Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Question for Readers Everywhere

How patient are you as a reader? Does a book have to hook you from the start? If you're not 'into' the story by the end of the first or second chapter, do you abandon? Do you stick with it--if it's a slow starter--if it's been recommended to you by a friend? What if it's an award winner? Do you stick with it then? What--in your opinion--makes for a slow start? What are your reasons for staying....or going? How often does it pay off? I mean, if you stick with a slow-book, how often do you end up loving it...and how often do you wish you had your time back? Do you like to be warned ahead of time?


© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

23 comments:

susan 12:56 PM  

I will stick with a slow starter if the writing is impressive. My most recent was Who By Fire. It wasn't actually a slow read but all of the characters were unsympathetic characters and there is quite a bit of character development, but because of Spechler's writing, I stuck it out and it paid off. I will stick with a recommendation from a reader whose opinion I respect. I read Little by David Truer, a book I wouldn't have chosen myself. It started for slow and it was clear it was going to be a true literary read which I love but again the novelist was new to me. My friend spoke very highly of the writer so I continued and again it paid off. I am more likely to bail on a light read or a read where it's clear the writing is average. There are too many books. I'm late to my reading life so I feel even more anxious about wasting time on something I'm not genuinely interested in.

emeraldfire 1:03 PM  

I keep with a book if I like the author. Although, I usually give it until the second chapter to make up my mind. I usually come back to classics later on.

Kristi 4:18 PM  

I used to finish every book I started whether it was slow or not and I was rarely thankful when I finished ;o). This is before I discovered book challenges and realized that, with all the books out there that I want to read, I really don't have time to waste on the ones I don't like. So now I have a ~50 page rule. If the book doesn't hook me by about page 50, I usually don't continue. The last book I had to abandon I got to about page 75. I gave it 25 extra pages because other book bloggers with similar tastes seemed to like it, but by page 75 I decided it just wasn't for me. The only exceptions to this rule these days are 1) classics (I'll stick with most of those even if it takes me months to finish - I'm stuck 1/2 way though Lolita now, for example) and 2) books that my F2F book club has picked (if I'm going to show up to discuss I want to have read the whole book - even if I hated it). Great question!

Jennie 4:20 PM  

Every book gets 50 pages.

There are a few books I have put down after 50 pages. In almost every instance, I wanted to put it down way before then, but I forced myself to get to 50.

I have no problems going back and retrying a book that I put down before. Usually the ones I go back to are the ones I put down because they required too much brain power--stuff I just wasn't in the mood for when I picked it up or didn't have the time to sit and meditate on at the time.

Usually, when I want to put a book down after 50 pages, I want to do it way before then, but I do give it until 50. It's for one of two reasons: brain power and lack of caring. Sometimes, I have absolutely no desire to see what happens next to the characters. So, I don't find out.

A few times, I wanted to put it down before 50, but when I got to 50, it had turned into what I call "car crash reading" It was awful and horrible, and yet... I couldn't turn away, so I guess that was just a bad book, not a slow starter.

Donna 6:27 PM  

It's very, very rare that I give up on a book before finishing it. Off the top of my head, I couldn't finish Wuthering Heights or Catch-22. I guess if it gets to a point where I want to rip my hair out and there's absolutely nothing else to balance it out (like in Breaking Dawn I was holding out hope that *something* would happen, on top of I just had to see how horrible it ended). There's really no method to my not-finishing madness. 99% of the time I finish a book.

Shon 6:38 PM  

I really really hate to stop reading a book. For awhile, I would have to read at least 100 pages and if it still wasn't good, then I could put it down.

Actually, I'm on the fence about putting a book down. On the one hand, life is too short to be reading a boring book especially since there are sooo many other good books just waiting to be read.

Then I think what if I keep reading and the book gets better? I think I just decide on a "book by book" basis. If the book is part of a series, I will definitely keep reading in order to keep up with the storyline.

Good question!

Melissa 7:03 PM  

I try to give every book a fair shake, but if it hasn't really grabbed by attention by 100 pages, it's a goner. I do like to be warned ahead of time -- hence why I read book blogs -- because I think a book that I've finished that is just terrible is an incredible waste of my time. (The worst ones are the ones where I hope it'll get better, but it never does...) Good questions...

Diane 8:13 PM  

I try to give most books the 50 page test. Honestly, it is very rare for me to start a book and not finish it unless it is just "going no where fast". If it's an author I've enjoyed in the past, I'll always finish it, even if it's less than great.

Stephanie 9:18 PM  

Truthfully, I Hate abandoning a book. I very rarely ever quit reading something once I've started it. There are a few exceptions to the rule, for just this week I quit reading American Wife. I couldn't get into it, and after realizing it was based on real people, I didn't want to.

Before that, it was Gilead. I read 40 pages. It took me a week to do it. And it was going nowhere fast. In fact, I was so bored, I just couldn't stand it!!

