On abandoning books, especially those recommended for you (TSS)

The Sunday Earlier this week I talked about feeling pressure sometimes when it comes to reading and asked if this ever happens with you. Out of those who commented, I got a mixed response, as would be expected, with some feeling the pressure and others, not giving in to any pressure. This brings me to the related subject of today’s post: Abandoning books, especially those that others have recommended.

Now first, I will qualify that these books were not specifically recommended for me. However, in one case, I agreed to participate in a readalong of the book. With the other, I saw it mentioned on a few people’s blogs, including at least two bloggers who said it was one of their favorite books read last year. So, of course, you’re wondering what are the books that were recommended that I abandoned. Without further ado, I will tell you:

  • Let The Great World Spin by Colum McCann
  • Waiting For Columbus by Thomas Trofimuk

I got the McCann book out on e-book from the library, but unfortunately I couldn’t find the Trofimuk book at our library, either in book or e-book format, so I ended up purchasing it on the Nook. Regardless of where I got them, I didn’t like either one. To start, I’ll just say that neither book seemed to being going anywhere.

McCann’s book, as I understood it, was supposed to be about a tightrope walker as seen through the eyes of various characters. However, it seemed to be about the various characters and wasn’t getting to the point of the tightrope walker.  After about 8o pages, which probably was too much, I just bagged it.

Trofimuk’s book, again as I understood it, was about a man who believed he was Christopher Columbus and was telling his stories to a sympathetic nurse at an insane asylum. What’s true, what’s not: I’ve seen Shutter Island and read the book, which I must say was much better than the movie. I get it. I admit that I held out hope for this one longer than the McCann book, perhaps out of a sense of responsibility to the readalong, and abandoned it after 100-plus pages.

At least, those were my takes on the two books, which brings me to the bloggers who recommended these books. No, I’m not going to name them. They know who they are. Maybe they’ll even comment here and that’s fine. This post is not a place for me to single out bloggers with whom I don’t always share the same taste in books.

What it is about is that we — meaning those of us who call ourselves “book bloggers,” which I do (at least that is a part of my identity here) — don’t all have the same tastes in books and, in some cases, movies and TV shows and that is all right. If we don’t like a book or a movie or, even God forbid a TV show (personally I have no interest in shows — or books for that matter– about vampires), we should just own up to it and not try to continue reading the book after we’ve reached the point we realize that we’re not liking it. We can agree to disagree in a respectful manner, I believe.

So the question for you, after all this, is “Do you abandon books? When do you abandon them? What do you do in the case of books that you don’t like but that were recommended to you by others? What about those books specifically recommended for you?” I really haven’t had the latter case, so I can’t speak to that. That might be a little more difficult admittedly than the situations I described here.

31 responses to “On abandoning books, especially those recommended for you (TSS)

  1. Pingback: A look back at January 2011 here on an unfinished person (in this unfinished universe) | an unfinished person (in this unfinished universe)

  2. Pingback: Wrapping up January in reading and looking ahead to playing it by ear in February (TSS) | an unfinished person (in this unfinished universe)

  3. Also sometimes with book tastes, it’s not that I don’t like some of a person’s recommendations, I might like some and not like others. In other words, sometimes I might agree with you…but we’ll have to see when that is. 😉

    As for DNFing (that sounds wrong, doesn’t it?), I’ve never really minded doing it, but as I get older, even more so. Time keeps on ticking into the future.

  4. Oops! Accidentally hit publish. My last comment was that I’ve started to DNF a lot more recently. It’s so freeing. Life’s too short.

  5. Lord, I could possibly be double the blame here. I loved LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN and I part of the WAITING FOR COLUMBUS read-along. LOL!

    I wholeheartedly agree that no one, outside of a literature class, should feel forced or compelled to finish a book. If it’s not working for you, it’s not working for you. It’s also true that we all have our own tastes. Just as with other sources of book recommendations, there is some trial and error until you find a match

  6. Ah, I HATE abandoning books, but I’ve found that this past year I did have to do it a few times. I hate doing it because I’m always afraid that it might get good and I’ll have passed it up, but sometimes you just have to take that chance I guess.

