Thursday, June 28, 2012

How do you read?


The other night, I read a book in one sitting. I hadn't intended to finish it but once I began, I found that I really couldn't put it down. I was so drawn into the story that I raced through 300 pages in a few hours.

Since then I've read about 60 pages of another book...in about 2 days. I couldn't help but wonder why it was taking me so long to get through it. After some thought, I realized what it was.

It seems there is a direct correlation between how much I enjoy a book and how fast I read it. If I'm loving it - it's finished in a flash. If I'm not - it takes quite a bit longer to get through. I almost think it should be the other way around, don't you? If you're not enjoying something you need to get done, you do it faster so as to not have to deal with it for very long. Right?

But why should I 'deal with it' at all you might be asking. Why do I finish a book if I'm not loving it?

For as long as I can remember being a reader, I've finished just about every book I've ever started. If I get at least a chapter read, the entire book is read. It might not make any sense but it's always worked for me.

Recently, I've been wondering about this practice of mine. I've seen a lot of bloggers post about DNF books. Books that for some reason or another, they just couldn't get to the end of. I haven't always understood this. In my mind, you can't get a complete picture of a book unless you have read the entire thing. There are many books I've only felt lukewarm about until about 3/4ths of the way through. And sometimes it really is that last little bit that makes all the difference.

BUT! Should I change the way I read? I have so many books sitting on my shelf - so many that I want to read. Am I doing a disservice to them by 'wasting' my time with books that I don't love right away?

And how should this love be measured? Should I read 50 pages or 100 and then make a decision as to whether or not the book is worth the trouble of finishing? I'm not sure this would work for me at all but I'm still contemplating some type of change in my reading habits.

What I do know is this. I'm a pretty good judge of my own character. Meaning, I know what I like and what I don't. I don't buy books that I don't think I'll enjoy. I don't except books for review that I don't feel drawn to. I don't bring books into my home that I know will sit on my shelf forever unopened. Do I make mistakes sometimes? Of course. But, for the most part, every book sitting on my shelf right now, I want to read. And wanting to read it means actually reading it. Not giving it a 100 page audition.

So I ask you? How do you read?

How many books do you not finish and do you have a system in place for these 'not for you' books? Do you think it's ridiculous that I finish every book I start? Have any advice to share?

I would love to hear from you!

15 comments:

  1. Hi Emily!
    I DO THE EXACT SAME THING! (sorry for yelling :D) I devour books that I like, an procrastinate on books I don't. If I don't like a book, regardless of whether it's said that one has to finish a book for a sense of completion, I put it down. Of course, that's not the way for summer reading books :)
    In response to your question: don't change the way you read. If it's making you upset to trudge through a book, then don't. I've heard that books get better as one continues through it, but I personally don't have that type of patience. But whatever works for you :)

    Awesome post :)
    -Kirthi

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    1. Thanks Kirthi :)
      It's so hard NOT to devour books I love. The whole savor the moment thing flies right out the window!

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  2. The way you read is the way you read. Why change it because other people are doing things differently? If you want to read to the end of a book so you can get a total picture, by all means go for it. If it works for you why change? Personally if it's a struggle for me to keep reading I'm closing it. I'm not in school anymore therefore I'm not obligated to read until the end. First impressions mean everything and if I want to slit my own wrists using the pages of the book I'm using, I can't be deigned to keep reading. I don't care how awesome it may end of getting. Or not. If I don't get sucked in I'm done. As for where the cutoff is it varies by book. I've gone as little as 11 pages (terrible writing and an author that proved herself to be completely inept at research) two two third of the way through (exceptionally slow story and I just couldn't muster the will to keep trying). I have too many books in my pile that I want to read to waste my time on books that make reading hard. I pick up books that pull me in by the blurb, that sound like something I'm going to like. I go in thinking I will. If I don't then it gets closed.

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    1. I think I need to think about it more organically. No set limit of pages - go on my gut feeling. And if my gut is telling me to finish it I will but I need to let in the possibility of NOT finishing a book. I think my overall read experiences will benefit.
      Thanks for your input Donna!

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  3. If after about a 100 pages I'm bored or feel like I'm pushing myself, I give up. With audio, I give it a couple of tracks.

