like it. I struggled through it, hoping it would get better, and it didn’t. I was just not able to write a review about it at all. And other people have reviewed it now, and loved it, and I can understand their points, and agree with them up to a point, but it just was not for me. This is one of the reasons I very rarely accept books for review. I don’t want to feel obligated, and frankly, with a TBR of over 3000 paper books, I don’t need “free” books to have something to read.
    Of course, winning a signed copy is always awesome ;)

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  6. says

    Oh how I feel your pain! I stopped accepting review copies for this very reason.

    Mind you, most of them were given to me directly by the authors, and most of the authors involved didn’t put any pressure on me to review their books at all (let alone to give them a positive/glowing/gushing review). The pressure was internal–*I* said I would review the book, but golly, I *would* read and review the stupid thing!

    And then I would struggle for weeks, trying to finish the blasted thing, only to spend a couple more weeks trying to write a review.

    (You can see the latest example of this here, by the way)

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  7. says

    I feel your pain. As an owner of a review site, I had to stop reviewing books. It was getting too painful for me. I do review for a blog tour but I’m extremely picking about what I read anymore. That said, I’m really getting into YA/NA right now. For me, its better written and its not the same old trope after trope that you read in Adult labeled books. I can’t handle what’s out there right now. I value my time and reading crap labeled as AWESOME by other people…nope, I’m out.

    BTW…I worship yall’s blog. I read it every day. :)

    Marika/Harlie
    owner, of Harlie’s Books

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  8. MinnChica says

    @TrishJ: I hate, absolutely HATE, when an author I love writes a book I don’t like. It’s so crushing. :(

    @VickiC11: I’ve skipped ahead a couple times, or skimmed through… I can do that if I make it through more than the first 10-20% of the book.

    @mel burns: I might have to do a big DNF post with the other book pusher gals, that way the ones I read won’t be singled out. :)

    @Amanda: YES! An unwanted homework assignment is the perfect way to describe how I feel! I couldn’t have said it better.

    @xaurianx: I like reading reviews where people have very different viewpoints of the story, but yeah, it sucks if you are one of the few who DIDN’T like the book.

    @blodeuedd: Yeah, it’s rarely a problem for me, except for the last few in the past few months… But I’m with you, pleasure reading books are way too easy for me to put aside.

    @azteclady: I know that most authors would be okay with me not reviewing the book, especially if I didn’t like it, but yeah… the guilt of knowing I committed to something KILLS me!

    @Marika Weber: I like a lot of NA too, but I’ve read a lot of crap within that genre already, so *shrug*. And thank you, what a wonderful compliment! :D

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  9. KatieF says

    I have only recently started giving myself permission to give up on a book. Before, for some reason I felt I had to stick with a book, even if it wasn’t working for me. Now, I’ll either stop reading completely if I’m really hating it or just skim until I know how everything is resolved.

    Nancy Pearl, librarian and author of Book Lust, has a rule of 50. If you’re 50 years of age or younger, give a book 50 pages before you decide to commit to reading it or giving up. If you’re over 50, subtract your age from 100–the result is the number of pages you should read before making your decision to stay with it or quit.

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  10. Sarah says

    As a lover of books, I have to agree that discovering that a book either bores me, irritates me, or (especially) makes me downright angry is incredibly disappointing — especially if it is a book that I’ve been looking forward to reading. If I’m just reading for myself, I put the book aside to try another day (perhaps I’m just not in the right frame of mind…it deserves at least one more chance), and pick up the next book in my pile with enthusiasm. I try to always abide by the rule I set for my YA readers — give it at least 50 pages to catch you before you toss it aside.

    However, I’m both a reviewer and a librarian also, so when I am reading for “work,” I feel obligated to just keep slogging through a disappointing book. I won’t deny that I can almost feel my pile of books-I-desperately-want-to-read staring temptingly at me as I force myself through the pages of “Book Disappointment,” nor that my pile of books grows more enticing with each page I have to re-read, but I give the “required” reading every chance to improve before setting it aside to try another day (and another and another, if it is really dull or irritating).

    I must agree with you that the guilt rises up to choke me (darn that good upbringing!), particularly if I made a commitment to read or review a book, and, I will force myself to finish the book eventually and review it honestly. Then I reward my diligence with a purely pleasurable read! To get the taste out of my mouth…

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  11. MinnChica says

    @E_booklover: Sucks huh?

    @KatieF: I like that rule… I might have to try that!!!

    @Sarah: It is always nice to follow up a bad book with something that is comfortable and guaranteed to be a good read. It *ALMOST* makes up for the slogging through. :D

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  12. says

    I finally implemented a 25% rule. While I don’t have an onus to finish books in order to review, I do feel a responsibility to read my author-friends’ books and say nice things about them, if I can. But I’m also SO there with the “life is short” thing. So, I read 25% of every book and, if at that point I don’t like it, I can stop there. It’s been truly liberating for me!

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