The Sunday Salon – May 31, 2009 (The “did-not-finish” edition)

The Sunday

Avis at She Reads and Reads recently posted about wanting to read negative reviews. As I read the other comments and left one of my own, I started thinking back to the last time I posted a negative review. It’s been a while.

I think I’ve figured out why that’s the case. I used to finish every single book I started. I hated leaving a book unfinished, no matter how hard it was to make myself plod through it. Not any more. As I’ve gotten older, and my to-read stack and list have gotten longer and longer, I’m more protective of my reading time. If a book hasn’t grabbed me by page 50 or so, I’ll put it aside. If it was recommended to me by a friend or book blogger whose opinion I respect, I’ll give it another 50 pages. If I’m still not enjoying it, that’s it. I don’t finish it; I return it to the library or pass it on to another blogger who I think might like it better or sell it on

I don’t post “did-not-finish” reviews, like I’ve seen on some blogs, but I do keep track of the books I stopped reading on my Read in 2009 page. Here are my “did-not-finish” books so far this year:

Ghost World by Daniel Clowes. I don’t consider myself a prude, but I couldn’t handle the sexual content and dialogue and graphic language, especially from two teenage girls.

Ice Haven by Daniel Clowes. I had this on my Graphic Novels Challenge list. Too bad I didn’t realize this was the same author as the previous book. Not my taste.

Land of Marvels by Barry Unsworth. I tried extra hard with this one, since I requested a review copy, but could only make it to page 90. I felt like it was a case of false advertising, though, because it was billed as a historical thriller, and yet by page 90, there was no hint of a mystery or anything thrilling about it. I have read some positive reviews, though, so if you like historical novels about archaeology, you should give it a try.

Collected Poems by Donald Justice. Poetry is an individual thing. I love some poets, don’t love others, and often I can’t even tell you why. The poems in this collection were just okay, and when I realized I was forcing myself to read it, I decided to put it aside.

The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History by John M. Barry. I checked this book out of the library to check some facts on the flu vaccine, and then thought I’d go ahead and read the whole thing, since it’s been on my to-read list for a while. Only problem was, I wasn’t in the mood for a heavy history book right now. I may give this one a try another time.

So, what book did you give up on recently?

Other bookish posts this week:

~ On Monday, I posted my third first lines quiz. These posts have become a fun diversion on Monday afternoons. Look for number four tomorrow.

~ Part two of the list of my favorite memoirs.

~ Book review: Everyone is Beautiful by Katherine Center.

~ Book review: The Sense of Paper by Taylor Holden.

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12 Responses to The Sunday Salon – May 31, 2009 (The “did-not-finish” edition)

  1. Alaine says:

    I’m like you and just won’t bother finishing a book I’m not enjoying. As my TBR list grows and I look around my house at all the books that I’m dying to get to, why waste time!

  2. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread

    It takes a pretty stinky book for me to quit mid-stream, but it happened not long ago with the Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chambon. I partly blame the audio, but I couldn’t get past disc 2. Now as you know, I’ve got way too much audio going on to listen to the likes of something like that. Lately I’ve been thinking about my reviews, and that maybe they are way too glowing. I tend to love nearly everything I read. I do put alot of research into what I pick up, and try to make sure I’ll like it. And no, I’m not the most discriminating person…I tend to find good in most books.

  3. Vasilly
    Twitter: Vasilly

    I follow the 50-page rule too with books. I don’t bother keeping track of them and I don’t write reviews on them. I don’t want to give the book any more of my time.

  4. I haven’t given up on any books recently (mainly because I’ve been re-reading favorites for my Sir Arthur Conan Doyle celebration) but I’ve definitely become a much more selective reader. If I’m not engaged by the first 100 pages, I may not finish the book. I was glad that I kept plugging away at Drood after a slow start, though, but I was enjoying the setting too much to seriously think of putting it down at any point.

  5. Book Psmith says:

    I have a DNF post I am saving for December where I am keeping track of the books I could not finish in 2009. I have been feeling really lucky this year because so far there are only three (Why We Hate Us, Lolita and Thirteen). I haven’t been keeping track of the audiobooks though because I may give them a second chance of reading them instead of listening. I am crossing my fingers that all this good reading will keep going and I won’t fall into a slump of bad books.

  6. Thank you for posting about the books you couldn’t finish. I think it is just as important to know about these as the ones you love – that way I can potentially avoid picking up a book I wouldn’t like.

  7. Robin of My Two Blessings
    Twitter: robnmccormack

    I just gave up on The Link by an independently published author. It has a great premise but it’s just not doing it for me. I can’t get into the story. Too much bouncing from ancient times to present times and everyone being reincarnated to this, that and the other person. My Sunday Salon post will be up later this afternoon.

  8. CarrieK
    Twitter: booksandmovies

    Alaine – exactly!

    Sandy – I also have a tendency to pick up books I think I’ll like, which also decreases the chance of a bad review.

    Vasilly – 50 pages is a good rule of thumb, I think.

    Ruth – I’ll keep in mind that Drood has a slow start, cause I definitel plan on reading that one.

    Book Psmith – I’ve had a fairly good year, too – when I consider how few books there are in this post, and the 50 or so I’ve read.

    Jackie – you’re welcome. 🙂

    Robin – I’ll be sure to check your Sunday Salon post.

  9. Belle
    Twitter: msbookish

    I can be terrible sometimes – if I put it down, and what I’ve read doesn’t compel me to pick it up again anytime soon, the book often goes unfinished. I don’t review dnf’s either, and I don’t have very many negative reviews up. Generally, my reviews might have a slightly negative tone only because I didn’t think the ending did what it should have. Otherwise, if I finished it, it’s usually because I enjoyed it.

  10. CarrieK
    Twitter: booksandmovies

    Belle – yes, that’s the way it is with me – often I’m caught off-guard if I’ve enjoyed the entire book and then the ending stinks.

  11. Carrie, I’m sorry I didn’t comment on this post sooner! Thanks for mentioning my post. I give up on books too and generally don’t post about them, although I mentioned two I gave up on in May in my May stats post. (They were The Smart One and the Pretty One by Claire LaZebnik and The Debs by Susan McBride. I had heard good things about both books, but I found I just couldn’t relate enough to the characters or the situations they found themselves in: they seemed contrived to me.)

  12. CarrieK
    Twitter: booksandmovies

    Avis – that’s okay. 🙂 And nothing worse than contrived characters or situtations – it’s like the author comes out and pulls you out of the story.