Books You Read, Books You Finish

I read a lot of books, but I don’t finish many.  A lifetime of reading has made me somewhat picky, and the feeling has only intensified with age:  if I’m not 150% pleased by a book, I return it and move on to the next one on my list.  It is, after all, a very long list, and life is, comparatively, rather short.  Who wants to waste time with a bad book?

The only time I question my choice is when I enter a “book drought” like the one I just survived.  About a month ago, at Wes‘s suggestion, I picked up Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, a fast-paced, sci-fi adventure about the quest to save the OASIS–a Facebook-like virtual world–from corporate domination by finding the easter egg its creator hid somewhere inside the game.  I loved it so much I ran around the library recommending it to everyone of the geek persuasion I could find, and if you are keen on 80s pop culture, gaming, computers, or the band Rush, I highly recommend it for reasons I can’t explain without spoiling the plot.  It’s also got short, action-packed chapters, quirky-lovable characters, and a story arc that cries out to filmed. 

The only problem was that I loved the book so much, everything I tried after that seemed…dull, by comparison.   I spent the next month dutifully reading the first chapters of many, many, many books, then returning them, dissatisfied.  This included the critically-acclaimed The Art of Fielding, which was recommended to me by Tony.  While it’s extremely well-written, and I would recommend it to anyone fond of baseball and highbrow literature, it simply didn’t thrill me the way it did Tony.  Interestingly enough, he tried Ready Player One on for size and didn’t like it, which serves as a good reminder that a) not every book is for everybody, and b) that’s perfectly okay.

However, the inherent “okayness” of the situation didn’t solve my book drought, and I was starting to get antsy.  Relief came from an unexpected quarter: Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s The Language of Flowers.  I put myself on the list for it because it was touted in several media sources as a hot new book, and while I’m somewhat skeptical of that sort of thing, I also have a professional obligation to keep up with popular fiction.  When my copy finally arrived, it sat on the floor in my kitchen for a while until, desperate for a good story and willing to look anywhere, I finally dived in.

Sweet, sweet relief.  Diffenbaugh had me from page one, when her prickly, misanthropic heroine, Victoria Jones, ages out of the foster care system.  Victoria’s struggle to build an independent adult life for herself is interwoven with flashbacks to her most important foster care placement.  Elizabeth, who teaches Victoria the “language of flowers,” seems all set to adopt the difficult, frightened child…but something goes awry, and Diffenbaugh’s masterful weaving of the flashback explanation through the contemporary storyline was suspenseful enough to keep me burning through the pages. Make no mistake:  this is a sad, difficult book, and if you are tender-hearted, and want your endings easy and sweet, you will probably not enjoy it.  Victoria, however, is well-worth getting to know, and if you can open your heart to her as she struggles to overcome years of abuse and disappointment, you will be well-rewarded at the final page.

So, to review:

1)  It’s okay not to finish a book.

2)  It’s okay not to like a book your friends like.

3) Reading droughts can be tough, but stick to your principles.

Your turn.  What are you reading these days, and what are you finishing?

–Leigh Anne

about to plunge into Michael Moorcock’s The Warlord of the Air, thanks to the cheerful efficiency of the interlibrary loan staff


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311 responses to “Books You Read, Books You Finish

  1. Bill Vrabel

    I’ve gone through a reading drought lately where nothing I attempted to read came into fruition. Now i’m kind of turning back the clock and looking into short stories, mainly classic Gothic Horror; Blackwood, Lovecraft, Crawford, etc… (I think that if Teens would attempt to read this powerful literature, there would be little interest in the twlight nonsense)

    I’ve also had an urge to read more of Guy Gavriel Kay’s work; the couple books I read from him were really good! Also some more Murakami, as I feel like I want to trance out, not necessarily with a story that “makes sense”

  2. Joelle

    Ha! I just finished Ready Player One last night. It brought back so many memories! I was a huge videogame fan of that era, and started to reccomend it to all my old high school facebook friends. My friend and I discovered how to get 40 free credits on Robotron ourselves! Did you catch the Tuttle reference from the movie Brazil? (Oops, did I come out of my geek closet just now?)

    • Joelle, mischief managed. Heeeeeee. I’m so glad you liked the book! I did not catch the Tuttle reference, but I figure there’s a lot I didn’t catch the first time around – what a perfect excuse for a re-read….


  3. Tara

    I just finished Ready Player One as well–I thought it would make a great crossover book for teens (kind of like The Magicians).

    I’m getting ready to tackle 1Q84, but am daunted by the page count. For a fun, quick Murakami-read I think A WIld Sheep Chase is a nice place to start, although Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is probably my fave (and hey, it has a librarian character!)

  4. Amanda

    I hardly ever quit books. So much so that I’ve read 8 books in the drama high series by L.Divine. Not because it’s amazing, but because I’m really bad at quitting.

    I did quit one book on the first page though. It was one about a guy who was trying to live for a year without using corn or oil or something as a social experiment and to make a book. The first scene involved the guy belittling a fast food worker and introducing the characters as “the farmer” and the “farmer’s wife” So that got on my nerves.

    The only other book I can remember quitting is Twisted River by John Irving. It took me like 550 pages. And now whenever I check that book out to someone, I have to resist the urge to say that I read 550 pages and then quit. Like someone who woke up at 5:30 in the morning who can’t resist the urge to tell everyone that they have been up since 5:30 in the morning. It feels like that.

    I’m reading Embassytown by China Meiville at Don’s previous post suggestion and digging it.

    • Amanda, wow. Good choice on that first-page quit – my hackles rose up just reading the description! And now I want to read the Drama High series, just because it’s there…

      Leigh Anne

      • I rarely quit books either. I try to give a book the benefit of the doubt and read it all the way through before reaching my final judgement. Sometimes it just takes a bit for the author and the book to really get going. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is one recent good book that I would have missed out on if I had let my initial impressions stop me from finishing. That book, and Larsson’s writing style, take at least a hundred pages to warm too (luckily, there are still about a 1000 pages after that first hundred…so).
        I will, however, quit a series or an author after one book. There is no reason, other than masochism, to go back if the first one just doesn’t do it for me. For instance, I finished Wicked, but nothing about the world, the story, or the writing was enough for me to go back to Macguire’s work again. So, I haven’t, because I do agree with you on the idea that there are too many great books out there to spend time on the ones that do nothing for you.

        • Thank you so much for your comment! I may have to go back to “Dragon Tattoo” now, because so many people have said the same thing: stick with it. Couldn’t agree more about a series – one book, and it’s toast, if it does’t deliver.

          Leigh Anne

  5. Don

    I’ve moved on to the new Booker Award winning novel by Julian Barnes, “The Sense of an Ending” and all I can say is, oh, boy, is it good. Stay tuned – this one’s got Eleventh Stack written all over it.


  6. I just took a cross-country flight yesterday. I started Tina Fey’s “Bossypants” in South Carolina.

    Now, home in Reno, I’m almost done. Not fine literature, but a smooth, easy and fun read. I’ll definitely be finishing it…

  7. It happens, i guess…

    I am reading agatha christie’s books and finishing magazines or maybe not :D

  8. gosh, you don’t want to know what I’m reading. I’m a writer who’s putting out 2 novels in 2012. In between, I’m reading at least 2 books a week. I’m an addict. The books I read range from metaphysics to Dean Koontz. I’ll read the back of a Lysol can, no joke. But!!! if something bores me, it’s over. I close the book and I don’t go back.

    • Thanks for a wonderful comment, and for sharing the link to your site! I have been known to read bottles / boxes / products in moments of boredom / desperation, so I’m glad to hear I’m not alone on that one!

      Leigh Anne

  9. i might just half-read your post blog! lol… jk… Nice post. Congrats!

  10. Deanna

    I used to have to finish a book no matter how awful. I was always hopeful, holding on to the idea that it’ll get better, it MUST get better! Especially if someone recommended the book to me. But then, something happened… I got older! :O I realized that, at this rate, I will die before I’ve read all the books on my list (which will probably happen anyway because the list gets bigger and bigger all the time. Unless I just one day stop adding to the list… anyways..) So, I’ve learned to just give up on a book I’m not enjoying, because life is too short to read bad books. :)

  11. I’ve been on a slow rampage to read some 20th century “classics” (defined as books that have been sitting on my shelf for more than a year, but I haven’t read because the name of the author intimidates me), and last week I read Camus’ The Stranger after carrying it through my travels for the past few months. Every now and then I’ll dive into Light in August, and devour ten pages at a time, which is enough to satiate any reading drought with enough density of language and ideas to last through the next book. When I finish that one, I don’t know what I’m going to do.

