I’ve seen lots of chat online recently about WHEN people give up on books they are not enjoying.
I’ve noticed lots of readers saying they give a book 50-100 pages. This is interesting to me, because as an author you have approximately 50 pages to ‘wow’ literary agents as a writer if you’re making novel submissions. So this means the average reader and literary agent submissions correlate.
But you get EVEN LESS than this as a screenwriter – just ten pages! In real terms, you may even get just one. This because there are SO many screenplay submissions, scripts have to start as they mean to go on and be as visual as possible. You get a little more leeway as an author.
But I give books much less chance … I read the first ten per cent only. If I don’t like it by then, it’s GONE!
But I absolutely hate giving up on books, just from sheer bloody-mindedness … It’s quite unusual for me to give up once I’ve got 50 pages or more in. This is because I can read a 300ish page book in about four hours, so if I’ve read 100 pages, that’s a third of the book … I can read there other two very quickly.
My own foible, though: if a book is on my TBR pile for a year or more? I may delete it from my Kindle or give it away if it’s a paperback. I work on the basis that if I’m really excited about the book, I would have read it by then!
What about you?
I always feel terribly guilty to give up on a book, but it nothing happens between the pages and I in the first hundred pages, 99% of the time, it means the magic will not happen so I just DNF it. I push when it’s an ARC because I feel I took an engagement, but the first impression is so often right…
Until fairly recently I wouldn’t give up on a book once started. Recently though I’ve started getting more and more books through to review, so the odds of reading everything are shrinking rapidly. Fifty pages and I’m done – sometimes back on the shelf if I feel I’m just not quite in the mood for it, sometimes in the bag for the charity shop.
I still feel a *tiny* bit bad about it though! It’s also tricky if you’ve agreed to review a book for a blog tour and you just don’t get on with it…
Totally agree that life’s too short to stick at a book if you’re not enjoying it. And most authors understand that the opening chapter needs to be a wowza to grab attention. Mick Herron’s Slow Horses series really demonstrates this: his beginnings are beautifully crafted. They always read like 80% of the effort has gone into the first 10% of the book.
(Although then there’s always the danger that the rest of the book feels flat by comparison!)
I’m not so tough with my TBR pile, though. It is vast, simply gigantic. And that doesn’t bother me. Instead it’s a thing of joy and promise for the future; a treasure-trove of delight, waiting for the right moment. I’ve come back to some really brilliant books which just didn’t feel right at the time of purchase, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed them later on.