Do You Finish Bad Books?

A comment left on one of my posts got me thinking about finishing books. The comment was:

I have seen you reading/reviewing a fair number of Two stars it seems lately …… I actually feel bad that you go through and read so many bad books…

Which is interesting, because I generally have a 50 page rule. I’ll read 50 pages and if I’m not fussed then I’ll put the book down and try another, but when review copies of books are sent to me from publishers, then I will take the time to read the entire novel.

I find book reviewing really interesting, because I can read something and be like “meh” and other people will read it and be like OMG THIS WAS THE BEST BOOK EVER! So it really depends on personal taste.

I enjoy reading average books, because they really make me sit down and think about what it is that makes them so average. And then of course, when I stumble across an amazing book it makes it that much more exciting!

Do you always finish books? Do you give them a couple of chapters and then put them down? A couple of pages? What is your rule for starting and finishing novels?

About Jodie @ Words Read & Written

Book blogger & aspiring author.
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25 Responses to Do You Finish Bad Books?

  1. Matt says:

    Generally I finish all books that I pick up. A number of times I’ve found the ending pulls the entire piece of writing together. So, I try and hang in there. However! I do have one book on my shelf that I couldn’t possibly finish. I tried. I tried to talk myself into why I ought to push further. But really, it was simply a form of torture. Now, there it sits. Unfinished.

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  2. Widdershins says:

    I don’t have a hard and fast limit … it’s usually around about the time I think, “This is crap.”

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  3. Timothy Gwyn says:

    I used to put a book down if I didn’t care about any of the characters by page 100. Nowadays, I’ll put a book down at any point. I’m more aware of technical or style issues, but it’s still my involvement with the characters that is usually the deciding factor.

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  4. Tina Susedik says:

    I’ve been having the same problem lately. I’ve put down three books that I simply can’t get into. Right now I’m reading one I’ve decided to finish, even though it’s driving me crazy. I guess I’m continuing because I want to see how many more times the author can write something incredibly stupid.

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  5. Laurie Nichols says:

    I try out of guilt oddly enough. lol

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  6. I try to stick with books until the end. Like you said, everything is personal taste. Just because I don’t love it doesn’t mean it’s inherently bad; it’s just not for me. It also helps me establish clearer reasons for why I do and don’t like certain books.

    Also, I think tastes change throughout the years as we grow, and sometimes just because I don’t like a book now doesn’t mean I won’t like it in five years or when I’m in a different mood. I may put a book down for a while, but I tend to try it again later.

    However, every now and then I will abandon a book if it just feels like it can’t get better. It’s a rare occurence, though. Probably only once every few years.

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  7. Paul J Gies says:

    I don’t owe my time to a bad read. There are so many books: why read crap?

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  8. anowink says:

    I will usually finish a bad book if I’ve started reading it and I own it/have paid for it myself. If it was a loan or free or something I won’t. I usually won’t continue the series if it’s bad.

    The only exception to this rule was Eragon. It was so bad I couldn’t finish it and I ultimately gave it away (although it didn’t help that I saw a copy on my ex’s shelf!)

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  9. Abbie Taylor says:

    It depends on the book. Sometimes, it only takes a few sentences before I decide I don’t like the book. At other times, I’ll get halfway through a book and then decide not to finish it. I don’t commit myself to reviewing a book on my blog in case I don’t like it.

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  10. Crystal says:

    I do book reviews too, so even if I feel the book is bad, I will finish it out of obligation. As far as books I select on my own to read, I can’t remember coming across a bad book that I couldn’t finish. I am usually curious to see the ending. However, I may skim through parts that I find uninteresting.

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  11. Joseph Nebus says:

    I pretty near always finish books. It takes a spectacularly difficult or awful book for me to put it down. I suppose at some level I feel like all books have something to communicate, and they can make sense as a whole in a way they can’t in parts. Also I read fast enough that if I spend (say) two more hours foolishly, well, so what? It’s not like I won’t read a book I enjoy more soon enough.

