Poll: When Do You Give Up On A Book?

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To paraphrase those who are in the business of writing about books: Life is too short to read anything you do not enjoy. Do you have certain criteria for setting aside books? Or are you a reader who stays until the bitter end? Let’s compare notes.

My personal rule is this: The book has the first third of its pages to win me over. If I don’t have some reason—however small—to keep going, I move on to another book. That said, I don’t give up on many books because I’m a fairly indulgent reader who often thinks, Well, let’s see where this goes. Also, I don’t pick up anything I anticipate disliking.

However, here are three books that did not warrant my continued attention:

Raylan by Elmore Leonard

Who are these blurb writers? Who honestly believes that his work is “pure pleasure” when they read this book? They must be referring to other books. Are they respectfully indulgent because they’ve enjoyed his previous work? The man wrote around 40 books—some of them must be decent, right? I tried to be fair here, but I hated Raylan.

The only way I could possibly recommend this book is if you have some masochistic desire to compare it to Justified. The hour and a half I wasted on it was entirely too much time.

The Book of Gin: A Spirited World History from Alchemists’ Stills and Colonial Outposts to Gin Palaces, Bathtub Gin, and Artisanal Cocktails by Richard Barnett

That’s one mouthful of a title, isn’t it? I like my gin dry, but this book was too dry for me. It’s really more about prohibition attempts in general, but with a focus on liquor over beer. Gin is the most magical of liquors, but apparently I don’t want to know THAT much about it. How about we just drink a Russian Lit and call it good?

And The Ass Saw the Angel by Nick Cave

This is the book that inspired this post, as it is the most recent I’ve quit reading. I even went a little beyond the first third of the story to see if something would keep me there, but no. It’s tragedy-porn masquerading as religious allegory, drowning in a sea of adjectives. I know there are Nick Cave die-hards out there who will disagree, and I know I differ in taste compared to those who really dig transgressive writing, but on top of all the rural-suffering plot mechanics, I was bored. I’ll stick to his music, thanks.

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