Unfinished Books

In my post yesterday, I wrote about how I hate not finishing things. That’s true of the books I read. Most of the time, I finish the books I start, and most of the time, I don’t mind. I have to admit, (and I know some will think I’m crazy) Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ One Hundred Years of Solitude was one of those I was tempted to give up on! And it probably shows in my review!

Someone asked me recently about “when should they give up on a book?” I’m probably not a good person to ask but I’ll hazard a few thoughts and ask you for more.

1. If you are conscious of how bad the writing is and suffering through it, give it up. You wouldn’t drink a whole glass of milk that has gone bad, would you?

2. Sometimes, a worthwhile work can be mentally demanding and if we are tired, or distracted, or simply not used to reading such dense fare, we might want to set it aside for a time we are more alert, focused, or have developed our capacity for wading through close argument.

3. Maybe we are experimenting with a new genre, have gotten good recommendations and discover we really don’t like the writing. I set aside the writing of one science fiction writer even though I found some of his ideas fascinating simply because of the graphic descriptions of violence in his books that I didn’t care to have lingering in my head.

4. Then there are the books that were meant to be articles or pamphlets where there is nothing new after the first twenty pages and the rest is filler. Hopefully you didn’t shell your own good cash out on this.

5. Finally, there are books that may evoke an unhealthy mental and emotional response from us. Others may read the book and be impervious. But if you find yourself having nightmares, unhealthy sexual fantasies, or other inordinate responses–lay the book down! (We even found this true with a few “read aloud” books when our son was young, and we left these unfinished.)

What are some of the reasons you set aside a book and decide it is not worth finishing–at least for now?

2 thoughts on “Unfinished Books

  1. I enjoy your book rambles. Well, I already read your next post also. Since I am pretty particular and discerning about which books I read in the first place, it is very rare I don’t finish reading a book. I recently finished a more mentally demanding book that took me several months to read as I set it to the side several times for days/weeks. It was a good book, but it was necessary to set it the side till my brain was again ready!


  2. Laura, glad you enjoy the blog! I agree that sometimes we are just not in the right place to engage a mentally demanding book. It is good to know that about ourselves, and I think also honors the author’s hard work.


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