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Old 01-28-2008, 02:31 PM   #1
comtrjl
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The agony and the ecstasy ..

Does anyone else ever get a feeling of guilt at starting a book and then, after struggling for a bit, simply give it up? Or, having started, do you stick it to the bitter end without ever really getting into it? I recently began a novel by a highly respected English novelist - supposedly one of his masterpieces - but almost from the beginning just couldn't relate to it and eventually abandoned it. Fortunately he has long since passed away, so he'll never know ..
Conversely - partly because of the near-instant gratification factor and availability of ebooks - I occasionally discover something I wouldn't have glanced twice at in a bookshop, only to find it unexpectedly enjoyable. One such was Elizabeth von Arnim's 'German Garden', kindly posted by Patricia and there are numerous others.
Sorry if this is the wrong part of the forum; but I'd be interested to hear of anyone else's experiences.
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Old 01-28-2008, 02:48 PM   #2
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Yes, this happens to me more than I'd like to admit. Sometimes I just need to give it time, and eventually I'll get absorbed. Other boos just never catch on, and I spend literally months slogging through before giving up half or even 3/4 of the way through.
As for the converse, there are certainly books and authors I've found because they were ebooks. Bill Bryson comes to mind. I bought A Short History of Nearly Everything on as an ebook when it first came out on a whim and I've since read and/or listened to everything else he's written. If it hadn't been on the front page of the Palm Digital Media (as it was back then) website, I never would have found an author I greatly enjoy now.
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Old 01-28-2008, 03:01 PM   #3
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As a general rule I give a book 50 pages, If its still boring me after 50 pages I start thinking its gonna be abandoned. At 60 if its still has no redeeming qualities I let it go and delete it. If its a 'classic' and highly regarded I'll slog through 2 or 3 hundred pages trying to 'get it'. I nearly abandoned The Brothers Karamosov because of how slow it was moving after 50 pages but stuck with it anyway since it has nearly legendary status as the best novel ever written. I'm so glad I did. By page 200 I was hooked beyond getting loose and wished it was 5 thousand pages long!

Before I abandon a book I also consider how many pages it has to go. Recently I stuck with a spaceship named Mcguire because I liked the writing and I liked the main character but the story was a bit lame. I stuck with it because it was short.
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Old 01-28-2008, 03:01 PM   #4
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I usually just stick it out.
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Old 01-28-2008, 03:03 PM   #5
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The agony and the ecstasy ..

Quote:
Originally Posted by comtrjl View Post
Does anyone else ever get a feeling of guilt at starting a book and then, after struggling for a bit, simply give it up?
Absolutely. If I don't "get into a book" fairly quickly then I drop it and find another. There are too many books in the world to keep going with one I don't enjoy reading.
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Old 01-28-2008, 03:45 PM   #6
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I agree with morty1753 -- it's perfectly alright not to like some books or even entire bodies of works by some authors. I'm always incensed when someone tells me what I should and should not like.

With that said, there have been times when I've forced myself and found that while the first 50 or even 100 pages didn't catch my fancy, by the 150th page I was totally wrapped up in the book and went on to read many more by the same author.

So there's no telling what my threshold is. But I will proudly say that there are some of the "greats" which I don't like and can see no reason for their being on any lists of great authors.

And just the opposite, there are some authors who are written off as trite and formulaic which I absolutely love reading and feel should be on the lists of great authors because of the pleasure they give me. PGWodehouse is one such author, and it bothers me every time I hear anybody criticize his work as being not great literature.

Heck, what is 'great literature' but simply works which have moved a great many people over a great many years? And when they cease to move anybody anymore they should be moved to lists of 'once-great literature' to make room for the new works which move entire generations.
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Old 01-28-2008, 04:06 PM   #7
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Herbert's "Dune" is a perfect example for me. Everyone I know loves it but after about 50 pages (filled, as I recall, with too many names of people, places, etc. than I could stand), I was confused and simply hadn't been "caught" by it - so I gave it up. It's unfortunate because in the long run I can imagine I might have enjoyed it a great deal. But I'm not willing to wait very long to find that out. It happens to me fairly often. To help, I look hard at reviews but that's not a very reliable solution.
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Old 01-28-2008, 04:17 PM   #8
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I was an English major for a number of years... over the course of that I found a number of authors I'd rather spoon out my eyes than read. Anything by a Bronte sister, Flannery O'conner.... Henry James (why on earth would you make a paragraph last for pages!?)

I'm sure they're dandy writers, but that doesn't mean anything if I can't slough through it.
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Old 01-28-2008, 04:28 PM   #9
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Henry James (why on earth would you make a paragraph last for pages!?)

.
You haven't read Proust then. He has the longest paragraphs ever.
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Old 01-28-2008, 04:30 PM   #10
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I know... and it makes me sad, because I'd very much like to read Proust. And O'Connor, for that manner... As for James and the Bronte sisters I don't particularly care.
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Old 01-28-2008, 04:56 PM   #11
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It happens to me too. I usually tough it out, hoping for enlightenment. Sometimes when I'm grinding through something that I don't 'get' I am aided by reading what others say about it (literary criticism or even just synopsis). Most of the time I have only the satisfaction of completing what I started at the end.

I was re-reading something just days ago that I didn't get in my youth. I am embarassed to tell you it was Deus Irae, by P.K. Dick and R. Zelazny, and it still doesn't "work" for me. Those are two of my all-time-favorite authors yet together they wrote what I only value as a disturbing tale and an old-fashioned poke at religion. I understand some of the symbolic meaning but I STILL don't see why they were driven to write this one. I'm probably just missing a sense of awe at their cleverness or I just don't get the joke.
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Old 01-28-2008, 05:41 PM   #12
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When I was a teenager I read the Lord of the Rings trilogy all the way to the middle of the third volume, got bored, and quit. Nobody could believe I never finished it. Then, when the movies were due to come out, I decided to try again. I stuck with all the "over hills and over dales" and found I liked it -- but that was 30-some years later!

When I was in the Peace Corps in Brazil, on a small boat on the Amazon river, I was so depressed by a Joyce Carol Oates book I had started that I threw it overboard. I've been happy to think of it over the years, long since disintegrated or eaten.

"There's no accounting for taste."
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Old 01-28-2008, 07:40 PM   #13
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It's very rare that I drop a book. The closest I have got in the last few years is The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It is the most depressing book I have read ever! Anything after the first 50 pages was a struggle and I still can't really figure out why I fininshed it (sheer bloody mindedness I guess )
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Old 01-28-2008, 07:41 PM   #14
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How much to read before deciding....

I read a suggestion about how much to read before deciding whether or not to finish a book. The pundit said to take 100 and subtract your age. The result is how many pages you ought to struggle through before you quit. Obviously, with this formula, as you age, you devote less and less time before you decide to dislike something. Perhaps because there is less time left?!? But also, I think my tastes are more fixed now then when I was 18; I can decide faster whether something will suit me or not.

So: 100 - <your-age> = number-of-pages-to-read-before-quitting
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Old 01-28-2008, 07:46 PM   #15
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So: 100 - <your-age> = number-of-pages-to-read-before-quitting
How do we modify that formula for "reflowable" e-books? If I REALLY don't like a book, I'll just bang it up to the maximum font-size and be done in half the time...
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