Friday, February 19, 2010

The Right Not to Finish a Book

This begs the question, why do we read? Personally, I read because it's enjoyable. When I read it's a time where I can relax and get lost in a world that isn't my own. Therefore, I don't think it's wrong to abandon a book if it isn't giving you the pleasure you intended. However, whenever I put a book down I'm left feeling guilty and empty. I feel guilty because I started a journey that I'm not going to finish and so I feel like a quitter. But I know I shouldn't feel like that because there are so many books out there, there's no way one person is going to enjoy all of them! There shouldn't be any crime in trying to find a book that you will enjoy and it isn't probable that every book you pick up will be one you enjoy.

There's something so exciting about reading an author you love or waiting for the next book in a series you love. When you open that cover there are tingles and flutters and it's oftentimes hard to sit still to actually begin reading because you're so excited! And as a reader, I'm constantly looking for that "rush". Of course, if I made a commitment to review a book that I started and didn't like I'll finish it because that's different. But if I pick up a book at a library and I'm having trouble getting through it, I'll stop reading.

Because I don't want there to come a time when reading isn't enjoyable. And this brings me to another issue- a lot of kids reach that time so early! Before they even get halfway through high school they shove off reading and I think part of the reason why is that they've never found anything enjoyable to read! So the reason they stop reading a book is more blinding then say, when you or I stop. Because we know there are other books out there that we'll love, kids don't necessarily know that. That's why I think it needs to start in the classroom, when reading is required. Teachers need to start feeding kids things they will find enjoyable and give them lots of choices! It will be easier for them later to read Romeo and Juliet and ensure that if they put a book down it's because they're going to find another one.

Here are some of my book turn on/offs:

Book Turn Offs: bad writing, too many characters with names I can't pronounce, fantasy that creates worlds so unlike the one we're in that it's hard to relate, heavy-hitting issues (like Touching Snow-I couldn't finish it because it made me so, so sad I couldn't bear it any longer), stereotypical characters, predictable plots.

Book Turn Ons: Original ideas, writing that takes me through a book not knowing I'm actually reading, realistic romance, relatable characters, humor interspersed throughout a novel, surprises, well-developed characters.

So what do you guys think about not finishing a book? What are some of your book turn on/offs? I'd love to see your on blog post on this idea!

Happy Reading!


jessjordan said...

turn offs: no interesting plot development even though I'm over 100 pages in, cliched characters, same 'ol storyline rehashed.

I recently stopped reading a book b/c of one of the above, and it still breaks my heart. But I couldn't take it anymore.

(Although I love heavy-hitting issues, at least in teen writing--e.g., Ellen Hopkins and Amy Reed. So to each his own, I suppose!)

Emily said...

I have problems not finishing a book that I've started - even if I'm not in love with it. I don't think it's *wrong* or bad to give up on a book... I just can't do it. I suppose it's not in my nature. That doesn't mean I won't complain about it while I'm trying to get through!

I honestly get turned off a book when there are typos. I know that's something silly... and it's the editor, not the author. But it drives me insane. I also don't like it when the characters are sooo typically something, they are just boring. Like, the jock is just that - a jock. No substance. No nothin. Just boring. Characters need more substance than that.

And one thing I've lately realized I love about characters is when they have some hobby or love that has nothing to do with the plot.

I dunno if all that makes sense, but I hope so! This is a great topic!

Mardel said...

My kids are all in their twenties now (one is just 30) and I currently work in a school. I think it's kind of sad that some of the required reading for the students in elementary school are books that were required when my kids were in school. These books were boring then (especially the contemporary books) and they're even less relevent to life now. The schools need to mix it up a little - find some current required reading to mix in with the "classics". BTW the classics are almost another language now, when you consider how much our speech patterns have changed over the last 20 years.

No wonder school kids are bored with reading. If they aren't from a family that reads a variety of books, or happen to just get into it themselves, the required reading for schools certainly aren't making lots of reading fans.

Zombie Girrrl said...

Ooh, fun!

Turn offs: Boring character names like because I can never keep straight, excessive or explicit sexual content, adult books pretending to be YA, YA books pretending to adult, steriotypical "teen party" scenes, subjects that'll leave me hopelessly depressed, cliche characters such as Heart O' Gold Jock, Witchy Cheerleader, and Pretty Outcast Artiste Girl Who Would Do Anything To Be Cool.

Turn ons: Action! Sweet, believable romances that don't revolve around sex, new takes on old monsters, original plot lines, guys that can cook, girls who can fend for themselves, subtle retellings, zombies (I'll read anything with zombies), protagonists with unrelated interests or hobbies (good point, Elizabeth!), happy families (why do so many books have disfunctional families?), witty characters, ingaging writing, thought provoking plot/world/whatever

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