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mygif

I always give a book 100 pages but only 100 pages. If I am not enjoying it at the 100 page mark, that’s where I drop out. If I was reading a humor book and it wasn’t funny, I’d probably break sooner.

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I drop out a hundred pages in if it’s just wasting my time beyond that. I had to look the guy up before the name came to me. Never did find him remotely amusing.

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I abandon books, I stop watching TV shows, I walk out of films and I skip tracks. Life’s too short to plough through things you’re not enjoying.

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Steve from the internets said on September 9th, 2016 at 3:25 pm

Run on sentence klaxon: I usually slog my way through bad books, however, a few times, when I’ve reached the point where I’m grimly, slowly, reading through a terrible book (because I can only stand a few pages at a time, whereas I’d be reading tens of pages of a good book) in a spirit of “fuck you, book, you’re not beating me”, I’ve had an epiphany and suddenly started thinking “fuck you book, my time is more valuable than this and there are loads of not-terrible books”, and given up on it.

I love books. It takes a truly terrible one to make me give up on it. I think I may have made it somewhere into the third Laurel K Hamilton before bailing (got them from the library so it was only my time I was wasting, not my money).
As I understand it, by the 27th book the Laurel K Hamilton character was a werewolf, werepanther, weredragon, space dracula wizard queen, and literally the entire world was in love with her. Not sure if that’s true, I’m just extrapolating.

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mygif

Just give up. You’ll feel better that way. I gave up on the Discworld book Snuff. It’s hard, but it’s worth it in the end.

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I used to be the same way, felt like a bad person if I gave up on a book once I started. But you should see my to-be-read queue. There’s a lot of really awesome, interesting, life-changing books in the world, and no matter what I do, I’m never ever going to manage to read even a tenth of every book I want to read before I fall apart of old age. So why spend my limited life time on bad books that I’m not enjoying, with so many gripping ones waiting and begging for my attention?

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mygif

Life’s short. Don’t waste time on useless things like a bad book. I used to be like you, I had to finish a book, even if it was plainly bad. No longer. I started reading Acacia trilogy with all the hopes in the world, especially with all the superlative endorsements it garnered. The books was garbage. I finished the first (barely) and couldn’t get past the first chapter of the second book before quitting. I started another book, couldn’t get past page 50 before quitting that. But I hit jackpot with the two subsequent books. There’s plenty of good books out there, don’t waste time on the bad ones.

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mygif

For me it’s largely a matter of length. If I’m about fifty books into a book and it’s not really thrilling me, but it’s only about 200 overall, I’ll probably finish it, even if I’m only paying perfunctory attention to what I’m reading. It would have to be pretty painful for me to quit under those conditions. If the book is half-a-thou pages long, I apply higher standards.

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I used to be a diehard completionist. Now I value my blood pressure and save my patience for dealing with human beings. Mind, it’s still hard to abandon something – but I don’t owe a work of art anything, it will never know if I quit, and I know from experience that there are plenty of works of art I’d’ve done better to avoid consuming. At least I can avoid consuming some junk.

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I almost always feel compelled to finish a book I don’t like, if only because that’s the only thing that’ll give me any right to complain about it afterwards. That said, I did give up on The Fountainhead after Part I, because I found that I hated each and every character and could not stomach the thought of spending another 600 pages with them.

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I have. It was a Gor novel. I don’t think I need to say much more

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My technique: don’t give up. Just start reading something else, and ignore the fact you somehow never get actually back to the original (crappy) book 😉

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bad internet decisions said on September 10th, 2016 at 5:27 am

there’s a limited amount of time in which you have to consume media, and then you die and don’t get to do that any more.

if something’s not edifying or entertaining you on some level, toss it — the clock is ticking. you literally do not have enough hours in your life to consume every good thing that has been/will be made, and every minute you waste on a thing you hate is a minute you weren’t getting into something actually worth your time and effort and attention.

basically just base all your life choices in terror of your own mortality and you’re set, i think? works for me!

