When do you put a book down…forever?

Do you ever ‘give up’ on a book? You’ve started reading it with such good intentions, but it’s just not drawing you in. Do you force yourself to keep going? Do you choose not to waste any more time on it? How do you decide?

I’ve only started a few books that I haven’t finished. Maybe I’ve just been lucky with my choices in reading material. Maybe it’s because I’m a little bit stubborn… I’ll admit there have been times when I’ve put a book down for a few weeks (or months) but with the bookmark still firmly in place so I can come back to it later. There have also been times when I’ve been reading several books at once, and one has been so engrossing that the other was pushed to one side, but I’ve always come back to it eventually.

When I was younger, there were a couple of occasions where I found I needed to watch a movie adaption to help me understand the story – mostly early classics, the first being Anne of Green Gables. I always prefer to read the book first if I can, but at that time I had almost no experience of that style of literature, and for a child in the 1990’s some older books might as well have been written in a foreign language!

A few times I have admitted defeat:

  • Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. I managed to struggle my way through it once, but I didn’t enjoy it. Knowing it was a ‘classic’ I waited a few years and gave it another go, but decided it wasn’t working for me. The chapters that are mostly narrative are okay, but every second chapter (it felt like) was a scientific treatise on the plight of the whale, the anatomy of whales, the different types of whales…it got boring pretty fast.
  • Sushi for Beginners by Marian Keyes. I’ll read romances, but I don’t always love them…this one just didn’t get my attention fast enough.
  • There was a ‘fantasy romance’ – I can’t even remember which one or who it was by, but I was in my teens at the time and it was a gift. I’d probably give it another go now, but it didn’t survive the last cull of my collection.

I’m struggling with a very thick tome at the moment, but I’m determined to finish it this time – it’s my third attempt! I’m over 400 pages further into it this time than on either of my first two attempts, but with almost 800 pages to go, it’s still going to be a hard slog. I’ve found that, like Moby Dick, the sections of narrative are a very easy read, but for some reason every so often I’ll come across 50 pages of editorialising which today’s publishers would probably have cut as irrelevant (or barely so) to the story. I started reading it in April, and if I could bring myself to read 50 pages a day I’d have it knocked over in three more weeks…but at the rate I’m going, I’ll be lucky if I finish it by Christmas!!

So what about you? When do you put a book down…forever?

Categories: Books | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “When do you put a book down…forever?

  1. I never used to, but I discovered that the more I read, the less I can justify sticking with something I’m not into. On the other hand… forever is a long time. Especially with classics that I know have cultural and literary importance, even if I do “give up” on them, I like to think I might try them again sometime. But if I do, I’ll be coming at them fresh and starting again, not letting the book sit there with a bookmark in it for months or years… if I do that, it’s just a reminder of how much I wasn’t enjoying it the first time around.

  2. Forever IS a long time, which is why I rarely give up on a book completely. Another book I could have added to the list is ‘The Picture of Dorian Grey’, but I have hopes that one day I’ll try it again.

    I usually only leave a bookmark in something if I have intentions of returning to it sooner rather than later, but time flies when you’re having fun, and weeks can turn to months very quickly. If I can’t remember most of the details of what’s happened up to that point I’ll start again. 🙂

  3. I have had to “give up” on a couple books recently. They were both non-fiction biology books. I gave them up without finishing mostly due to them being library books and they were due back before I could finish. I tried on two separate occasions to read them. I struggled both times though. If I had bought them, I’m sure I would try several more attempts. I did get through Moby Dick by skipping pages and even chapters near the end. I didn’t enjoy it either.

    • Non-fiction books are a whole other story…I have to be really interested in a topic before I’ll even bother to open one!

      I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who didn’t like Moby Dick 🙂

  4. I tried reading The Last Witchfinder by James Morrow as a teen, and I have never managed to finish it. Perhaps I should give it another go – I really dislike not finishing books, but it was really exhausting to read 🙂

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