Friday, February 22, 2008


I have a theory, and I don't claim it as my original idea, because I'm sure I heard it from somewhere but I have no idea where that may have been: Life is too short to read a boring book.

I believe this 100% except for one small factor. Dr. Dickson, my biggest nightmare through two years of Advanced English, held the belief that you should give any book at least 100 pages before you made a judgement on it. I specifically remember which book we read at the time of him making this small declaration: LORD OF THE FLIES.

If you've read it, you do know, for a fact, that after the first 100 pages, that book gets quite um... interesting.

And being the ever hopeful one, I like to think that even if I can't stay awake in the first 50 pages, surely it will improve or it wouldn't have been published anyway. Then before I know it, in a quest to prove this book worthy of being read, I get past the Dr. Dickson required 100 pages and I just don't have that much left anyway so I trudge on through it.

But when your To Be Read list takes up approximately four shelves (and those shelves are a good five feet across and packed double layered and some on top of others - in other words CRAMMED full - I took it upon myself to ignore Dr. Dickson's 100 pages and if I couldn't get sucked into it, I'd give up after about 3 chapters (that's the writer in me - supposedly this book sold on proposal, so SOMEONE thought the first three chapters were good).

Another thing I can't do is read more than one book at a time. My brain can't seem to keep the characters of two unrelated books straight, so I have to do one a time. This is so extreme that during a judging contest, I have to stop reading for pleasure or it confuses me going from a judging 'script back to my pleasure reading.

Now, add that all up: I can't read more than one story at a time and I'm bound -- most times -- to finish one I've started. The first book I never finished was Terry Pratchett's THUD. I spent a month trying to slog through it while my TBR list sat and waited helplessly. I finally gave up. I wanted to like it really badly because a lot of people praised it like crazy, but alas, I just couldn't do it and I grew recentful because it kept me from the books I DID want to read.

I'm now on another book I just bought. I specifically bought it because it's written 1st person past tense and I'm looking into working on one of my 'scripts that's written the same way (my only one like that) which I hope to make into a series. I found this book and barely glanced at the pages, realized immediately it was a contemporary AND written first person. Rock on. When I got home, I then learned it was a series book too! ~GOLDEN~

Oh. My. God. Trudge. Trudge. Trudge. I'm dying here. I'm on day four and still, I'm barely making it through. I literally started falling asleep in the tub while reading. Uncool. Worst part yet, the author quotes on the cover are from goddesses in writing. If you take the premise (series) and the viewpoint (1st person past) and the quotes on the cover from some of my favorite authors, this should have been a freakin' goldmine in "reading my line" but as of right now, I don't see how I will ever get it finished.

Have you ever had a book like this? One you felt you needed to read, one that came with great quotes and recommendations and yet in the end, it was dryer than a marked up copy of Cliff Notes?

Talk about sleeping material and it was SO unintentional. I doubt if I ever meet this author she'd want to hear, "Whenever I had a hard time falling to sleep, I just picked up your book and started snoring after three pages." Ugh.

You have one of these? Please oh please say yes, even if you have to lie to me.


pjd said...


Rarely do I read a bad book because my wife reads a ton of good books, way more than I do, and I only read her recommendations (and a few others).

The one I really tried hard to read but only got about 100 pages in and got tired of was... um... Atonement. Yes, I must be strange indeed not to like a book that had such rave reviews from every corner. I did see the movie and loved it--loved it! But I found the book difficult to get through. I thought the prose was stilted and a little self-important, and I found all the characters annoying. And I was just too busy to read a book, even a book I acknowledge was very well crafted, that I wasn't liking that much.

I'm sure there are others, but that's the most recent I can think of.

Whirlochre said...

The Lord Of The Rings is always a surefire bet - especially if you read it backwards trawling for subliminal messages.

Neat blog, btw.

L.K. Campbell said...

There have been quite a few where I had a hard time making it to 50 much less 100.

Mo said... everything I've tried to read by James Patterson! thing is: Like you, once I *start* reading, I'm compelled by some unknown force to *finish* reading, but if I slog through ONE book by an author, generally, they don't get another chance to disappoint me (Patterson is a select exception; he was recommended by sooooo many readers whom I generally agree with, that I gave him a second AND a third chance to impress me as he did the others. Unfortunately, it never worked out between us, and I've moved on.)

bookfraud said...

there have been so many books that i felt that i "needed" to read for my literary education and then threw out the window after about 50 pages. "to the lighthouse." "you can't go home again." "beloved." "sister carrie." "atonement." just about everything by henry james and george eliot. i could go on and on -- "great" books that were about as interesting as a law book in greek.

then again, i forced myself to get past the first 50 pages of "one hundred years of solitude" after several false starts, and it just about changed my life.

Lexi said...

Ooh, I think you got that quote from me! I say that all the time.

And yet, I forced myself to finish a book recently that I really didn't like. I was quite surprised because I like other stuff I've read by that author. I only finished that book because I wanted to know "Who dunnit", but in the end, I was till disappointed even with that.

Becky said...

Oh dear god, yes. Atonement--Boring as hell.

Anonymous said...

There are lots more, but that was the first to jump out at me.

Brenda Bradshaw said...

Dang! ATONEMENT is taking a spanking!

I'm still not through this damn book. Not even half-way.

blogless_troll said...

I toss the boring ones immediately. What's the point? I figure if it's meant to be, someday I'll pick it up again and get through it.

And THUD was one of his worst, especially of the recent ones. Try GOING POSTAL or MAKING MONEY, or better yet, NIGHTWATCH.

Brenda Bradshaw said...

Argh. Figures. I have the one that sucks. I guess I'll try another one on your recommendation, BT and beat you if it's bad too.

furry sound said...

If the first 20 pages don't grab me, I skip to the middle to see where it's going. If I'm still not hooked, I'll read the last chapter to see if I'm happy where it ended up, because then I might be interested to see how it got there. If not, there's nothing left to do but burn its face off with my cigar lighter.

Ello said...

Seriously, I just stop reading after the first few chapters and donate it to the library. I never could get through LIfe of Pi even though everyone loved it so. If I at least want to know what happens, I will read the end. But life is way too short to read a boring book.

Anonymous said...

I skim-read when I dislike a book. I hate to give it up entirely because I did, after all, spend money on it. And like you, I figure that it must have some redeeming features since it did get published, but I'm not willing to invest a lot of time in it anymore. So after a few chapters, I'll flip ahead, pause and read a couple of pages to figure out where we're at, then skip ahead again.

If at some point I get really intrigued, I'll go back to where I left off and take it up again, but this has only ever happened once or twice that I can remember.

Of course, there've been a few books where I didn't even want to bother skipping ahead. Da Vinci Code was one of them. The book everyone talked about, and I never read it. I got about 15 pages in and just got annoyed. Figured I'd just wait for the movie.

Still don't think I missed out on anything.

Sarah said...

I used to have to finish any book I started. The Virgin (Susan Coon?) cured me of this. I didn't fall asleep when I read it, but the paperback book became very, very heavy each time I tried to read more. It was an awful experience. Now I start books all the time and it's more rare that I actually finish one.

Perfect Circle from EE's book club is one I've finished lately, but I probably only did so because it's in the book club - and it's well written.

Dunno what my issue is these days except I need a book that's easy to slip back into every time I pick it up.