    • Hmmm…what are you in the mood for? Something serious? Something light? I started a YA novel by Joyce Carol Oates today, mostly because I didn’t realize she’d also written novels for young adults…but it was far too dark for me, right now. Sometimes your mood can be just as important in the selection as the quality of the work…

      Leigh Anne

  12. I can name two books that I stuck with, despite reservations, and was surprisingly glad at the end: Updike’s “A Month of Sundays” and Sartre’s “The Reprieve.” That said, I knew that both writers generally deliver which is the only reason I stuck with them. There is absolutely no reason to finish a book if you don’t like it 1/3 of the way in. And there is also no reason to like a book just because a friend does. Great post!

  13. gothichydran126

    Like you I read a lot of books and I tend to finish them all. I do have some books that I’ve bought from those library book sales that sounded interesting but I unfortunately haven’t been read yet. Books such as The Ninja or The Miko by Eric Van Lustbader. I always have a book in my bag when I go out anywhere and what keeps me from reading those Lustbader books is the thought “what if I read this book and it gets boring or I can’t stick with it?” One thing I can’t stand is being somewhere (like waiting at the DMV) and I have that one books that I can’t get into.

    As for what I’m reading now, I’m reading some of Stephen King’s old books that I feel a little of ashamed of not reading them earlier. It’s Christine this month :)

    • I am right there with you on getting stuck without a book handy – my worst nightmare! I often have a spare, just in case I finish one. I hope you’re liking Christine, but remember, it’s okay to quit if you’re not. ;)

      Leigh Anne

  14. I used to obsessively follow a book through to the end no matter what… not so much anymore. This past year I’ve put down at least 5 books before I’ve finished them. You’re right about becoming pickier the more we read…

    Reading droughts are awful, and they do often follow an exceptionally good book. I’ve also found that I enter “reading drought” mode after I finish a series of like books (similar topics, same author, etc). Terrible thing reading droughts.

    Great post!

    • Thanks so much! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’m starting to get nervous because I’ve already exchanged two books today that weren’t working out for me. I now have a giant cookbook to flip through. Here’s hoping I get at least a few tasty recipes from it!

      Leigh Anne

  15. I have experienced it so many times.. The last book I didn’t finish was “Pride and Prejudice” .. Believe me , I really liked the book but for some strange reason I was not able to finish it and every time I see that book lying around the corner I get this guilty feeling.. Right now I’m reading 1984 by George Orwell … I’m quite a slow reader but I’m definitely going to finish this book. It is amazing..

    Nice post :) Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    • Thanks so much for the good wishes! Pride and Prejudice is one of those books where I can, without a trace of guilt, heartily recommend any BBC television version of it and still assure you you’re getting a good experience. :) I’m so glad you’re enjoying 1984!!

      Leigh Anne

  16. I often have multiple books going at once, and some of them never get finished. Do you also skip ahead in your books to see what’s going to happen? I do! Drives other booklovers crazy…but I can’t help myself! Great post…enjoy your next book!

    • I do sometimes skip ahead! Especially if the due date’s coming up, and there are holds on the book, and I’m not quite sure I CAN finish on time. Though I have also stayed up waaaay past bedtime to finish really excellent books…thanks for the good wishes!

      Leigh Anne

  17. I quite often don’t like books that my friends like, and they often don’t like the books that I do! I’m not a fan of fiction, and yet that’s what most people seem to enjoy reading, so my book list is often much different than most people’s!

    As for what I’m reading now, I have about 6 books on the go (as per my usual…can’t just read one book at a time! lol). They’re all mainly historical texts. My friends like to say that I’m a dork because, according to them, all of my favourite books are textbooks…lol.

    Great post and congrats on being Freshly Pressed! :)

  18. Rae

    I wish I could be better about just quitting a book that I don’t like. I have a weird OCD tendency that makes it really difficult for me not to finish, but for this reason I’m really picky about making sure I’ll like a book before I start it.

  19. I’ve only given myself permission to not finish books in the last few years. The most recent was “A Game of Thrones” by George R. R. Martin. So many people (including good friends) have raved about the series… can’t wait until the next book comes out… were in seventh heaven at the TV version…

    I made it 200 pages and then decided I wasn’t going to waste time reading a book because everyone else loved it. It’s well written, has an intricate and action-filled plot, and three-dimensional characters.

    I sold it to a used bookstore two days ago.

    To comfort myself from the “meh” of the book I’d been looking forward to, I began to reread P.D. James’ Adam Dalgliesh series. At least I know I’ll like it.

    • Abbi, good for you. It’s frustrating when you’re just not feeling a book everyone else is into, but you can’t go wrong with a re-read of something you love. Have you ever tried Tana French’s mysteries? Just curious.

      Leigh Anne

      • Leigh Anne,

        I think I’ve heard of her before in passing, but I’ve never read any of her books. After glancing over the book blurbs, I think I need to check her out… soon. I’m a big fan of well-written mysteries with tight characterization and plot. Especially when it’s a series…

        Thanks for the recommendation!


  20. i think i would be more fulfilled as a reader if i could just quit bad books and move on…

  21. acupofherbal

    I’m currently reading 1Q84 by Murakami, which has been mentioned above. I’m a huge fan of Murakami’s work but this latest addition is somewhat disappointing. Admittedly, I’m only a few chapters in, but already I can sense that something is lacking. It has a lot of cheap tries at controversy in it, which somehow doesn’t work for me. I’ll finish it and hopefully enjoy the full story as it enfolds. Norwegian Wood and After Dark by Murakami are amazing, however, my favourite must be The Wind-up Bird Chronicles!

    I’m glad I found this blog!

    • Thanks for sharing your reading experience with us! I’m on the waiting list for 1Q84 now, too, and I’m wildly curious, based on the different responses everybody seems to be having. We’re glad you found us too, and we hope you’ll stick around for more reading suggestions!

      Leigh Anne

    • Jay

      I am almost done with the Book 1 and I can say that I share the same sentiment. It seems to lack that Murakami feel.

  22. Here I thought I had some sort of rare disease since I rarely finish a book. Nice to know I am not alone (in that bittersweet way).

    “Language of Flowers” sounds like an interesting read.. but I should probably finish “The Art of Racing in the Rain” first.

    Great post!


  23. I’m reading The Hare With Amber Eyes. It’s a true story about life in Vienna from the late 1800s through World War 11. Starts off slowly with lots of description of art collections, especially Japanese “Netsuke” (small, ivory carved figures). Ultimately it’s about the great power shift in europe during those years.


  24. Richard Peachment

    I got given ‘Atlas Shrugged’ by Ayn Rand last year and I only managed to finish four chapters before setting it down. It is a good book, and very well written. But I didn’t have the effort. Thirty chapters at over 1100 pages is too much.

    Instead I’ve been slowly making my way through Stephen King’s ‘The Dark Tower’ series. I’m about halfway through book three [of seven] so far, and it’s very enthralling.

    • Richard, thanks for your comment! The nice thing about finding a series you enjoy is that you get to postpone your book drought that much longer. Hope the Dark Tower series continues to be worthwhile for you as you go along!

      Leigh Anne

      • Richard Peachment

        I always enjoy finding a new series of books to read. However, this close to Christmas my mother forbids me from buying anything I want [in case it’s bought as a present] so I’m having to hold back on my current book! It’s killing me as I am desperate to carry on reading, in hopes that more questions are answered!

  25. rxglbr

    I read a lot. I finish a lot of what I start, but usually quit when unnecessary descriptions of clothing start peppering the narrative. There are books I work my way through hoping -from time to time against all reasonable hope- that they will end on a better note than the one they are hitting in the middle. Reading this post just added a few things to my trusty book list…I can hear my library card yelling “tally ho!” in my wallet.

  26. Just added Ready Player One to my winter reading list! Thanks for the recommendation!

  27. I recently read and finished “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot and it was a page turner in the best sense: engaging storytelling and wonderful translation of scientific topics for a lay audience. I finished it during a long holiday weekend and can’t imagine anyone starting this book and not finishing it.

  28. I love the image of you running through the library to get people to love your book too. In general, I have a weird must finish this book kind of discipline (read neuroses) that if I start I must complete. It also extends to books in a series, kind of a collector fetish. I seem a little more forgiving on my Kindle. I like being able to download a sample and decide whether I want to commit to the whole thing. Thanks for the smile. I need that!

    • Thank you! The other library workers are used to me running around here, shoving books in their faces – it’s sad, really. But funny, too. ;) Glad our blog could make you smile, and that the Kindle sample feature is working so well for you!

