Tell me: Should I finish?

I’ve developed a bad habit.  I’ll start a book, get bored, pick up something else thinking I’ll come back to it another time, and then I never go back.  I’ve got three books on my nightstand that for various reasons I stopped reading.  I need your opinion- are these books worth the hours it will take to finish them?  Please let me know if you’ve read any of them, and if you were glad you went the distance.

Wish You Were Here by Stewart O Nan.  I’m a fan.  I feel guilty.  I loved Last Night at the Lobster.  I really enjoyed Songs for the Missing.  But Wish You Were Here is plodding and (yawn) loooooooong.  I purchased this at the airport in New York and read the first 125 pages on a 4 hour flight before setting it aside, almost a year ago.  

Mexican High by Liza Monroy.  Part of my problem here is I won this book, so it doesn’t carry any sort of obligation.  I tried to use it as my “car” book, for those times I had to wait a few minutes here or there, never really giving it my full attention.  I’ve moved it to my nightstand for bedtime reading but it just hasn’t grabbed me yet, and I keep choosing other books instead.  

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah.  Another loooooooong book.  Maybe I have a short attention span.  After over 100 pages I just don’t really care what happens to the characters.  I’m not sure why I’m not connecting to them, but I’m not.  Keep at it?  Try again?  Give it away?

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Tell me:  Should I finish these books?

37 Responses

  1. I haven’t read any of them, so I can’t give you advice on this.

  2. I haven’t read any of them either, but my advice is that there are too many books out there to read, if these aren’t grabbing you, let them go! I usually try again in a few months. If I’m still having trouble, I officially give up.

  3. If you’re 100 pages in and don’t care about the characters? I say, put it down.

  4. Haven’t read any of these either, but I plan to try Firefly Lane. From what I’ve heard, you either really like it or you don’t. So if you don’t yet, you probably won’t.

  5. I haven’t read any of them either so I’m no help. But sounds like it’s time to move on.

  6. I haven’t read any of these and can’t advocate on behalf of any of them. However, if you don’t care about what happens to the characters, I day move on.

  7. I struggle with this one too. I’ve got three books that I received to review for FIRST. The static FIRST posts went up, but I’ve never posted my reviews, since I really don’t care to finish any of them. They all ended up being self-help types, and they just don’t interest me. So, I’m torn: do I post a review that says why I didn’t finish it, or do I just set them aside and let it go.

    I think there are too many good books out there to waste time on ones you don’t like. I haven’t finished books for that reason. It’s when I’ve committed to review it that I wonder…

    I’m no help. Sorry!!

  8. Whew, I don’t feel so bad now. Thanks, guys.

    Holly, what is FIRST?

  9. This is a very good question that I think most avid readers struggle with. I used to feel obligated to read books that were given to me, strongly recommended, or I paid a lot of money for. But as I have aged, most of the guilt is gone. I now know there is a limit to how many books I can read. I go with what really grabs me in the first two to three chapters. If I don’t care about the characters by then, I find someone else to give the book to or take it back to the library. Too many good books in the world to waste my time on unsuitable ones. Having said all that, I will say that if I’ve promised someone a review, I’ll keep going even if I don’t like it. That way I force myself to be picky about what books I choose. Thanks for the question. Obviously, it’s something I’ve been thinking about.

  10. I haven’t read them either but I divorce a book at 50 pages if it doesn’t grab me. Too many other books out there to waste my time on a book that I am not enjoying. Chuck, Chuck, Chuck.

  11. I haven’t read any of these, but if at any point after say, 20 pages, a book is just making me nod off and think of other things, I just move on. Too many other books out there!

  12. I loved Firefly Lane. It was one of my favorite books last year, but I listened to the audio version.

  13. I read Wish You Were Here (it was okay), and I did not care for Firefly Lane.

  14. I haven’t read these, but I can tell you that life is too short to spend time on books you’re not enjoying. If you haven’t made any kind of commitment to review them, and they haven’t moved you yet, I say let them go.

  15. Haven’t read any either but Mexican High sounds interesting!

  16. My rule of thumb is this:

    If the book is less than 500 pages, I give myself 50 pages to start connecting with the characters and liking the book.

    If the book is over 500 pages, I give myself 100 pages.

    If I haven’t connected with the characters, or if I’m not interested in the book yet, I give up and take the book back to the library or give it away.

    Since I haven’t read any of these books, that’s my advice.🙂

  17. I usually read 50 to 100 pages and then decide to keep going or to let it go. The only books I try to push myself through (even though I may dislike it) is my book club books.

  18. I haven’t read any of them, Lisa, although I do have Firefly Lane on my shelf to read. If you are bored and don’t care about what happens to the characters, I say ditch the book. Maybe you’ll be more in the mood for it at a later point in time, but maybe not.

  19. Firefly Lane is the only one I’ve read. My notes say the ending was better than the book. So skip to the end. I’ve just had to give up on a couple myself – The Eleventh Man by Ivan Doig and Testiminy by Anita Shreve. I hate having to give up on a book, but sometimes it’s better to cut your losses and move on to something better.

