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"Why do you force yourself to finish garbage books?" Topic

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3,414 hits since 24 Feb 2012
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Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP24 Feb 2012 7:10 p.m. PST

Did you ever buy a book that you knew right away that you hated?
Did you then force yourself to finish it?

Do you think that to throw it out was equivalent to Nazi book burning?

I have HATED Turtledove for years, and yet I continued to buy his crap AND finish them, despite my dislike for them. I still can't figure out why.

On the other hand, it took my years and three starts to finish "MAster and Commander". I persevered because people I respect highly recommended it. It was OK, but not terrific.
Then, I bought the second book in the series (I still can't figure out why) and enjoyed it immensely.

Personal logo Pictors Studio Sponsoring Member of TMP24 Feb 2012 7:14 p.m. PST

I did this, but then realized that in my life I will read a certain number of books, that number is probably less than 1000. I don't have time to read bad books. Bad books get read until I realize they are bad and then skimmed for information from that point on.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP24 Feb 2012 7:15 p.m. PST

"But OFM! All printed material is sacred and equally deserving of respect!"

Which is of course pure twaddle.
My closet is full of stuff that I read perhaps 30 pages of and then threw against the wall.

A sci-fi writer whose name I forget lived in the backwoods. He wrote that he did not have enough room to store all the books sent to him for review, but that they warmed his cabin well in his stove.

Personal logo Stosstruppen Supporting Member of TMP24 Feb 2012 7:15 p.m. PST

If they are that bad I just don't waste any more time on them.

PygmaelionAgain Inactive Member24 Feb 2012 7:24 p.m. PST

I find it more common that instead of actually finishing the book, I'll put it aside and restart it once i have forgotten why I stopped reading it.

I have owned a trio of terry goodking fantasy novels for 15 years, and even though I can't choke down the structure of it ir give a damn about the characters, I keep them around. Perhaps like wine, they will grow better with age (or I will get desperate enough to uncork them and down the whole mess).

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian24 Feb 2012 7:24 p.m. PST

Doesn't take that long to read most novels. Some that start out bad get better.

The last book I didn't finish was about a year ago – it was a modern "action" tale featuring a hard-shooting ex-Special Forces type who was smooth with the ladies. I got a bad vibe from the author, seemed like he had some sort of love/hate/despise thing about women, dumped the book in a charity-drive box.

CPBelt Inactive Member24 Feb 2012 7:26 p.m. PST

Only time I would finish a book I hated was when it was for one of my lit classes, me be a lit major and all. Otherwise, on the "dispose of" heap.

Timbo W24 Feb 2012 7:28 p.m. PST

Hope springs eternal I suppose

Thomas Covenant I never got on with, like a fool I bought the rest of the series and ploughed grimly on, but if anything it got worse. I hope the Oxfam bookshop managed to sell them!

Oddball24 Feb 2012 7:37 p.m. PST

I usually finish a book, fiction or non-fiction, even if I hate it only to be able to discuss it with others. There is only one book I threw out the window of a train that was so bad I couldn't read it anymore.

a Sven Hessel book but I don't remember the title.

I also had a great deal of trouble with "Battle Cry of Freedom". Didn't like that book at all.

jpattern224 Feb 2012 7:48 p.m. PST

Yeah, there have been some books that I just haven't been able to finish – some I've barely been able to start – but only a handful. I almost always manage to slog all the way to the end. Those I can't finish, or just don't like when I'm done, I either give to friends or donate to the local library.

dilettante Supporting Member of TMP24 Feb 2012 7:53 p.m. PST

I might finish the book I bought,just because I spent my money on it. However,I won't read any more books by that author. Turtledove is a good example, the first 2(?) Videossos(sp.) books were ok, but the third really p..ahem,
UPSET me and I've not gone back.
This is where the library is your friend. Borrow a book your not sure about. If it su… -isn't very good- all you've lost is some time. You don't even feel like you have to finish it!

Lentulus24 Feb 2012 8:06 p.m. PST

Did you then force yourself to finish it?


Sometimes I read it years later and like it. Usually its still sitting there or disposed of by now.

