Putting the book down…..

This is a difficult thing to think about.  As a general rule, I finish pretty much every book I start reading.  I’m pretty sure I can tell you the book title of every novel that I’ve put down without finishing over the past 7 or 8 years.  Some of the books I would still like to read eventually (Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby Jr. for example) and some books have scared me away from the author entirely (whose names I won’t mention here to be nice to the authors).

I’ve heard about different ways that people consider this.  I’ve heard about people who go 5 chapters and then give themselves permission to put the book down, for other people it’s 50 pages.  For me, it’s usually when the book is bothering me for some reason or I’m too busy to give the book the time it needs.

So for the first time in a couple of years, I’m putting a book down.  For anyone who saw that it was listed on my home page as my book I’m currently reading I’m no longer reading Neuromancer.  I’ve heard a lot of really good things about this book, but I just can’t do it right now.  This book is a Hard SF book and I just couldn’t get into it.

I’m a nerd, I’ve said it before on my blog, but one thing I am not is a computer geek.  I use computers for what I need them for, and then I’m done with them.  I don’t live on my computer, I doubt that I’m on my computer more than maybe an hour a day (and most of that recently has been looking for a job online and browsing through random blogs on wordpress (Quick question, why does the wordpress website consider “wordpress” to be a misspelled word? I’d imagine that running a website you would want your own domain name to show up as a properly spelled word.).

I read the first four chapters of this book, and I don’t think I could tell you any more about the book than what I read on the back cover.  The learning curve (you know, as much SF/F as I read I should do a post about the learning curve in books) on this book was just a little too steep for me, at least right now anyway.  I’ll probably try reading the book again eventually, but for now it’s going back on the shelf and I’m pulling up the next book.

Since I started my blog in March, I’ve read about 65 novels, and this is the first time that I’ve put one down without finishing it, even with the novels that I didn’t like very much).  My rating system goes from 1-10 and my description for a book receiving a 1 (which to this point is the only rating I’ve never given a book) is that the book offended me to the point where I didn’t finish it.  I’m not going to give Neuromancer a 1, I’m not going to give it a rating at all at this time, let’s just mark it as an incomplete.

Which brings up the question:  What makes you put down a book without finishing it?  Also, what are your rules for putting down a book?  Do you have to have X number of pages or chapters read before putting it down, or will you put it down very early if it just isn’t working for you?

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  1. I made the decision this morning to stop reading a book I am halfway done with. Yes. Halfway. I am not sure I’ve ever done that before. I know that it used to be that I couldn’t imagine not finishing a book that I started no matter what, and then I could remember every book that i started and stopped reading for some reason, and now I can’t remember them (more about my age, maybe?) and the reasons I stop reading vary. I thought that the book I was reading now would be just a small step above light fluff, and that was what I was looking for, but it turned out to have irritating characters and jumped around chronologically so that I had to think just too much for a step just above fluff. It made me not want to read at all. So when I picked up another book this morning and it grabbed me right away, I was relieved that my lack of desire to read was only because of that book right now.

  2. Thomas Gatsby Ink

     /  September 5, 2011

    I also put down Neuromancer the first time I tried to read it. Being a nerd and a massive fan of tech-noir, neo-noir, and cyberpunk movies such as Bladerunner, I figured that it would be similar, as Gibson had even commented that it was. I adored the environments and undergrounds which Gibson created, but there were sections where he lost me altogether. I’m in the process of rereading it (currently on Chapter 16), although it actually becomes harder to understand in the latter parts.

    • If it becomes harder to understand later then I think I’m glad I stopped when I did. I read the first four chapters and was pretty thoroughly lost. Eventually I’ll probably try to read it again, but it will probably be quite some time from now.

  3. I hardly ever put the book down. Once I start, for some reason I have to finish it. But I have set some down when my life gets too busy and I forget to pick them back up. When I remember, I have to start all over.

  4. In the past I rarely, if ever, put down a book once I started it. But now that I’ve got a baby and I’m about to turn 40, I’ve decided that I need to give myself permission to abandon books. So far, this has only been 1, LOL, but I have to start somewhere.

  5. I totally beat myself up on the rare occasion that I give up on a book. I can’t tell you how many bad books I’ve forced my way through because I’m too proud to put them down. Over the last couple of years, though, I’ve been better about giving myself permission to stop if I just really and truly don’t like it. I decided that life’s too short to waste time reading books I’m not enjoying.

    • hannahrose42

       /  November 11, 2011

      You said it! There are too many great books out there to spend times on the bad ones.

  6. hannahrose42

     /  November 11, 2011

    I would say I give up on a book when I realize I would rather be a different book. Another option would be if I started it for class: we had to read The Things They Carried (the first chapter) for a class. I enjoyed it, but didn’t have time to finish, so I put it down. A third reason (that I now realize meshes with the second) is that I don’t have time to do the book justice. For example, I started reading The Andromeda Strain over the summer and decided I was too busy… with work and the other books I would rather have been reading.
    Now that I have typed this all out, it appears that is all one big reason. I want to be reading something else. ACTUALLY different reasons might be terrible grammar/spelling, or boring/offensive subject.


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