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Book-Talk Monday—Setting a Book Aside

Monday, September 19, 2011

Two weeks ago, we talked about what we like in books—what keeps us reading.

I’ve mentioned on a few blogs and in the comments here recently that after three months and at only 53% of the way through the book (on my Kindle), I finally made the decision to stop reading A Clash of Kings, the second book in The Song of Fire and Ice (a.k.a., The Game of Thrones) series.

This could have been an easier decision to make if the book had either been a free download or checked out from the library (and I didn’t, because the wait list was too long—plus I knew there was no way I’d get through a book that long, even with the option to renew the check-out for an additional two weeks). I have no problem setting aside books I have no financial investment in.

In the three months that I was trying to make it through Clash, I downloaded at least a dozen free books and I don’t even know how many samples (romances, both historical and contemporary, both inspirational and general-market). But I wouldn’t allow myself to start any of them until I finished the book I had purchased specifically to read—because I’d enjoyed the first book so much.

So I was left with a dilemma—should I put aside a book I’d purchased to read books I got for free? Especially since I owned the free books, which means I have all the time in the world to read them.

But then I realized that by forcing myself to try to keep reading Clash, I wasn’t doing much reading at all—because I wasn’t enjoying that book, which meant I didn’t want to read.

So I made the decision. Set the book aside. Indefinitely.

To cleanse my reading “palate,” I decided to ease back into it by re-reading a favorite classic, O Pioneers! by Willa Cather—another book which, yes, I own in hard copy but also have as a free download on my Kindle. I finished it in a couple of days and immediately moved on to a new book from there, and I’m back to looking forward to reading every day again.

So that leads me to today’s book-talk question . . .

How do you make the decision to set aside a book? Does it make a difference if you’ve paid for it or not?

11 Comments
  1. Monday, September 19, 2011 3:08 am

    I had to do this with a book I had to review. I did read it but I read others while reading it as I just wasn’t getting anywhere with it. The book would be helped if in the first few chapters it explained what was about to happen rather than at about page 120 explaining it. It is a fantasy a little like the Narnia books but different as in the Narnia books things are explained in this one it was just so confusing trying to work out who was who and why things were happening. So I read a book I knew I would like infact I read a few books and then would come back to it. after about page 120ish where it was all explained the book read like a dream and it made sense and was really good but to be honest if I didn’t have to review it for an readers award I would have stopped it way earlier.
    I would rather not set aside a book I paid for but if I cant get into it or its not flowing I will. I figure I get quite a few free books, (review books and winning books) That it doesn’t matter as much. I have a few I have bought and just couldn’t get past the first few chapters and just set aside. One I got about a third in but just couldn’t keep going I think it was partly the subject dealing with sickness and denial etc but it was at a time with mum in hospital and I just wasn’t enjoying it and it was dragging (most reviews raved about it). I never went back to it and have put it in the church library. I have done that with a couple of books.
    I also the the issue of books I need to read and one was Mirage by an aussie. The cover didn’t grip me nor did the blurb but I had to read it as a friend gave it to me for a gift to read, review and then help promote the author her friend. It took me about 3 months to even start it as I just knew I wouldn’t like it. Well I was so wrong. It is in my top 10 for the year. It deals with a girl trapped in a cult and what happens when she gets out. It was really moving and enlightening and I wished I hadn’t waited. The reason as I said the cover and blurb didn’t grab me. I have had this happen quite a few times.

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  2. Kav permalink
    Monday, September 19, 2011 8:42 am

    It doesn’t happen often, but if I’m not really into a book I just stop whether I bought it or borrowed it from the library. There are too many good ones out there to entice me away from something that doesn’t appeal.

    I remember wading through a chunk of chapters in a historical once…hating every moment of it but hoping it would change as the author had come highly recommended to me. But I finally gave up — I had issues with the heroine – a snippy whiner who just didn’t get better as the book progressed and then this totally ridiculous, unrealistic, impossible for me to buy into plot twist happened and I actually threw the book across the room. LOL. I felt insulted as an reader.

    But I’m pretty good at picking out books that I know I’ll like so it doesn’t happen often.

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  3. Misty permalink
    Monday, September 19, 2011 9:24 am

    I used to have a difficult time putting down a book I wasn’t enjoying, like I was committing some sort of an injustice. But then I got over it and realized there are way too many good reads out there to waste time on one that is not to my liking. I usually don’t buy books unless I “know” the author and have enjoyed more than one of their books. There is one book, in my to-be-read pile, I purchased because I own and have read everything else the author ever wrote, her nine book series I’ve read probably three times and own some of it on audio as well. All that to say, last year I purchased her latest release without batting an eye because I knew I would love it. Well, I don’t love it. And it remains by my bed, not even halfway read. But I want to finish it, eventually. I think I am a little more determined to finish a book if I buy it. Looking back I’ve returned several books to the library and friends unfinished, even books by authors I’ve enjoyed in the past.