Natasha @ Maw Books 10:43 PM  

I've never had a page rule limit. I'm not even sure what qualifies has slow for me but if a book is slow then I'm likely to start another book and have two going. Right now I'm like in seven books because I've been getting restless.

mjmbecky 11:45 PM  

I'm pretty darn patient. Believe it or not, I have books that have taken me five years to read! I know that sounds crazy, but I'm a "juggler" with books that don't grab me right away. If I simply don't like it though, well then that's a different story. I'll give it 100 pages or so before I toss it over. I have had regrets though over that, and have gone back and picked them back up. For some reason, I just can't seem to let a book go!

Carrie 12:02 AM  

I will read at least 50 pages. If I'm not hooked, but it comes highly recommended by a friend or fellow book blogger, I'll give it another 50. If after that I'm still not enjoying it, I'll give up.

Hazra 7:11 AM  

I have rarely completely abandoned a book never to read it again. Even if it's bad, I usually plough through it, just to find out how it ends, and more recently, to write a review.

sally apokedak 7:20 AM  

I used to finish every book. As I got older and time got more precious, I gave that up. If you don't hook me in the first chapter, I don't read on. Unless, I'm obligated to do a review on the book.

I do try longer with books that got good reviews or won awards. I persevered with The Graveyard Book for two weeks before I gave it up on page 78.

Jess 8:07 AM  

I have a 100 page rule. Book club books are the only books that I continue to read if I don't like the first 100 pages. I recently tried to read A Convenient Marriage, but after 100 pages I disliked the characters so much I decided to put it down and read something else. Life is too short.

Janssen 8:28 AM  

I think I'll usually give a book 100 pages. If I've heard great things about the book, though, I'm quite unlikely to give up (like Jellicoe Road or The Book Thief).

Vasilly 9:48 AM  

I'm a pretty patient reader but if I'm not hooked by 30-50 pages in, I'm putting the book down. I do not believe in finishing a book that doesn't interests me unless it's for school. Even then I try to figure out ways to get out of it.A great line can hook me, the language of a book can hook me, it doesn't matter if it's an award winner or not.I don't need the background story right away like with The Hunger Games but I don't want gaps in crucial information like with Bones of Faerie.

Joanne,  11:39 AM  

I have recently given up on several books that everybody else seems to think are just the bees knees (Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao). I think part of the reason for giving up is that I never really had any strong inclination to read them in the first place (not really my style) and started them just so I could tell if they were things I could recommend to the teens who come into my library. After about 100 pages I realized that A) I just couldn't slog through these any more and B) maybe there are some really intellectual kids that would love these books, but the average teen in our library wouldn't be able to read them. My book list is so long that I have no shortage of great things to read, so I just don't bother with things that don't grab me even 1/4 of the way through.

Doret 11:40 AM  

I don't have a page number limit but when a book gives me reader's potty mouth I know its time to put it down. I enjoy being hooked from the beginning but its not necessary. As long as I know the book is going somewhere, I will stick with it. Some books are paced slower than others I am okay with that as long as the writing is good. I loved Wilson's 100 Cupboards and I would consider that a slow pace read . For me it worked perfectly for that novel. I will give award winners a little more time but if they continue to make me scream in frustration, I'll put them down. I like to skip ahead to the last two chapters to prove I made the right decision.

Michelle Richmond (The Year of Fog/No One You Know) 11:41 AM  

Great question. I really have to be hooked in the first sentence. When I pick up a book at the bookstore, I read the first page. If I feel compelled to go on to the next page, I usually buy it. When I'm writing books, I always keep my own unforgiving reading habits in mind, so I'm always crafting and re-crafting the first sentence, and the second, and the third, hoping it will entice the reader to stick around!

Zibilee 5:21 PM  

I tend to stick with books even long after I probably should. I am not really bothered by a slow start, because some of the best books I have read have been slow starters. I do admit that sometimes I will stick with a book even when it is blatantly bad, sometimes in order to give it a thorough review and other times just to see how bad it can possibly get.

Shanra 4:17 PM  

I don't mind slow books - in fact they can make a great change from the faster paces books I'm used to - but if a book simply doesn't grab me, that's when I'll put it down/away. I'm very rarely hooked from the first page, though I may use the phrase at times because I'm too lazy to figure out what I am, so I need to give books a longer time anyway.

Like Shon I'm a little bit on the fence about not finishing books, for the same reasons. But I do feel much happier about my reading now that I've started to put books that just don't work for me down. I decide that on a book by book basis. I might give one book 100 pages and another 50, but don't ask me how/why I make those decisions because it'll be different for ech book.

MissDaisyAnne---Annette 2:41 PM  

Hi Becky, I answered the question in a new post over at my blog at http://missdaisyanne.blogspot.com
Thanks.
Annette

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