      Leigh Anne

  29. Hello! I recently finished Ned Beauman’s Boxer, Beetle. Very entertaining, had interesting characters & a flowing plot.
    Talking about Julian Barnes, I picked up “A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters” from the library today. The idea of re-writing the story of Noah through the eyes of an “honest” survivor looks very promising…

  30. I’ve read thousands of books, and it took me many years to be comfortable with the idea of not finishing a book. Now, it’s a huge relief. I once got almost to the end, then realized I didn’t really care what happened to any of the characters. “The Language of Flowers” is on my to-read list. Now, I will move it to the top. Here is a suggestion: “To the End of the Land.” I can’t find anyone who has read it, but it is outstanding and memorable.

  31. Funny that you should write this. I have been having the hardest time finishing Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand. At first I was enthralled but by halfway through I just don’t feel like reading it. I feel all sorts of guilt about it. I think I will just stop reading it! Thanks. Whew!

  32. I am very anal about finishing books and films. Even if it’s the most awful thing I’ve ever read, I have to stick it out to the last page. But that stems more from an inability to leave things unresolved than to really want to keep reading.

  33. This post is so relevant to me. I have so many books lined up for me to read….and finish, lol. I’m currently reading Survival of the Savvy by Rick Brandon and Marty Seldman. It’s a great book about polotics in the workplace and which side of the spectrum you fall on.

  34. For me Life is Too Short to Read a Bad Book:) I love to read, especially mystery. Love the post & Congrats on being FP!

  35. I always finish a book I start, I just remember not to read it again. I am a book-aholic. If I like a book, I will read it until pages start to fall out. Not consecutively, but continually.

    Currently, I am reading “Drive” by Daniel Pink. I just finished a book about the True Colors Personality Test. I like to read fantasy books and books for professional growth.

  36. Wow. I can so relate to this! I have many books on my shelf borrowed from friends (which I should probably return.. thanks for the reminder :)) left unread… because they couldn’t keep my attention past the first or second page. Thank you for your book recommendations! I can’t wait to get myself a good new book to read!

  37. There are days I wish I could just stop reading a book, lol. I always keep hoping it will get better! Thanks for all the good things for the list guys!

  38. So so so so true. I also come back to books. Like LOTR – I still haven’t finished, but every time I pick it up, I LOVE it, will read a couple chapters, and put it down for another few months. I get restless if a book starts to drop off.

    So I bookmark it, put it back on the shelf, and reaquaint myself in a few months. It’s like rediscovering you were friends with someone all along, even though you thought they annoyed you.

  39. I love nonfiction books most of all. I recently read “Tainted Legacy: The Story of Alleged Serial Killer Bertha Gifford” by S. Kay Murphy. She is a local Southern California author, although this book is about murders that happened in Missouri. But what I found facinating is the way Kay weaved her own journey of discovery with the story of Bertha Gifford, who is called America’s first female serial killer. What was even more facinating is that Bertha Gifford is Kay’s great grandmother! Talk about a skeleton in the family closet! It was a short book but I enjoyed it so much that I am having a hard time finding something else to read. I am glad to finally know that I am not the only one who has this problemI

    • Oh wow – that book sounds GREAT! Thanks for the recommendation. You are never alone when it comes to books and reading! Are you looking for something similar, now, or something different? What sort of book are you in the mood for?

      Leigh Anne

  40. I’m a sophomore in college and I’m up to my ears in required reading, but I’m looking for things to read over my upcoming breaks. I’m definitely going to look into Ready Player One.

    I’m really impressed that you personally responded to all of these comments, by the way.

    • Emily, thank you! Answering comments just seemed like the classy thing to do – I mean, people took the time to write, after all… report back and let us know how you like Ready Player One! I’ve just learned that Will Wheaton reads the audiobook, so I may have to go back and listen to that!

      Leigh Anne

  41. I often read “Lord Jim” but I rarely finish it…because I don’t want it to end. It’s much better sometimes to just drop back and read a favorite part or two and not be hung up about beginning, middle and end.

  42. Oh I agree with you on the “It’s ok not to finish a book thing.” So many good books and so little time! But when I come across a new author I like who has a lot of published books I get super excited and buy them. ALL. Leave no man behind. And I watch for the next one with all four eyes.

    Just finished “The Other Side Of The Story” by Marian Keyes, an Irish author who writes about women in my demographic (28-32, career-driven, single, slightly crazy, and very very British Isles). This is the second of her books that I’ve read and loved and true to form I’ve kindle-bought two more today.

    Will do a little report on the last two sometime. Honeymoon period with this lady still! As well as Stephen Hunt’s weird Oliver-Twistish fantasy series and Pat Conroy’s southern gothic and over-flowery delicious style.

    Back to Marian! Visit your blog again soon!

    • Thanks so much for the comment! I’m glad you’re enjoying Marian Keyes – she’s very popular with some of the library staff. The Stephen Hunt sounds promising to me, so I put him on my ever-growing list. Happy reading!

      Leigh Anne

  43. Ian Whatley

    I am simply too embarrassed to admit how many books I am reading ‘in parallel.’ There are more minutes of reading material introduced to the market everyday than any of us have left in our lifetime. Readers can be choosers, now more than ever.

    • Ian, it’s so true! It’s wonderful, too, how that seems to have dovetailed with the rise of social media – it’s possible to learn about so many things we might otherwise have missed, and easily move on to new options when we don’t like a book.

      Thanks for reading along!

      Leigh Anne

  44. I never could understand the fascination with crime and murder in books. Why do readers want to fill their lives with those kinds of stories?

    Here in Morristown a doctor was hit over the head in a dark parking lot and killed. At his funeral we saw his son and wife grieving. Would that be a story anyone would enjoy?

    • Ronnie, I hear you. I think a lot of people feel that way; I know, though, that many people process difficult issues via fiction when they’re too tough to tackle in real life. Nobody wants murder in the world, but it does exist; perhaps reading murder mysteries helps us cope, as a culture?

      Mystery fans, what do you think?

      Leigh Anne

      • I think there’s sometimes a misunderstanding of why a reader will enjoy/choose/prefer a mystery novel. Truthfully, if a person gets some sort of vicarious thrill out of murder, I would think they might go toward true crime novels, rather than fictional mystery novels. And whether someone gets some sort of thrill from murder or crime seems more an issue for their therapist… or, if it gets bad enough (i.e. moving from psychological thrill to action), the police.

        But I digress.

        As someone who reads mystery (but not only, or even mostly, mystery), I don’t read for the murder and crime. In fact, most of the time in the mystery books I read (Dorothy Sayers, PD James are my main mystery authors), there isn’t much description of the actual murder – just some of what I call “CSI details”… the info the detective/protagonist (and the reader) use to solve the case. In mystery novels, there’s both the intellectual exercise of “whodunit,” as well as the comfort of resolution and justice in the end.

        I would argue, though, that mysteries are not the only fictional works to present crime and murder. “The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold, anyone? What about “Falling Angels” by Tracy Chevalier or “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini? And that’s only a few right off the top of my head.

        I do think, to some extent, these kind of books do help us cope. We know there’s murder in the world. We know there’s rape. We know there’s all manner of what you might call evil. There can be a tremendous amount of comfort in reading a book where you can be reasonably sure that everything will be solved and wrapped up in a set number of pages.

        I don’t think reading fictional novels of crime inures us to crimes in real life – which happen to our family and friends, in our neighborhoods and communities, and throughout the world. To be blunt, if someone doesn’t care what happens to people in real life (someone is murdered or raped), I wouldn’t point toward mystery books as the root cause.

        And while I’m not opposed to what might be called purely escapist books (humor writing, whimsical character writing, etc.), I think the ability to wrestle with major issues in a book is not a bad thing.

        The great thing, though, is that there’s so many books in the world, and so many genres and authors to choose from… how can you not find something somewhere that you love to read?

  45. For the record, I don’t play videogames and I enjoyed the heck out of READY PLAYER ONE. Also: I work at a newspaper’s sports department, I’ve been to 15 baseball parks, I read a lot of fiction- ‘literary’ and otherwise -and I absolutely de*test*ed THE ART OF FIELDING. Most hype for the worst book I’ve ever read.

    • Andrew, thanks for your comment! Isn’t it funny how things we “should” like often don’t ring true? What was it about Ready Player One that you liked? For me, besides the obvious, it was definitely the pacing and the snark.

      Leigh Anne

  46. It’s an “adult” quality to be able to abandon a book. When I taught, I encouraged free choice and urged students to drop books that weren’t working- after giving them a fair chance of a chapter or two. Many found it very difficult. Now I happily toss books I don’t like back into the return slot at my library. Some recent good ones: The Hare with Amber Eyes, The Ha Ha. Reading now The Time in Between- an epic for sure. Check out my posts on books.

    • Your students were very lucky to have you! You are the second person to mention The Hare With Amber Eyes, so I have just reserved it now – thank you, and I will gladly make the time to look at your book posts.