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mygif

I once read a sample of a novel on a digital publisher’s site, put up to promote their wares. The writer’s style was teeth-grittingly irritating first person. Worse, a lightning strike was an important plot element, but they consistently misspelled it “lightening”!

I recently struggled through a nonfiction book on time capsules. It had a lot of useful information, but the writer’s style was barely readable. At one point a paragraph started on one page, went all the way down a second page and finally ended at the top of a third page.

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mygif

Hardly ever.

If I start a book then I finish it. No exceptions.

Some books might be a chore to finish, but I’ve learned to be more careful with book selection to compensate. I allow myself some limited research before committing.

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George Macdonald Fraser’s “the Reavers”. I loved his Flashman works and thought it’d be similar. I couldn’t get through half of it. Not my thing.

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mygif

For the most part I prefer to finish books, but there are exceptions. I’ve never managed to get through anything by Dickens. For me, every one has been an unbearable slog. And I’ve tried to read War of the Worlds about five times.

I also have problems with books where I can’t find a character I actually want to succeed. And some writers seem to confuse “smug jackass” with the “magnificent bastard” trope. I’ve had quite enough of that, thanks.

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Oops; meant to state that I didn’t even try to read past the sample of the first book, but completed the second because it *did* have some useful information.

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mygif

If I’m, say, 3/4 of the way through a book I’ll tend to slog it out to the end. Before that I’ll just tend to lose interest and not get around to continuing, rather than actually making a decision to stop reading.

Rarely, I’ll think “oh hell, no” and make an actual decision to put a book down, usually quite early on; notably, and disappointingly, Nichelle Nichols’ autobiography that is so self-congratulary that it couldn’t seem to go a couple of sentences without patting itself on the back.

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I have forced myself through books I’ve hated if I’ve liked what an author has done previously. I dragged myself through the last Song of Ice and Fire book and Terry Pratchett’s Snuff, even though the former was nothing but an exercise in ‘how many nasty, despicable POVs can one book possibly hold’ and the later was a once-great writer murdering his greatest creation because he was terrified by his own encroaching death and clinging desperately to the certainties of curmudgeonly self-righteousness.

But I made four attempts to read Quicksilver before I realized I was never going to enjoy its smug humanism nor its awful use of the present tense in historical fiction so I gave up. Life really is to short to sit through a bad book unless the book is so bad it is comedic to read.

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I rarely stop reading books deliberately, but frequently stop reading them incidentally. Because there’s always another book to pick up, and the bookmark will just sit there for years…

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I used to be someone that *had* to complete the book I was reading, but one book in particular cured me of that.

Nowadays, life’s far too short to keep reading a book I’m not enjoying, or especially one that has a character or characters that I loathe.

The book that cured me of needing to finish was the first of The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Hateful Whiny Rapist Scumbag.

Similarly, Mr Norrel of Jonathon Strange and Mr Norrel was a book that I ‘Oh HELL NO!’d out of after maybe 30-50 pages, because I’d already decided I wanted to see Norrel set on fire, and clearly it wasn’t going to happen any time soon in a thousand-plus page book.

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I try to make my way through books, good or bad. I made it through Twilight because my friend said not to attack it until I read it, which was fair.

However, after I had finished Discworld I went looking for another series and I found a few recommendations for the Xanth series. The first book was uneven, but I could see the promise in it and I was willing to give the second book a shot.

I got so angry by the second book that I finally rage-quit at the village of women who could’ve very easily solved the murderer of all their husbands and sons, but they just needed a man to tell them to actually do it.

