Thursday, September 7, 2017

When I stopped reading

Reading a book, for me at least, is like traveling in someone else's world. If it's a good book, then you feel comfortable and yet anxious to see what's going to happen to you there, what'll be around the next corner. But if it's a lousy book, then it's like going through Secaucus, New Jersey -- it smells and you wish you weren't there, but since you've started the trip, you roll up the windows and breathe through your mouth until you're done.
~Jonathan Carroll

This isn't a real post, just something I was thinking about this week. True confession: I have a tendency not to finish books. I buy books that have been highly recommended and I toss them aside a couple of chapters in. I have never given this much thought, to be honest, but last month I heard about Ellen Brock's "When I stopped reading" First Page Critiques.

Ms. Brock is an editor who ran a boot camp in August and she let people send in the first 250 words of their manuscripts and she told them when she stopped reading. 250 words! She didn't make it through most of them! (I tried to have her read the first 250 words of my current project, but I turned them in too late -- she only looked at the first 40 submissions.)

Recently I started reading a book that I thought was breathtakingly well-written, just beautiful, but wouldn't you know that I stopped returning to it? I just didn't care what happened next -- the main character didn't touch my heart, I suppose. I have been thinking about it. Do you finish the books you start? What makes you stop?


HWY said...

Erin Brock's reasons were excellent...and very understandable. I certainly understand why her "boot" camps would be so successful.

I almost always finish a book that I start. If I don't like the first chapter, I figure that I owe it to the author to keep going to see if things get better. And quite often they do. I must admit that I'm a softy about authors...I really want them to be successful, even if I occasionally regret having spent so much time on a loser. :-(

Diane Mayr said...

I have no problem with leaving a book unfinished. There are too many books and too little time to waste my time hoping a book will "get better." I've read as little as ten pages and as much as 160 pages before deciding my life would be better spent doing something beside finishing this book. My primary reasons for quitting are: a book is poorly written and the main character has no relatable traits.

HWY said...

One of my benchmarks in this regard is The Scarlet Letter. If it hadn't been required reading in high school, I never, repeat never, would have gotten past the first few pages!

Tabatha said...

Yes, I liked the Scarlet Letter, too. And the Crucible, for that matter.