Was there a point that you started giving up on books?

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Jorpho
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Was there a point that you started giving up on books?

Postby Jorpho » Wed May 11, 2011 3:32 am UTC

I finally finished Maguire's Wicked. I already commented on how much I detested it. It did not get better; in fact, it got considerably worse. It wasn't quite as bad as Cyteen, as it was at least still vaguely readable, but it still had very few redeeming qualities.

It occurs to me that it's high time I started to learn how to properly give up on terrible books. It's not a new thing; people have formulated "30-page" rules and suchlike many times over. And yet, I cannot quite seem to bring myself to do it, especially with these things that have won so many praises.

Do you remember when you started giving up on books? Was there a particular point, and something that drove you to it?

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Re: Was there a point that you started giving up on books?

Postby poxic » Wed May 11, 2011 3:58 am UTC

The very first book I remember physically throwing into a garbage can, never mind before finishing the first (or was it second?) chapter: Arnold Arnold's "The Corrupted Sciences".

Rule no. 1: if an author has a first and last name that are identical, something funny *might* be going on.
Rule no. 2: if said author backs up EVERY SINGLE CLAIM zie makes by referring EXCLUSIVELY to a book zie previously published, something funny *could quite well be* going on.
Rule no. 3: if said author has a helluva lot of FLAGRANTLY UNSUPPORTED (except for rule no. 2) weighty claims against Science as an Establishment, something funny *can almost be guaranteed to be* going on.

I will defer to a quote folklorically attributed to Dorothy Parker: "This is not a book to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown aside with great force."


Also: I could not get past the first ... third? Quarter? Eighth? ... of Wicked. I think it was the resolutely bleak writing style. I could have totally rocked with the thesis, I think, especially since the musical (yes, there's a musical) is apparently quite delightful (Glenda the Good Witch as a pretty high school student, singing a song called "Popular", for example. Hmm, interesting).

I could NOT read that book. I just might go see the musical. If/as/when I do, I'll report back somewhere around here and let you know how it went.

(This book was not thrown forcefully. It was carefully returned to its owner, who was disappointed that she couldn't rave about it with me. :| )
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Re: Was there a point that you started giving up on books?

Postby LaserGuy » Wed May 11, 2011 5:02 am UTC

I don't have a hard and fast rule. Normally I read for very long stretches at a time (>2 hours typically). If I don't like the book after one sitting, it's very likely that I just won't pick it up back up and will move on to something else. It's not really a conscious process for me, but it pretty much always happens the same way. Or, I suppose, if I can't even manage a 2+ hour sitting before getting bored, it's almost certain I'll never pick it back up. There's too many good books in the world to waste time trying to slog through bad ones.

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Re: Was there a point that you started giving up on books?

Postby Bufo_periglenes » Wed May 11, 2011 6:23 am UTC

I don't often do it. It's usually not enough to think the book's not very interesting, or badly written: I can usually find something of value in it (something I didn't know, insight into a viewpoint, learing about what makes writing bad). If I start getting mad at the book, however, and arguing with or yelling at the author in my head every couple of pages, I feel more justified quitting. Life's too short for that. Or if the book seems morally toxic in some way, less infuriating and more degrading to my (likely mortal, emergent-property-of-neurons) soul. Life's really too short for that.

In general, I try not to read two bad books, or two not to my tastes, in a row. That's often what inspires me to reread old favorites.

And I will sometimes get distracted away from books, and forget about them, even for years. Somewhere down the line, I'll get compulsive about finishing them and feel that things are righter with the world once I finally do.
Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas. —Albert Einstein

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Re: Was there a point that you started giving up on books?

Postby Bufo_periglenes » Wed May 11, 2011 6:59 am UTC

poxic wrote:Also: I could not get past the first ... third? Quarter? Eighth? ... of Wicked. I think it was the resolutely bleak writing style. I could have totally rocked with the thesis, I think, especially since the musical (yes, there's a musical) is apparently quite delightful (Glenda the Good Witch as a pretty high school student, singing a song called "Popular", for example. Hmm, interesting).

I could NOT read that book. I just might go see the musical. If/as/when I do, I'll report back somewhere around here and let you know how it went.

