literary food blog, for readers with good taste.

Confessions of a Book Abandoner


This post is supported by Grammarly. I use Grammarly's online proofreader because my weary eyes see what they want to see — not what's actually there.

My favorite question in our weekly At The Table With post is "What is the last book you abandoned?" I love coaxing interviewees into admitting a small failure — either of their own, or of an author's — and learning their opinion on the matter. It's very telling. As it turns out, giving up on books partway through is a divisive topic. Many people, like me, believe there's no point in and no time for reading something that doesn't entertain or educate. The opposition can't even consider not finishing a book.

As a book blogger, it's sometimes difficult to maintain my attitude. I prefer to withhold comment than to slam a book, at least on this blog. I want PAPER/PLATES to be a place for celebrating excellent literature and — certain exceptions withstanding — I aim to preserve that spirit within its pages. Some publishers would prefer that I provide my opinion, even if it's negative, presuming that I'd be forming that opinion based on a complete reading.

And that's where they'd be wrong.

Considering I don't read for a living (though, man, wouldn't that be living the dream?), spending time finishing books that I'm likely to pan in the end is a waste. If I hate a book, I'm not going to force myself through to the end. I'm going to put it down and pick up another promising title. Every book I enjoy, I share with friends, family and readers of this blog. If it's bad or even mediocre, I won't waste my breath talking about it.

Many avid readers have rules about when it's "okay" to abandon a book. I've heard more than one person cite the 50-page rule, which means you read that far into a book before giving up on it. That seems fair to me, but when I'm faced with a story that doesn't grab me within the first 10 pages, the remaining 40 feel like Everest. Without the will, there's no way I can overcome them.

Although I'm completely comfortable setting unenjoyable books aside, I wonder if I should set a page-limit (or some other arbitrary measure) that will indicate that I gave it a fair shot. Here's where I'd love to learn from you. If you're a book abandoner like me, how do you decide it's time to move on to a new title? If you feel compelled to read books to completion, why? You may not convert me, but I'd love to hear your thoughts.

The TBR List: October 18

At The Table With...Megan Fleiner of Passports & Pancakes