Abandoned Books

One of the best things about writing a blog is that you plunge ever deeper into the great labyrinth of blogs. Today, via Harriet Devine’s blog, I found The Literary Stew, and this meme to which I’ve added a fourth question.  Please answer it below in the comment section or post about it in your blogs and leave a link.

1. What would cause you to stop reading a book?

I start a lot of books—one of the reasons I’m library addict. I abandon them if they bore me, I don’t like the writing style, or I just can’t get into them. Sometimes it’s not the book’s fault, it’s just not the right fit at the moment. Sometimes I can tell there’s going to be too much grief and the writing just isn’t worth it. Usually 50 pages is my cutoff point.

2. Name a book or books you’ve abandoned in the past that you ended up loving later on.

The most significant for me, Madame Bovary. The first time through, I just had no sympathy for the shallow heroine; that changed the second time around. Guess I’ve become increasingly shallow.

3. Name a book you’ve abandoned in the past that you hope to finish someday.

I’ve started Magic Mountain three times. I know it’s a classic. Maybe a John Woods’ translation will do it for me.

4. How often do you stop reading and just skim to the end?

More often than I like to document. I’m impatient, and unless the author is a really good writer, I often find myself flipping along, just to redeem my investment in the characters and their travails.

Anyone have an idea for what we should call this last category? Not exactly abandoned, but not exactly finished, either.


5 thoughts on “Abandoned Books

  1. I like your fourth question and I’m very glad I’m not the only person who does this. I’m prepared to own up to it! I wonder who else is. Nice blog, by the way.

  2. Thanks, Harriet. I love reading yours–and thanks to you have started on my Patrick Hamilton reading with Slaves of Solitude.

  3. Thanks for joining the meme! That’s an interesting fourth question. I don’t skim often but once in a while I do skim to the end especially if it’s a mystery or something that’s already resolved before the end.
    I did read Madame Bovary years ago and finished it but I wasn’t that impressed. I’m interested to try the new translation by Lydia Davis. I wonder if that’s the one you read?

  4. I haven’t read the new translation yet, though it’s on my list. I’m curious to see if it greatly improves the experience.

  5. I abandon a lot of books, too. There have been a few I have forced myself to finish, like the one by Anne Lamott about girls playing tennis. It was a gift from a friend who just loved it, so I wanted to finish so we could chat about it. I always skim — when I get around 3/4 finished I skip to the last pages and very quickly read what’s in store. I just have to know how the book ends when I get that far. Impatient readers we are…

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