Tuesday, November 04, 2008

On Not Reading Sucky Books...

If you're still wondering, as I am, how I managed to read 21 books in October, I have to give credit to a newfound philosophy: don't read sucky books.
That is, when my mood is sour, a book isn't blowing my skirt up, and I just don't feel like reading something, I put it aside. Sometimes it goes back on the stacks, sometimes it goes in the used bookstore "sell back" sack, and other times I give it away.
For years I had a weird compulsion to finish every single book I started. Given my finicky reading tendencies, I just can't do that consistently. Especially when I have trouble settling on something--anything. It's exhausting.
Right now I'm in a "startitis" kind of mood. I stole that term from Danielle at A Work in Progress, and it sure fits! I started The Year of Living Biblically, and I'm not really in the mood for it. I picked up Tender at the Bone, and I'm not terribly enthused. Now I'm picking at a cute YA book called Dear Julia, by Amy Bronwen Zemser. This one might stick, but it'll be a bit longer before I can say for sure.
Do you ever get startitis, and how do you get over it?
Cheers to not finishing books we don't like, readers! If you're ever wondering why 80% of my reviews are positive: because I don't finish books I abhor! Most of the time I don't even bother with books I'm lukewarm about.
Life's too short. Read like your hair is on fire.
I think I'll have that motto tattooed on my forehead.
Happy election day! Even if you don't vote for Obama, JUST GO VOTE!
Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote!
And if you're in a country other than the U.S., sit back and have a turkey sandwich.


  1. I agree! I'll normally give the book 75-100 pages (especially if it has been recommended) BUT I have a strict "don't waste my precious reading time" policy.

  2. I guess I need to do this. There were only a few books I put down this year.

  3. I am a big advocate of putting down a book if I don't like it or putting it down for a later read if I'm not in the mood. Great books can be spoiled by reading them at the wrong times.

  4. Andi, loving the temporary makeover of Tripping - looking forward to a very late night here in the UK staying up to catch some of the early exit polls. It must be so exciting in the States! And completely agree about not finishing sucky books. Life is too short to labour through a book because you "should"!

  5. Kristen depending on my mood I can give it anywhere from 50-100.

    Lenore, it's kind of liberating!

    Amanda, amen sister! And that's a great point. There have been some books I've ultimately loved that I wouldn't have if I'd read them at the wrong time.

    Logophile, it is really exciting! My head hurts from political info overload.

  6. You just addressed what sometimes makes me feel guilty. I will see how some of my dear friends persevere through a book which seems boring to me, I admire this.
    For the longest time I tried to emulate this discipline...
    You just gave me permission to say, "enough" ! yes life is short, get lost in a book, if you do not, give it away, someone else might love it.
    I am going to try this, will let you know how I am doing, I always feel undisciplined if I do not finish what I started.

    Have a nice evening and I hope the best man wins

  7. I've always suffered from 'startitis' especially if I get a bunch of new books at one time. I have to read a little bit of each one, but it is my guilt at having so many half-reads that make me finish them. If I really hate a book, I will give it 50-100 pages before chucking it.

  8. You know, I was thinking about my reviews too and I would say most of them are positive but it's just that I refuse to spend time on books I'm not enjoying. There's got to be something in the book - even if it's not going to be a favorite - to motivate me to finish it. I have way too many books waiting on the shelves to spend time on books I don't like.

    However, if it's a book that I think may have potential it does go back on my shelves for another shot later. This year I was definitely surprised by two books which I had set aside a while back and finally read this year and they are probably two of my favorite reads!

  9. I think you should definitely get that motto tattooed on your forehead.

  10. Nice policy. I might have to start implementing it. :) And of course I voted today - I can't wait to see how it turns out. Just a few more hours now!

  11. I have tried to implement that policy, but have some sort of weird reader's guilt when I put a book down after starting it.

    The book I just finished, The Raw Shark Texts, started off slow, and were I not reading it for book club, I might have put it down, but about 80 pages in it became unputdownable and I was up half the night finishing it.

    (both Tender at the Bone and Year of Living Biblically were good I thought, and TatB is really the best of her memoirs, the others are much more self-indulgent)

    Happy Reading!

  12. I completely agree Andi - life is too short to read crappy books is my motto! I used to religiously finish every book I started a few years ago but in recent times, when life has been a bit more hectic and I like to think I'm a little older and wiser, if a book doesn't grab me I put it aside. There are too many fantastic, interesting, "right for me" reads out there!

  13. Hooray! I completely agree - and honestly, sometimes I don't even give a book 50 pages. I can tell pretty quickly if a book is going to work for me, so some only get 1 or 2 chapters.

  14. After plugging through all 600-plus pages of The Golden Notebook even though I wasn't fond of it from the start, I decided not to torture myself any longer. Especially when there's not nearly enough time to read all the good books that are out there!

    Diary of an Eccentric

  15. I have to finish every book I pick up. Sometimes that ends up being a good thing, but a lot of times it just means that it takes me forever to finish because I'm not motivated to read and would rather do anything else. Maybe someday I'll be able to break out of that habit like you have!

  16. I do not have startitis, but I am on board with the not reading sucky books plan. If I'm not grabbed in the first few pages, off it goes. This happens more and more as I get older. I just don't have time!

  17. It's quite normal for me to start with a handful of books at the same time. Whether or not I finish all of them in the usual couple or so days or something that would stretch for months is another story.

    When a book doesn't reel me in at first I normally put it back in the pile and hope that in the future I'd be able to read it. I do that because I want to finish the books I decide to read.

    Lately though I think I'm shifting my perspective because it seems I'm wasting my time when I could use those perusing better books.

    Gee, I just confused myself with that. LOL!

  18. I might have to start doing this as well!


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