Wednesday, October 20, 2010

When do you call it quits?

by Brittany Geragotelis

I'm about 80 pages into a book right now that's being published in February by one of the top houses out there—and I just can't get into it. It was described to me as a detective book that's sort of like "Veronica Mars," so of course I had high hopes for it.

Well, let me tell you...this book is NOTHING like "VM." In fact the ONLY thing about this book that's similar to one of my favorite shows of all time is the fact that the main character is a teen detective. But that's where the similarities end. It's not that it's horribly written or that the storyline isn't interesting, it's just that the way the characters speak is so...well, for lack of a better word, weird. In a fictional world where kids say "shite" to curse, call each other "cool characters" and say phrases like "Those Pinkertons are too nice for their own good," I simply can't identify and find the language in the book distracting.

So why am I still reading it then?

Well, to be honest, part of me hopes that it'll get better. But is this just a waste of valuable reading time that I could be spending devouring a book that I actually really enjoy? I've spent thousands of hours reading hundreds of books in my lifetime and have learned that I rarely start off disliking a book and change my mind by the end of it. In fact, I'm almost always disappointed when I force myself to keep reading until the end. So why do so many of us insist on sticking with a book that we're obviously not that into?

I think it's because that's what teachers and adults have conditioned us to do. We've been taught that you can't judge a book until you've read it. That certain books are worth reading, even if you dislike them, simply because a group of people deemed them important enough and worthy of literary study. We're encouraged from a young age, not to give up on things halfway through, that quitting or giving up on something makes us weak or bad in some way. And maybe quitting isn't the answer for some things...but books?

I had an English teacher in college who absolutely blew my mind one day when he said, "If you don't like the book you're reading, you're allowed to stop reading it. There are too many great books out there to waste your time with ones you dislike." I was floored by this revelation. I was also slightly worried that the university would revoke his "teacher's card" for giving his students permission to think for themselves and make up their own minds about what they were reading. I loved that he had the balls to say that, because he's totally right. There are plenty of books out there that remind me of why I fell in love with reading in the first place. So why am I feeling guilty about putting down this book before finishing it?

What do you guys think I should do? Give the book another 50 pages and see if it gets better? Close the pages for good and start another book? Tell me what you think and I'll go with whatever the majority says.



Anonymous said...

Life is too short. . . .and time is much too valuable to waste it. Put the book down! If in a couple of weeks, you can't stop thinking about the book and it's continuing saga, then pick it up again and start reading where you left off. I have a feeling that you won't have that desire to return. Enough said. . . .move on. Find a GOOD read!

Denise said...

Dump it. Or to coin a phrase by Miss Sassy Pants, DELETE...!

Danielle said...

I wish I could give up on a book, but I can't. I think it's because I keep hoping that, somehow, the author will win me over. Or at least give me a line that makes me smile or repeat it over and over.

I'm an optimist. I won't throw a book across the room until the last word. (But after that, you might want to duck!)

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with Anonymous. Life is too short. I LOVE to read, and don't have a lot of free time because of school, so I want to make that time count. I find reading relaxing, but if after the first 50 to 100 pages, I can't get into the book, I donate it to someone else. I used to try to finish the book, but it would stress me out. So now I just chalk it up to a bad choice. But that also means that if I don't like that book, I won't read another by that author.

I once read a book by John Grisham because people rave about what a great author he is etc. I read 100pages of his book, and it pained me to keep reading. I donated it to the thrift store and have never picked up another book by him.