Words Undone…

Decided I’d try something different today. My reading habits was also to finish a book no matter whether I was enjoying it or not. But that seems too much like punishing myself. So now I have implemented The Rule Of 50:

"Believe me, nobody is going to get any points in heaven by slogging their way through a book they aren't enjoying but think they ought to read. I live by what I call 'the rule of fifty,' which acknowledges that time is short and the world of books is immense. If you're fifty years old or younger, give every book about fifty pages before you decide to commit yourself to reading it, or give it up. If you're over fifty, which is when time gets even shorter, subtract your age from 100. The result is the number of pages you should read before deciding.”

-from Book Lust by Nancy Pearl

Anyways, since I have a few books that I won’t be finishing, I also won’t be writing up reviews for them. But then it occurred to me – lots of times I come across books that others haven’t enjoyed for one reason or another and I end up really liking them. So what I am going to do is blog a bit of info about those books that, with the best of intentions, I began but didn’t finish. But rather than saying “blah this book sucked” I’d like this to be more along the lines of “well this wasn’t for me, but maybe you might like it.” Yeah, obviously this is one of my spur of the moment type ideas, but hey may as well giv’er a go.

“Leave undone whatever you hesitate to do.”  - Kenko Yoshida

Dora Borealis
Daccia Bloomfield

Pages Read
77 of 234

Percent read

“It’s a ghost story.”
”For kids or for adults?” She asks.
”Grown-ups, I guess. But it’s also a love story. You know, it’s a love story and a story about urban angst and coming of age and a ghost story all in one.”
”Hmmm. Sounds pretty complicated.”
She has no idea

Creepy, explicit, and strangely endearing, Dora Borealis is a story of coming of age… a bit late. Written in the era of the open relationship, it’s a novel about searching for a connection in a city hooked on missed connections and explores what it means to be literally haunted. Part of the pampered generation that has grown up too comfortably, Flip calls himself a writer but never writes. He spends most of his time tortured by the girl he’s been in love with since he was eight and falling for a woman he’s just met. And you? You’re invited to witness the carnage.

I picked up Dora Borealis at the library when I was looking for some new-to-me Canadian authors. The cover was just gorgeous and after having caught my eye I took a peek at the book description and thought “wow, this sounds like something I would really like.” But for some reason every time I pick this book up I find my eyes wandering off the pages. And so, now it is due back at the library. I really enjoy the writing, so by including this book here as an unfinished read, perhaps someday I will take another shot at it.

Here is an example of the main character’s (Flip) narrative voice, this passage in particular is one that stuck with me despite it’s simplistic tone.

The phone rings. I like to know what I’m taking in by the mouth, and I especially like to know what I am taking in by the ear. In keeping with this tendency to want to control my intake, I have assigned each and every one of my loved ones a special ringtone. Lamb’s got “Take My Breath Away.” Dad’s got “Don’t Let Me Down.” Maybe, when I’m lucky enough to be her man, Dora will have “Bang A Gong.”

There is another section of the book where Flip is asking his best friend Lamb questions about a man she is seeing, it’s a habit of theirs to discuss her sexual hijinks but right in the middle of the sex talk he suddenly asks:

“What did he smell like?” I asked.
”He smelled like good soap.”

They then continue talking about the man’s performance in bed. But that one exchange was so honest and abrupt in the midst of a graphic discussion it left an impression. I could almost smell the scent of human skin fresh out of the shower. Without any in-depth description these few words left me with an almost sensory reaction. Weird :/

Hmm, I think I may end up doing this again. Even though this book has been dropped off in the library return slot, by writing down my impression of it I’ve found myself thinking that even an unfinished book adds something to my life as a reader.

What do you think? How much thought do you put into a given up on book? Do you ever find yourself thinking of trying again? Are there some books you know you won’t finish, but yet you still find something good in them?

© 2008-2010 Joanne Mosher of The Book Zombie. All rights reserved.


Lenore said...

I think this is a great idea - since I've also decided to do it on my blog and call it "sorry, I'm just not that into you". I felt a bit guilty at first - but like that quote from Book Lust - no one is giving me a medal and life's too short :)

Elizabeth said...

I had never felt that guilty about ditching a book, but once I found out that there is a RULE about it, I jumped in with abandon. =) Seriously, I read for pleasure - if I'm not having fun, what's the point?

Beth F said...

Great idea. I tend to abandon books around page 50 anyway. I usually try again in few months; if the book still doesn't click with me, I let it go. Life is too short!

I think its a great idea to blog about the DNF books.

Jaxon said...

