Sunday, February 17, 2013



The Sunday Symposium is a weekly feature in which I'll be discussing various bookish topics and asking for your commentary, as well.  This week, I want to know how you decide whether or not to finish a book you're not enjoying.

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So, this post came about because my bestest reading buddy and I were trying to compromise on our next read-along, and we both have Dualed by Elsie Chapman next on our list.  Here's the thing:  I was super excited to get a review copy of this debut novel because it has all of the elements that make a book fantastic for me.  But then all of these really mediocre reviews started rolling in, and then friends who read and usually love the same types of books as me started weighing in with less-than-stellar thoughts on the book, so I'm really hesitant to pick up the book now for fear that I won't like it.

The worst part is, if I do pick it up and I'm just not feeling it, I'll still keep reading.  I have this problem where I can't NOT finish a book.  I may not be enjoying the book, but I always hold out hope that it will get better. Also, it will EAT AT ME not knowing how the book ended.  Even if I already have a good idea how it's going to end, which is probably part of the reason I'm not enjoying it in the first place.

Em agreed that not finishing the book would leave her feeling twitchy, as well, so we've decided to read something else together instead.  I think we both plan to read this book at some point, but it's just not a priority right now, especially since it would ruin our perfect read-along streak if it did end up disappointing us.

And because I love to discuss this type of thing with you guys, I have a few questions to pose:

1.  Have you read Dualed and if so, how did you feel about it?
2.  Are you capable of DNFing a book?  If so, at what point do you tend to give up on a disappointing read?  Do you still review it?
3.  What criteria do you use when deciding if you're going to finish a book that you're not necessarily enjoying?
4.  What percentage of the books you attempt to read do you think you don't finish?
5.  If you always finish everything you read, like me, is it because you typically enjoy the books or for the same weird reasoning as me?
6.  Do you let reviews sway whether or not to read or finish reading a book?
7.  And, lastly, can you offer any advice for me?  As in, how to shut off that part of my brain that insists I finish a book?  :P

Any and all commentary, chastising, and public flogging is welcome, as per usual...

12 comments:

  1. I was SUPER excited to read Dualed, but then I didn't like it.. it started out okay, but around the 25% mark it started sucking. The MC was weak, hypocritical, and boring. There are also a lot of logic issues with the world building and the whole idea of the book.

    Most of the time, I always finish a book. I'm kind of like you in that it's an OCD thing. BUT, there are a few books that I don't finish. If it takes me days and days and days to read a book and I'm hating it and getting nowhere and my TBR pile is growing, then I will not finish. Especially right now because I'm falling behind on my review books and I can't afford to spend a week reading 1 book that I hate when I could have read 5 instead.

    I have only not finished 4 books in the past year.

    If I DNF a book, I won't review it on my blog but I will post an explanation as to why I didn't finish on Goodreads. But I won't rate it. However, if I DNF a lot of books then I might do like.. bi-monthly (or even yearly) posts where I list all the books I DNF and explain why.

    I honestly don't know what to give you in terms of advice. I know the feeling that even if I hate a book, I have a morbid curiosity to see it though. It's only in rare instances that I can DNF a book (like if I literally just DO NOT CARE what happens).

    Great post!!

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  2. 1. Have you read Dualed and if so, how did you feel about it? Yup.... it was you know good. Here's my review if curious Dualed Review

    2. Are you capable of DNFing a book? If so, at what point do you tend to give up on a disappointing read? Do you still review it? If I've given it a decent shot, I will post of DNF review explaining why. I used to have the same problem as you but I've gotten better at putting a book down if I'm not feeling it.

    3. What criteria do you use when deciding if you're going to finish a book that you're not necessarily enjoying? If I'm just in a mood that day I will put it down and pick it back up later in a day or so. I can usually tell when it's a mood issue vs a book I know I won't enjoy no matter what.

    4. What percentage of the books you attempt to read do you think you don't finish? It's a very small percent. I'd say less than 2%

    5. If you always finish everything you read, like me, is it because you typically enjoy the books or for the same weird reasoning as me?

    6. Do you let reviews sway whether or not to read or finish reading a book? To a point yes. If all the review say the middle loses focus but the end pulls it back together and makes it worth it then I admit I'm probably more likely to finish it.

    7. And, lastly, can you offer any advice for me? As in, how to shut off that part of my brain that insists I finish a book? It's hard. I'd say start out by putting the book to the side a few days and then picking it back up. If it still isn't meshing with you then I'd try waiting longer say a month. If it still isn't well then you can tell yourself you gave it an honest shot and that helps the guilt of having to call it a DNF.

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  3. Up until about a month ago I was a hardcore finish-no-matter-what reader... like you, not knowing the ending would just kill me, and I always wanted to give a book a chance. Always.

