When to Put a Book Down


How many pages do you invest in a book that you can't really get into before giving up? I've always thought 50 pages, but some people think if you're not hooked on the first page, drop it. Also, can you think of any books you considered dropping and then went on to enjoy?

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The best book I almost gave up on was "How Green Was My Valley" (set in early 20th C. Wales) by Richard Llewellyn. Its first 50 pages or so were kind of slow for me but the rest was fantastic.

I rather like Nancy Pearl's rule--which was originally "give it 50 pages," but is now "give it 50 pages, or 100 pages minus your age, whichever is less" (she states it more eloquently.

So at this point, if a book hasn't started to reach me by page 37, I have no guilt about dropping it. Doesn't happen all that often to books I actually start; Thomas Pynchon's "Mason & Dixon" was the latest casualty. (I used to love Pynchon--yes, even Gravity's Rainbow. Either I've gotten less patient or he's gotten worse. Maybe both.)

Once I start I HAVE to finish. I can't put a book down until I've turned that last page. To be sure, I do a lot of research about the book (reviews, about the author, summaries, etc.) before I pick it up to maximize my chance of liking it, but I just can't give up once I've started. To really judge a book you've got to stick it out. Case in point, I was almost 2/3 into Pride & Prejudice before I got into it and in the end I really came to like the book. You never know when it's going to turn.

I'm the same (apart from the P&P bit, loved that from begginnning to end)! I cannot not finish a book. Its a tough outlook but at least I know FOR SURE that I didnt like it. I just don't like the idea on missing out on something, I also just HAVE to know what happens in the story. Even if its the worst plot in the world. I have even just bought a copy of an awful series I read when I was about 14 because a new one has been brought out and I want to now what happens!
I think the only book I havnt finished was Northen Lights. And I still feel guilty. The funny thing is I actually liked the film and play so don't know why I couldn't finish the book! I was even reccomended to read his Sally Lockhart series, The Ruby in the Smoke etc by this great website called The BookArmy a while afterwards and loved them and would recommend them to anyone! Strange...

Special Topics in Calamity Physics comes to mind. The first couple hundred pages are a mundane family relocation drama before it finally starts the salacious pulpy crime novel which is advertised on the cover. Where was the editor on that one? If I'm at the bailing point I usually cheat and start looking at Amazon reviews to see if it gets any better. In the the case of Special Topics there was a pretty good consensus of the exact page when the book gets better that They were right. I figure if I'm about to bail anyway I'm not super worried about spoilers. If the "most helpful" reviews make it sound like it is worth gutting out then I stop looking at Amazon before I see too much. Conversely, I really wanted to give Neal Stephenson's Anathem a chance based on all the highfalutin (in a good way) advance reviews. I tried. Oh god, did I try and I still couldn't stand it for more than 100 pages or so. I turned to the hive mind at Amazon to see if it was just me and it wasn't.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy....started slow, but ended up being amazing.

I try to finish books I start too. I agree with others here that often times, you don't really know how you like a book until it ends. Occasionally I'll put a book down in the middle, but it has to be REALLY REALLY bad. When I first read Lord of the Rings, I was told it was really slow in the beginning, but the totality of the story is really wonderful. I'm glad I stuck it through.

I took A Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin with me to jury duty. Because I was stuck in the room all day (never picked for duty), I was forced to read more than I would have otherwise, and now it's one of my favorite books, and Mark Helprin one of my favorite authors.

There are WAY too many other great books out there to waste any time beyond a few hours if you're bored... regardless of the time invested. Granted, you could miss something great if you subscribe to this philosophy, but you'll find something else. It is NEVER okay to slog through something you don't like just because you started it.

When I first began working in a library, all those years ago, I use to think that I had to finish every book I began. I think I was finally well into my 30's when I decided (after being told by another librarian) that if I didn't like a book, I wasn't going to finish it.

Sometimes, before I even begin a book, I'll go through a few of the chapters to see if I like the writing or not before I actually begin reading from the beginning.

The one book I read that I agonized through at the beginning, but loved by the time I got to the middle was "Trinity" by Leon Uris

The last book I put down, after reading the first page of the second chapter was "The Other Queen" by Phillipa Gregory. There was no way I was going to give it 46 pages!

Here's what I figure...life is too short to waste your time reading a book you don't like, eating food you don't like, spending time with people you don't like.....you see my point.


I have started to quit on so many books that I later came to admire that I never quit a book anymore. Once started I will finish it. I almost gave up Joyce's "Ulysses", Proust's "In Search of...", Powell's "Dance to the Music...", most of Henry James (I am now a real James fan", Faulkner's "Light in August" (he is now my favorite author, except maybe Proust), Willa Cather's "Death comes to the Archbishop" and other books that have given me such pleasure. I have learned that reading a book is a lot like taking a trip, the enjoyment comes from learning about other people, ideas, places and their different stories. I'm currently traveling with Ford Maddox Ford as we journey to the end of the parade.

I used to give books about fifty pages before deciding whether or not to finish, but, with some books, that really isn't enough to give you an idea of whether you'll get into the story. Now, I usually read about 30% of a slow-moving book before deciding that it's just not for me.

I think 100 pags is a good try. If your not into a book by then, then you probably never will. reading everything you start is all right for some, but when reading is a treat for you and something that doesn't happen as often as one would hope its unrealistic to think that I would sit reading something I don't enjoy. I make sure I have got to at least page 100 before I'm done with it. This is because I got to about page 100 of 1984 and almost put it down. I decided to give it a few more pages and am so so glad I did! Its now one of my fav books!

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