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Halfway is the Limit?

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So … you’re halfway through a book and you’re hating it. It’s boring. It’s trite. It’s badly written. But … you’ve invested all this time to reading the first half. What do you do? Read the second half? Just to finish out the story? Find out what happens? Or, cut your losses and dump the second half?

Remember I said the ending is more important than beginning? I do have to consider the different cases. My limit of tolerance for a boring book is about a third of the way. If it still doesn’t interest me, I’ll put it side (but usually don’t return to it very soon). The God of Small Things is such a book. If a book is badly written but the author is a great story-teller, I’ll still pursue (but not peruse) it quickly to find out what happens. Da Vinci Code is a perfect example.

15 Responses

  1. I generally try to finish (it’s really, really rare that I don’t finish a book), unless it’s SO bad that I just can’t. I don’t have a set limit but when I get to the point where I’m thinking, “GOOD LORD I can’t take any more of this!” I just toss it. Because even if you’ve invested time in the first half, if you’re not enjoying it, why bother waste time getting through the second half?

    (The most recent book I “tossed” was Andre Aciman’s Eight White Nights. Before that was Lethem’s Chronic City. Both I tossed about 20 pages in.)

  2. I’m not above reading a great story with bad prose. But, I AM one of the schmucks that refuses to throw in the towel most of the time. I’ve read many books where the ending justifies any pain that I’ve had to endure to get there.

  3. I have a terrible time abandoning books, even when they are bad. I guess I keep thinking I will like them in the end if I stick with them. I’ve tried to be better about this since I shouldn’t waste my time reading something if I am not enjoying it or finding that it is well written.

  4. Fifty pages is all that I am willing to invest. I used to feel terribly guilty about divorcing a book but I don’t feel that way anymore. My time is valuable and there are so many great books out there (I’ll never be able to read them all), so why would I waste time on a book that’s so-so at best? That’s how I see it.

  5. I used to think that once I started a book I should finish it, but one day a librarian told me if you don’t like it, just stop reading. Since then I have done that a few times. I hate when I read half of the book too and can’t decide to read or stop. Sometimes it is worth pushing on, but I hate when it’s not and the whole book is a waste.

  6. I’m way too task-oriented to not finish a book, which I discuss in more detail here on my Rose City Reader post.

  7. If I’m having a hard time with a book I am o.k. giving it up!

  8. Mm, I did that with The Da Vinci Code, flew through it without paying a lot of attention because it was a fun story.

  9. once i’m in, i rarely quit. unless it is dreadful or infuriating, i will usually see it through to the finish.

    one of the only books i couldn’t make it through was Anna Karenina.

    i agree about The Da Vinci Code. it was such a quick read, that making it to the ending wasn’t as painful as it might have been if it was entirely dry.

  10. I agree. I’m willing to stop a book whenever I lose interest, even if there’s not that much still to go. But I have read some pretty bad stuff all the way to the end becuase I wanted to find out what happened.

    BTW, I didn’t make it to page 100 with The Da Vinci Code.

  11. I am speaking as an age 50+ reader. Life is too short! If a book isn’t working for you by page 60, then it’s time to move on, for the time being.

    Perhaps in a few weeks or a few months you’ll feel like returning to the abandoned, and, if so, go for it.

    But trying to read a book that is not WORKING, not only takes out the joy of reading, but also makes it a chore, a chore that can be completely dispelled by moving on to a book that is EXCITING!!

  12. Yes, the ending is indeed important. 😛 Most often, I will skim through the book if I find it boring, unless it’s really very bad.

  13. Oooh I contradict myself constantly on this. I often finish them and then wish I hadn’t. Tough call, I really never know and then waste time finishing them!!

  14. I have a really hard time putting aside books I’ve started, even if I dislike them. When I have a really hard time getting through it though, I often put it aside and forget about it and never pick it up again, without feeling I consciously abandoned it.

    This happened to me with The God of Small Things. It’s supposed to be such a beautiful book, but I never really got into it. And since it was a library loan, I had to return it after 4 weeks and never tried again.

  15. […] At what point do you give up on a book? I discussed this issue not too long ago. My limit is about a third of the way. if a book is such a slog, I’ll decide […]

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