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duquesne_pdx said on September 12th, 2016 at 6:06 am

I’ve completely given up on two books in my life.
1. An urban-apocalyptic-fantasy by either Michael Stackpole or Michael Reaves (can’t remember and can’t be bothered to look it up) about a Gary Stu white-ninja-wizard-demon hunter and oh-my-god-why-did-I-spend-money-on-this-book-talk-about-book-jacket-false-advertising.
2. Confederacy of Dunces. My (ex)wife insisted that it was the funniest book ever written.
100 pages in, the book sailed across the room in mid-sentence. Not because that sentence was especially un-funny, but because I had told my wife that I would give it 100 pages. It reminded me of a particularly loathesome Seinfeld episode with even more unlikeable, hateful, irredeemably narcississtic characters.

If you’re hating it after 100 pages, chances are that you’re going to continue to hate it. Pack it in.

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I’ve tried to read the first Game of Thrones book three times. I even bought the second in hardback on sale at Barnes and Noble when I bought the first because I’d heard that they were great (this was long before the show). I’ve gotten about halfway through it and said, “Nope. I just invested hours of time and effort of plowing through terrible people acting terribly and either no one noticing or no one caring, and you just killed off another POV character that I was starting to like. I’m out.”

I get that’s his shtick, that the world is a crapsack and it’s just getting crappier. I get that most authors wouldn’t kill off a main character after spending a hundred pages fleshing them out for you. I feel as though there may be a good reason for that.

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I’ll just skim through — beginnings and endings of chapters, etc. — if my interest gets re-piqued, I’ll go back and keep with it. Otherwise, I just read/skim the page or so to see how it ends. If it gets to that point, though, I probably don’t really care and am just getting a sort of closure.
I’ve gotten through many non-DS9 Star Trek novels that way.

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Rich Kilarski said on September 12th, 2016 at 10:50 am

I also used to be a completist, but learned my lesson with Terry Goodkind. I wanted to burn the first volume, but made it halfway through volume 3 before I just gave up. I figured, there’s so many in the series, there has to be something redeemable somewhere, right? Nope.

So now I give an author several chances, especially in a series. Getting through a book really doesn’t take that long anyway.

Given that: I couldn’t finish Neuromancer, no matter how hard I tried. I know, hate on me, go ahead.

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I have to say that generally I’m a completist, and have completely read almost all the better known works already mentioned (Thomas Covenant, Xanth, GoT, Laurel K Hamilton – I borrowed them off my dad in my defence, T.Goodkind, William Gibson, Snuff etc).

Occasionally though I give up. Couldn’t finish the last Pratchett one (Raising Steam?) mostly from sadness at how poor it was compared to the pre-illness stuff. I didn’t finsh the last William Gibson one I bought either – incomprehensible.

I’m currently trying to persuade myself to abandon the fourth of an amazingly cliched fantasy series, that I won’t inflict on the morbidly curious by name-checking. I managed to find something enjoyable in the first three, but this last one is so predictable, and not in an enjoyable way, that I’ve tried the trick several other people have mentioned: leaving it halfway through and reading some other works I had queued up. Might give it one last go to see if it picks up, although I doubt it.

Still not the worst crap I’ve read. That honour goes to Carole Nelson Douglas’ “Sword and Circlet” series. Read it in 1985 and hated it so much it still bugs me. Possibly because I read the first in the series and thought it was truly awful, so I bought the second to see if she could possibly repeat the trick, and it was even worse. Still read 50 odd pages to be sure.

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Not counting “The Scarlet Letter” and a book on relativity by Max Born, if I think a book is worth starting, I’ll finish it. But these days I’m pretty picky about the ones I start.

(For the record, I bailed on “Scarlet Letter” because I wanted to throttle the male leads. I’d had all of their company I could stand. And I bailed on Born because oh my God it’s dense. Max Born writes in the blood of martyrs — for an equal amount of blood, he makes himself clear.)

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You guys are really helping me out: like duquesne_pdx, I’ve bailed on some fantasy book (Mercedes Lackey maybe?) and Confederacy of Dunces. And I changed English classes three times in high school specifically to avoid reading the Scarlet Letter! (Looking back, I’m not positive why, but I went out of my way to do so!)