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    1. Oh wow, I didn't even think about audio books! I think I have not finished a couple...but then I might pick up the hard copy because sometimes it's hard for me to tell if it's the narrator or the story that isn't working for me :)

      I'm beginning to think I need to let in the possibility of giving up on a book!

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  4. Great post, Emily! I read the exact same way you do. If I love a book I fly through it but if I dislike a book it can take me about a week to slog through it. And I also finish every book I start. It's a bad habit of mine now that I'm a blogger and I have so much to read but I can't help myself. I just always think there might be something to redeem the book. I totally don't think it's ridiculous that you finish the books like I do. I'm actually really glad I'm not the only one. =P

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    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one too! It really is a compulsion. I find it very hard to NOT finish a book. It's only since becoming a book blogger that I've begun to think that maybe I'm doing myself a disservice. Not going to do anything drastic but I do think my mind set has changed a bit :)
      Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. I definitely discard books I'm not into. There are sooooooo many books, hundreds of books, I'd love to read. I've accepted that I won't get to read all of them in my lifetime, what with new discoveries and new releases all the time. So I'll be damned if I waste my little time reading books I'm not enjoying. Sometimes I get suckered into reading the whole book even if I don't love it, but for the most part, I do have a DNF pile.

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  6. I have a hard time keeping interested in a book I'm not in love with. The ones I do love I fly right through. I can seem to find a hundred other things to do besides finish a mediocre book. However I've never just abandoned a book I didn't love, my need for knowing the ending is too strong. I will flip through the story to get a rough idea about lean meat of the plot and then read the ending.

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  7. I read the books I love fastest (I mean, I can always reread them). And I usually finish books but I've tried to be better about DNFing them especially as I'll take risks in picking up books at the library. But there are so many books I might love out there that I can't force myself to read a book that just isn't clicking, whether it's the plot, characters, writing style, etc.

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  8. Time definitely flies when you read books you truly enjoy!

    I used to always finish everything but... as Bekka said there are tons of books out there, you will never get to read them all and you'll definitely read less if you spend a lot of time trying to finish a book you don't enjoy ;)

    Usually, if after 25%, I feel like I really am not going to like the book, I peek at the end **oops** to determine whether I'm really NOT going to like it and therefore, feel justified that I'm just not going to finish reading it, ha ha ha

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  9. I am in the same boat!!! I have been trying to focus on review books, so that means that all of the books I start have to be completely read. But when I sneak in a just for me read, I've run into that dilemma a couple of times. Once was recently, it sounded interesting but I was at page 55 and it was still slow going. I returned it to the library and said I'd check it out later. Which literally means that I will check it out again later. I can't not finish a book, it's a disease I have. It doesn't matter if it's a month later or a year later, I will finish it. For the simple fact that there is this niggling sensation that keeps asking, what if it kicks into high gear at the end? I have been reviewing for about a year, and in that time I may have posted maybe 5 maybe 6 negative reviews. Half of those negative reviews were because the author failed to deliver something. What comes to mind is The Atomic Weight of Secrets by Eden Unger Bowditch, which I read for review. I enjoyed the story, I thought the concept was fantastic. But in the end absolutely nothing was resolved, none of the questions were answered and not even hinted at. It felt like it was building up to go somewhere fantastic only to leave you with that anticipation. I didn't know that the author was working on the second part. I don't know if I will check it out. But I am glad that I finished the book, especially because I now understand disappointment in books. I think that we have to finish books, even bad ones, because it gives a basis to judge. We understand better what it is that makes a book take us into its world and capture us for a period of time and what it is that keeps us disconnected from books. It helps us to understand ourselves and the way we read a lot better so that we can become more discerning about the books and worlds that we explore. Wow! This is extremely long, and all I wanted to say was that I struggle with this too. Lol, well I guess I'll go read a book now that I've written one.

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  10. I had a twitter conversation about this just the other day. It seems a lot of people read faster if they're into the book. I think it's only natural to want to devour something if you're loving it.

    I DNF books quite a bit, unfortunately. I used to always finish, but then decided that it was okay to not like a book, and okay to stop reading it. I go with my gut and stop when I feel like it, whether this means at 50 pages, 100 pages or almost at the end.

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  11. I read pretty much the same way. I finish almost all the books I read and slog through the ones I dislike and fly through the truly outstanding ones.

    I'll just echo Donna and say you should totally read the way that makes you the happiest.

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