(This book was not thrown forcefully. It was carefully returned to its owner, who was disappointed that she couldn't rave about it with me. :| )

Same here. I had tried to read another book by him before it, but didn't get far into that either. Pointlessly bleak, I agree. Also, I think one of them was written in ongoing present tense, which is really hard to pull off, in my opinion.
Fortunately, the musical is stylistically completely different. I thought the songs varied in quality, but some of them were good, and I was on the edge of my seat by the end. It's also an amazing spectacle, worth seeing just for the stage effects.

poxic wrote:I will defer to a quote folklorically attributed to Dorothy Parker: "This is not a book to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown aside with great force."

This is an excellent quote. :D
Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas. —Albert Einstein

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Re: Was there a point that you started giving up on books?

Postby PAstrychef » Thu May 12, 2011 1:52 am UTC

I'll stop reading a book when I keep thinking "this is stupid." or when I feel the characters are just not interesting. Still, I started Richard Powers Three Farmers on Their Way to a Dance three times before the friend who lent it to me convinced me to keep going. It turned out to be a fantastic novel, as are all of his others.
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Re: Was there a point that you started giving up on books?

Postby Adacore » Thu May 12, 2011 12:43 pm UTC

I think the only books I've ever stopped reading part-way through are Middlemarch (because I got tired of constantly having to refer to the notes to understand references) and Jane Eyre (I really didn't like the first-person style, but I plan to try again some time). Mostly I only buy books I know I'm going to like, I guess - I'm probably not adventurous enough in my book purchases.

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Re: Was there a point that you started giving up on books?

Postby AvatarIII » Thu May 12, 2011 2:49 pm UTC

i generally persevere, because either i have been lucky with book, or i'm not fussy, but i did give up on Children of Dune about halfway through,
i also read neuromancer recently which i might have given up on if i hadn't promiseed someone else that i'd read it, and when i did finish it i didn't really feel like it was very good, not that i've told my friend this, i obviously said i loved it because i'm a wimp who buckles under peer pressure.
it's not writing style that gets me though, since i hate Lovecraft's writing style but managed to read 3 very hefty anthologies which have 90%+ of his works, but his stories were fascinating enough to keep me reading.
i did go through a phase of qutting books last year though, quitting both Peter F Hamiltons "The Evolutionary Void" and Alastair Reynolds "Terminal World" even though i normally love both authors books, (i really should finish them at some point)

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Re: Was there a point that you started giving up on books?

Postby Pseudonymoniae » Thu May 19, 2011 4:21 am UTC

Adacore wrote:I think the only books I've ever stopped reading part-way through are Middlemarch (because I got tired of constantly having to refer to the notes to understand references) and Jane Eyre (I really didn't like the first-person style, but I plan to try again some time). Mostly I only buy books I know I'm going to like, I guess - I'm probably not adventurous enough in my book purchases.


I can't believe you would give up on Middlemarch! Oh, well. Your loss.

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Re: Was there a point that you started giving up on books?

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu May 19, 2011 4:47 am UTC

AvatarIII wrote:i also read neuromancer recently which i might have given up on if i hadn't promiseed someone else that i'd read it, and when i did finish it i didn't really feel like it was very good, not that i've told my friend this, i obviously said i loved it because i'm a wimp who buckles under peer pressure.

Your opinion is wrong.
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Re: Was there a point that you started giving up on books?

Postby gfile-destroyer » Thu May 19, 2011 12:48 pm UTC

I don't have a rule and tend to read most of the books I start. Generally Im very cautious before I buy a book, I research it thoroughly first since it's been getting harder and harder for me to find good books. I'll sometimes put down a book/series if, the story doesn't interest me in the slightest, 1000 pages goes by and nothing notable happens (Jordan! *shakes fist*), the authors worldview just pisses me off and makes general statements as facts without bothering to provide an explanation, the original main character(s) are completely dropped, plot takes a turn that is just too weird (though I usually pick these back up after a few days) like fantasy turns into alien invasion, the world is too simple and the author gave away it's secrets in the first 20 pages, writing and character development are shallow and terrible, etc. That being said I read the vast majority of the books anyways, but I'm not going to suffer through something if it pisses me off, doesn't interest me, and is too shallow and 1 dimensional.

