The Sunday Salon: Abandoning a book (and one book I can't wait for you to read!)

Sunday, August 14, 2011


This weekend, I came across an interesting post that got me thinking. It was by no means a new topic or a different look at already-known things but for some reason, it motivated this post. I was reading an article by Dave Astor at Huffington Post about not finishing books, especially the well-known ones. It's an icky situation we have all found ourselves in, occasionally. There's this book that every one is raving about and the next time I see the book at a library or bookstore, I want to experience it for myself. And the book is truly good, but just a few pages in and I abandon it. Or the book is nothing like the images inspired in my mind and the whole anticipation balloon just deflates.

So many books, so little time
The cover of this book
perfectly describes my situation.
I've done this many times. If I had to count all the books I abandoned this year, the count would already be in the double digits. And these aren't the books I hated. There are those books too - books that bored me to death right from the start, or books that are so abysmally horrible to read (at least for me), and so I just abandon them and remove them from all my shelves at goodreads (which is where I catalog my reads). But there are the other stranded books - books that are certainly good, enjoyable, intriguing, magnificent, and every-other-positive-adjective-that-you-typically-use-with-books. But a few pages in and something just doesn't click. I can see the brilliance of the book and I can see why others have been raving about it. But either the timing is bad or I haven't been able to read it as much as I wanted to, or I came across a more fascinating book, or you name it. The result is I don't get back to the book in days and before I know it, I've already forgotten what made the book feel fabulous. Rather than risk going through it again immediately, I shelve them back, hoping that someday I'll return back to them.

Some of the books that went that route include Annabel by Kathleen Winter (a book that I've been waiting to read since last year), The Devil all the Time by Donald Ray Pollock (which I started reading at a time when I needed a short break), The Descent of Man by Kevin Desinger (which I started reading at work, but then work got too busy for me to return to it), The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (I still remember how much I was wowed by this one), The Jack Bank by Glen Retief (I was reading this at one of the busiest times of my life this year) and The Map of Time by Felix Palma (once I realized this book will need a lot of time, I began neglecting it). And these are all books that I enjoyed reading, whatever few pages I had a chance to read before giving up.

Does that happen to you? Giving up on a book that you are truly enjoying?

Ready Player One
In other news, I'm reading this awesome fast-paced book that is proving to be too hard to put down. It's been a long time since I slept late or woke up early just to read. The credit goes to Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, which you might have heard of. The book's already got a lot of buzz and is going to be released on August 16th. Apparently, it has also acquired a film deal and halfway into the book, I can see that it will make an excellent movie because it's got all the elements that would make it fantastic for the big screen - pacing, action, romance, a big challenge, dystopia, scifi flavor, and everything about it is very futuristic. The book is set in the not-so-far future where the earth conditions have deteriorated so much and people use this massive virtual reality system called OASIS on a daily basis to escape into. OASIS is everything the real world isn't but what's upped the interest is the contest introduced by the will of the creator of OASIS after he died, the winner of which will inherit the entire wealth of the dead heir-less owner. Sounds intriguing? I can't wait to review it! My brother's begging me to finish the book soon and send it to him!

32 comments:

Helen Murdoch said...

I just heard about this book for the first time on another blog so am now really intrigued to read your review. I also just finished a Donald Ray Pollock book (Knockemstiff) and was really torn about it: very well written, great character development, but it just wasn't for me

Laurel-Rain Snow said...

Usually I give up on a book because I don't connect with the characters, or I literally HATE all the characters.  I have to like at least one character to keep going.

I think that hype is also the enemy.  It builds our expectations, which are then bound to be lowered by the actual experience.  I try not to read hyped books too much, or at least not until I have realistic expectations.

Thanks for sharing....

Here's my Sunday Salon post:



http://accidentalmoments.wordpress.com/2011/08/14/the-sunday-salon-distractions-august-14/ 

zibilee said...

I hardly ever give up on a book, because I feel guilty. It's a horrible feeling for me, and since a lot of the books I read are review books, I feel the necessity to continue, even if they aren't working for me. I admire you for being able to put things down though, as I think that would feel somewhat satisfying and would make my reading a lot more pleasant. It's not often that I think about abandoning a book, but when I do, I long to be the kind of  person who could just let it go.

I am also really excited about Ready Player One and can't wait to get into it. It sounds like an excellent read!

Juju at Tales of Whimsy... said...

Yes.
I realllly believe how we receive a book has allot to do with where we are when we read it.
Great point!

bermudaonion (Kathy) said...

It's rare that I don't finish a book, but it does happen from time to time.  I got Ready Player One as well.  Your the second person to rave over it so I'm really eager to get to it.

Veens said...

Yes, yes and yes! Happens to me all the time. There are just so many good books with glorifying reviews, I just am not able to get into.

I do want to read the book you mention here, because it sounds awesome. :)

christa @ mental foodie said...

I have already abandoned 9 books this year - they're just books I can't get engaged in for one reason or another - usually the plot is too slow for me and I got impatient, or that I just didn't care what happened to the characters... Haven't heard of Ready Player One - can't wait to read your review!

christa
http://mentalfoodie.blogspot.com mental foodie

Marce said...

Sometimes it is the perfect book at the perfect time, harmony. Wish it was easy to pick then.

Ti said...

I passed on Ready Player One. I think I made a huge mistake. 

Lisa said...

