Tuesday, May 3, 2011

When Do You Stop Reading?

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of reading. After a really busy semester, it’s been great to spend hours curled up with a good book. Unfortunately, I’ve found very few of those. In fact, I’ve been fairly disappointed with a lot of the books I’ve read recently. When I look at the book reviews I’ve posted, there’s a fairly even distribution between all the star rankings. However, all the five star books are ones I read last year. I’ve only read one four star book this year (Paranormalcy) and an awful lot of two or three stars.

Even though all the books I’ve read recently have been not so great, I’ve still finished all of them (with one exception). I forced myself to finish Shiver, and I’m currently trudging through The Uninvited which is supposedly a ‘gripping thriller’ but is actually quite boring. I could quite happily put the book down and never thing of it again.

So why don’t I? Honestly, I’m not quite sure. It could be it’s unfair to review a book I haven’t finished, or it’s cheating to count a half-finished book in my 100-books-this-year challenge. Those are part of it, but overall I think I just have this feeling that a book is a complete entity, meant to be read and enjoyed (or hated) in its entirety. Whenever I pick up a book, it’s like I make a commitment to read the whole thing ‘for better or for worse.’

Of course, this doesn’t apply all the time. Last week I read six chapters of Carrie Vaughn’s Discord’s Apple and then decided not to continue. My reasons for this were twofold: First off, the story was boring. There were perhaps four different plot lines and I didn’t see how they fit together. Even though the book was actually for adults, the whole idea seemed a little juvenile. Secondly, there was a lot of sexual content for no apparent reason. Sometimes a book needs to mention sex (like in Impossible). As long as it’s counted as bad and not really described, I’m okay with it, but in Discord’s Apple there were multiple sex scenes, all described, and they didn’t help the plot at all. They were just there because sex scenes are supposedly interesting.
Basically, I’ll struggle through any book that’s relatively clean, but once it goes too far in terms of sexual content or swearing I’ll put it down. A clean book that’s really poorly written may also get set down, but it’s much more likely that I’ll keep reading.

What about you? Do you ever stop reading books, or do you struggle through to the bitter end? What makes you stop reading?


  1. I'm a book finisher now that I review everything I read. Before, I didn't mind stopping. I quit The NightWorld series after one and a half of the stories (there are multiple stories in each volume), The Wicked Series (not Wicked by Gregory Maguire; the YA Wicca series) after one book (there are two books in one), and stopped in the middle of the third Blue Bloods book after force-reading the other two. Oh, and I think I stopped in the middle of Ghost Huntress, but that wasn't because I didn't like it. Something happened to where I had to stop reading for a while, and once I got back, I had already started another book at random, so I'll have to get that to that one some day.

    However, if I didn't have the obligation to review books, I'd stop if I were bored. For example, I probably would have finished Rampant, Black Hole Sun, Bleeding Violet, Incarceron, or Guardian of the Dead. Those are just some off the top of my head.

    And I'm with you. I hate sex scenes. I can handle them if they're just a quick scene and not graphic, but I'd rather just not read them at all. I mean, there are already enough teenagers pregnant. We don't need books glorifying sex in teens, in my opinion.

  2. Well, for me it depends. With anything written in the past 20 years I quit after the first person swearing.

    With most classics I try to finish. I did quit Don Quixote a few weeks ago after reading 150 pages. I'll finish it some other time when I feel like struggling some more.

    I've quit a lot of books in the past month or so. Some of them were because of content, some because of boredom, or because I didn't have time to finish. I used to never never let myself quit a book; happily for me, I've gotten over that.

  3. I'm reading Everything Worth Knowing, by Lauren Weisberger. I received it one year from my sister, and I have never read it.
    Right now, it's not like I've stopped reading the book, I just haven't gotten interested in it yet. Before I started reading it, I bought her other two books Chasing Harry Winston (which I wanted to read) and Last Night at Chateau Marmont. I actually want to put EWK down and start reading the other two books. It's not that the book is bad, the story is a bit boring.

    I'm with you guys on the sex scenes too. I think I read wayy too many romance novels in college and I think I might have had enough. I have written sex scenes before, but not in a long time. And you're right. It does take away from the story. All we need to know is that the hero and heroine did the deed (if they did), and that is it.

    Maybe there shouldbe a story out there in which a character promotes abstinence. :)

  4. For the most part, I'm also a book finisher. I must finish the book, for the reviews sake and for my reading challenge's sake. xD
    The only books I've put down and not picked up again are Sphinx's Princess, which was boring and Will Grayson, Will Grayson, which was dirty and depressing beyond belief; and New Moon because Bella was annoying the crap out of me.
    Then series I quit reading were The Mortal Instruments, His Dark Materials,Uglies, and The Prophecy of the Sisters one.

    And sex scenes...*headdesk* I hate it when I'm reading a perfectly good book, then BAM! SEX! No need to put that there people. Really.

  5. I'm glad to see that you guys are with me on this. I think I would finish less books if I was pressed for time.... Now that it's summer and I have all the time in the world, I can waste time with bad books. Once fall comes and I have barely any time, I'll probably quit more.

    And it's encouraging to see that you guys don't care for sex scenes either. Seriously, they should just cut them. Maybe it's 'realistic' but it doesn't help the book. I'm NEVER going to have my characters have sex just to show how much they love each other or something like that... Sex scenes just show how much they lust for each other. It's just hard writing abstinent characters b/c then they come across as prissy and self-righteous.

  6. I am a book finisher. I can never, ever put down a book, no matter how much I hate it. I've been that way ever since I could read on my own.

    It's interesting to see how many people don't care for sex scenes. I wonder if the publishers know that... I recently read Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye for class, and we had the option of skipping over the fairy graphic rape scene. I was going to, but even skipping a few pages ended up driving me so crazy that I had to go read them, just so I felt like I had finished the book.