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I like the 100 page rule. Actually since I’m a speedreader I tend to give someone more pages, like maybe up till half of the book. But really, at some point you’re probably just gonna be all “I hate every minute I am reading this, and it hasn’t improved.”

Think about it this way: how many bad books have you kept reading and then they got better? I can think of one book that was a wallbanger early on, I stuck with it and it got somewhat better, then it became a wallbanger again. Not worth it.

Anyway…while I enjoyed Arrested Development, I can’t say David Cross is a favorite of mine because I suspected he’d come off just like your review mentions IRL.

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@Sisyphus: I don’t think that GRRM killed off (spoilers, but come on, even the TV show has been out seven years by now) Ned Stark just to show that the world was a crappy place, any more than Sophocles killed off Creon to show that the world was a crappy place. Ned Stark died because he had a rigid view of the world and his role in it, and that inexorably led him to make a tragic mistake (actually several, but his initial act of hamartia was giving Cersei a chance to flee into exile rather than moving against her quickly while Robert was still alive).

Yes, he was noble, but it wasn’t just a case of him being too good for the world or anything. He was just as unwilling to make peace with the Lannisters as he was to move against them. He was bound by a code of honor that served him badly, and one that relied more on the appearance of honor than actual virtue. (Notably, his biggest act of hamartia was his refusal to handle the bribing of the City Guard himself, because although he needed them bribed, he had his honor to think of.)

It’s pretty much a classic tragedy, hubris/hamartia/anagnorisis; the only difference is that GRRM keeps going.

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I tend to either put off finishing a book that doesn’t grab me until I forget I started it and force myself to finish a book I actively don’t like and avoid the writer after that. To borrow examples from above, it’s what got me off of Xanth after three book, Goodkind after 4 books, and Chuck Palahniuk after one. (I still have never hated a book as much as Pygmy.)

One noteable deviation was War and Peace. I got about 700 pages in, realized that I’d be equally uninterested in any combination of ending I could think of, and deliberately quit.

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@John Seavey: I’ve read way too many of the Greek tragedies. I get the tragic structure and that’s fine. It’s the way that the narrative (and, for that matter, the show) linger on these tragedies that just leaves me cold. I haven’t tried to read them in a long time. It’s been since the very first season of the show when I last made the attempt again. So my memory of them is not fantastic and I can’t really speak intelligently about them, but I just remember reading some passages and saying, “Yup. I don’t need to read anymore of that.”

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There is so much good to read/watch/do out there.

It used to be that the book I had in my backpack was the one I was stuck with for the flight/train/vacation so I slogged through a lot of cruddy books.

But now we live in an era where everything ever written is a 5 second download away.

I don’t waste time on bad books anymore and as a result I think I’ve found more amazing books than any time since I found the scifi section at the local library as a kid.

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I haven’t in a while, but yes. Life is too short to read bad books.

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@Sisyphus: Which is A-OK. :) I disagreed with your assessment of GRRM’s rationale, but I don’t even remotely disagree with your decision not to read the book. As far as I’m concerned, nobody ever needs to defend their decision to not pursue a particular leisure activity.

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philippos42 said on September 13th, 2016 at 9:40 pm

I didn’t even finish reading this post.

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Generally, I will slog through to the end. That being said,

If the David Cross book is so bad that you decided to write a post about it, then I think you should just stop and save yourself further pain.

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If I’m ready to give up on a book, but I’m still curious, I’ll end up skimming through it, reading random pages until I hit the end. It scratches the itch of completionism without the slog.

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Oh I found something related to this topic:
http://mrissa.livejournal.com/976556.html

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Were cut from the same cloth apparently because I’m the same way. I’ll do you one better, when I TiVo something I more or less have the same compulsion to finish no matter how horrible it is once I start it. It makes me very economical with my choices because I can only get sucked into so many Joe Dirt 2: beautiful loser’s before my sanity snaps.

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