      Leigh Anne

  47. bebephase

    I think I have a couple of books, which I started to read but returned to the shelf before I even reached the 3rd chapter. Not because they’re not good books, but because I don’t have much time to read, and by the time I want to read a book I already have a new book on the shelf. Which I tend to read first without finishing the unfinished ones.
    But now, I am trying my best to go back to the unfinished ones, and give it “closure.” I am not really good in quitting books.
    Now, I have more than 40 unread books and 5 unfinished books in my shelf. A slacker, indeed. =))

  48. I like the post. I found this out as a senior in high school. I asked if my literature teacher would recommend a book I had seen. She said its a good book but she never finished it. I was shocked. But now I understand.

  49. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace – often started, never finished. Never even close.

  50. Nice Blog, looking forward to following along. I’m such a late bloomer as I am just now reading The Help. I am truly engaged in the story, the writing is okay. I’m a big Murakami fan too.

  51. The one and only book I have never finished was ‘The Historian’. Despite all the acclaim and publicity, I could not get past two things: tedium, and too many coincidences. Currently I’m reading ‘Survivors’ Dreams’ by Kaylan Doyle. This is her first published book and I love finding new writers.

  52. Nootrishus

    Definitely know what you mean about being in a drought. Every once in a while I find myself in “Barren Wasteland” mode because I can’t find anything I can actually finish. Sometimes I get to page 250, other times all it takes is a look at the front cover to make me put down a book for good. (Yes, I know the whole judging a book by it’s cover thing, but still – sometimes the covers are creepy!)
    My favorite timeless series’ that I’ve finished at least 5 times each are: “Protector of the Small”(First Test, Page, Squire, Lady Knight), “Song of the Lioness”(Alanna: The First Adventure, In the Hand of the Goddess, The Woman Who Rides Like A Man, Lioness Rampant) “Immortals”(Wild Magic, Wolf Speaker, Emperor Mage,The Realms of the Gods) , “Circle of Magic”(Sandry’s Book, Tris’s Book, Daja’s Book, Briar’s Book) , “Circle Opens”(Magic Steps, Street Magic, Coldfire, Shatterglass)
    One of her separate books that follows the “Circle” series is “The Will of the Empress” . These are all by Tamora Pierce.
    Those books keep me happy untill the Barren Wilderness is over! :)

    • Oh wow, the jackpot comment – thank you so much for the suggestions! I love that there is always more to read. People have suggested Pierce to me for years, but I think it’s time to get started. Cheers!

      Leigh Anne

  53. i read a lot of programming books and none of them i finish to read
    i just read it when i need a reference hahaa

  54. I just finished reading Dan Brown’s The Lost symbol and the drama in the book was a bit… predictable. And I decided not to finish reading I am Number 4, It’s.. it’s… meh. :)

  55. I hate to give up on a book once I invest time in it. Some books, however, I just cannot get into. I’ve tried to read Gravity’s Rainbow any number of times and I always end up with the feeling that Pynchon is just pulling my leg. But then, it took me four tries to get into Catch 22, but once I let it infect me, I loved it, and read it several times.

    If I were to recommend a book to you, I’d suggest John Fowles, “The Magus”, it is an amazing book. I read it when it first came out, and reread it when he rewrote it because there were parts of the original he didn’t care for. Both reads were excellent. By the way, do not use the film made from the book as a measuring stick. The book(s) are by far better.

  56. The last book I read/ finished was Dry by Augusten Burroughs… talk about heavy. I couldn’t put it down, even while lugging a pumpkin around Manhattan. I can’t remember the last time, if ever, I cried so hard while reading. The sentiment crept up on me and devoured me whole.

  57. I’ve gotten so desperate in my drought, I figured I start with some classics. So I’m almost finished with Pride and Prejudice. I must say, it’s actually pretty exciting. It reminds me that there was a time without email and text messages, and if you kind of liked someone, you’d be at the edge of your seat trying to see if they liked you. And, well, love is never easy, but love back then was downright difficult. My heart actually fluttered in the second to last chapter.

    But thanks for the suggestion!! I just checked out some more details on Language of Flowers, and I’m pretty sure it will be my next read.

    Hey congrats on the press, too!

    • Ack! I forgot to say that I’ve actually tried to read Pride & Prejudice several times on my kindle, and just couldn’t get into it until this last attempt. Weird how that happens….

      • Thank you for the comments! I know exactly what you mean about Pride and Prejudice – they couldn’t even pass notes in study hall back then, poor things! But it makes for an exciting read. :)

        Report back on Language of Flowers, and thanks again for the kind thoughts!

        Leigh Anne

  58. kat

    That is why I love the library; if I don’t finish a book, I don’t feel like I wasted my money. My time, on the other hand . . .

    I’m currently dividing my reading time between Tom Perrotta’s The Leftovers and Stephen King’s 11/22/63. Might have to try Ready Player One; it sounds interesting.

    Interesting post. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

  59. I almost always finish unless it’s awful. I just finished Nora Ephron’s “I Remember Nothing” which was disappointing, compared to her other screenplays and books. I am reading “My Name is Red” by Orhan Pamuk, and it is terrific. For fun, I am also reading “The Man Who Loved Books Too Much” which is a great mystery. I usually have a half dozen or so books going at various stages of completion, so it depends on my mood which one I pick up. Great and interesting blog. I’ll be back.

  60. kitkatlikereflexes

    Yes, books you read and books you finish – a very important distinction. Great post, and congratulations!

  61. rmv

    i rarely quit on a book, but sometimes it’s necessary. i would rather deal with the alleged guilt of quitting than continue with something i’m really not interested in just…because.

  62. I’ve rarely not finished a book; the only one that comes to mind is Vanity Fair, which I found so dull! As of now, I just finished A Thousand Splendid Suns by the author of The Kite Runner. I couldn’t put it down, it was so good, very sad but with a surprising twist. I highly recommend it!

  63. Jo Ann

    I don’t usually read fiction and if I do, it’s usually mysteries. But for some reason I got drawn into Song of Ice and Fire, downloaded all five volumes onto my Kindle and have been chomping through several chapters every night. Now I’m afraid that the author may not live to finish the series. Almost as bad as not quite grasping string theory or the multi-dimensional universe!

    • Jo Ann, thanks for your comment! So glad you’re liking that series. I haven’t started it yet, but I am very curious, based on all the positive feedback. Winter is coming!


      Leigh Anne

  64. cee

    i’m currently reading Great Expectation by Charles Dickens. I like the book so far, but my attention span hasn’t recovered after reading 2 out of the 3 Millennium books by Stieg Larsson. Right now, I just want to read the 3rd book XD

    I have my copy of Reverte’s The Club Dumas for a year now, but I’ve been skipping it for different books. I know I don’t have to read it but I feel guilty every time I glance at it in my book shelf.

    • What a great variety of choices! Don’t feel guilty about Club Dumas – the best part about books is that stories have no expiration date. I haven’t read it yet either, but several of my co-workers have, and loved it. We can see who gets to it first. ;)

      Cheers, and happy reading!

      Leigh Anne

  65. marginalessays

    The lone book I can remember starting and never finishing is William Gaddis’s “A Frolic of His Own.” I was living elsewhere for the summer and had to return the library book before leaving. I’ll finish it one day.

    For me, it’s all about feel. I can’t ever force a book, but I do have temporary preferences. I have books that sit on my shelf for years (I’m looking at you, “A Theory of Justice”) waiting for the right time in my life. I like having options, and I know I’ll someday be ready for each book.

    My normal routine is to alternate fiction and non-fiction. I read something heavy, something relaxing, heavy, relaxing, and so on. I recently snagged “No Logo” by Naomi Klein because I was craving non-fiction dealing with current Wall Street protests. After finishing, I’ll go back to a recently added Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. or Tom Robbins to catch my breath.

  66. I rarely if ever quit a book. I’m way too determined to stick it out to the end. One I did though was The Warden by Trollope. It was hard to be interested in its dullness when I had Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh, I’m Not Scared by Niccolo Ammaniti and Clarissa by Samuel Richardson waiting for me. I don’t ever reread though – same with a movie, I don’t do rewatching.

  67. I usually have two or three books going on at once, mostly non-fiction, and find it easy to toggle between them. This makes it less of a guilt-trip when I drop one if: a) it gets uninteresting, b) if the author starts showing off, or c) it becomes self-indulgent, which drives me NUTS.

    I’ve written a few books of my own, where I’ve made similar mistakes. For the latest, I took what I’d learned from reading authors who failed me, as well as rejoicing in those who kept me happy to the very last page, and condensed it all into every page. It’s called ‘A Little Book About Believing’, and it follows a bunch of spirited cancer and M.S. patients to Brazil, where they undergo what’s known as ‘spiritual surgery’ from a faith healer.

