My mom and I have an ongoing debate, and I’m sure all of you fall clearly on side or the other. If I start reading a book, and it doesn’t capture my attention, I stop reading. My mom, on the other hand, feels obligated to finish. This is generally true even if she’s reading the book for her own pleasure, not for her book group. Perhaps it’s her Yankee stick-to-it-ness (which I thought I shared, but maybe not?) that compels her to finish what she started. More likely, she’s always hopeful that the book will improve, and it will all pay off in the end.
I used to be more patient with my reading materials, but once I experienced the trials and tribulations of trying to get published, I became more demanding. When I first submitted my work to agents, I was rejected many times. Rejection is part of the deal if you want to get published, but rejection is often based on a query letter—just a few short paragraphs. If I were lucky, an agent might request five pages or even a chapter, but I learned that the decision to accept or reject was swift and unequivocal. Eventually, I landed an agent and a publishing contract and a new attitude when reading other writers’ books. Hook me right away or I throw you back into the sea of words.
Does this seem harsh? Impatient? Perhaps, but I’ve decided that my time is too precious to spend it reading books that don’t delight me or engage me from page one. My decision to stop reading isn’t necessarily an indictment of the book. There are prize-winning, critically acclaimed books that didn’t strike my fancy, and I chalk that up to personal preference. For example, I think I may be the only person on planet Earth who didn’t love “Memoirs of a Geisha.”
A couple of years ago, when I was visiting a book club, one of the members shared her formula for deciding when to keep reading and when to stop. She suggested you subtract your age from 100, and the answer is the number of pages you should read a book before calling it quits. This makes sense to me; the older we get, the less time we have to spend on books that are unsatisfying.
What do you think? Do you feel obligated to keep reading? Do you have a formula for determining how many pages you’ll read before putting down a book for good? Does it depend on what type of book it is?
Karen B. you won Friday's giveaway from Chevy Stevens! Leave your email address in the comments so we can get a book to you!