I didn't realize this was an actual rule? Awesome. I'm the same way. I read because I want to, not because some one is making me, so if a book doesn't interest me, then it gets chucked.

However, I do have one stipulation to the rule - if the book was sent to me for review, then I usually give it 100 pages before leaving it. Since I received it for free, I feel that I should give it a little longer than I normally would.

I do review all the books I read - whether I finish them or not. If I don't like a book, I'll tell them why. A good example of this is my review of the 12th Demon by Bruce Hennigan. Feedback, whether it's good or bad, is always a good thing in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful! I, too, have abandoned books that I enjoyed but I found I was finding everything else to do but read and so I would eventually pick up another book and the first one would be forgotten.

And your quote about soap... I still remember how our HS quarterback smelled first hour - I sat right behind him... ah

Jackie M (Literary Escapism) said...

It depends on the novel whether or not I will try a novel again. If I'm not into a story, it could be my mood or some other factor, so I'll generally wait a few months before picking it up again.

Although, I have a question for you....have you ever come across an author that you absolutely did not like, but you DID finish their novel? Did you give that author a second chance? What did you think of the second piece?

naida said...

good rule to follow. finishing a book I dont enjoy would be like punishment.
If I dont like a book, I just wont be able to finish it. And I wont try again, I cant force myself. Theres too many good books waiting.

Alyce said...

If I'm reading a book just for my own interest then I pretty much abide by this rule. If I'm reading a book that I received for review I will try a little bit harder to finish the book than I normally would.

I had a review copy last week that I stopped reading though, and I've decided not to feel so guilty about it when I don't want to finish a review copy. I'm giving that particular book away on LibraryThing's new Member giveaways so that someone else can review the book.

An Anonymous Child said...

I don't have any sort of rule for ditching books, except that if it's just not fun to read or in any way enlightening, why should I bother? I'll usually just leave it around my bookshelf until I get bored and read it anyways...

Anonymous said...

I think that's a good rule, actually. I don't currently have a rule about when I abandon books, I just sort of let them go when I feel like it, but I think maybe it would help if I had a rule.

In any case, I like your idea of acknowledging books you don't finish, if only because other people might enjoy them.

Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness)

Mo from Unmainstream Mom Reads said...

I'm a fan of the 50 page rule. I used to read every book to the end, no matter what. I've never found a book that I didn't like at page fifty that I ended up liking by the end. When I forced myself to finish books I wasn't into, I found it really slowed down my reading, since I drug my feet reading the offending book.

I figure life's too short and there are too many good books to waste time reading something you're not enjoying. I'm getting more confident about my 50 page rule. Last year, out of 200 books, I abandoned 11. This year, out of only 60, I've abandoned 5. I wonder how high the abandoned count will be this year...

Nymeth said...

The rule of 50; I like that. I do have a bit of a tendency to force myself through books no matter what...but I should stop, because life is short.

Jeane said...

I have no qualms about quitting on a book anymore- usually I give them a good try for at least fifty pages. I do mention most of these on my blog, because someone else might like what doesn't appeal to me. I do force myself to complete books that have been sent to me for review- but that experience has made me resent reading books for reviews, so it's exceptional for me to accept a review book anymore. I just don't like forcing myself to read what I'm not enjoying, but feel obliged to in that case.

Iliana said...

I have a rule of anywhere between 30-40 pages. If I think the book might be good but just not the right time to read it, then I put it back on my shelves. Funny enough I have gone back to books and have been surprised at how much I enjoyed them the second try.

Anonymous said...

Every time I give up on a book I always feel a tad guilty. Like if I had just finished it to the end things would have gotten better. But reading some of these posts makes me think that is probably not the case. I don't think I have ever been rewarded from hanging too long with a bad book. They typically don't redeem themselves. Great topic!

Bybee said...

I know Nancy Pearl is 100% right, but it PAINS me to have to give up on a book. I try to finish everything. I'm sure this comes from being forced to clean my plate at every meal. I'm getting away from that one with more success these days.

Ladytink_534 said...

I might have to start doing the rule of 50 on the books that aren't a part of my personal challenge! I always feel guilty about books I give up on but I rarely feel guilty enough to make myself sit through it again (unless I tried read it when I was younger and I think time would help me enjoy it more like).

Anonymous said...

First of all, I LOVE that quote! Second, you are a better woman than I am. I give it 25 pages. If the book was sent to me for review, I'll go longer, but not much. I mean, what author wants to hear:

I hated the book. Amen.

I figure I am doing them a favor by not reading it. ;)

Anonymous said...

That should have been "...a better woman than me..." I suck at the English language.

Anonymous said...

I just signed up to your blogs rss feed. Will you post more on this subject?