    Try making that read like a thriller!

    But it works, I’m told. Amazing, miraculous things happened to us in Brazil, enough to turn an old skeptic like me into a believer. I keep hearing again and again things like, “I stayed up half the night reading it. Couldn’t put it down.” It’s very gratifying.

    So while I hesitate to recommend my own book to you – there’s a d) to the above list: if the author boasts about how great his book is, then lets you down, which I promise I don’t do (I’ve done it before; not this time) – I must also thank all those authors, good and bad, who taught me so much about what to do, and what not.

    • Cash, what a wonderful comment – thank you for sharing your book philosophy, and I’m definitely curious about YOUR writing now! Isn’t the world wide web wonderful? All this sharing going on!


      Leigh Ane

  68. I haven’t finished a book in a long while. It’s just that I can’t seem to concentrate on it, or reading with a book. I put the blame on not being in the ‘book reading’ mood lately. I’m glad that your reading drought ended though and you found a great book to read!

    • Thank you so much! I’m not reading anything super-thrilling at the moment, but I have high hopes. :) It’s okay not to be in a reading mood, but the next time you are, I hope you have something great on tap!

      Leigh Anne

  69. Your suggestions are helpful. I also cannot finish reading some books and then feel frustrating. However, I would finish the book that has been tested by the readers and the long time.

    In addition, regarding there are so many books nowadays, just feel difficult to choose good books.

    • Thanks for your comment! It is hard to pick books sometimes – I do it for a living, and it can be quite a challenge! It’s hard for me to explain sometimes, too, what I want for myself. Good thing we have each other, and the internet. :)


      Leigh Anne

  70. anotherdaysucks

    I always think twice before purchasing a book. There was an old quote saying “You don’t judge a book by its cover”. It is so true. I would read about recommendations. But, I don’t trust them. Because each person has a different taste and preference to read. I prefer to read about Dirty Realism. They also inspired me to write about my life. A good author normally put a little bit of soul in his books.

  71. Do you know of librarian Nancy Pearl’s ‘Rule of 50’? If you’re not loving it after 50 pages, move on. And there is an addendum: When you are 51 years of age or older, subtract your age from 100, and the resulting number (which, of course, gets smaller every year) is the number of pages you should read before you can guiltlessly give up on a book. As the saying goes, “Age has its privileges.”
    Perhaps someone else mentioned this above. Lots of interesting comments!
    I just finished Patrick DeWitt’s “The Sisters Brothers”. Absolutely not something I would normally pick up, but it was short-listed for the Booker, among other award lists. Really different. Loved it!

    • Nancy Pearl is my idol! I hope to be just like her someday, when I grow up. ;) Thanks for the reminder, too, about “The Sisters Brothers,” which I’ve been meaning to get around to. I’m always curious about the Booker shortlist!

      Cheers, and happy reading!

      Leigh Anne

  72. “… a group of library workers …”

    Wow! That’s great. I ‘m here because you made the “Freshly Pressed” page.

    A while back I found Jasper Ffolkes’ quirky “Thursday Next” series.

    It’s in the fantasy/adventure series; the premise is that the world of literature has a real existence. and that the heroine, Thursday Next is a “literary detective”, working for an organization that polices goings-on in those literary world that affect the real one.

    I’ve read one of the others, so when this came up I grabbed it. This one is better that the other.

    It’s a reader’s delight: Fforde brings in characters and plots from books – often expecting that you know who he’s writing about (at one point, she complains of there being too many Mrs Danvers running about). It’s satisfying on many levels. First, because the writing is pretty good, second, because all those lit classes and late-night reading marathons have paid off.

    There’s one great line in the one I’m in the middle of now (“Thursday Next: First Among Sequels”):

    Thursday is talking to her protege, Thursday5, about reading books, and how it’s different from poetry. (In that world, they can actually go INTO books (they’ve just had a harrowing adventure in “Pinocchio”.)) The protege asks what it;s like to go into poetry. Thursday advises against it. “Poetry is an emotion magnifier” … “You can lose yourself on books, but you find yourself in poetry.”

    Bill and Eleventh: What’s this about 1Q84??? I’ve seen it in local Japanese stores, but thought it wasn’t out in English yet.

    I’m much encouraged by the news that there are actually people still reading books (you know, those things made of paper, that you don’t have to put batteries in). We’re near the place where one of our favorite bookstores, Borders, went out of business. That was a dark and gloomy day…….

    • Thanks so much for stopping by, and for your comment! 1Q84 just recently became available in English in the U.S. – still waiting for my copy. We’ve learned, in almost four years of blogging, that people still LOVE books and reading, and that the rise of technology has simply made that more apparent, rather than less.

      Thanks, too, for the detailed info on Thursday Next! She has at least one dedicated fan amongst our bloggers, and I’ve read the series, too, and liked it.

      Cheers, and happy reading!

      Leigh Anne

  73. I really liked your post because I almost always never finish a lot of books (or start, for that matter) and I feel guilty. I go through fits and bursts of reading. I do not know why because I really enjoy it. Perhaps it’s that mother-guilt creeping in when I am curled up and enjoying myself only to see the chaotic kitchen awaiting me out of the corner of one eye. Once I am distracted, that’s it! I still have the Stieg Larsson Girl with boxed series wrapped in plastic from last Christmas. Oh I am so ashamed.

  74. joahnadiyosa

    Sharing same sentiments here. Thanks for the beautiful post! ^^

  75. nadia

    that happened to me after finished reading Harry Potter. After the final book, it took me a while to start reading other books again.

    • Oh Nadia, so true. I was very scared, after Harry Potter, that I would never enjoy another book again as long as I lived – that wasn’t a series: it was a EVENT. :)

      Thanks for your comment, and happy reading!

      Leigh Ane

  76. Half way thorugh Sense and Sensibility I completely stopped reading for about a month. Every time I try reading some sort of classic I go into a gook drought immidately after. I finally did finish Sense and Sensibility but now im very much enjoying The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series by Stieg Larsson.

  77. I am currently reading (devouring…) and loving The Stolen Crown by Higginbotham! I love British history in fiction or nonfiction format. I’m interested in readin The Language of Flowers though. Thanks for your blog!

  78. Oh goodness, where do I begin? I just finished Then Came You, by Jennifer Weiner, Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares, and Admission, by Jean Hanff Korelitz. I’ll be starting The Bungalow by Sarah Jio very soon. And I’m currently reading You Against Me, by Jenny Downham. This list can go on for ages…so I will stop now!

  79. I agree completely that life is too short to spend time with a bad book! Nothing makes me more impatient and annoyed than having to suffer through bad literature!

  80. I think that every book can take you somewhere new, if your open minded enough. Boring or not every book has something to offer.

    • Brenda, that makes sense to me. Very often, with a book I don’t finish, I think, “Well, I’m glad I was at least exposed to that.” Sometimes a book that didn’t work for me is just perfect for a friend, relative, or other library patron. So it all evens out! Thanks for your comment. :)

      Leigh Anne

  81. Just finished ‘Island Beneath the Sea’ by Isabelle Allende and now into the quirky ‘ If on a Winters Night a Traveler’ by Italo Calvino. 1Q84 arrived yesterday alongside ‘How to Spot a Pyschopath’.

  82. Maybe you haven’t quite found your genre? :)

    I always feel kind of guilty if i don’t finish a book. I also recently read Ready Player one and enjoyed it very much.

    Congratulations on being freshly pressed.

  83. After reading your blog I realized that I am in a ‘drought’ phase too. So thanks!
    I have an interest in reading but somehow get lost at regular intervals, probably because I am very new to this. I know most people did not like the Twilight series but I quite liked it. I also liked the Harry Potter series. Guess I have something for fantasies. My favorites, however, are The Fountainhead, Da Vinci Code, Gone with the WInd, Pride and Prejudice, Kane and Able. If you can suggest something, i might just be out of my drought too…

    • Happy to give it a shot! What are you in the mood for right now? Something light / heavy? Have you tried Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series at all? Also, have you read Ally Condie’s “Matched” or the Hunger Games series? Off the top of my head, those are things I think might appeal, but a lot of what will break the drought depends on what you’re in the mood for…

      Leigh Anne

  84. Lately I stick to a lovely threesome: Carver (The beginners), Alice Munro (Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage) and Salinger (Nine stories). For me it’s hard to understand why short stories aren’t so popular anymore. A story like “a small, good thing” from Carver is everything a story should be, it’s like a complete book! I agree with the “life is too short to read bad books.
    By the way I can never just read one book, it seems. So short stories are perfect for me. Can recommend it when your time is limited and you want to use it in a good way.