    Then came The Difference Engine. I got it from the library, super stoked that I would finally read this "classic" steampunk that won so many awards, and... oh. my. gawd. I renewed it twice, trying, trying SO HARD for weeks, and then I realized that I was half way through and just had no idea what the book was about. It probably makes sense, but my daydreams were taking precedence during reading time every time I picked it up.

    So I didn't renew it again... I returned it, half read and only half understood (so does that make it 1/4 understood?)... and you know what? I feel FREEEEEE!!! It's so liberating!!

    I will never go back to finish-no-matter-what again, because there are just too many good books out there that I know I WILL enjoy. I'll still give them a good loooong try (still don't think I'll ever put anything down for good until at least half way through), but since my Difference Engine battle, I've shelved another one and don't feel guilty about it in the least.

    I sort of wish I figured this out earlier...

    And no, I never let reviews influence what books I read or finish, because I bet a lot of people loooooove The Difference Engine.

    Give it a try Jen, just once with a book that pains you, and be emancipated like me!!

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  4. Ahhh. The DNF question? I feel a certain obligation to finish a book once I start it. There's so many what ifs. What if the book gets better, what if something MAJOR happens that will change my mind, what if I was just being too critical, what if the pacing changes. All of these questions bombard my mind and I just have to finish the book. More often than not - my initial opinion is right, but there are those rare occasions where the book surprises me.

    great post!!

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  5. *twitch* You already know my opinion on this matter, but great post! :)

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  6. 1. Have you read Dualed and if so, how did you feel about it?

    I haven't read it yet and I was super excited too. I actually haven't really looked at any reviews so I didn't know that it wasn't a hit so far but I'll still give it a chance.

    2. Are you capable of DNFing a book? If so, at what point do you tend to give up on a disappointing read? Do you still review it?

    I DNF like every couple books! LOL I told you how moody I was. I used to suffer through but ever since I made myself read all six books in the Immortals series by Alyson Noel I promised myself NEVER AGAIN! That series was horrible and I don't know why I put myself through that. So now if I'm not feeling it I don't make it past 10% so I do not review it I just leave my notes on goodreads as to why I didn't like it. I made it to 50% once and each page was torture so I stopped but usually it's just 10%

    3. What criteria do you use when deciding if you're going to finish a book that you're not necessarily enjoying?

    Just depends on how much I'm not enjoying it and if it grabs my attention at all. You mentioned having to know how it ends so I look up spoilers. That tells me whether or not a book is worth my time. I used to be against spoilers but now I look them up for about 1/4 of the books that I am trying to decided if I want to read or not.

    4. What percentage of the books you attempt to read do you think you don't finish?

    Maybe 20%-30%? I'm pretty good at deciding what I like but I also borrow lots of library books so I don't feel the need to finish. I only push myself if I bought it or it was a gift.

    5. If you always finish everything you read, like me, is it because you typically enjoy the books or for the same weird reasoning as me?

    I do not suffer anymore!

    6. Do you let reviews sway whether or not to read or finish reading a book?

    Nope. Sometimes it makes me less likely to start it right away but I still give it a chance because half the time I like it. But probably half the time I don't.

    7. And, lastly, can you offer any advice for me? As in, how to shut off that part of my brain that insists I finish a book? :P

    When you don't like it just start something else right away. Your mind will be off of it soon enough. Or just look up spoilers on how it ends :P

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  7. Honestly, I know nothing about 'Dualed', but the DNF question caught my eye.

    I am one who feels compelled to finish books that I start. I can only remember one time ever not finishing a book.

    I have two different thoughts on how I feel about those which I truly don't like. My mind and feelings distinguish between books that I chose to read out of my own pile and books that I accepted from the author or publisher for a review. I feel obligated to finish and analyze my response to the book when it was a review request whereas a book of my own choosing I just leave it at the fact that I either wasn't in the mood or something about it just wasn't for me. I finish either way, but the pressure to set aside my emotions is different.

    I don't know how to get past the compulsion to finish a book once I start it.

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  8. Good post. I have not read Dualed yet but have heard mixed reactions to that book. I do want to read for myself though, just to see if i'll like it. I usually try to finish a book even if i didn't really enjoy it but if its just too much then i tend to go DNF.

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  9. I read Dueled in December and I really liked it. Of course I am still very much into dystopian reads, while most people have grown tired of it. I think sometimes we just are not in the right mood or frame of mind for a book. Or sometimes we have those pet peeves that get us down. Everyone seemed to love Gone Girl but I had to DNF because it seemed to me there was too much focus on every nitty-gritty little detail and the plot suffered, not to mention the pacing. This year I gave myself the 50 rule. If I read 50 pages into a book (or if it happens in the middle of a book, like it did for me in Gone Girl), then it is not for me, at least at this time. 50 pages to make or break it.

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