Thursday, January 10, 2013

Don't Spend Time on Books You Don't Enjoy

notebook, which says on the cover - so many books, so little time
Spiral notebook sold by Steven James Keathley

We talked about not saving every book that ever entered your home; now let's talk about not finishing every book you ever began reading.

Let's start with some words from author John Scalzi, which he shared on Twitter:
Tweet #1: I really don't understand why people joylessly slog through books they hate, even when the book in question is mine. Read something else!

Tweet #2: I am merciless with books, personally. If you bore me, on to the next one. "But it picks up!" is an argument for better editing.

Tweet #3: That said, there is the occasional book that I recognize something's going on and I'm just not getting it. I try some of those again later.
Erin Faye wrote a delightful post entitled Life Is Too Short for Bad Books, from which this is an excerpt:
I believe that a lot of people are less fond of reading than they might otherwise be because as kids, they’re forced to finish crap books. Or good books that they, for whatever reason, just don’t like. ...

Some people think it’s important to give a book at least 50 pages before giving up on it. My threshold is more like 10 pages. ...

Oh, and I walk out of bad movies too. So at least I’m consistent.
Thanks to Ron Charles and Unclutterer, I found an article which Kelly Jane Torrance wrote, giving us the perspective of economist Tyler Cowen:
What should you do when, 20, 50 or 100 pages in, you realize you just don’t like a book?

You could spend your entire summer slogging through it. Or you could take the advice of a prominent economist who simply advises: “Give up.” ...

We should ask ourselves if reading a book we’re getting little out of is the best use of scarce resources.

He takes his own advice, saying he finishes one book for every five to 10 he starts.
Finally, here's organizer Lelah Baker-Rabe:
I love to read, and I just don't have time to finish books that aren't doing it for me.
Lelah also notes:
I have a category I created just for these types of books on my Goodreads profile, since I do it so often.
Like Lelah, I've learned to give up on books I don't enjoy; no way am I spending my precious time on a book I don't like — even if critics, or friends, raved about it. What about you?

Related Posts:
Book Lovers: Stop Reading Books You Don't Like
It's OK to Give Up on a Book
Not Every Book is Worth Finishing


Melanie Dennis said...

That is so freeing! I went so far as to create a shelf on Goodreads (follow if you like) that is labeled "Could get through this one". Bad books clutter my time. Moving on!

Louise said...

One of the things I love most about my Kindle is the ability to read a free sample before purchasing a book. Like Tyler Cowen, I reject about 90% after reading the samples.

Time is my greatest commodity. Wasting it on a book that doesn't grab me is pointless!

Jeri Dansky said...

Louise, I do the same thing with sample iBooks on my iPad. Lots of samples never turn into purchases.

Geralin Thomas said...

Before putting a book in the donate pile, I typically go online and read a few reviews of the book. I look for someone who has reviewed a lot of books and, based on the reviewer's review, I keep on reading or ditch it. Reading *their* review sometimes helps shift my thinking and gets me engaged in a way I wouldn't have been able to do on my own.

@Melanie, I'm new to Goodreads and I'm heading there now to stalk you. Um, I mean follow you. I can't wait to see what you're reading.