    • Short stories are great! Thank you for the reminder – the Munro collection is on my list, but I haven’t made it there yet. They really are perfect for when you’re pressed for time, or don’t want to commit to an entire novel. Thanks for commenting!

      Leigh Anne

  85. Ok – I have a thing about finishing books which my friends and colleagues think is peculiar. It is probably related to my ‘what if I miss something pattern’ – that plays out in staying up/out to late and saying yes….. what if I miss something interesting? So this pattern works well in some instances and gets me to stick through the beginning of books and often uncover the wonderfulness within them, i.e. The Lacuna – Barbara Kingsolver or The General Theory of Love – Lewis, Amini, Lannon and then other times I feel like I’ve wasted several hours of my life …..

    • It’s a tough call. Sometimes it does take a while for a book to warm up, and I can respect that…I suppose each person has to decide how far s/he will go before giving up. Thanks for your comment!

      Leigh Anne

  86. I love to read books as many as possible, probably about 10 a month, but I probably finish 1 or 2 books. I started suspecting that maybe I have ADHD… until I read your blog post! :)

    Out of the last 7 books, I only finished 1, which was the Last Lecture by Randy Pausch.

    Thanks for the post!

  87. I tend to read many books I love over and over like V.C Andrews books “Flowers in the Attic” and “Petals on the Wind” for example. I can finish a book if I like it enough though. I have a book published under the name A.M Torres. It is called Love Child and it is available on paperback and Amazon kindle for $2.99 for anyone willing to try a new book. Books have to keep you interested from the start and must grab your attention fast. It must captivate the reader and I hope my book does that. For those who have read it they say it’s done that for them.

    • Ana, thanks for your comments, and the info! It’s amazing to me how the Flowers in the Attic books find a new audience with every generation – I read them as a teen, and I see teens reading them now. Best of luck with your writing!

      Leigh Anne

  88. Lucky you! I haven´t been able to read anything after Shantaram.
    You could say I’m lost in the desert when it comes to reading.

    I have since Shantaram just kept re-reading Winnie the pooh – by A.A. Milne. Just because it is not a children s book, but a teacher of philosophy on how to lead a loving life not getting stuck by obstacles in your way.

    Perfect love!

  89. I’ve been through a reading drought lately – looking back, I think part of the problem was that my attention kept getting dragged elsewhere and I wasn’t finishing books… To the extent that, subconsciously, I stopped *starting* them. That freaked me out, and so I finally grasped the nettle – I’m currently reading Nick Page’s The Wrong Messiah and Philip Sandifer’s TARDIS Eruditorum, but after reading this post I’m interested in checking out Ready Player One…

  90. xenoia

    I almost always finish reading books, even if they are not what I expected or are in my opinion, not very good.

    Also, when encountering a book drought, I find it useful to switch to non-fiction for a bit. After something fact-based, I find my mind is usually eager to find anything creative and is a bit more open to giving new things chances. Works for me :)

    I’ve added Ready Player One to my reading list as that sounds great, so thanks for the post!

    • Great attitude xenoia! I confess, I am probably a wee bit cranky with age, and could do with a nap. Or some tea. ;)

      But I do love non-fiction. Today I am reading a book on bone health and osteoperosis, and it’s fascinating. I could never be a doctor, but I love reading about science and medicine. So glad you enjoyed the post, and do let us know what you think of Ready Player One!

      Leigh Anne

  91. pat

    I’m always the one recommending books to people who I suspect have never liked most of what I’ve recommended, unless they take the effort to contact me or confront me to say they did indeed like it. It’s okay, though, when books I’ve recommended aren’t as well liked as I have.

    I rarely leave a book I’ve started no matter how tedious it becomes. But, I’m very picky.

    I’m currently reading The Pale King by David Foster Wallace. I have a love and hate relationship with his books and books about him but even though it’s lately mostly hate because of the general difficulty of his works, I’ve never abandoned any of his because it almost always ends up rewarding.

  92. reading time for me is how i relax b4 bed. I curl up with anything and read until i fall asleep. This has gotten me thru some surprisingly boring books, from the story of chernobly, to an unauthorized version of ‘Poor Little Rich Girl’, the biography of Barbara Hutton, recalled by the bookstore due to a defamation lawsuite by her doctor. I picked it up at a garage sale – it even has a the recall letter stuck in it by the bookseller. The book was surprisingly interesting, but my point is is that i actually get thru some pretty boring stuff and retain what i read with just a couple pages a night till it puts me to sleep. In fact, interesting books are not so good, because they DONT put me to sleep lol.

  93. great post!


    congratulations on being FP!

  94. I actually never read a book I didn’t finish. Even if the book wasn’t great, I would always think “OK, the great part should be coming up any page now…” and eventually finish it with a feeling of “lackness”.
    I mostly stick to horror fiction. I’m a constant reader of Stephen King. If a book gives me nightmares, it means it was a super awesome book that I will most likely read again.
    If I hit a book drought, I write instead. It’s always a good way to fill the void that such a drought causes :-)

  95. Cobb

    I’m seldom in the frontline when new books arrive… And I often go months (on a few occasions even years) without feeling the urge to read any book at all…
    But every now and then I kind of just devour book after book, almost indiscriminately.
    I was captivated by The Secret Story (Donna Tartt) and kind of struggled with – but ultimately had to admit it was brilliant – The Satanic Verses (Salman Rushdi). Most recently, while on vacation, I found a pocketbook someone had left behind, The Horse Whisperer (Nicholas Evans) and once I started reading it I just couldn’t stop – something that probably made me a really boring vacation buddy.

    My one guilty pleasure though, is Terry Pratchett’s Discworld-series, that I’ve probably read at least three times – all thirtythree of them! :)

  96. I’m partway through two separate Dickens novels right now. I love them, but his stuff takes so much brain power to read. :P

  97. Pingback: City of Thieves | The YA Book Club

  98. The other day I read ‘One Day’ on a 5hr coach trip, I read most of it on the coach, then when I got home I stayed up to gone 2am to finish it. Amazing book. Moved me so much!

    But that was the first time in ages where I’ve finished a book easily, usually I finish books over a much longer period, like a week or two, but I always finish, well almost always. I feel a sense of guilt if I ‘give up’ on a book I’ve started.

  99. I finished ‘Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’ but couldn’t get into ‘The Restaurant at the End of the Universe’!
    The same thing happened with the millennium books! I guess it’s something to do with squeals….

    • Quite possibly! Have you tried the Dirk Gently series? In that particular case, I actually liked the 2nd one, “The Long, Dark Tea-time of the Soul,” better than the first…

      Cheers, and happy reading!

      Leigh Anne

  100. Vivid Reality

    This is so relevant to me right now. Right before I came online I had to put down a book I was reading, I was about four chapters in and couldn’t take it anymore. Maybe it was because the book I read prior was just so fantastically written or this book really was horrible. But either way I’m certainty glad I am not wasting anymore of my life with a bad book!

  101. CisforCathyyyy

    Nice post! :)

  102. charlotteweston

    I’ve been reading ‘The sea, the sea by Iris Murdoch. Its beautifully written but i’ve lost interst in th story. I’ve never left a book unfinished but I’m struggling to get through this. It’s a shame because I really enjoyed it to begin with. You’re right though, there are a long list of books I want to read so I shouldn’t wast time on one I have to force myself to get through.

    • Sounds like a plan! Amazing how you can read all your life and never get around to everyone – I haven’t read Murdoch yet, but I will try her soon. Thanks for your comment, and good luck with your next read!

      Leigh Anne

  103. Sandra Eliswa Naduvilaparambil

    hey this article was a relief!!! i have given back TOO many books before finishin them…i thought there was sumthing wrong with me. Right now, im reading The Great Indian Novel by Shashi Tharoor.

  104. Linda

    Have you read The Secret History? It blew my mind a little at the end. Well, I’m actually too scared to re-read it because it’s still blowing my mind. 1 1/2 yrs later.
    I couldn’t read through The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. The political-ness in the beginning definitely did not hold my interest.

    • Hi Linda! I started The Secret History, but I just wasn’t in the mood for it at the time – I have it on my list to go back to, later – I think I need to mentally prepare myself for the ending!

      I didn’t finish “Dragon Tattoo” either, though I might go back to that as well. Hope you are enjoying something wonderful now!

      Leigh Anne

  105. I haven’t read Ready Player One, I will have to put that on my list… but I was just wondering if you have tried The Givenchy Code? It’s a thriller about a computer game that is played online. People have signed up for it and then, forgotten, and meanwhile, somebody is turning it into real life, picking people to be the players… protector, target, assassin.. great book and has 2 or 3 more in the series! Check it out if you haven’t..
    Great post by the way!!