  20. I wanted to check out the responses since I have two of these books on the TBR shelves. Unless there is a commitment involved I just don’t force myself to continue with books I’m not enjoying. Life is too short.

  21. I have read O Nan, and although I definitely enjoyed Night at the Lobster, I found Songs for the Missing terribly long, dull, and a waste of my time. I was on the shelf reading Wish You Were Here, so you kind of helped me out with that decision. 🙂

    I do have Firefly on my TBR shelf. I’m hoping to get to it this month. It was passed my way to a friend who also loaned me We Need To Talk About Kevin (which was fabulous!) so who knows!

  22. I guess you kind of have to know whether it’s a book you’re not in the mood for but might be later…or one that you know you will never get into. If it was one that I was obligated to review and had a deadline, I probably would just say I wasn’t able to get through it. Good luck deciding what to do!!

  23. i’m just happy to know i’m no alone with abandoning books and returning to them later. my blog looks so stagnant because i’ve had the same 4 books on my ‘nightstand’ for weeks. instead, i keep reading other things! finally, i dropped two and will come back to them later.

    haven’t read the books you listed, so i can’t help you there…but don’t feel too guilty if you ‘break up with them’. heehee

  24. Lisa, I just finished Firefily Lane. Push through if for no other reason than to finish the book. The last 100 pages are a different story that the first 400.

    I understand your struggles, I read this in a few days to get to the ending…

    I just posted my review late this afternoon.

  25. I agree with all the above posts. “So many books, so little time.” A good mantra for this situation. I do feel guilty when I don’t finish a book in the first place for whatever reason though. I still haven’t gone back to finish THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH even though I was really loving it. I was in need of a break, and the book was really heavy, so I promised it I would pick it up again and still haven’t. That was like a year and a half ago I think. LOL!
    If you are a skimmer you could always try that. Maybe just jump ahead a little and see if the stories pick up a bit.

  26. I wish I could help but I’ve never read any of these. Sorry! I shamelessly give up on books if I’m not really enjoying it. Well, not shamelessly. I always feel a little guilty, but books that I’m not enjoying really aren’t worth the time. You could probably be reading something you enjoy a whole lot more!

  27. Sorry, I haven’t read any of these but Firefly Lane is supposed to be really good.

  28. Firefly Lane is ok. I found myself thinking that it was so similar to a couple of movies I’ve seen…..and it was very predictable!!

  29. The only one of your books that I’ve read is FireFly Lane. I listened to it on unabridged audio and ended up buying several copies for Christmas presants. It was my favorite book of 2008 and all the people that received it from me enjoyed it. It is a long book, but I found myself loving the characters and their interesting friendship.

    Good luck! I’d love to know if you finish it and whether you like it or not!

  30. I was eager to get back to this and see what everyone would recommend! I know I’ve read good reviews of Firefly Ln and you so highly rec’d O’Nan but I’ve yet to get to them. I’m thinking about putting off my current read if for the only reason that it starts wtih a 9/11 ref and it’s spring time! I can’t read a heavy book set in the fall when it’s supposed to be sunny and light and happy and joyous… I hope to get back to it in 5 months.

  31. Wow, it does seem a lot of you liked Firefly Lane. I may skip ahead and see if it grabs me… maybe I’ll just read the last couple chapters. Mexican High- I don’t think I’ve given that one enough of a chance yet (only about 25 pages, and only in 5-10 minute increments) so I’ll go back to that. Wish You Were Here, though.. I think that one is going to be donated to the library.

  32. The only one of your three books that I have read is Firefly Lane. I struggled with it at different times and it did drag a bit for me at times but never to the point that I couldn’t pick it back up. I was glad I finished it since the ending was worth it for me and it did improve towards the end. I think we are more in the mood for certain plot lines at different times then others. Just like a good meal or a certain restaurant appeals more at times than others. I don’t have the pile of TBR that you do so ultimately I guess you have to decide to finish or not…toss a coin??

  33. Give them up Lisa!

    And FIRST is a blog touring group for books published in the Christian marketplace…you agree to post the first chapter on a specified day and recieve review copy with no set obligation to review.

  34. What a great post! Even though I’m not in a book club I appreciate what they are reading. I hope to join one one day here in my small town. B the way, I’ve given you an award, so stop by and pick it up when you get a chance! You can find it here.

  35. Lisa, I am reading “Mexican High” at the moment and although it appalls and scares me (I am the mother of two teenage girls), it compels me to read on. I am only a quarter of the way through…so I really don’t know if I can fully recommend it yet. Nice blog…this is my first visit here. Will bookmark you.

  36. Nope, don’t finish ’em. There are a gazillion books to choose from, so read those that your brain enjoys from start to finish.

  37. I always feel an obligation to finish a book, even if I am not liking it. When I put one down, I always get a little nagging in my brain wondering if it would have gotten better if I had just stuck through to the end. Most of them don’t. I should have really learned my lesson by now.

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