For purposes of anonymity, let’s call this friend Tom. One day in teacher land, I was complaining about slogging my way through a book I didn’t like. I was determined to get through it because I had started it. As if I would hurt the book’s feelings if I didn’t finish it. As if any author would care (as long as I didn’t tell him/her) as long as I bought the book. As if the author would care because he published in the late 1880s. As if I would get in “trouble.”
Here comes the sage advice. Tom told me that his mother once said that with all the books out there to be read, and with the finite time we have on earth to read them, don’t waste time on a book you don’t like. I’m paraphrasing, but it was an AH HAH moment for me. Liberating. For real. Then I thought, how many pages should I read before deciding if I should keep going? I decided upon 50. Until I realized that by page 2, I usually know if I like a book or not. So I compromised with myself and chose 25 pages. Yay for decision-maker me.
I don’t slam current books by title or author, because it isn’t fair. What I don’t like could be someone’s dream book. Case in point….I prefer reading a book to going to the movies. Take into consideration in that statement that I don’t like going to the movies, with very few exceptions. I had started a popular fiction/thriller novel and definitely was going to put it down. I thought it was pretentious and boring at the same time. My husband had seen the movie and loved it. Twists and turns and he told me to stick with it. He knows my tastes and said I’d be glad that I did. I WASN’T GLAD THAT I DID. I did enjoy the twists and turns and there were moments where I was genuinely glad I was reading that little section. Other than that I found it pretentious and boring. There is a lesson in all of that, but I’m not sure exactly what it is. I guess that some books can grab you after a while. But I’ll stick to the books that grab me by page 2 at the minimum, and page 25 at the maximum.
You can tell I’ve liked almost all of these books or they wouldn’t still be on my bookcase. Although shhhhh……….a few were gifts so they’re still there, appreciated, but only read to page 25.
Here’s a book that grabbed me on the first sentence and kept me going through the whole book. One of the books that I read in a day or maybe two. “Before I Fall” by Lauren Oliver http://www.laurenoliverbooks.com. I know there is a movie out now based on the book (kudos to Lauren Oliver), but I won’t see it. I don’t want the movie to change how I see the book. And this story, for me, is a keeper. What if you had only one day to live? I know the ending of her story and I know the journey that the author took to get to the end. Yet I have reread this book at least 5 times. And when I finished it the first time, I reread it immediately. First time I’ve ever done that.
I have this book on my nook from Barnes & Noble, and I posted the photo this way to give a shout-out to Barnes & Noble. While I love reading books the “regular” way (and when not using the public library I usually buy my books at B&N), I also included it because I love my nook. So excuse the cover-not-in-color because I don’t have the most recent nook and don’t plan on getting it until this one dies a peaceful death.
Luckily, I picked “Before I Fall” as a choice instead of sticking with a novel that I don’t like. Thanks to the sage advice from a friend at work.
Great advice, because there really isn’t that much time when you think about it.
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Exactly. I just never had looked at it that way.
I actually thought about this today as I struggled to read Paramedic by Peter Canning. Non fiction and I have had a very rocky relationship and the book put me to sleep for hours. The author has a nice style and can write well but I’m just not that interested in the story.
So, right now, for my peace of mind, I’ll be taking Tom’s wonderful advice. Cheers!
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I’ll tell him! Thanks for commenting!
My favorite English teacher used to say that you had to read at least the first 100 pages before you could decide on a book…but then again, on an eight hour flight she would read three books, so maybe her scale merits adjusting…
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It is not unusual for me to read 6 books a week. I even read one of the Game of Throne books in a day and a half (I barely slept). But now I spend 1/2 my time reading blogs. With my new freedom of 25 pages or less, I have been renewed. Thanks for reading my blog and commenting!