25 August 2010

Give Up? Challenge

Let's talk about what makes you give up (or stick with) a book.

Here is a little food for thought:
Remember Nancy Pearl? (Click here for a BFWP primer on beloved bibliophile Nancy.) When it comes to understanding the ins and outs of being a serious reader, it is important to know when to say "I give up" and put down that book --Nancy came up with the “Rule of Fifty”:
"People frequently ask me how many pages they should give a book before they give up on it. In response to that question, I came up with my “rule of fifty,”  which is based on the shortness of time and the immensity of the world of books.  If you’re fifty years of age or younger, give a book fifty pages before you decide to commit to reading it or give it up.  If you’re over fifty, which is when time gets even shorter, subtract your age from 100—the result is the number of pages you should read before making your decision to stay with it or quit.  Since that number gets smaller and smaller as we get older and older, our big reward is that when we turn 100, we can judge a book by its cover!" Want more Nancy wisdom?  Click here for her blog.
The Bean told us about this NPR segment "What Does It Take For You to Give Up on a Book?" on Talk of the Nation. If you have 17 minutes --and you love books-- it is definitely worth a listen. The Mom listened to it last night and giggled when Julia Keller mentioned our Book of the Week Anna Karenina... it is LONG!

Here is your Challenge:
What books have you given up on and which ones have you tried and tried and finally finished. What makes you give up on a book? Do you have a "Rule of 50" of your own? 
Tell us your story about giving up (or not) on a book!


  1. This challenge makes me laugh. I am one of those readers that is constantly picking up and putting down books. Usually I have several books going at a time -I never know what my reading mood will be from day to day.

    I have never had an easy time with "the Classics" but I enjoy the idea of growing older and into a "well read" person and so I press on.

    I am currently working on:
    The Awakening by Kate Chopin,
    A Farewell to Arms by Earnest Hemingway, Rabbit,Run by John Updike
    and several non-fiction and one really good book (Grand River and Joy by Susan Messer --I won't be giving up on this one!)

    And I do have a rule --it is not a number of pages but a sensation, if I become numb reading the book --if my mind wanders off the pages, if I glaze over one too many times, I put the book down --I try this a few times and then I put it back on the shelf or return it to the library for a while and try again if I feel compelled!

  2. If I cannot get through 5 or 6 pages without clamoring for more, I put it down.

  3. Anonymous9:37 AM

    (Typed by The Mom -dictated by The Little Sister)
    We listen to a lot of books-on-tape. I do not read-read books yet. If it's boring or the (narrator's voice) is annoying I give up and go do something else!

  4. Good question. I used to feel obligated to finish every book I started. Now I give it 50-100 pages (depending on the size of the book) before moving on. Generally I give up when the story seems to be going nowhere and I'm not connecting with any of the characters. Eat Pray Love is a recent example. I thought maybe I would enjoy the movie more so after spending $7 for a matinee (!) today, I felt the same boredom with the movie as the book. I stayed until the end but was sorry I didn't see Ramona and Beezus instead :-(

  5. Anonymous8:42 PM

    I don't give up on too many books, mostly because I've learned (in my over-50 years!) to know what I like and what I don't like. Typically the books I give up on are books I've picked up after someone else's recommendation. I did give up on The Brothers Karamazov last year - it was just too much for me.

    like Nancy Pearl's rule...I'm allowed about 46 pages now.

  6. I have never had the stomach for violence. Ask my husband or children when I’ve gone to a film with violence in it. I like a Raiders-of-the-Lost-Arc type movie, but winced & covered my face a lot. I am the annoying one whose feet are jammed on your seat back. (…and I am older!).

    Over the years for me, vicious violence in a fictitious novel is turn-off. I read novels with historical (or historical fiction) violence…slavery, revolutions, war, etc.; but for pure fiction, life is too precious to spend even a moment of my time in a vicious violent world.

  7. If I can't get into or enjoy the story past pages 40 - 70 (depending on how long the book is) that is the first turn off.
    Mostly I think stories choose me!