I started writing seriously, as an adult, in August 2007. Before then it was always something I knew I could do but never considered as something I should do; something that occupied my time as an adolescent, nothing more. Once I decided to give it a try, I discovered Absolute Write, writing friends, and blogs. Oh, the blogs.
One thing I noticed in my new, writerly friends (and even more so in the people who intimidated me too much to try to befriend) is a very low tolerance for books. Meaning, if something is poorly written, has plot or character flaws, or just doesn't interest them, they put it down. As in they don't finish it.
Don't finish it? I found myself wondering. Who doesn't finish a book?
In my life, I have only stopped reading a novel twice. The first was One Hundred Years of Solitude, but that's because it was in Spanish for a class where we had to read one novel per week. In Spanish. I just couldn't wrap my head around what was going on and that was the only time in my life I didn't complete an assignment (I still did okay on the test and I read it later in English). The second was Anna Karenina and I have every intention of reading it someday.
Now, I read a variety of books. I lean towards literary and mysteries, but I love women's lit (formerly chick lit), humor, memoir, some romance, the list goes on and on (but excludes horror - yikes!). As long as the story's well written, I'll read it.
My mom buys TONS of books so a lot of my reading material comes from her, and while I may pick up things I'd never buy myself, it's nice having that resource. She's introduced me to different authors over the years and if she says she loved a book, I grab it without hesitation. The books I buy tend to be treasures I find in the bookstore - often authors I've never heard of but the story sounds interesting. I do have authors that I follow, but quite often my purchases are based on word-of-mouth or my own discovery deep in the bookstore shelves.
I also go in spurts where I'll decide to read a book that I've heard about for years, yet never have. One such book was Catch-22. Some of you may have already heard this story, but about a year I decided to dive into the book that launched the phrase. Two weeks after struggling through the first 40 pages I came to a tough decision - I had to stop. I hated the main character, I didn't care what happened to him, and I was going to shoot myself if I had to keep reading. So I stopped.
I felt guilty. Not just because this was a book I was supposed to read, but what kind of person was I who couldn't finish a measly book? I've forced myself through worse things (Confederacy of Dunces) just to be able to say I finished it, so why couldn't I now?
Since then I've met more and more people who talk freely of putting a book down if they don't like it. (I realize that sounds like a normal response to a lot of you, but it really is a foreign concept to me.) I couldn't believe they would just give up. Maybe it goes back to my mom telling me I gave up too easily in ninth grade Geometry... I don't know... but I couldn't bring myself to stop. I'd rather suffer through and come out victorious for conquering the sucky book (yes, I'm realizing this sounds ridiculous) than give up. I didn't want a book to beat me!
But their logic started to sink in. As I've gotten more busy with other things, I started to resent wasting time on books that I didn't love. I started to think they may have a point, but I still couldn't give in to the dark side.
Until last week.
I'd started a book that my mom loaned me last fall, something I'd picked up several times but never felt in the mood for. It's a big book, a sweeping epic, and my mom said she'd loved it. Since coming off the Twilight Saga I needed another romance fix and thought this might do it, but two weeks and 40 pages later, I found myself watching stupid movies on tv instead of reading. I even reread Twilight. I'd pick up the book, carry it around, yet never open it.
So I finally put it back on the shelf.
What is this world coming to?
I'm assuming I'm in the minority, that most people will stop reading a book they don't like, but humor me - what say you on this? And do you have a certain point at which you normally stop (40 pages/2 weeks seems to be mine).