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  12. Nicola says:

    I’m pretty ruthless about abandoning books I’m not enjoying. I spent four years as an undergrad forcing myself to finish books, and even though there were some that I found worthwhile in the end, the flip side of that was that I almost never read for fun in those four years, so for me I think struggling to get through a book sours my relationship with reading. I will put in a bit of effort if I feel like I’m going through a more general reading slump, but if I’ve been reading lots and I’m excited about other books but just can’t work up the enthusiasm for one in particular, I’ll leave it unless, for instance, a friend has asked me to read it and I’ve made that commitment. I don’t think that deeming a book as “Not for me” means that I don’t think the book has something of value to offer, just that I’m not getting that value out of it at this time, and there are definitely books I put down only to pick up years later and fall in love with.

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    • Julie says:

      “I don’t think that deeming a book as “Not for me” means that I don’t think the book has something of value to offer, just that I’m not getting that value out of it at this time, and there are definitely books I put down only to pick up years later and fall in love with.”

      Yes! I agree with you completely on this.

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  13. I try to be discriminating. I pay pretty close attention to the reviews, and if there’s a lot of 5 stars on Amazoonie, I’ll look at the negative reviews to see if there’s any good honest opposition.

    Free books are dangerous to read, unless they’re being used as book-crack. “Try some of this, it’ll mess you uuuuup,” says the ghetto author, handing out their first book for free. Yeah, I’m lookin’ at you, Vorkisagian saga.

    But finishing bad books? There’s been a few that didn’t make it 100%. Most of the time I’ll limp through it, but I try to eliminate the dross by carefully looking at the reviews… then if it has a cool cover, I’ll buy it anyway. I also vote for the last bumper sticker I saw, I’m fickle in that way. No, I’m kidding, I don’t really buy based on a cover.

    Maybe this commenting is just an excuse to not write. Maybe.

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  14. There was one bad book I can remember that I haven’t put down. Just because I saw the movie version and I want to know what were the scenes that were cut from the movie. Actually, the story is interesting, it was great. But somewhere along the way, it was too dragging. Yet, I had finished it.

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  15. Georgina says:

    I have to admit a complete lack of stamina for a badly written book. I am a big fan of using my kindle, and make full use of the – try a sample – even if feel reasonably confident it is going to be good. Unfortunately, this does not always save me from buying a terrible book, and sometimes they start great only to become boring the moment you get past the . My father on, on the other hand, is an avid reader like me, but he will read a book with dogged determination all the way to the end, even if he is not that keen. Really wish I had his patience 🙂

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  16. Julie says:

    As a writer, I feel a certain amount of….guilty respect…for even a poorly written book. Like, I’m part of the same club and we have to support each other and have each other’s back. Someone put their blood, sweat and tears into the book and I respect their guts and hard work.

    That being said, there have been a couple of books that I just simply couldn’t get into and I stopped reading. It’s rare though.

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  17. I used to force myself to read books I didn’t like as a result of years of school. I had no choice in school. For a while, it actually made it hard to read for pleasure.

    I then forced myself to do the opposite. If I didn’t really want to read a book, I took it back. Eventually, I rediscovered my love for books.

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  18. Heather says:

    When I sigh when I open it, time to move on. Life is too short! 🙂

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  19. debb lavoie says:

    If I am reviewing I will finish the book. I used to always finish a book but now I will stop or maybe peek at the ending. It’s rare I find a book that’s so bad I won’t even read it.

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  20. Wendy Barron says:

    I used to finish every book I started, out of some misguided sense of obligation, or a need to know how things ended. Life is too short, though, and I will abandon a book whose writing craft is not up to expectations. I have been known to hate-read, though; I am usually composing a Goodreads review in my head as I read, in those cases.

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  21. Suzanne says:

    I am more likely to finish a short bad book than a long decent one.

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  22. Erica Lynn says:

    I would like to say that I do finish the bad books I start, but that’s not always the case. I know that I can learn something from every book I read, even if what i learn is how /not/ to write in a certain way. But sometimes I just put it down to be read “later,” and later never really comes.

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  23. Krystle says:

    I used to stop reading average books all the time, but now I force myself to finish most of what I read. I do have the habit of speed reading when the book is really boring though.

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