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August 30, 2006

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» They shoot books about horses, don't they? from Zooba
Sometimes, a book just needs to be put down. I recommend burying it in the backyard, for closure.RIP, Naguib Mahfouz, the only writer in Arabic to win the Nobel Prize for literature (WaPo) and a supporter of the Egyptian peace... [Read More]

Comments

TJ

Keep your heads down with that storm, just in case.

When do I stop reading? The last one I stopped on I could see the writer pulling the strings. There were things the writer seemed to expect would be a revelation but he'd telegraphed the moves too obviously. Once I saw the strings, I wasn't interested in being jerked around and picked up the next one on the pile.

But it is hard to put a book down. I feel like I'm leaving a party too early. There's just too much to be read, though, to try and resist the impulse. I usually give it a few days--if the idea of abandonment keeps surfacing, I'm done.

Dan Wickett

I have a VERY hard time putting books down and making the statement, even to myself, done forever.

But, listen to Ed's podcast with Uncle Robert Birnbaum - he makes a damn good case for doing so.

CAAF

Oh veiled sir, are you speaking of "Special Topics"? I ask because I'm reading it right now and keep flirting with putting it down. Have in fact put it down 3 times to read other books -- cleverness overload. But I started it again last night and it's picked up.

Jeff

You nailed it, CAAF. I think I'll give it another couple of dozen pages and see...

georgekaplan

Unless you're on the hook for school or a review, I say put it down when you feel like it. There are too many books out there to finish the ones you don't like. [As an aside that contradicts this, I wish kids could learn in school that it's okay to put books down - unfortunately, there's a chicken/egg at play there]

Having said that, like Ms Tingle, I've come close to stopping with some books and ended up finishing them okay. *Still* haven't started the one I think we're talking about - coincidentally because I've been having some trouble with _Austerlitz_, which seems to require big blocks of strict attention time. It also has some things I've got problems with but I'm willing to stick it out for a few more tries. I realize I sound something like an infidel saying that but there's nothing that everyone likes.

I'm also revisiting Deadwood and catching up with Battlestar instead of reading.

But this topic brings up something I value that Sheila Kohler stressed - writing a novel shouldn't give you license to pad and wander and play around just because you're not writing a short story. Pieces of fiction should only be as long as they need to be to serve the story and hold your attention.

But, again, to each his own. I loved _Infinite Jest_ and put down _The Mezzanine_. And yet, things may have changed for me since the 90s.

I also think books that get identified early on in the publishing process as potential big sellers seem to have more pages than *I* think they need. _The Secret History_ comes to mind. It baffles me that people, like my mother, seem to carry a page/$ criterion when selecting books. I'm guessing publishers know that. You think so?

Justin

I too have a hard time putting books down but I have abandoned a few over the past few years. I dump it when I can't stand the writing or I feel the story is going nowhere. I usually give them another chance after the decision, which sometimes pays off. I put Zadie Smith's latest down after 100 pages or so earlier this year...however, I may still try it again before the year is up. It's sad, really.

joschmoe

I give up reading when the author loses their 'author'ity...it's always the best tell. What does that mean? You will know it when it happens. Even if it is fiction, you just don't believe the author anymore...

Gwenda

Usually, honestly, a page or two or maybe a chapter -- unless it comes highly recommended by someone whose opinion I trust.

Robin

I generally try to give anything a fourth of the book before putting it down. And I almost never get rid of a book until I've tried to read it 2-3 times unsuccessfully. I've had many many books that I've enjoyed on the 2nd go-round because I just wasn't in the mood for either the subject or the genre or the author's voice the first time around.

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