Life is Too Short.
I always give a book 100 pages. After that if the going has been tough and the interest not excited I give it up. Just as I would rather read a good book than write a bad one, every hour wasted on a book I don’t enjoy and probably wont finish is just that, wasted.
So I was pleased to read the excellent web site Good Reads had polled its 20 million members about the rather pretentiously worded Psychology of Abandonment of books.
They found that this literate bunch like the rest of us found some of the world’s “greatest classics” not worth the finishing. The big five unfinished classics were Catch22, Lord of the Rings, Ulysses, Moby Dick and Atlas Slugged by Ayn Rand. The last I had never heard , of the others I had finished Catch 22.
So why do the Good Readers give up? 46% say because the book is slow and boring;19% cite weak writing;9% the stupidity of the book;8.5% the ridiculous plot;5% didn’t like the main character;4% felt uncomfortable;3% bad editing.
And when do they give up- before 50 pages 16%;50-100 pages 28%;100 pages 8%;100+ 10% and as one might expect from such a literary bunch 38% always finish. I think we know the type.
All this came about with my present fascination with James Joyce. I’m dipping into Ulysses again and rereading The Dubliners. Now Virginia Woolf ,although she married a Putney man(the saintly Leonard) I find unreadable, but on Ulysses she hits a well known button
“Never did a book so bore me, I gave up after 200 pages. Reading him is like being a martyr tied to a stake….he is an undelivered genius whom we can’t neglect, or silence the groans, at considerable pains to oneself.”
However my favourite put down is Milton fan Dr Johnston on Paradise Lost.”No man wished it longer.”