    • Thanks for your comment! I did flip through Givenchy Code, and found it fun! I would definitely recommend it as a light read. Report back if you try Ready Player One, and let us know what you think.

      Leigh Anne

  106. clarehudson

    Hi there, I’m only a few pages away from finishing Shantaram, which I highly recommend you read. Before that I read Essays in Love which was also great.

    • Thanks for your comment! So many people have mentioned Shantaram that I’ve just put it on hold for myself – can’t wait to see what all the excitement is about!

      Cheers, and happy reading.

      Leigh Anne

  107. Anything by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, I will read from cover to cover and relish every bit. When I first discovered them, I zipped through all of their Pendergast series and read some of the books twice. Currently, I have started a couple that I plan on finishing someday. I started one over a year ago and then started attending college, so it unfortunately got put on the back burner. The Law and the Lady by Wilkie Collins. Excellent book! The other is the latest Pendergast book that I started between semesters and wasn’t able to finish before I started my next semester.
    I appreciated your post, as I used to think I had to finish a book, even if I didn’t like it. Then, I figured out that, no, I didn’t. That made my reading much more enjoyable. So I related a lot to your post. Cheers!

    • Kate, thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment! All the books you’ve suggested sound great, especially the Collins, which I hadn’t heard of before. Cheers, and happy reading!

      Leigh Anne

  108. I can relate to this! I usually decide in the first 25 to 30 pages if a book is not for me. If I get further in I keep pushing, maybe start skimming, and hoping it gets better. Ready Player One and Language of Flowers were two of my favorites so I can easily understand your joy in reading them.

  109. clarehudson

    And a few months before I read Room which I couldn’t put down- It was excellent.

    • Ooh, Room, good pick. VERY well-written. Alas, I couldn’t finish it because it was…too real, if that makes any sense. The subject matter was very difficult for me. Anyone else ever have that experience?

      Thanks for your comment!

      Leigh Anne

  110. I can never seem to get enough of Malcolm Gladwell lately.

  111. I find it so hard to stop reading, but I have a couple right now that have sat stale on my shelf.

  112. If a book doesn’t interest me, or is just “painful” to read, I’ll completely give up after the 1st 1 or 2 chapters. Unfortunatley, I can’t do that with books for school, which usually are always awful.


    • Andrew, sorry to hear the school reading isn’t going so well. On the bright side, once you’re done, you’ll never “have” to read anything again, unless you want to. Hang in there, and thanks for commenting!

      Leigh Anne

  113. I’m so happy to read this post! My drought has lasted longer than I care to mention b/c I’ve been picking up and putting down a LOT of books – fiction and nonfiction. But I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one and now I even have some suggestions to get me started again… THANKS!

  114. Congratulations on FP! Writing books makes me feel compelled to “finish it or else” yet, there are times I will put the book down for a while (usually until the next drought when I’m desperate!). I think having a variety of genres and generations of books helps relieve the drought as well as the presence of YA readers. In order to keep up with what “she” is reading, I find myself immersed in tales I’d never look at for myself. (Twilight nonsense indeed! haha) I think when you read everything from cereal boxes to wanted posters in the Post Office, you know what you like and tend to forgive yourself if you decide to put it “on hiatus.” The question of whether you return to it at a later date is entirely up to you and the length of your drought.

    Great post and am so glad to find you…

    • Kris, thanks for your good wishes, and your comment! YA lit is WONDERFUL, and I can’t believe how many wonderful books I find in the teen section. Hope you’re reading something wonderful now!

      Leigh Anne

  115. dreadnoughtvoyager

    great post!
    i’m in the middle of several books…I’m not sure if that’s a good reading habit or not. But i have a book from almost every category, so when i get bored with one, i go to the next…or pick one to fit the mood. Here’s my current reading list:
    1. Candide – Voltaire (when i’m feeling “storybook satire”)
    2. The Evolution of Physics – Einstein (when I feel like being held up by a very intelligent man, explaining my engineering degree in a somewhat philosophical and ontological context)
    3. Frankenstein (1818 Version) – Mary Shelley (when i want insane, intense characters with that strange lust for crazy..not to mention this was her pre-edited text)
    4. The Fabric of the Cosmos – Brain Greene (to support my current theoretical physics studies and somewhat expand the old noggin)
    5. Seize the Fire – Adam Nicholson (when i’d like me some heroism, egotism and Nelson.)

    You can see there’s a science / fantasy back and forth here. Perhaps I should combine the two and read some science fiction….

    • Thank you so much for your comment and good wishes! Lots of great picks there – and more for my own list. Frankenstein is one of my classic faves…

      Cheers, and happy reading!

      Leigh Anne

  116. I’m reading “The Hunt” by Jan Neuharth. It was a gift from my sister who raved about it and its sequels. I find the writing to be poor, but I’m trying to finish the book since my sis was so excited about it. Plus, she spent a lot of money on the book, and I wouldn’t want her to feel it was wasted. Here’s hoping the story itself outshines the storytelling.

  117. i love that you say it’s ok to not finish a book. i always experience a great deal of guilt when i see a dusty book that i only attended to for several chapters. but it’s true, not every book is for everybody. like dating. sometimes, one date is quite enough. other times, you need a few to feel it out. and then…there are the ones that stick around. that you can’t get enough of. books and boys. kinda the same for me :)

    • Eva, yes! It’s exactly like dating, IMHO – not every book is meant for every reader, in the same way that not everybody we date is going to be right for us. Great analogy! Thanks for stopping by, reading, and commenting. :)

      Leigh Anne

  118. Well said! I have a list of the books I finished this year. It is very short compared to the books I start or the non-fiction that I only read part of. I start many books that never make it past the second or third chapters. A few of the books that I did not like when I was younger I now love. I think that some books are only good if you are in the right place in your life for them to speak to you.

    Oh, I’m currently reading “Polio An American Story- The crusade that mobilized the nation against the 20th century’s most feared disease” It is very interesting! I’m a medical geek & a non-fiction fan :)

  119. blackshepherd

    Great piece…I have the same problem now that I’m older and better read…perhaps…I have not finished many of thte books I’ve started lately…my most recent find “The Faery Queene” by Spencer I realized I already knew even thought I’d never heard of Spencer (that’s how well read I am…one of the greatest Irish poets) but it promises to be a deep and penetrating almost mystical analysis of affairs of the Court written in some astonishingly beautiful language…I”m afraid to read it cause I’m afraid it might be better than the version I already know from my DNA somehow…as I get older more and more books strike me this way…I’d rather daydream…there’s always a new story line there waiting and I just drift along with it…this is what I expect death to be like now….drifting out of a story into the dream with no pause….floating…knowing…feeling the connecitons to all things that tie all story lines together….on the other hand I may just be drifting into senility! How would I know? Oh no! Just what I needed…a panic attack! Thanks alot!

  120. “The only problem was that I loved the book so much, everything I tried after that seemed…dull, by comparison.”

    ^ This, this, this! That happens to me every time I read an amazing, engrossing, completely perfect book – the kind of book that you feel so wrapped up in when you’re reading that you just can’t put it down. I usually end up rereading that same book about a half dozen times until I get bored enough with it to move on to something else. Thanks for the great post!

  121. Whenever I get one of those droughts I just go back to my favorites and re-read them. Usually the so-called classics do it for me in these periods.

    Have a nice read!

    • Thanks for the comment! Today I was reading a book called “In the Absence of God,” a treatise on agnosticism, which was fascinating – I almost finished it before I gave it back. Much to think about there. And yes, thank goodness for re-reading!


      Leigh Anne

  122. Well I may have to check out that book Ready Player One because my husband is a huge Rush fan – thanks for the recommendation!

  123. Thanks for this post, I can so relate to the idea that I have to finish something I started. I suppose that’s why I’ve been known to have four books in the works, you know, one in each room of the house. Is that normal?
    My recent favorites, both a step up the evolutionary ladder of literature for me, are Eye of the Whale and People of the Whale. These I didn’t put down once picked up. Both were both excellent and while one was fiction and the other a historical, scientific travel piece, they were both linked by common threads. I found this fascinating. My latest start is Women Who Run With the Wolves. It requires slow reading so I can absorb the information. Luckily, I have the time for it right now.

    • Kelly, so glad you liked the post! Thanks for reading – I’ve added your suggestions to my own list, as they sound fascinating. And it’s definitely time to reread Ms. Estes – she has a new book out this year, “Untie the Strong Woman,” that I’m dying to read….