    • Well, it’s not like the book won’t be there if you choose to return to it later, right? That’s the way I look at it. Too many books out there to worry about it. At least, that’s my way of thinking.

  7. I don’t tend to abandon books much, but I think you already knew that, since we were talking about that last Sunday on my blog too :-). I know what you mean about the “pressure,” but I agree with Deb that it’s a lot worse when it comes from someone you know personally than from a fellow book blogger.

    • Sheesh. No wonder the topic seemed familiar to me. I have no memory. To all my readers, visit the blog of the lady there above this comment for further discussion on the topic.
      I guess I don’t know the right people, because no one ever personally recommends books for me :(. Well, actually that’s not quite true. I do have a couple of friends who send me books that they’ve read via the mail that they want me to read. Usually they’re right on…and usually there’s no pressure from them if I don’t like them.

  8. I was a person pushing the Trofimuk book on twitter when people were talking about it recently! I loved it, but no book is for everyone. I have no problem abandoning a book regardless of who recommended it to me, if I am just not liking it. I can be pretty stubborn about even starting a book that others are gushing over if it doesn’t appeal to me. Same with movies, everything. I feel NO guilt and NO obligation. That’s why I don’t get along with review books.
    Just this week, I skipped book club b/c I had zero interest in the book and didn’t read it. Hmm, I kind of sound like a sociopath.

    • Ruh roh. That was you? Well, then let me say that I still didn’t like it. 😉 Sorry, but we’ll have to agree to disagree…well, at least, for now. Maybe I’d try it another time (not winter when I’m depressed already and reading about a man in an insane asylum might not be the best way to get over the hump 🙂 ) and it would be all right. However, I don’t think so right now. I don’t blame you on steering clear of books and movies, just because everybody else says they’re really good. Sometimes people can be wrong. On the other hand, sometimes people can be right too.
      I’m skipping the book club at our bookstore this Tuesday, not because I wasn’t interested in the book, but I don’t like feeling pressured to finish it by Tuesday. I bought it (Coop by Michael Parry), so I’ll get to it eventually.

  9. I am unfortunately one of those people that have a damn near difficult time abandoning a book. That was one of my resolutions though. If a book does not do it for me by page 100 I put it down.

  10. I don’t abandon them like I used to. I know what I like and have several bloggers who give great book referrals. For me. It took some time though. One of the toughest things was to get an unknown from the library if I wasn’t sure. I used to buy everything and that could be an expensive mistake.
    A couple books were meh when I started and then picked up speed half way through. I was so glad I stuck with them. But when I try a new genre that doesn’t thrill me and everyone says you gotta read this! I abandon them if I don’t care for it.

    • I don’t buy many books…even with a Nook. I try to take out from the library or take from my own shelf.

      I know what you mean about trying a new genre. I tried a Steampunk novel and hated it…but it was only one. Maybe if I tried another, it would be better. I’m still a little leery, though.

  11. I do abandon books – I never used to, but as I have gotten older and see how many books I still want to read – well, my time is finite and my list of to-read books doesn’t seem to be. 🙂 I usually give a book 50 pages or so. However, if it’s a review book, I will try to give it 100 or so, and if it was highly recommended to me by someone who I know has similar taste to me, that might make me push through a bit longer. Sorry you didn’t enjoy Waiting for Columbus – I thought it was amazing, but that’s just me, right?

    I have taken up a “no guilt” policy when it comes to reading. This is my hobby, my passion, but not my job or my life. If I don’t like a book, even if 100 bloggers say it is amazing (yes, Poisonwood Bible, I’m looking at you), I won’t waste my time finishing it.

    • Yep. It’s just you ;). Hey, we do agree on Laurie R. King. I really like her books. But we didn’t agree on Godric either. So it’s a mixed bag with us, I guess, and that’s all right too.

      I think I tried The Poisonwood Bible too and it didn’t grab me. Of course, I didn’t like another of her books either. I can’t remember the title right now. I just know I didn’t like it. So don’t worry, you’re not the only one.