I started with Turtledove because he writes (or wrote, I've wised up) pretty good first books and I would keep waiting for the sequels to get back up to speed. I have given up.

lgkmas24 Feb 2012 8:26 p.m. PST

I had one really really bad time travel book. It was set in Wartime London and had people from the future come back and try and change history. Fair enough so far. But then, almost from the first page, it had so many factual errors that it was completely unbelievable. Even simple to check ones! Like females serving in the Home Guard in 1940 who were doing ARP duties! Like getting the dates of bombing England wrong by months!
I ploughed on mainly because I got interested in how many mistakes I could spot. The story was abysmal and the characters not even two dimensional. But somewhere out there, an editor thought it worthy of printing. AND printing two sequels as well! And they were horrible as well.
So, yeah, I've finished a book that I really thought was pure garbage.

Broadsword Inactive Member24 Feb 2012 8:29 p.m. PST

No. Don't physically abuse the book and always save the receipt.

darthfozzywig Supporting Member of TMP24 Feb 2012 8:37 p.m. PST

modern "action" tale featuring a hard-shooting ex-Special Forces type who was smooth with the ladies. I got a bad vibe from the author, seemed like he had some sort of love/hate/despise thing about women, dumped the book in a charity-drive

I think I read about this author recently elsewhere. Is that the one where the protagonist has the internal monologues about his urge to rape every woman he meets? Sounded like a modern-day "Gor" book.

darthfozzywig Supporting Member of TMP24 Feb 2012 8:40 p.m. PST

Oh! Oh! And is this where I get to say "Hey! This should be on the TMP Plus Books board, not cross posted to every board on the main forum!"

Get offa my lawn, etc.

Garand24 Feb 2012 8:43 p.m. PST

The only time I can think of this happening is with Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. I read the first 3 books, on the reccommendation of ALL my friends. They said the series is great. I kept up at it, hoping it would get better. It did not. Thus IMHO Robert Jordan is overrated…

One thing about books: I sometimes find that I start a book, but may not be "ready" for it. I'll pick it up again later and love it. Example that comes to mind is God Emperor of Dune. DIdn't like it the first time I tried. I grew up a bit and tried it again, and enjoyed it…


The G Dog Fezian Inactive Member24 Feb 2012 8:56 p.m. PST

The last book I didn't finish was about a year ago it was a modern "action" tale featuring a hard-shooting ex-Special Forces type who was smooth with the ladies. I got a bad vibe from the author, seemed like he had some sort of love/hate/despise thing about women, dumped the book in a charity-drive box

Was it John Ringo? I stopped reading these after about the third book. It just got too silly. Actually, it got too silly in the first book, but hope lingered until book 3.

Space Ghost Supporting Member of TMP24 Feb 2012 9:04 p.m. PST

Life's too short to spend on bad books!

John Leahy24 Feb 2012 9:04 p.m. PST

I don't. If it is poor I'll give it another chapter or two then drop it if hasn't improved.



McKinstry Fezian24 Feb 2012 9:10 p.m. PST

I think the Turtledove Atlantis series cured me forever sometime in the second book. Dreck is bad for you.

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian24 Feb 2012 9:27 p.m. PST

Google "Nancy Pearl Rule of 50"

Mapleleaf Inactive Member24 Feb 2012 9:34 p.m. PST

Sometimes a little dreck is good for you.I think of authors like Turtledove as providing the male equivalent of Harlequin romances. You don't expect much and it's not serious so it is escapism at its finest.

Authors like this are the literary equivalents of comedians like Henny Youngman or Carrot Top -they are so bad sometimes they actually can be fun.

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian24 Feb 2012 9:35 p.m. PST

Sounded like a modern-day "Gor" book.

I actually like the Gor books (the few I've read) – but I recognize them as male escapist fantasy! grin

DJCoaltrain24 Feb 2012 9:47 p.m. PST

I buy books because I want to read them. I can skim a book at a book store and decide fairly quickly if I want to invest money and time in it. Sometimes I get a dreadful book as a gift, I hang onto it for a while, then give it to someone who is really interested in it. Throwing a book out is just impossible for me. Giving them away is far better.

darthfozzywig Supporting Member of TMP24 Feb 2012 10:26 p.m. PST

I actually like the Gor books (the few I've read) but I recognize them as male escapist fantasy!

I read more of those than I care to admit.

