Photo by Alan Cleaver, found on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons
I once gave up on a book after the first page. My local bookstore had a book club, and I bought the next month's book without really looking at it. But when I got it home and started reading, I realized immediately that the author's style was not for me. Fortunately, I was able to return the book.
That's the fastest I've given up on a book — and I have no hesitation in doing so. I just gave up on one book, which might have interesting content, because the typeface was so bad that it was painful to read. But usually I give up when I'm just not enjoying the content of the book.
Want some encouragement to stop reading "bad books" — books that seem bad to you? Here's blogger David Pierce, in a short extract from his Five Rules for Life:
We do so many things that don’t add any value to our lives or anyone else’s, and those things get in the way of that which is actually worthwhile. My favorite example is reading a book — if it’s bad, we still tend to finish it just because we’ve already invested time in it. Why not cut our losses, stop reading, and spend that time reading a better book? Being a quitter is not a bad thing - it’s a smart thing.And Leo Babauta of Zen Habits says this in his post on How to Read More:
Give up on a book if it’s boring. Reading isn’t something you do because it’s good for you — it’s not like taking your vitamins. You’re reading because it’s fun. So if a book isn’t fun, dump it. Give it a try for at least a chapter, but if you still don’t love it, move on.Scott H Young has a whole blog post entitled Know When to Stop Reading a Book. He includes ideas on how to make it easier to give up on a book — including getting books from the library, so you've not spent any money. One of my favorite parts of his post was a comment he added:
The lost opportunity cost from not putting a book down is often forgotten. When you put down a book, you aren’t just giving up the chapters you didn’t read, you’re also gaining the chapters of some other book you did read. With a world filled with thousands of books, far more than you could ever read, I think that opportunity cost needs to be taken seriously.Finally, Miss Manners answers an etiquette question:
Question: A friend has lent me a book about a subject that is of interest to me. I am halfway through the book (more than 200 pages so far) and find it not very well written. Would it be impolite of me not to finish the book? My feeling is that I must finish the book in order to be truthful in saying that I did indeed read it.
Answer: Your friend is not going to quiz you. You need only return the book with thanks and, if possible, mumble that it had a good point or two. If not, you can always say that it is interesting to know what is being said in the field.
Do you ever give up on a book? How far do you go before giving up?
Book Lovers: Stop Reading Books You Don't Like