      Leigh Anne

  124. I wholeheartedly agree with all of your points. I’ve been reading A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and not particularly liking it, even though it is a classic and highly reocmmended to me. I normally like Twain but I find this one pedantic and a bit tedious, and despite it being a very short book, I’ve been at it for three months now. I keep putting it down and reading another book before picking it up again. I feel obligated to finish it because not only is it one of the titles on my reading challenge list, it was also chosen by readers of my blog. I just started Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke to read while I’m avoiding Twain. So far it like it.

    • Stephanie, thanks so much for your comment! It made me think of the Golden Classics series I read as a child – I liked their version of Connecticut Yankee so much better than the grown-up version!

      Have fun with Strange and Norrell – I’m extremely biased in their favor – report back and let us know how it worked out!

      Leigh Anne

  125. It’s strange, when I was a kid I used to read, if not a lot, a good time, now I rarely read a book, book really, paper made, with a story, I read more things about computing because of study, and read some ebook also of computing.

    I want to read more, but, let’s say, “I want to want read”, and I feel I’m just not in mood for reading books, besides I want to.

    Sorry my english.

  126. I somehow always feel guilty when I stop reading a book, but you’re so right – you don’t want to waste time on a book that you aren’t enjoying. Sometimes I have to remind myself when reading a book that this isn’t college and this isn’t required reading – I can put it down and switch to another one I’m excited to begin.
    That said, I recommend Moonwalking With Einstein by Joshua Foer if you haven’t read it yet. For some reason I feel like it will appeal to your nerdiness.

  127. I also have piles of books which I haven’t even read halfway. Also when watching TV series, I stop on its first season when I don’t find the plot appealing. Great post by the way. :)

  128. i am the exact same way with books! if i don’t LOVE it, i’ll put it down and pick up another one.

  129. I completely and totally agree with you that stopping a book that isn’t interesting is perfectly okay. I had one friend who said “but the author puts some much work into it, I feel bad not finishing it!”. I responded with “Well then they wasted a lot of time on work that wasn’t good.”

    My biggest pet peeve are books where people say “You just have to get through the first xxx amount of pages and then it really picks up.” (I’ve been told this about such bestsellers as “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and “Hyperion”.) I’m sorry, but if I have to ‘get through’ anything, then the book wasn’t well written.

    Thanks for the suggestions. I will look into them. I hope that when my own novel comes out you won’t want to put it down! :)

    • Thanks so much for your comment! Doesn’t it feel so much better to be picky? ;) I hope you’ll come back and let us know what you thought of the recommendations. Best of luck with your own writing, too!

      Leigh Anne

  130. I like the post. It makes me feel less guilty thinking of the masses of books I’ve put off reading. Although, I must say, it doesn’t seem you’re giving much chance to the books you read. One chapter in and you quit? You know the expression, don’t judge a book by its cover? That kind of goes for the first couple chapters as well!

    I’ve been having a hard time finishing any book lately though, so I’m not much better. I want to tell myself it’s because I’m busy most of the time with school and work, but I must admit the new Netflix subscription hasn’t helped much either. In the past four months I have started reading the following: House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson, and Ubik by Philip K. Dick. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying any of these books are bad, in fact I enjoyed all of what I read from each of these. And I would separately recommend them to people. I’ve always loved Hunter S. Thompson’s work, and I’ve heard nothing but good about Dick which is what made me check out Ubik in the first place; great sci-fi stuff.

    • Tyler, you could be right about my being too hasty; I think being surrounded by books all day makes me feel the pressure to read them all a little more intense! “House of Leaves” grabbed me by the throat and didn’t let go until I reached the end. Of course, then I couldn’t read anything for weeks aftewards for sheer mental exhaustion…

      Thanks for your comment, and happy reading!

      Leigh Anne

  131. I am reading a book called “The immortals of Meluha”. It is an Indian version of Hercules from a land before time. It has held my attention for now.

  132. Are there any that you “couldn’t put down”?

    • Good question – Ready Player One was one, but also The Tiger’s Wife (Tea Obreht) and Silver Sparrow (Tayari Jones). As you can see, I’m all over the map with what I find “good”!

      Leigh Anne

  133. I know exactly what you mean. After reading a truly superb book, everything afterwards just pales in comparison for a while. I even considered re-reading books that I know I’ll like. It’s so timely but I recently wrote about a similar thing with starting books that I can’t get into.

  134. agreenertomorrow

    I am always hesitant about not finishing a book. Sure there are some books that, the moment I read the first page, I know I won’t want to continue. Yet, as is the case now, I am halfway though a book, and though it is interesting, I feel that I am wasting my time with it. If I stop reading it now, it will constantly bother me. Not because I want to know what happens at the end (its just not that kind of book), but because my obsessive compulsiveness does not allow me to let things unsettled like that. Oh well..the problems of a first world country.

  135. Wow! I’ve never done that! I always tend to finish books I start – even if they are sub-par. Not sure why though, I’d save myself a lot of time and disappointment if I stopped once I realized the quality was low.

  136. Love this post, I have recently been coming to terms with the kinds of book I am capable of reading at the moment. Only a few months ago I had the time to read anything I wanted and I found it so easy to get involved in a book. However, since starting a new job and having much less time on my hands I have just not had the time or inclination to read the type of books I usually like. As a result I have discovered and accepted a new guilty pleasure. Chick lit! It is something I have never really experimented with before but when the prospect of reading another heavy duty, long haul, rollercoaster read just didn’t appeal I had to make a choice. To read nothing or to read chick lit! Well… I wasn’t about to read nothing just because I didn’t want to admit that I had become one of those people – a reader of trashy romance novels!!! So, chick lit it was! And let me tell you… I am loving it! I have just written a post about some of the books I have read and the effect they have already had on me!
    I think our tastes in books changes throughout our lives and also our ability to invest in them. It is something we should never give up. We should always be on the lookout for what our minds need next and strive to never give up reading!

    • Hurray for chick lit! I couldn’t agree with you more – it doesn’t always have to be “great” literature, and sometimes it’s just plain more fun that way. And yes, hopefully, we DO change, all our lives, and discover new things! Thanks for reading, and for leaving such a great comment. :)

      Leigh Anne

  137. I wish I could not finish a book! That inability has led me to read some pretty bad stuff. It is possible thought that I may never finish War and Peace. I’ve been reading it for 30 years and am still not finished.

  138. Another question: Are there any writers whose writing really stands out as remarkable, or at least, good? There are for me, but I just can’t think of them offhand.

    That leads to a related question: what makes “good writing”?

    • Oh man. What is good writing? “Good” is so subjective. I mean, there are canonical standards of good, certainly, but I think most people read “good” as “satisfying.” Most people who want a “good” book want a book that’s good like chocolate is good. Not like oatmeal is good. Though oatmeal IS good. Just ask Wilford Brimley. ;)

      But seriously: Stephen King is a “good” writer to me, because he always hits the heart of something real, even in his wildest fantasies. Clark Ashton Smith and Jack Vance are “good” writers because they built elaborate worlds that completely suck me in. Margaret Atwood is a “good” writer because she scares the crap out of me. See what I mean?

      Leigh Anne

  139. Good thoughts, Leigh. One of the earliest bits of “good writing” I remember is a chapter in the middle of “Wind in the WIllows”. The words flow with an easy grace,

    I’m thinking of “writing” at the sentence and paragraph level. Even more, I’m thinking about the difference between story telling and writing.

    One of the marks of good writing is that the words shouldn’t get in the way of the ideas. If I have to back up in a sentence to find out what’s being said, I lose interest. Being able to write real dialog – the way people speak – is another mark of a good writer.

    I started reading “Under the Dome” (in the bookstore), but was intimidated by the length. And I grew up on science-fiction: Heinlein, Doc Smith,. Sturgeon, and a host of others – Stapledon (not much of a writer, but a good story-teller).

    I hadn’t heard of Margaret Atwood (till now). An Amazon check shows she just might be worth reading. I looked a the sample pages of “Blind Assassin” – does she always leave out quote marks? And the bit about the blind children of Sakiel-Norn seems a bit like Shirley Jackson. What would be a good book to start?

    • Thanks so much for your thoughtful extended comment!

      Re Atwood: she is best known for “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which established her reputation. “The Blind Assassin” is much more…plush, if that makes any sense. You can really see how she’s matured by reading HT first – its style is sparse/spare, but eerily lovely. You could also try one of her short story collections on for size and see how her style works for you before committing to a novel – Cat’s Eye is a good starter pack.

      Of course, for something completely different, you could start with “Alias Grace,” which is a historical novel, and is very good in a very different way. You have options!!

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  142. ZZMike

    Thanks for the Atwood references. I can use a change of pace. I’m interested in seeing how Blind Assassin changes from Handmaid’s Tale.

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