Madzerker24 Feb 2012 10:37 p.m. PST

I have tried to read A Game of Thrones twice in the last 12 years and could never get past the first 100 pages. Last weekend I started again at page 100 even though I had forgotten what had happened and finished the book today and loved it. So I guess I am glad I didn't throw it away, although I had too now because the book itself fell apart as I read it haha.

Flat Beer and Cold Pizza Inactive Member24 Feb 2012 10:43 p.m. PST

I once suffered through a Sujata Massey mystery novel on the recommendation of a friend; the bad dialogue attribution and adverb abuse caused me to wince at least twice every page and the predictability of the plot only made matters worse. Nevertheless, I "got 'er done" for two reasons: first, I would have felt like an ingrate if I hadn't, and second, as a writer myself I understand that a bad novel can sometimes be as instructional as a good one.

I bought and finished Karl Marlantes' Matterhorn in a day and a half on account of the weather was bad and I had nothing better to do that weekend. All I can say for the author is he must have had a very persuasive agent to see that cliched dreck go to print.

The only novel I could never finish was Sydney Sheldon's Morning, Noon, and Night. I still have it around here somewhere in the unlikely event I should run out of toilet paper.

Wolfprophet Inactive Member24 Feb 2012 10:52 p.m. PST

*shrug* Might as well finish what you start.

artaxerxes Inactive Member24 Feb 2012 11:33 p.m. PST

Like others here, I don't have time to read dross. My record recently is to drop a book four pages in – it just screamed NO, and that was that.

Personal logo Cardinal Hawkwood Supporting Member of TMP24 Feb 2012 11:46 p.m. PST

goodness , the OFM is really as odd as he makes himself out to be..heaven forfend..

Flat Beer and Cold Pizza Inactive Member24 Feb 2012 11:49 p.m. PST

"On the other hand, it took my years and three starts to finish "MAster and Commander". I persevered because people I respect highly recommended it. It was OK, but not terrific.
Then, I bought the second book in the series (I still can't figure out why) and enjoyed it immensely."

Yep. Patrick O'Brian's prose could make you feel sea spray if you were standing in Death Valley in July.

Chortle Fezian Inactive Member24 Feb 2012 11:50 p.m. PST

One of my friend's raved about the Belgariad series. I started reading the first book and decided it was rubbish, but I read the rest of the series to confirm that my friend's recommendations could be ignored in future. That probably saved me reading a lot of trash over the years. Good investment, really.

Jamesonsafari Inactive Member25 Feb 2012 12:42 a.m. PST

If, like bran, I think a book is good for me then I will plow through it.

But if it is just entertainment reading then I give it the 100 pages test. If by page 100 I don't care about/or actually hate the protagonists and the story hasn't hooked me, then I dump it.

Life is too short.

David Manley25 Feb 2012 12:43 a.m. PST

Often because of a sense of incredulity, a hope that it will get better and sometimes morbid fascination to see just how bad it could get. Ice Station by Matthew Reilly being a classic example for me. Bought at the airport on our way through on holiday. Started well, descends into farce, initially decent characters descend to "keystone kops" level and a thoroughly racist ending

Personal logo x42brown Supporting Member of TMP25 Feb 2012 3:30 a.m. PST

No matter how bad It usually still beats the in-flight movie.


Ben Waterhouse Inactive Member25 Feb 2012 4:00 a.m. PST

15 minutes; if I don't like it the book goes to the charity hop the next day

Ammianus25 Feb 2012 5:01 a.m. PST

There's a great story about Napoleon & reading. As emperor he had his own custom printing operation that produced small leather bound editions of books that interested him. As he traveled on his campaigns he sampled each volume, those he didn't like immediately went out the window. That's why (supposedly) the antiquarian book dealers of Europe have so many volumes from Napoleon's personal library.

Life is too short and there are way too many books out there.
After about 50 pages or less, I toss'em out the window (sale on Amazon or give to charity)

VonTed25 Feb 2012 5:25 a.m. PST

I feel guilty if I don't finish a book. But I've started to toss aside books that I am simply not enjoying more and more.

Steve25 Feb 2012 5:39 a.m. PST

Like many I got over my guilt and now stop reading the ones I don't like. I also used to read purely non-fiction history, now I read a mix of fiction and non-fiction.