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Re: Was there a point that you started giving up on books?

Postby Mokele » Thu May 19, 2011 1:51 pm UTC

Well, take this with a grain of salt since I haven't read a non-fiction book in 3 years, and probably read less than 10 in the past 7 years (grad school doesn't leave much time for reading anything other than the technical literature in your field).

Rather than any hand-and-fast rule, I simply rely on motivation. I read very slowly, so I never read something in a single sitting. If I pick it up again, I must presumably like it enough to at least read some more. If I never pick it up again, I didn't like it enough to continue.

Interestingly, while few books really get me pissed off (if I manage to read one, it's almost always something like Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams), I'm actually *more* likely to finish a journal article if I disagree with it or find it fundamentally flawed in some way, usually drawing big red X's all over it and ranting about proper statistical methods.
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Re: Was there a point that you started giving up on books?

Postby AvatarIII » Thu May 19, 2011 2:07 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
AvatarIII wrote:i also read neuromancer recently which i might have given up on if i hadn't promiseed someone else that i'd read it, and when i did finish it i didn't really feel like it was very good, not that i've told my friend this, i obviously said i loved it because i'm a wimp who buckles under peer pressure.

Your opinion is wrong.


maybe i need to reread it, but i just didn't get on with it that well, i blame the fact i've read or been exposed to so much later cyberpunk that was so obviously based on or inspired by neuromancer, (greg mandel, the matrix, lawnmowerman, john mnemonic etc) that the original cyberpunk novel feels cliché,

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Re: Was there a point that you started giving up on books?

Postby Microscopic cog » Thu May 19, 2011 7:50 pm UTC

I have never not-read a book till the end. However, I've given up on reading them. I read a lot until the age of 12, high school ruined it, recently I started again.

I might have read like 3-4 books in the 5 years of high school. I used to read multiple a week. :( Now it's one or two a month.
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Re: Was there a point that you started giving up on books?

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu May 19, 2011 8:07 pm UTC

AvatarIII wrote:
Izawwlgood wrote:
AvatarIII wrote:i also read neuromancer recently which i might have given up on if i hadn't promiseed someone else that i'd read it, and when i did finish it i didn't really feel like it was very good, not that i've told my friend this, i obviously said i loved it because i'm a wimp who buckles under peer pressure.

Your opinion is wrong.


maybe i need to reread it, but i just didn't get on with it that well, i blame the fact i've read or been exposed to so much later cyberpunk that was so obviously based on or inspired by neuromancer, (greg mandel, the matrix, lawnmowerman, john mnemonic etc) that the original cyberpunk novel feels cliché,

I'd give it another chance, and focus less on his genuinely novel descriptions of the Matrix. For what it's worth, I read Neuromancer after Snow Crash and seeing the Matrix, and while it didn't feel like I was reading anything NEW, one look at the date of it's publication was enough to make me realize how heavily borrowed from Gibson is. Seriously, if it has to do with hacking, the internet/cyberspace, female assassins, or evil corporations, it was Gibson's idea first.
But there's a WEALTH of totally fucking awesome shit in that story. Seriously, a fuck ton.

I'll admit that his prose can sometimes be overly melodramatic, and I feel that his novels are almost entirely devoid of humor, but for serious, the sheer amount of awesome in Neuromancer is staggering. My favorite scene in the entire book comes up later (and isn't a plot ruiner):
Spoiler:
Case has gone up to LEO in this ramshackle tugboat-shuttle, held together by caulk and a prayer, piloted by a Rastafarian with a head of flowing dreadlocks. Case periodically jacks in and out of the Matrix for various purposes, while the Rastafarian calmly goes about sealing leaks and trimming sealant from his ship
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Re: Was there a point that you started giving up on books?

Postby Jorpho » Sun May 22, 2011 9:20 pm UTC

I have to agree about Neuromancer: I didn't much care for it. I like to make the analogy to Hitchcock's North by Northwest: it was first, it was totally groundbreaking, and its influence can be seen in so many things that came afterward, but looking at it now, everything that it did has been done so many times over since it came out, and often much better.

But at least it was relatively short.


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