Monday, July 18, 2011

Musing Monday...Hope Springs Eternal

What could be the question this week, as always from the desk of MizB atShould Be Reading ...

This week’s musing asks…

What is the last book you struggled to read through to the end, even though you weren’t really enjoying it? What made you keep reading?

Well, right now I have started The Complaints by Ian Rankin and the two of us are having some issues. I have read a couple of Mr. Rankin’s books before and enjoyed them, but they were in the Inspector Rebus series and this one has a new lead character that I am not really bonding with. So, for now, I have put it aside and read a couple of other books in the meantime. I doubt that I will go back to it. No, I do not think so.

But see, the difference between this and some others that I have struggled with is that this is a library book. Zero commitment. Nothing ventured, nothing lost. In fact, I could just return it and take it out again in the future and it’s not like it would make a difference. The same would be true of a book that I bought. Yes, I would be out the money if I did not like it but it is not like I sort of promised that I would read it.

Review copies, which make up a good percentage of what I read, are different. True, there are still some difference, some varying levels of commitment, among review copies as well. But bottom line, with a review copy, I do feel a commitment to read and review it. Sometimes a big one, sometimes a smaller one.
The highest level of obligation would be books that I actually requested. To take that up even one more peg, the highest would be books I asked for and about which I have had some sort of interpersonal communication. It could be with a publicist or someone organizing a tour or…at the top of the pile, the author. If I have had some e-mail communication about the book, pretty much, whatever I think of the book, no matter how much I have to struggle, I will finish it and review it. Granted, that it is not a huge struggle ..really hating it...because it is not something that happens very often. Usually I have read about the book before I ask for it or accepted it and am pretty sure it is something I will like.
Any review copy that I have requested gets a pretty good try.

Still, I have a few that I was not really loving. But I don’t totally right them off…the first time. I will put them aside and hope when I come back to them when I may be more in the mood. Sometimes you want a heavy, more complicated or serious book…sometimes you want something lighter and fluffier. I don’t think it is good to push a book when you are in the wrong mood. It may be you and not the book! But unlike a library book or a book I bought, it is not totally discarded. Yet. I have a small pile of books that I hope to get back to someday. Hope springs eternal in the human breast...

But then sometimes I receive some unrequested books. I don’t know…they just arrive in the mail. Which is nice...I love to get a nice new book in the mail…but let’s just say they are sometimes not something I would ask for. But I will still give them a try. I just finished Overbite by Meg Cabot. Vampires, Forces of Evil, wooden, not my usual fare. But in fact, I rather enjoyed it! The difference is, if I did not ask for the book, it may sit there in the TBR pile for quite awhile, guilt free. I will get to it someday, but my feeling of obligation is much, much less.

And then, there is the rare book, one I asked for, one I thought that I would like, and do not finish.
That is the worst case scenario. I requested it…I got it…I thought I would like it.
And I do not.
I really dislike it.
I do not finish it and if I do not finish it I will not review it.
The most recent example of that is Deadfolk by Charles Williams. I tried, more than once, to read it and I simply could not do it. I did not like any of the characters, I could not get the story and it was written in a dialect that I found increasing annoying to struggle through. I checked, and it seems to have gotten some pretty good reviews…but I hated it. So, about 50 pages in and I am done with it.

So many books…so little time…


  1. WOW.. that was a well thought out answer. I agree with you.

    About 50-75 pages into the book now days, if I can't get into it, I set it aside. Maybe one day I may try again, but not any day soon.

  2. Once again, very well said!!!!!

  3. Excellent post and as Cheryl said, well said! It's probably more disappointing or frustrating to not like a book you had thought you would like before starting it and then to find out there are a lot of good reviews for it. I always wonder if it's that I'm not getting it or what.

  4. So with you on the library book = less incentive to commit thing. And I almost love having library DNFs, because it makes me feel like I saved the money of having bought the book and then not wanted to read it! (what my husband, the law and economics guy, would call "irrational economic decision-making" but to me it makes perfect sense!).

  5. I'm kind of stubborn with books, and very rarely do I DNF one. I have "skimmed" ones that I'm having trouble with. But the last book that I really suffered serious pain in finishing was Sara Gruen's Ape House. It was for book club, so I would not be stopped but boy that was awful.

  6. I usually end up skimming thru books I don't like.

    Find my answer here:

  7. The last book I struggled with was Plain Kate. It was an ARC for review, so I had to read it. It was just so grim and long winded. I know everyone liked it but me. But, it took me MONTHS to finish it.

  8. yes, I think it is worst if you really struggle with a book, especially if it is an ARC, and then everyone else seems to love it.

  9. Hi Caite,

    Shame about the Ian Rankin book, especially as I have 'The Complaints' in my TBR pile, waiting to be read.

    Generally I do enjoy Rankin books, so I am just hoping that your glitch in finishing this one, is purely a personal thing, that won't apply to me once I start it.

    Like youself, I always feel committed to finishing an author or publisher request to review book, whether or not I enjoyed it, although it is always more difficult to give an unbiased review of something that wasn't to my liking.

    I won't give up on a book that I don't particularly like though, but will plough on to the bitter end regardless.

    I don't tend to take out library books, because I am then under pressure to finish them by the return date. I can find plenty of reasonably priced books in the charity shops to keep me well stocked, although these are going up in price at an alarming rate right now.


  10. I don't take out library books and I don't review books for the exact reason you're writing about - if I don't like it, I'm going to struggle to finish it. I'd rather choose something that looks appealing to me w/o pressure of time constraints or review promises.

  11. see, I think the library is zero pressure. with my library, unless it is a very new book, I can renew it online..or just return if if I don't get to it or am not liking it...and who cares?

  12. The last book I struggled with was Cleopatra. I set it aside last December. I'm not sure if it was the book or my life, though, but I haven't felt compelled to pick it back up.

  13. I don't think I really struggled to finish reading a book since High School. Now I read books that I picked out to read because I'm interested in what they are about. There are days that I am not in the mood of reading a book and I set it aside and read it another day. But I don't struggle to finish reading a book.

  14. Great post! When it comes to review books, I do read all that I've accepted. Like you, I'm pretty fussy so I know I will like those that I read. If I get some that I didn't request, I'll give them a try but I don't feel obligated to finish them if I don't like them and didn't request them.

  15. Hello! Thanks for visiting my blog!

    I feel really sad if I hate a book I thought I'd like especially if it is a book I spent my money on. Thank God I like most of the books I buy!


please speak up, I LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU!!