Thursday, May 14, 2015

When is it time to abandon a book?

Abandoning book! This is not something that I like to do but find myself doing more often. As I get older, more distinct in my reading tastes and become more time poor, I need to be selective about my reading habits and where I invest my time. On top of that, with blogging and reviewing, I get sent books to review, and if the synopsis of the book catches my fancy, I will give it a short. Plus, I'm a softie so I hate to say no if I don't have to.

As you know, I read for a wide variety of reasons. I beta read draft manuscripts for authors, I read books for fun and for review, and I also read when I edit and proofread the work that I get sent (this tends to be more non fiction than fiction). I also read for writing contests and I just a number of them that range from short stories to full length novels.

I also read predominantly in the romance genre with all of their various sub-genres.

My beta reading profile states that:

I will read most any sub-genre in the Romance genre, contemporary, romantic suspense, paranormal, urban fantasy, sci fi, fantasy, historical and erotic (MF, MFM, MMF, no MM, no FF).
I also don't do anything that is hard core BDSM, rape or horror.
No Young Adult but will consider some New Adult. (I occasionally make excpetions on the no YA rule).

And if you take a look at the blog policy here, you will see that I've expanded that to be quite a bit wider than what I've stated above but still within the romance genre. I've also talked about why I predominantly read romance here, so if you're interested, do check it out.

Back to the topic of abandoning books, the question that I often struggle with is "when do I abandon a book?"

I am currently reading a book that I'm 14% in and I feel the need to abandon it. Is 14% far enough in that I've given it a good shot and know well enough that I just don't have it in me to finish it when I have so much other stuff lined up to read that I'm more interested in? The 14% puts me at about 30 pages into the book, sort of. It's close since 1 location on the Kindle app is equals to approx 22 words, and if there are 450 words to a page, then it would put me at 31 pages. See, I'm doing the math for you! :-)

How soon is too soon? I don't have a hard and fast rule that I follow personally.

Source: Goodreads

Goodreads have published this very interesting infographic where they polled their readers and the statistics are quite interesting. It states that 15.8% of people abandon the book at less than 50 pages in, 27.9% at 50 to 100 pages, 7.6% at 100 pages and surprisingly over 30% say that they read to the end no matter what.

I used to be one of those who read to the end no matter what. Not anymore.

Now, I read for as long as the book captivates me and if it doesn't manage to do so in several chapters, then I put is aside. I may abandon it completely or I may pick it up again later if the mood strikes me to give it another chance with books that I'm just reading for myself. With books that I beta, I will inform the author that it is not working out for me, for whatever reason and we both very cordially agree to move on.

With books that I judge or review, obviously there is a time frame where I have to submit my scores and submit my review, so there's that. Once that is done, I feel like I have closed a chapter of the book (pun intended) and I move on.

I can't abandon paid editing and proofreading work. That pays the bills, so I get through it all. :-)

I guess the point that I'm trying to make is that life is too short to be doing something you don't enjoy. I admit that I have guilt associated with abandoning a book and I feel even worse when it then comes time to write the score sheet or the review but I have a lot of books vying for my time and attention and I don't have time to struggle through, get frustrated at and drag my way through something that I am not enjoying.

And don't ever think that everything I abandon is dreadful. There are a myriad of reasons for people abandoning books.

The one I'm reading now, I am going to abandon because it's long, the subject matter is tedious to me and this story is going to drag on. Already the few secondary characters that have recently been introduced are annoying the crap out of me and making me impatient. All that said, the author's writing is good but I'm just not getting into in. In fact, I find myself putting the book down often and feeling bored. That's why I know that it is time for me to say goodbye to this book, at least for now. Perhaps I'll go back to it later and perhaps not.

I have also recently abandoned a beta read because the author and I disagreed on the definition of a romance novel. She decided that she would take a non traditional approach and disregard all the rules that one follows in order to write a romance. I tried to point out to her that if she's not following any of the rules, she can't expect to call her novel a romance. She told me that I didn't understand the definition of romance. I told her that we need to agree to disagree and that I was going to have to set her novel aside.

Another author I recently read, her subject matter was so disturbing that I felt I could not continue reading it even though her writing was good. I skipped to the end and then told her that based on the content of her story, I could not read for her.

All the reasons vary, but at the end of it, it means I've abandoned the book. I'd rather that I didn't have to abandon a book and that every book that I read captivates me, but that is not the reality.

So when do I give up on a book? I don't count the pages or chapters, but when I've read long enough that I don't feel it's holding my attention and I don't care what happens to the characters, then I know that it's time for me to part ways with the book.

Tell me, have you ever abandoned a book? How long does it take you? Do you have any criteria for doing it?

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