I'm terrible about not finishing books--I have to finish everything I start. I wish I could put a book down and hold off on it until after I'm more in the mood for it. Might like a lot of books a lot more.

Athira / Aths said...

I have been hearing of Knockemstiff a LOT lately. Once I finally read his newest (The Devil All the Time), I will pick that one too, if I like the former. I just finished Ready Player One and am finally relieved that I can get back to all the things I've been neglecting, lol! It was a wonderful read.

Athira / Aths said...

You're right about hype. Most often that is what ruins a book for me. Then other times, it is busy life. Things get hectic and sometimes I can't read a particular book so often that soon I forget it.

Athira / Aths said...

I used to be like that - I never ever gave up on a book. Guilt, hope, OCD all were my reasons for that. I would give up only if I absolutely hated a book, and knew for sure that I will never love it even if it was redeemed at the end. But lately, I've been trying to make my reading work with my busy schedule. So sometimes I don't return back to a book because it feels heavy or needs a larger time commitment and possibly things are hectic at my end. Like right now, I barely read Mon-Thu, so if I started a book on Sunday, then I will have to wait till Friday to read it and by then, I've already forgotten all about it.

Athira / Aths said...

Thanks! I agree with you - timing is so important.

Athira / Aths said...

I can't wait to hear what you think of it. It has a lot of 80s references, but mostly pop culture stuff.

Athira / Aths said...

I just finished Ready Player One and am finally relieved that I can get back to all the things I've been neglecting, lol! It was a wonderful read. And I know what you mean by there being so many reviews of a book that when we finally get to it, it doesn't work at all.

Athira / Aths said...

I do like the flexibility of picking a book and abandoning it if it isn't working. Previously I would feel guilty if I did that, but at some point, I stopped worrying and just finding books that worked for me at that time. Although it means a lot of abandoned books, at least the reading part is fun, and that's what matters right?

Athira / Aths said...

I agree - that's just how it should be. 

Athira / Aths said...

Awww... I hope you will still come across  Ready Player One at some point. I just finished the book and am finally relieved that I can get back to all the things I've been neglecting, lol! It was a wonderful read.

Athira / Aths said...

I used to be like that at one point - I had to finish every book I started. At some point, I've started putting down books if the timing isn't right and abandoning them totally if they aren't working for me.

Delia said...

I've wanted to read 'The Catcher in the Rye' for a long time and when I finally got around to it...let's just say I made it about halfway and then I couldn't take it anymore. I'm not sure if I will ever try to read it again...

ChewDigest said...

Oh Aths, this post is making me laugh....at myself. Just last month, I was completely entranced by a book, but I had to shelve it because the author and I had differing opinions over what the term "third- generation American" meant. In my head, it meant the third person to be born on American soil. The author meant the third generation to make the US their home. Both, I have learned, are acceptable definitions for the term, but the author used it so often that it bothered the heck out of me! 

You are right, timing is everything, even with reading:)

lenasledgeblog.com said...

This has happened so many times, I think I have about a hundred unfinished books. I tell myself, I will return to them, but I never do. I have 35 books on my Kindle so far and have only completely finished reading two or three. I think it's an addiction..buying books. Something about buying it and hoping to escape far away just to realize the book is so boring, you can't imagine anything going anywhere or that it's so awful, my reality is better than the fiction I'm reading. But we still have them I suppose, so there is always hope that one day we will finish them.

Marie said...

It definitely happens. Last week or so I did a huge weed of my library and came across about a half dozen books I had put down and completely forgotten about- oops! Oh well, maybe I'll finish some of them!

softdrink said...

Two or three years later, I still have Orhan Pamuk's Istanbul sitting on the shelf, half read, just waiting for me to finish it. And my shelves are full of many other half read books. So yeah, it happens all the time.

However...you really should go finish Dorian Grey!! It's short! And totally worth it. :-D

Athira / Aths said...

I know what you mean. It's very distressing when that happens with a book you've been looking forward to. And once you start losing interest, it's very rare that you will return to it.

Athira / Aths said...

Oh and then there's that problem - when your opinions don't sync up with that of the writer's. It would be pretty hard to continue with the book.

Athira / Aths said...

I agree - I keep hoping that someday I will get back to them. I don't know when the someday comes or if it will come, but it's nice to tell that to myself.

Athira / Aths said...

That would be even more surprising. I get shocked mostly when I open up my goodreads shelves and tally how many are sitting there half-read.

Athira / Aths said...

Haha! I know I should get back to Dorian Gray. Many readers keep telling me that! I think I will one day - for sure!

Glen Retief said...

I very seldom give up on a book, unless I'm not enjoying it.  But I understand about people abandoning mine (The Jack Bank).  As you did!  As one reviewer put it, it's a dark, uncompromising story.  It takes a hard look at human nature--our sadistic and masochistic tendencies in particular.  I very much appreciate people who stick with me as I look into overcoming my own and others' craziness.  Many say the book goes down very smoothly and is very compelling.  But it is a bit like Angela's Ashes or Bastard Out of Carolina--you have to be in a certain kind of mood for it, and I can see how being overwhelmed by life would be completely the wrong frame of mind!  Anyway, I have never read Dorian Gray, but I have to say I am kind of honored to be next to Wilde on your "Abandoned" list.  ;-)   Thanks for giving The Jack Bank a good try.

Nishita said...

Haha, I am in the same boat with Istanbul. I eventually realized I would never complete it and so I gave it away :(