Thursday, March 11, 2010


Besides being the year of D.E. Stevenson, 2010 is quickly becoming the year of the books I can label DNF - Did Not Finish. I've been casting things aside left and right.

I just like this cactus picture I took.

My personal revelations and goals for this blog have carried over into my reading in a big way. The older I get, the more I read, the more I expect from my books and the less of a chance I am willing to give a book that I consider to be sub-par. I want to read great books, amazing and moving books, that entertain or give me insight or just plain take me away. Friends, I have lost patience.

In years past I would plod through a book that I wasn't thrilled with. I'd sigh and moan and by the end, look at it with loathing. At least I finished the darn thing. Now I know that is no way to read.

How do I decide what I'm going to finish and what I'm not? I like the idea of the 50 page rule I read somewhere: Give it 50 pages to see if you like it. If you're over 50, do some subtracting and give it less pages. Presumably, you have even less time available in this lifetime for bad books. Often though, I don't even need 50 pages. One chapter can be enough to know I don't want to spend 350 pages with this story.

Sometimes it takes longer. A month or so ago I whined that nothing I was reading was catching my fancy. Kay told me to cast them all aside. What good advice! I stopped reading a 600+ page book 250ish pages in. I gave up on a 400 page book 150 or so pages in. The library books, I don't so much care about, but I get annoyed by the ones I've spent money on. How could you sell me this lousy book!

It's easy to tell when you've made the right decision about giving up on a book. It's when you look at it after you've decided and you feel great relief. A sigh of calm. You don't ever have to go back to that if you don't want to. There's a great book, and it's just around the bend. Or in that pile in the corner.


BabelBabe said...

it's Nancy Pearl's rule. She rocks.

and life is way TOO short to read books that you aren't loving.

Anonymous said...

Good for you! I am far too prone to keep plodding through a book I don't like with the notion that I am going to eventually figure out what it is other people like about it. Silly, really.

Bookfool said...

I've been using the 50-page rule for a year or two and I feel much, much better about my reading.

Love the cactus pic. :)

Anonymous said...

Such good advice! :)

Bree said...

Too True! I find the older I get the more I give up on books that aren't catching my fancy either. If it feels like it's taking me weeks to read something, it probably is and its time to give up on it and move on.

Anonymous said...

Tara, I'm glad you took my advice. I use the 50-page rule too. But I've now subtracted 2 pages, so it's a 48-page rule. (You subtract a page for every year you are over 50)

Life is definitely too short. It's also why you won't ever see a negative review on my blog. I don't get to that point. Even with book club books now. Even if I'm the moderator. And sometimes I don't make it to 48 pages. :-)

That next fabulous book is just around the corner, on your bookshelf, in the next blog post, on the Recent shelf at your library, or beside your bed. Take care! And you're not prickly!

Ti said...

I have a firm "divorce" rule with books. Fifty pages. That's all I am willing to give. I used to feel badly about kicking a book to the curb but not anymore.

Staci said...

Geesh...I submitted my comment and it didn't here I go again. I now use the 50 pages or 3 chapters, whichever come first. I don't feel guilty at all if I DNF a book. At 41 I feel like I only want to spend my time reading stellar books....I just finished a blah book for a tour and couldn't wait to finish it. Now I'm reading City of Refuge and totally hooked!!!

Valerie said...

Sometimes I start a book and realize I'm not in the mood for it; that goes back in the TBR for later (maybe).

Other times, I realize it just won't last past 50 pages, no matter what (bad writing, whatever). That's when I trade it in or donate it!

Les said...

I don't have a set number for my rule. I just trust my gut. Some books are slow-going at the beginning and wind up landing in my all-time favorite category after taking over 80+ pages (Atonement, Life of Pi...). I give up on others before I even hit page 25, wondering what in the world ever prompted me to buy/borrow the book in the first place. Like you, I feel life is too short and I want to be wowed by the books I read. Sub-par just isn't worth my time or effort.

Tara said...

Babelbabe - THANKS! I knew it was from one of those 'books about books books' that I own!

jennysbooks, just let it go, let it go! ;-)

bookfool, good for you! And Thanks!

emmegailsbookshelf, thanks for stopping by!

Bree, exactly. When I look at it, and don't feel like reading at all, I know it's the wrong book.

Kay, I still have a few years before I go below 50 on the rule! But, hey, I do it anyway. Interesting point you make about not posting a negative review. I haven't gotten to that point yet, I guess some books annoy me but not enough to give up on.

Ti, excellent! I don't feel bad anymore either. It's freeing!

Staci, sorry, that must have been annoying (about your comment). The tour book you mentioned is the exact reason I've given up on those sorts of things almost completely. I would do it only if I felt very confident going in, kwim?

Valerie, thanks for stopping by! I do that sometimes too, put them back in my stack and try another time.

Les, It's interesting what you said about some of your favorites taking awhile to get into. I'm reading a book like that now, it's taken nearly 1/3 of the book to feel I'm invested in it.

JoAnn said...

It is very liberating to be able to toss books you aren't enjoying... congratulations! I've only given myself permission to do that within the last couple of years. Life is too short! I tend to go by a gut feeling rather than a certain number of pages.

Danielle said...

I feel little guilt setting a book aside that I don't like if it came from the library, but like you I do feel a twinge when it is something I bought. I'm somewhere in the middle. I will set aside a book I don't like if it's not clicking, but if I get far enough into it I tend to feel the need to try and keep going. Sometimes I feel like if I just keep going it will get better, but that doesn't usually happen. But life is definitely too short to waste time on something you are not enjoying. Love the cactus by the way!

Tara said...

JoAnn, thanks - it feels good! I think I am more a gut feeling person when it comes to this, too.

Danielle, sometimes I feel like that too, 'I've come this far and might as well finish it'. It's starting to feel better to me to let go of it though!

Cath said...

Oh yes, I give up on books left, right, and centre now. I just abandoned a book by Matthew Kneale, Sweet Thames, it was doing nothing for me whatsoever, no connection: on the charity shop pile it went. Life's too short to be forcing oneself to read things that are no fun. Going by Kay's rule I should have given it 44 pages and I actually gave it 58, so I think that's fair enough.