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  4. Monday, September 19, 2011 11:56 am

    Like Misty, I used to think it was admitting defeat, or somehow “cheating” to not finish a book I’d started. No more. Life is too short!

    I’ve not done it very many times, but the one that still amazes me was a book by an author that I love, set in a place I love, Charleston. I got almost halfway through, and did NOT like the characters. It was irritating me so much that I just gave up on it. My husband finished it, but I could tell it would not have the HEA that I require in a book. I finished THE HELP last night, finally, after reading another book in the middle of it. It was good, but I don’t think it lived up to the hype. Just MHO!

    I’m ready to get back to some of the Inspirational fiction on my TBR list!!

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  5. Monday, September 19, 2011 1:09 pm

    I rarely set books aside. Usually I’m reviewing the book so I feel an obligation to complete it before giving an opinion. But if I really, really can’t get through it, usually do to poor editing/craft, I will put it down. I can’t recall ever putting a book down for storyline because I check books out via the book blurbs and online buzz before I buy if the author is unknown to me. Now, I’m firmly of the mind, like Misty and Regina, that life is too short. I’ve reduced the number of review commitments and I only buy if I really want to read the book. With freebie ebooks, I download more than I can read, but I’d have no problem giving up on a free book.

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  6. Charmaine Gossett permalink
    Monday, September 19, 2011 2:28 pm

    Happened to me this week. I was reading the Sherlock Holmes series. I think I had exhausted all the good ones (they are short stories, really). I checked out three more Arthur Conan Doyle books, only one was on Sherlock. By this time he was into mysticism and after two short stories of Sherlock going off tin that vein, I decided I’d had enough. Returned that one and all the rest to the library unread. I think I had read the better known ones anyway.
    I’ve started a Beth Moore study anyway and that takes up a lot of reading time.
    I don’t have any trouble putting down a book that doesn’t interest me.

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  7. Monday, September 19, 2011 6:08 pm

    I will set a book aside if it has graphic sex scenes, or too much profanity or violence. I will also set it aside if I try to read 5-6 chapters and the storyline fails to “grab” me. But because I am a book reviewer, I don’t really have the luxury of putting a book down for lack of interest…unless I am really, really struggling to get through it. Then I will read as much as I can, and then state in the review that I couldn’t finish the book. As far as graphic sex and profanity goes, I usually only review Christian books, so that’s not really a problem for me. 🙂

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  8. Monday, September 19, 2011 6:14 pm

    I do the same thing… when I BUY a book, I get bound and determined to finish it because, dad gum it, I spent money on that thing! Unfortunately, every so often, a book comes along that I just can’t do it. The two I’m thinking of in this past year were… well, just plain boring. The writing was confusing. I really didn’t give a whole lot about the characters, and it was just a complete waste of my time. So, I decided to put them aside. Every once in a while, I see it on my bookshelf and think, maybe… if I run out of other books to read. But ya know what? I’d probably rather pick up a book I already read and LIKED rather than to read a book that was boring. This, thankfully, is VERY rare for me. But the two books in question… were just not readable for me. Others, I’m sure, loved and enjoyed them. Subjectivity at its finest.

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  9. Monday, September 19, 2011 6:37 pm

    -characters that I can’t invest in
    -plot that doesn’t excite me
    -pace that puts me to sleep
    …I have no trouble putting a book aside. It probably happens with about one third of the books I start.

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  10. Sherrinda permalink
    Monday, September 19, 2011 7:55 pm

    I’m with Krista on this one. While it’s difficult to set a book aside, I’d rather reread a great book than struggle through one that doesn’t move me. It has been easier to set aside books that I’ve gotten free on my Kindle. Maybe because I got it free, maybe because it’s not a traditional book, but either way, I’m learning to reserve my reading pleasure for those books that stir me and keep me turning the page…er, button.

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  11. Tuesday, September 20, 2011 7:29 am

    Much harder for me to put down a book that I’ve paid for than one that I haven’t ~ most likely since I’ve literally invested something in it. There have been times that I’ve had a hard time putting down free books also though. Many times that it because I hope that they really aren’t as bad as I’m making them out to be and SURELY there is something redeeming in the book…which sadly there generally hasn’t been.

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