  12. Oh dear. I’m afraid that I might be a person who loved Great World so much that you sought it out. So sorry the book did not work for you.

    It is much, much more difficult when someone actually hands you a book and pleads with you to read it. I find myself doing things I deplore, including lying, rather than hurt someone’s feelings or spending time reading a book I know I would loathe.

    You might try choosing books next time from my friend Kristen’s blog: Every book I’ve loved is one that she has hated and vice versa.

    • Deb, yes, you were one of those people (pointing finger accusingly ;). However, I don’t think it’s all the books you like that I dislike. It was only that one — so far ;). If we all liked the same books, it would be a pretty boring world.

      Luckily, I haven’t had anybody plead with me to read a book. Working at a library part-time, I usually am the one doing that. 🙂

      I will check out your friend’s blog, but I still will be reading your blog, especially every Sunday. I’m not abandoning you. 🙂

  13. I definitely agree with you that we have to agree to disagree in a respectful manner. Carrie and I are reading a collection of essays right now. The essays are a hit-or-miss with us which is a great part of our conversation about the book. Don’t feel bad about abandoning books. Life is too short to waste on a book you’re not enjoying.

    • Well, at least with essays, some might be good while others – meh. At least, you can bounce back from that. With a book, that’s not always so easy. Yes, possible, but not easy.

  14. Yes, I do abandon books … and in most cases I’ll still write a DNF post/review telling readers of my blog why a book didn’t work for me.

    A few times I’ve stuck with a book because it was a book group selection and I felt compelled to finish (THE ELEGANCE OF THE HEDGEHOG comes to mind; it took until about page 100 to ‘click’ for me, and I’m glad I stuck with it).

    I have to say I’m much better about walking away from a book than I used to be, my husband likes to remind me that life’s too short to read books that aren’t working for me!
    I had some issues with LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN, too, but it was an OK read for me.

    • Well, I guess this was my DNF post then for both of these books. I’ve done that with at least one other book: The Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin. It just didn’t click for me.

      I think part of my problem too is I’m addicted to murder mysteries and thrillers. So when I try something outside the genre, I find it difficult to focus.

  15. Yes I abandon books… it is much easier to do if they are my own, and I really do not even mind it they are recommended by a friend or fellow blogger if I abandon those too… the ones that are harder are the ones I agreed to review. I try to give those reads every chance but if it is not for me, its not. In those cases I contact the publisher or author who sent it to me and let them know it is not a fit. Unless I can get a good ways into the book, I do not review it.

    • I usually don’t get books from publishers. I do get the occasional book here and there from authors, at least two that are long overdue for me to read. In both cases, I’m not sure if they are my kind of books, even though in the one case, I really enjoy the author’s blog. I just am not sure that his book is something that is the kind of writing I like.

  16. I haven’t abandoned that many, but I have a rule of thumb to read at least 50 pages, and up to 100 pages, if there’s any at all about the book that grabs me.

    And, no, I don’t mention it to the bloggers who loved the book; it’s just one of those things. BTW, I don’t read vampire books, either (or watch the movies). One werewolf movie that I loved was the one named Wolf, with Jack Nicholson and Michelle Pfeiffer.

    • I haven’t seen the movie, but I did hear it was pretty good.

      Fifty pages sound about right. One hundred is a little too much, I think, especially if the book is only two hundred pages. 🙂

  17. If a book does not strike a chord for me, away it goes. I believe that it may be the greatest book or a really good book to someone, for reading is such a personal pursuit…but if it doesn’t make me turn the pages, begone. I do not trudge through books…there are too many page turners out there!


  18. Yes, I’ve abandoned many books, including those specifically recommended for me. I put down SMALL GODS, which my husband bought for me on one of our first dates. It kind of broke my heart to do it, and I still have the book because as an object it holds sentimental value but… eh. Not a Pratchett person. And there have been other things that folks I respect have raved about that I then either didn’t like or didn’t finish. What can you do?

    • Thank you for admitting publicly to your not being a Pratchett person. Now I will confess that I also am not a Pratchett person either. I thought his style of writing would be something I like, but it’s just not…at least of the few books I’ve tried by him.