Cosmic Reset Inactive Member25 Feb 2012 6:45 a.m. PST

I've never really done that. There are just too many books that are worth the time, to waste time on those that are not.

Personal logo Florida Tory Supporting Member of TMP25 Feb 2012 7:14 a.m. PST

I have started War and Peace on three different occasions. Each time, before I finished the first chapter I decided I would rather re-read Chandler instead to get the nonfiction version.

(But I do enjoy the Russian film version for the battle scenes. grin)


just visiting Inactive Member25 Feb 2012 8:07 a.m. PST

I finished War and Peace, the unexpurgated version, in one go; it took months though.

I have finished more Stephen King novels than I care to admit. By the time I had read over ten or so, I knew that he could not end a story; he sucks at endings. So I stopped looking at Stephen King books.

If a novel will keep me awake I get through it eventually; if it puts me to sleep I won't finish it….

just visiting Inactive Member25 Feb 2012 8:09 a.m. PST

The exact opposite of this is the novel you reread. I am into the third reading of "The Long Ships"; this time reading it to my wife evenings just before we go to bed. She is enjoying it a lot, and so am I, again….

thosmoss25 Feb 2012 9:58 a.m. PST

Good or bad, I used to finish them all. I thought my revenge would be found on whether I ever bought the overwrought sequel.

"Battlefield Earth" broke that demand in my mind. The thick part of the book was still in my right hand, while I read the hero would die if he didn't get aid soon, the heroine held a gun on the villain's head while he was forced to fly them all toward rescue. Just a guess, but I'm thinking it turned out all right in the end.

Now, if the book doesn't engage me by page 100, I'm on to the next book.

Plynkes Inactive Member25 Feb 2012 11:01 a.m. PST

"Why do you force yourself to finish garbage books?"

I don't. Why are you spreading the falsehood that I do?

Pan Marek Supporting Member of TMP25 Feb 2012 11:31 a.m. PST

But most of this discussion centers on fiction. When it comes to NON fiction, particularly as one gets into more esoteric topics, the information/research may be top notch,
but the writing ponderous and academically dry.
What then? I find myself ploughing through so I can get the glean the information I wnat/need out of it. One of life's great pleasures (because it is so rare) is getting a work of great scholarship that is also a great read. Its easier with some topics (ACW) than others (cultural change in England after the Norman conquest).

Space Monkey Inactive Member25 Feb 2012 11:56 a.m. PST

There's 'garbage' and then there's 'GARBAGE!'… some books, like The Sword Of Shannara, are just lame crap that I won't bother with once I recognize them as such… but others are such wild, hair-brained schemes of utter nonsense that it becomes hard to turn away… like watching some horrible spectacle that fascinates by way of it's utter horribleness.

The example that comes to mind for me is Jeff Long's 'The Descent'… a truly awful bit of writing that sways to and fro between wanting to be a blockbuster film treatment or an intimate horror story. It ends up a ridiculous mess that is hilarious in how badly conceived most of it is… yet there is a gem of an idea that the author has stupidly walked past in his self-induced blindness.
I gobbled it down in one sitting and then happily called a friend to tell them how wonderfully bad it was.

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART25 Feb 2012 1:19 p.m. PST

I learned to put down bad books a long time ago. Why suffer through crap when there are so many potentially great
authors and books out there. That's why the public library is your best bet. Trash or treasure, it's all free.
Sometimes the cover can be your first warning against getting into a bad book as well. My personal skull and cross bones is anything with a picture of the white house on it!

Dropzonetoe Fezian Inactive Member25 Feb 2012 1:49 p.m. PST

I suffered through the first three Wheel of Time books as my good friend loved them and read them all and I figured they got better as you go… I finally gave up mid way through the 4th and never felt bad about it one bit.

I picked up a good assortment of books when the local Boarders went out of business and I have read them all but one; Lavie Tidmar's The Bookman. I have started reading it three times now and each time I get a bit farther and toss it to the side as I cannot stand it. Then when I run out of books to read I go get it thinking I am in the mood to read it now and something is better than nothing, I have the thought until I am done with chapter one and I am second guessing myself on it. That is the only book I have been like that with though, so who knows?

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